Tag Archives: translation

A thought on Cultural Immersion

Next week, I will finish my exchange program at Dickinson College, and at this moment, some memories bubble to the surface. After packing my clothes and belongings, the smell of the yellow books borrowed from the library or the glimpse of photos from the first weeks in the US trigger the best and the worst moments I have had in my life so far.

Before coming to the US, I had planned to see many American attractions. I would see the Statue of Liberty, I would walk the Brooklyn bridge, I would jog in Central park, I would admire the Washington Monument, I would smell fist-hand Niagara Falls, I would visit many American museums… I had made a small list containing the top things to see and the top things to do, and they would include getting under the skin of the culture, like reading popular books or listening to popular songs, eating authentic food like Philly cheesesteak, chicken pot pie, or New York cheesecake. Living in an English- speaking country meant talking, reading, traveling, and hundreds of hours of conversation.

Cultural immersion and translation

Yes, translating implies that you have a thorough and accurate knowledge about both languages’ grammar, expressions, technical words, and linguistic theories. It means that you are able to transfer meaning from an original source language into a target language. The native speaker from the target language is going to read the translated text as if it were originally written for him.  When we translate, we put ourselves in the author’s shoes and we analyze the context and the purpose in which these words were written or spoken. By being exposed to the language first-hand, it is easier to understand the culture and to recreate the contexts in which these texts were produced.

A Different Concept

If you had asked me at the beginning of this year what “cultural immersion” meant, I would have answered that it meant traveling to another country, and an opportunity to learn the culture`s peculiarity. I would have stressed that traveling to an English- speaking country represented a possibility to “perfect” your language skills like a magical potion.

Now, I would say that “culture immersion” is about feeling the adrenaline of moving away from the comfort zone, learning from other people, observing places, and writing a story about yourself in a new place, meeting new people with thoughts different from your own, grabbing a bike and touring through nature and uncommon places, walking with no direction in mind and knowing the outskirts of a town or a city. It is the recollection of these cherished moments and the remembrance of the sounds, the smells, the sights, and the textures that shape my memories about the US.

Sharing quality time with new friends.
Sharing quality time with old and new friends.

Best and worst moments in the US

Culture immersion meant to me an opportunity to dive into the culture and to polish-off my English. After many months spent in here, I don’t feel ready to leave, and I actually won`t leave yet, because I have decided to take some more opportunities to travel.

The best moments that I have had were those in which I could share with American families and getting to know the culture in depth.

Cooking homemade empanadas and sharing philosofical thoughts about life.
Cooking homemade empanadas and sharing philosofical thoughts about life.
Gathering after hearing anecdotes and a cozy weekend with an American family.
A cozy weekend with an American family.
A special Thanksgiving with an American family, gathering around the fire and enjoying some s'mores and hot apple pies.
A special Thanksgiving with a friends’s family, gathering around the fire, and enjoying some s’mores and hot apple pies.

The worst moments that I have had are coming right now: packing my memories and my belongings, with the thought that, in a month or so, I will leave the country which was my home for the past months…


I haven`t left yet, so I would like to share a video with you about my experience. I want to thank all my American friends and international friends with whom I spent unforgettable moments. As cheesy as it sounds, I am a different person because I opened my heart to a different culture and I let it enter my heart. Enjoy!

I hope you had enjoyed the video! Keep moving and you`ll embrace many adventures that await you. Life has many surprises that are hidden in the world, in the people, in the cultures, you just have open your heart to receive those gifts.


Interpreters: Essential People in the Communication Process

So, last week a friend talked me into volunteering for a Spanish medical professional’s class to help Spanish speakers in-need get medical assistance. I felt really confident, after all, I spoke English and Spanish fluently, and I had studied translation for four years. It wouldn’t be difficult, would it? We went to a hospital in Harrisburg and helped patients communicate with doctors who only spoke English. However, it was not the same than translating, where you had a deadline with unlimited access to resources, and time to look for terms. In this situation, you had to respond accurately in a limited time span. It was at this point, where I wondered about the difference between being a translator and being this intermediary. In the event there were no intermediaries in this conversation what would happen? Would patients or doctors be able to communicate effectively? What is the importance of this person? What are the specific qualifications a person like this should have?

