We have a great pleasure to introduce the fourth winner of the Translator of the Month action at SeproTec.
As a way to say Thank you! and recognize the efforts of the industry professionals: translators, the driving force behind every translation company’s success, the initiative has been launched in September 2017.
Meet Robert Kailas Nathan, our January Translator of the Month and read our interview with him.
What do you start your day with?
In short: reading and coffee. I wake at 6 am and get into some immediate reading in order to wake myself up and allow me to reach cruising speed. Reading is a translator’s oxygen and lifeblood. In this early morning session, it is vital for me to get as much done as possible before my daughter wakes up and I need to get her ready to take to school. Coffee is a translator’s staple, of course, but lately I’ve started pushing the first one back a little so as not to overdo the final tally!
When did you realize you wanted to pursue a translation career?
I’m a firm believer in the old saw that variety is the spice of life and, accordingly, I have had a number of different “careers” already. Meanwhile I have always been a writer and a speaker/fumbler of various languages. Translation came along 14-15 years ago and showed me that I could maintain quite a bit of variety within one single career while working from home, maintaining my other business and artistic pursuits and – when she came along – being there for my daughter, the failure to spend time with their kids being one regret that quite a few of my clients and colleagues with now-grown children have often voiced to me.
What in your opinion are the biggest challenges the translation industry is facing nowadays?
So far, few industries have been changed as completely on the ground by the digital world and the AI industry as translation. The good news for us is that it has shown us that AI, which is apparently better overall than humans with medical prescriptions and bread-and-butter legal paperwork, is not so good at nuances in language and subtext. Corpuses will of course continue to fill up with available texts, many of them the dull, repetitive or incremental texts that tend to bore translators, and non-reading plain vanilla non-technological translators may unfortunately start to find less work available, but any clients looking for added value or distinguishing features will now feel the need to choose a translator carefully. This I think is a good thing. It means that clients will now perhaps focus more on what actually makes a good translator and go actively searching for those qualities. We translators, in turn, have to make sure we are indeed as good as we think we are. At the very least that we are better nuanced and more flexible than the upcoming iterations of Google Translate and its MT counterparts. It’s like running ahead of a slowly-rising tide, but there’s still plenty of beach ahead. Could there still be a tsunami? Who knows?
What do you enjoy about working with SeproTec?
I have been working with Seprotec now for 10 years and all the people I have dealt with there have been very friendly and highly professional. In fact, sometimes it takes a less-than-perfect experience elsewhere with some other clients to realise just how smooth this particular relationship is. The care and attention applied in preparing translation packages and dealing with the clients behind the scenes makes for a truly efficient and ultimately enjoyable process.
What´s your favourite book?
As a regular and passionate reader in my main professional languages (English, Spanish, Italian, Catalan, and also some reading in French and Swedish), this kind of question is impossible for me to answer in the singular, so I’m sorry but I’m going to have to offer up a broader answer. I love reading literary fiction that is challenging and ambitious (William Faulkner, Robert Musil, W. G. Sebald) or minimalist and full of echoing spaces (Raymond Carver, Alice Munro, John McGahern, Stefan Zweig) or enigmatic and subtly poetic (Don DeLillo, Orhan Pamuk, Peter Matthiessen, Paul Bowles, Bruno Schulz). I love magical realism (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Günter Grass, Salman Rushdie) and postmodern questing (Italo Calvino, Robert Coover, Alain Robbe-Grillet) and sly raconteurs (Bohumil Hrabal, Enrique Vila-Matas). I also love to read books on science (Yuval Noah Harar, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) or economics (Tim Harford, Yanis Varoufakis, Thomas Piketty, Jim Collins) or art (Robert Hughes, John Berger). I read lots of music and literary biographies, particularly on Bowie, Dylan, Beatles and the jazz and punk/postpunk era, and all kinds of books on Shakespeare and Orson Welles. I also love travel books (Ryszard Kapuscinski, Jan Morris, Paul Theroux, Eric Newby) and history books (Norman Davies, Tony Judt, Simon Schama, Will Durant), or books on philosophy (Bertrand Russell, Erich Fromm) and meditation (Thich Nhat Hanh). And these are just some of my favourites.
Have I left things out? Oh yes… Have I answered in waaaay too much detail? No doubt about that, either!
Thank you so much for the interview, Robert, and enjoy your SeproTec hoodie Working with you is a real pleasure