Let us announce the second winner of the 2019 edition of our Translator of the Month action!
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 Alexander Lichanow, one of our most trusted German translators.
What do you start your work day with?
I get up on my own terms (no alarm clock!) since I have become quite an early bird in the past years. I brew up some coffee, feed our cats and then boot up my PC. Then I spend about half an hour listening to music and reading some news before actually getting to work. My focus is best in the morning, so I make sure to take my break by noon to restore some focus. I am working on large jobs more often than not but I always make sure to make space for “breakfast jobs”, as I am calling small jobs that take no more than an hour to complete. I handle those jobs as a “warm-up” for the large chunk of work coming up with my larger jobs.
Why did you choose translation as a career?
I always had a knack for languages, which was probably inspired by our move from Kazakhstan to Germany when I was 7 years old. As a child, I felt the urge to integrate myself into the surrounding culture so I made a point to learn German as quickly and proficiently as possible. Later, at secondary school (“Gymnasium” in Germany) I realized that my talents were definitely not with maths or sciences. When I was in 10th or 11th grade, the translators’ academy where I did my studies was presented at my school, so from this point on I knew for certain that I would go ahead to pursue a career as a translator.
What advice would you give to beginner translators?
First and foremost: Don’t ever feel compelled to do badly paid work! Even if you are just starting out, your work still has its value, and if you are going to pay your bills by translating, low rates just won’t do the trick. Also, don’t bite off more than you can chew (sort of goes hand in hand with not accepting low rates). Sure, you CAN do those 10k words within a day, I have been there myself. But neither the quality of your translations nor your personal wellbeing should suffer from this. Find a viable volume for your everyday work and don’t deviate from it too regularly.
What are the most common translation problems in German, your mother tongue?
German tends to be pretty verbose, which is especially egregious when translating PowerPoints or other files with space restrictions. Software strings will have to be abbreviated or otherwise clipped more often than not. Also, most machines (see question 6 below) are completely overwhelmed with the three grammatical genders and case-based inflections, which makes editing machine translations – which are horrible to begin with in most cases – extremely tedious and frustrating.
What do you most enjoy about working with SeproTec?
The PMs I have worked with so far are very friendly and understanding, I am getting a very constant flow of work (SeproTec IS my largest and most important customer after all), mostly without having to overstrain my capacity, and payments are always on time, which is not a matter of course in today’s translation business.
Human translation vs Machine Translation: what is your opinion?
100% human translation! First of all, I actually enjoy my job as a translator, not so much as an editor. I enjoy having the freedom to convey concepts, not just translate mere words. Also, while I absolutely recognize the future aim of machine translation for both translators and end-clients (faster turnaround for the client, less work per job for translators), commercial machines at their current state as of March 2019 are horrible. This makes editing those “masterpieces” at a reduced rate an extreme headache absolutely not worth the time and nerves spent/wasted/lost on this work. Mark my words: If Skynet ever takes over the world, I did nothing to contribute to it