These intermediaries between the communication processes are called interpreters. I decided to further investigate this topic, and I interviewed an English<> Spanish interpreter who also works as a translator, Silvia Barbuzza de Calderaro. Silvia is also a teacher of English as a second language, and she holds an MA in Educational Technology and ELT.


Agostina: Silvia, how long ago did you become an interpreter?

Silvia: I started interpreting 22 years ago.

Agostina: Did you always want to become an interpreter?

Silvia: Not really. I started liking interpreting when I met the teacher who later on became my mentor in the profession, Prof. Néstor Chiapetta, an experienced interpreter who trained me for many years. Sharing the booth with him, I began to enjoy and love the job. Of course, I´m talking about simultaneous interpretation, which is my passion.

Agostina: What is the difference between an interpreter and a translator?

Silvia: Broadly speaking, an interpreter works with spoken language translating orally, while a translator works with either spoken or written text transferring it from one language to another in writing.

Silvia Barbuzza, and on her right Mendoza’s Minister of Culture, the famous dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Mendoza’s Minister of Tourism. Mendoza, Argentina, August 2014.

Agostina: What skills does an interpreter need to have?

Silvia: Interpreting is fundamentally the art of paraphrasing—the interpreter listens to a speaker in one language, grasps the content of what is being said, and then paraphrases his or her understanding of the meaning using the tools of the target language. An interpreter also needs mastery of the subject matter being relayed. Interpreters have to possess the following skills: Intimate familiarity with both cultures, extensive vocabulary in both languages, an ability to express thoughts clearly, accurately and concisely in both languages, excellent note-taking techniques for consecutive interpreting, and a quick mind and composure for simultaneous interpretation.

Agostina: What are the different modes of interpretation?

Silvia: Broadly speaking, there are two types of interpreting: simultaneous and consecutive. In simultaneous Interpreting, the interpreter sits in a booth wearing a pair of headphones and speaks into a microphone. During consecutive Interpreting the speaker stops every 1–5 minutes (usually at the end of every “paragraph” or complete thought), and the interpreter then steps in to render what was said into the target language.

Agostina: What are the things you love the most about your profession?

Silvia: It´s difficult to put into words the excitement of this profession and the feeling of fulfillment one obtains from the job well done. I love the adrenalin and alertness required to perform well and the satisfaction when things go as expected and I leave the booth feeling I completed the job successfully. I enjoy being able to communicate the intended message and helping people connect and understand each other. That´s extremely rewarding!

Silvia Barbuzza and, on her left, her work partner Nestor Chiapetta in the booth interpreting in the Annual Meeting of the Great Wine Capitals, Mendoza, Argentina, November 2014.

Agostina: Do you know if the interpreting profession has any credentials in Argentina?

Silvia: Yes. There are different private and state educational institutions in Argentina which offer interpreting training at tertiary and university level.

Agostina: What’s a typical day at work like?

Silvia:Tipically, a simultaneous interpreting day for me starts at 6 a.m. to get ready to be at the site of the event by 7:30, half an hour before the conference starts. Once at the booth, my partner and I test that everything is working fine and settle down. We prepare our laptops, note pads, glossaries, powerpoint presentations, and finally make sure there is water and glasses available. If possible, we also contact the speakers to introduce ourselves before the conference starts. On a regular work day at interpreting, I spend about eight hours in the booth with a few breaks, but it´s an exhausting job. However, I enjoy it deeply.

foto cabina bariu00E1trica Cintia
Silvia Barbuzza and, on her left, her work partner Cintia Pergolis in the booth interpreting in the 8th International Conference of Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery”, Mendoza, May 2014.

After this interview with the expert, I had clearer ideas: interpreters are not the same than translators, since they require different skills. Interpreters must have a strong command of the language and culture, and they must respond almost instantly, while translators have a great command of the both languages. I kept on reading articles online, and I found out that there are other types of interpretation. (Click to view).

I still wasn’t  sure about what was like to be an interpreter, and so, I kept on looking, and I encountered a great video that describes the dream job of most interpreters: a life of an interpreter in the UN.

Once I volunteered as an interpreter in a basic medical situation, interviewed the experienced interpreter, read about the interpreter’s profession, and watched videos of interpreters’ work, I could grasp what really meant to be an interpreter. What do you think? After reading this blog post, can you tell the difference between a translator and an interpreter?

