Let us announce the eleventh winner of the Translator of the Month action at SeproTec!
This initiative is our way to way to say thank you! and recognize the efforts of the industry professionals: translators, the driving force behind every translation company’s success.
In this ocassion we would like you to meet Virginia Santos, our translator and a real polyglot! Have a cup of tea and take a moment to read this very interesting interview!
What do you start your work day with?
Unless I have an urgent project that must be finished or is due that same day, my working day starts with, I must admit, a certain amount of laziness and self-reproach: “I am getting up far too late again! This is because I went to bed too late once more! I’m hopeless… and it took me one hour to eat breakfast!” … Then I start to approach the work with caution: I turn on the computer, and I look for some song, some information that I’m interested in… until it comes to a point where I tell myself “enough of this idleness!!!” And at that point I start to work with full focus, to the point where I can spend many hours translating without realizing it.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in translation?
Actually…never. I have always been, as far as I can remember, very excited about languages, and was heading in that direction in a natural way, without giving it much thought . In addition to that, this job fitted in perfectly with my lifestyle: it allowed me not only to work with languages all the time, but also to travel abroad with scholarships to continue studying them and to attend courses on many other subjects with freedom of schedules… Every day I thank Heaven for all the good things that this job brings me.
Virginia, you translate into Spanish from Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, English, German, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Slovak and Ukrainian. How did you become so interested (and proficient) in all these languages?
It’s impossible to answer this question in a few lines…
My interest for languages goes back to the time when, under circumstances which would take me too long to explain, suddenly something “clicked” inside of me and I understood that languages are like mathematics (which I loved): absolutely logical, perfect, everything they are and happens to them has a reason for being and needs to happen; and that, each language, in its own way, is beautiful, they are all beautiful , insurmountable, boundless. They are like doors to the infinite, perfect and complete forms of seeing and interpreting the world…This wonder of the phenomenon (I would almost say “miracle”) of language and of each language in particular, has reaffirmed and strengthened itself with each new language I have studied, including the Slavic languages.
In the case of the Slavic languages, what fascinates me particularly about them is the etymology of the words: the concepts are very clear and very structured. There is so much order and logic in them that I have been able to encompass with relative ease, not only the whole Slavic branch, but through them I have come to better understand Latin (the construction of which is very clean, perfect, very similar to that of the Slavic languages) and as a consequence I have been acquiring a deeper understanding of Castilian, which is my own language. That is, thanks to the Slavic languages I have come to understand myself better and I have realized how my mother tongue reflects my own construction of the world.
The Slavic world also fascinates me because of the enormous richness of realities that it embraces: several continents, many and very diverse climates, numerous geographical regions (north, south, east, west), diverse religions, very different political systems, even various alphabets… It is a grandiose world. At a more personal level, I owe very much to this Slavic world: specifically to many flesh and bone Slavic people and to many experiences lived in those countries that have shaped me and are an intimate part of me.
And as far as proficiency… it is relatively simple. If you love what you do because it makes your life richer every day and if you add to that a personality (my own) that is perfectionist by nature (for better or for worse) and a dedication of time and effort which is almost unreasonable… it is inevitable to acquire proficiency!
If you hadn’t become a translator, then what do you think you would have done?
I wouldn’t know what to answer. There are many jobs that I like and that I am very strongly attracted to, but the truth is that I have found them because of my job as a translator. Translation takes me into many worlds and allows me, as well, to continuously study new things about other subjects that I am interested in.
Concurrently with my job, I have been trained in foot reflexology, pedagogy, body theology and many other things, with which I would like to work. When I now think about professions I like, I think that I would very much like to work as a childhood teacher or with babies, as a language teacher at university or as a foot reflexologist; and, of course I intend to keep on studying because there are many other topics that I am interested in and that I would like to investigate.
There is another job which I hold sacred and that I respect more than any other and it is the job of the home-maker. The real home-maker, the one who “makes a home”, who creates the warmth and the excellence in the quotidian “small big things”. I dream of that job because I believe that if more intelligent women dedicated themselves to the task, this work alone, would restore, in today´s world, the humanity and the warmth that it so direly needs.
What do you most enjoy about working with SeproTec?
Many things. In the first place, the people of the team are wonderful. It is super pleasant to work with them; they take into account my circumstances, and they try to adapt the conditions of the project at hand to fit my needs. In the second place, there is a consistency in our collaboration and in the genre of projects, that allows me to work with a lot of systematicity and order. In the third place, I can see that SeproTec is a very serious and responsible company in administrative and tax matters, etc. And last, but not least, I am especially fond of SeproTec because it was the first company to offer me the opportunity to work as a translator at the moment when I had just obtained my degree and had yet a lot to learn. That opportunity meant a lot to me in many areas of my life, it opened many doors and ways, and it is something for which I am exceedingly grateful.
What do you think are the greatest challenges for the translation industry nowadays?
If the challenge is for the translation industry, then the challenge for any industry is always to be more efficient, to make more money… On the other hand, if the challenge is for translation, as a human activity, or for the translators as its architects, I would say that the challenges we face are several:
1. To be able to take advantage of computer-assisted translation tools without dehumanising ourselves, without acting like machines, without killing the language, impoverishing it with clichés and subjecting it to a deadly and vulgar globalization. We must take advantage of all the benefits of technical advances, without falling into mechanicism. We should be able to save the soul of the language: it would not help us to look for greater efficiency and profit, if we were to lose the nuances and subtleties that only a sensitive an educated human being can grasp.
2. To understand that knowledge or competence do not necessarily go hand in hand with degrees or formal qualifications. The obsession for qualification certificates and degrees and the fear of “professional intrusion” impoverish the world, in my opinion, and may be the enemies of things well done. It is undeniable that in the field of translation there are many competent translators that may be initially trained as doctors or engineers etc. It would be absurd to close the doors to them. It is also be the case that university careers in Spain do note even cover all the existing demands of translation. Do we have, for example, schools that train translators from Turkish, Wolof or Quechua? And, nevertheless, the translations from those languages may be needed. I think that reality should govern over formal qualifications, and that the work should be done by whoever does it well, independently of the degrees that that person has or doesn´t have. Socrates did not need to have a degree in Philosophy from the University of Athens to be founder of Philosophy itself… In a world that searches for truth, it is the individual who creates the qualification, and not the other way around.
3. Everybody who speaks, but especially linguists and translators have the responsibility of looking after the language, nowadays exposed to a type of violence to suit specific ideologies and an attempt to manipulate it into a mediocre version of itself; and this is, I believe, happening everywhere. This responsibility compels us to act firmly to maintain its logic, its clarity, its rigour and its Beauty, even when that implies our effective opposition to the clumsy, toxic and chaotic innovations of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language.
Thank you so much, Virginia! Enjoy your SeproTec hoodie