Faces of Gengo: Sara

One of our freelance English to Portuguese Language Specialists, Sara, recently became a full-time mom to her beautiful daughter, Camila. Her dream of becoming her own boss motivated her to pursue a Master’s Degree in Translation and Language Services to become a professional translator. She shares her journey with us in this interview.

Nationality: Portuguese
Location: Porto
Occupation: Freelance Translator
Gengo LS since: 2014
Language pair: English to Portuguese

What languages do you speak? How do you maintain proficiency?

I’m a native Portuguese speaker, and I’ve learned English in private schools since I was about seven years old. In Portugal, we are exposed to English since the day we were born, as foreign movies are subtitled, and our radios play hits from the UK and US charts. Besides being my tools of the trade, I use English and Portuguese to communicate with friends, clients and people from all around the world, on a daily basis. I maintain proficiency by reading about everything and anything and by continually using and studying my language skills.

Sara with her newborn daughter, Camila

How did you become a translator?

When I was 27, unhappy with my career in the TV industry and with my life, in general, I moved back to my hometown to take stock and formulate a plan for an “alternative” future. For two years, I taught English in a private institute, while also studying to take my Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE).

I wanted to be my own boss, enjoy my occupation, be challenged and stimulated and keep learning and improving. It didn’t immediately occur to me that being a translator was the perfect fit.

At the age of 29, after having accepted occasional translation jobs and earning money in the most captivating way ever, I knew I wanted to become a professional translator.

To achieve that dream, I gave it my all and finished a Master’s Degree in Translation and Language Services in 2014, and I’ve been working hard and passionately as a linguist ever since.

What have been your most enjoyable and challenging translation experiences?

All translations are challenging and enjoyable, but I would have to say a collaboration with professor and historian Matteo Salvadore. For four years I’ve translated Portuguese documents from the 15th/16th century into English and learned about old customs, language use, behaviors, politics, religion, human interactions and geography, to name a few. The collaboration culminated in the publication of “The African Prester John and the Birth of Ethiopian-European Relations, 1402-1555”.

Where all her work gets done

What’s your favorite thing about being a Gengo translator? How about being a Language Specialist?

It’s hard to pick just “one” favorite aspect of the trade, but I’ll make it short by highlighting how much I learn with the different materials and topics I translate every day, as well as with the research and constant knowledge renewal required to act as a Language Specialist.

Based on your specific cultural expertise, what are the best books or movies you would recommend to others?

Two of my absolute favorites are: The Road by Cormac Mccarthy (book) and 12 Angry Men by Sidney Lumet (movie).

What are your preferred translation tools?

I recommend productive CAT tools such as SDL Studio and SDL Termbase, and QA tools such as Grammarly or Transistor.

What’s your favorite productivity tool or service?

A cloud service to store and access my work whenever I need it, an online password manager service and a well-organized Excel Sheet to keep track of my work and accounts definitely save me tons of worries and time.

What are your top tips for those translators who are just starting out?

Make sure to keep improving your translation-specific skills, be humble and self-critical, treat every text with the love and respect it deserves and always have your target audience and locale in mind.

Her favorite place in her hometown, Porto

Do you have any specific translation advice to translators in your language pair/s?

Bear in mind that many language mechanisms used to recreate the same communication effect differ greatly from English to Portuguese. Use your native proficiency, your general knowledge and your best judgment to create a fluent version and avoid literal translations. Research all language, cultural and industry-specific challenges that you come across, as this will make you a more powerful communication ambassador every day.

Want to become a Gengo translator?


Jenie Gabriel

The author

Jenie Gabriel

Jenie creates and coordinates content for Gengo's marketing team. Originally from the Philippines, she was an advertising creative in Singapore before moving to Tokyo. In her spare time, you’ll find her wandering around the city or planning her next escapade.

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