Translation Uncorks New Market Opportunities

This weekend I was invited to a family dinner in an Italian restaurant. I was reunited with some friends who came back to the US after being in Argentina during the Winter- Spring season. They have been sharing their experiences in Argentina and the room was filled with joy and laughter. Then, it was time to order food and guess what I came across within the menu? A list of Argentinean wines. Yummy! I was overjoyed to know I could drink a good Malbec here, with my friends, and at the same time, felt as if I were drinking the bright, ripe and juicy flavor of life. And along with this spicy flavor, I brought you a poem to make you feel the way I felt:

stirs the spring, happiness
bursts through the earth like a plant,
walls crumble,
and rocky cliffs,
chasms close,
as song is born.
A jug of wine, and thou beside me
in the wilderness,
sang the ancient poet.
Let the wine pitcher
add to the kiss of love its own […]”

Ode to WinePablo Neruda


And along with this cup of wine I was grateful to have the opportunity to get products 5,000 miles away and it was all thanks to globalization and translation.

New Market Opportunities

In Neruda`s Ode, the wine flourishes like international market. Nowadays, due to the interconnected global market, some developing and developed countries are only producing goods with comparative advantage.

In Argentina, for example, the industry of Malbec wine has exponentially rocketed in the last decade. A report from the National Wine Institute (INV) explains that there has been an increase in exports of 486% in 2013 over the same period in 2004. In the international market, globalization has forced some countries market to specialize and, as a result of their comparative advantage, most of them have bloomed. This growth is accompanied by the translation industry.


Translation and Marketing

It is not a casualty that employment of translators and interpreters is proliferating together with the international marketing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of translators and interpreters in the country is expected to increase by 46 percent between 2012 and 2022. Why? Because accurate translations play an important role in marketing and selling specialized products, whether exporting Argentinean Malbec, or Italian Nutella.

By means of a professional specialized translator, websites, advertisement and pamphlets can effectively reach potential customers in any part of the world. Thanks to translators, customers have access to specific information regarding contents, warnings and the way a product works.

Make a Difference

A good translation could be a good marketing or a bad one. If you really want to impact on your potential international consumers, not only do you need to effectively communicate the message, but also to present it in a neat way. A professional translator will employ all his linguistic and cultural skills to help your product stand out in the international market. As a result, you could effectively place the advertisement in a specific market.


Scientific Translators Beware of Tech Neologisms

“When one is translating one has to go right up to the untranslatable; but it is only at this point that one actually discovers the foreign nation and the foreign language.”                                                                                                                                                                                                  J. Goethe

After being in the US for a couple of months I`ve heard a great amount of new terms and abbreviations, especially when referring to technological devices, social networks and videogames. From text messages to web conferences, technology has introduced an arena of gadgets on the web and fresh terms for users. Since language is a dynamic system, these technological and social changes result in new words, which are known as “neologisms”. A neologism is a “new word or expression, or a word used with a new meaning”, according to the Longman Dictionary of English. It is a word or phrase that has been recently coined to denominate new concepts, name up-to – date inventions or simply add a new sense to an existing word. Nowadays we find new terms like “crowdfunding”, “infographics”, “cloud storage”, “ to unfriend” someone, to “follow” someone, and even “tweeps” or “dweeps”. If you are interested on reading more about technological terms, please click here.

New words, so what?

According to Peter Newmark, neologisms are the most problematic terms for scientific translators, since they have to translate these neologisms in a way that appears written naturally to the reader. I would say that it is highly recommendable to avoid borrowing terms unless they do not have a translation. We should first try to apply the most common procedures like transference, naturalization, or paraphrasing and then borrow the term if we have exhausted all available resources. For example, the English verb “to click” has been is naturalized in Spanish as “hacer clic”, which respects the language correct spelling. (In Spanish the combination of the characters “ck” is not natural). Each tech word is different; however, we have to keep an eye to the latest neologisms and whether there had been accurate translations on a certain field.

Did you like this post? Please leave any comments or concerns that you may have. Next week`s post is going to be on language interference.

Works Cited:

– Newmark, Peter. 1988. A Textbook of Translation. UK: Prentice Hall International Ltd.

