Hall of fame: Carley

With Carley’s penchant for learning and her excellent research skills, it’s no surprise that she has achieved Gengo Wordsmith status. Her advice for other translators? Never stop polishing your writing skills in your native tongue so you can accurately translate to another language.

What languages do you speak and what are your experiences with learning them?

I speak English and Japanese. I first learned Japanese in my university and moved to Fukuoka as an exchange student. Being constantly surrounded by Japanese, and being forced to speak it every day while living in a small city was fantastic for my speaking skills as it really helped to cement everything that I was taught. Applying my newfound language skills in context proved invaluable, too.

After I graduated from university, I began working as a translator for a number of Japanese and Japan-related companies and freelance clients, where I ended up specializing in translating Japanese recipes and writing about Japanese food—a field in which I never expected to become such an expert! This is the beauty of working with languages and translation, and particularly working with a company with customers as varied as Gengo’s, because you are exposed to new and interesting themes and topics all the time.

What are your favorite translation tools?

I like to use online dictionaries such as Rikaichan to quickly double-check words and check for extra meanings. Hovering over a word and having a list of translations come up does help a lot with speed. For words or expressions that I am less familiar with, I actually love good old Google. I can see the word used in context, and even Google Images can offer another clue to discerning the meaning of a lesser-known noun.

I’m rather old-fashioned and still quite new to CAT tools, but using Phrase TMS with the Gengo projects team has been a great introduction to them. Not having to re-type certain phrases or look up the same word again and again does help relieve a fair amount of stress.

What are your tips to become a Wordsmith?

Learn how to research well. Chances are you are not going to know every little detail about every single subject, even in your native language, and that’s okay. If you know how to research a topic well then you don’t necessarily need to miss out on translating texts with themes that you are unfamiliar with, and this will help you to develop and expand your translation repertoire in the long run.

I also think that in translation, people tend to focus on perfecting their skills in understanding the source language, and sometimes neglect their skills in their mother tongue. You should continue to polish your writing skills in your native language, as communicating what you have understood in the source language is half of your job. The more articulate you are, the more accurately you can convey the nuances of the source text, and this leads to a far better quality translation.

Want to become a Gengo translator?


Megan Waters

The author

Megan Waters

Megan manages all things translator-related as Gengo’s Community and Digital Content Manager. Born in South Africa but now based in Tokyo, she’s passionate about languages and people. Megan spends her free time exploring secondhand shops, camping in the mountains and hosting the occasional dinner party.

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