Traduttore, Tradittore: Translation Ethics and Mistranslations

The Italian saying “traduttore, tradittore”, which in English means “translator, traitor” was my first encounter with translation issues. During my freshmen year in the English- Spanish Translation Program, one of my teachers introduced us to this saying, which made me think about translation, but I still didn’t fully grasp its meaning. Why would translators purposefully betray people if their purpose is to bridge cultural gaps and facilitate communication? Can mistranslations have a profound impact on the client`s business and image?

Before delving into mistranslations and some of their potentially damaging effects, it is crucial to define ethics.

What is ethics?

I believe ethics is about putting ourselves in another person`s shoes and thus, thinking about the implications of our actions on society. In the conference of Ethics and Interpreter Training, Mona Baker,an Egyptian professor of translation studies, expresses that “ethics is about the implications of everybody in any kind of encounter”. If we want to be professionals, we have to behave as such. If you schedule an appointment with a doctor, you instill your trust in them and you assume they will take care of you. You implicitly know if any health problem arises, they will do their best to diagnose and treat it. The same situation occurs with translators. The client trusts the translator, who, of course, will work to the best of their knowledge to aid in communication. However, what happens when you accept a job for which you are not prepared?

The following video is a dramatization that portrays an ironic situation of an interpreter who, instead of helping the client, causes him to experience an uncomfortable moment in front of his company`s CEOs.

Funny video, but not so amusing when you are the client. Although these situations extreme and rarely happen, it would now be important to clarify what is mistranslation.


Mistranslation implies something deeper than a bad translation; it implies the partial or total loss of the intended meaning of a message. While there could be some minor deviations in meaning like omissions, additions, bad choice of words, unclear ideas and ungrammatical sentences, some major mistakes may have financial and legal or political implications.

Faulty translations may deeply affect the clients. It is not wrong to say no if we are not qualified for or if we think we are not going to meet the tight deadline. In order to avoid mistranslations, we have to make sure we proof read and edit the text effectively, showing our professionalism and expertise.

If you liked this post, you cannot miss next week`s post on cultural differences, neologisms and when to borrow terms. Please feel free to comment. I am looking forward to reading your opinion about this topic.

Blog Proposal- Warning: Blog Under Construction, some Ideas May Change

Blog`s purpose?

After exploring inspiring blogs about the translation profession, becoming a freelance translator, seeking job opportunities, and establishing translation credentials, I have decided that I want to make my contributions to the field of translation. I do not want to imitate other posts, but simply write openly about topics I consider important as a junior translator and add my perspective. I believe other juniors and freelance translators, as well as seniors will be identified with some of the topics presented in my blog. Feel free to comment anything you consider noteworthy!

As I have seen in Transblawg, my blog posts are going to have links to legal blogs, translation blogs and language blogs. I would also like to imitate the “subscribe” option that I have seen in Thoughts of Translation blog, since I consider that widget that informs about new posts brings together writer and reader.

My blog posts are going to encompass topics related on the translation profession: finding clients, improving translation credentials, language issues, translation ethics and tools.

How to prospect new clients?

As Céline Graciet expresses in her blog, websites, profesional networking and word-of-mouth are the best way to promote yourself. At the same time, websites are double-edged sword because, as a person who works with language and makes meaning,a translator should watch their language. If you think websites are the best way to promote yourself, you are wrong. We wil try to come up with fresh ideas about promoting yourself. You could make use of all types of social networks.

How do you improve your credentials?

We will follow Marta Stelmaszak`s suggestions on her chapter, You need a CV that works, which will help us create a CV that reflects a profesional profile.

Keeping yourself constantly updated on language usage

You can resort to monolingual dictionaries in Spanish, to monolingual dictionaries in English, collocations dictionary in English, reference materials about Spanish usage, or blogs about Spanish language usage,but you must always be updated and show professionalism through your language usage.

Translation ethics?

A topic I haven`t seen addressed in any of the blogs before. And, since there are some blurred boundaries to what is ethical and what is not, it needs to be clarified. We may reflect, together with Mona Baker, some of the professional ethics that are required of a translator.

Translation tools?

Another topic I have hardly seen in most of the blog posts! We will explore some tools for translators that will make them save time and look professional with clients!

As mentioned earlier finding clients, establishing credentials, improving your language, being ethical and using translator tools are elements that are going to help you create opportunities in your professional career as a translator or future translator. Don`t drop your guard! Follow my posts and build a better future!