In this interview, we go back to our office in The Netherlands to learn more about one of our in-house translators, Jenny Bos.
What did you study to become?
I studied English Language and Culture in Groningen, and specifically English linguistics, at the University of Groningen.
How many languages do you know and what languages do you translate from and to?
I know about five languages (some more than others), but I mainly translate from English into Dutch. The standard rule for translating is to translate into your own native language, since that is the language you’re most fluent in, and I guess English source texts are most frequently offered for translation, at least for us at Jensen Localization.
What tasks do you usually do?
I mainly translate texts, but I also review and edit translations done by others. Besides that, I do some related tasks such as translation memory editing or text formatting.
How different is it working as an in-house translator as oppose to freelance translators?
As in in-house translator I do not get to ‘choose’ which kinds of jobs I do, I basically have to take on all the jobs that the project managers offer me. Perhaps a freelance translator has a little more influence on which projects they like and want to accept, and which they would rather not do. But on the other hand I get to do more major projects that have highest priority, since the project managers maybe know better what my specific qualities are. And they know where to find me in case I did a bad job on a translation.
What are the pros and cons about working in the translation industry?
What I personally find a pro is that we get to know about new products first. For example, I have been working on the Dutch translation for a smartphone (I cannot mention the brand name due to confidentiality reasons) for a couple of years now, and I am very exited I get to learn about new features of that device as one of the first people in the world. A big con for me would be that people may not always understand the importance of a good translation, and they may not understand why I do this work, or why I even like it. Also, I do worry about the new trend of using more machine translations, replacing the work done by actual translators. I am not sure machine translations result in the same quality as manual translations, and it feels like people do not appreciate the work translators do and its importance.
Being a translator, do you tend to notice translations and mistakes when you don’t work?
Definitely. I like going to the cinema to watch a movie (which in The Netherlands have subtitles), and I do notice incorrect translations straight away. I kind of hate myself for this, since it means I cannot just sit and enjoy a film without getting distracted by mistakes or ‘awkward’ translations. The same really goes for reading a book. Once I have noticed it has been translated too literally or too awkwardly I find it difficult to keep reading.
What do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies?
As I mentioned I really like going to the movies, and I watch a lot of television series (Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, etc.) or listen to music. I also like riding my bicycle or going for a run, just to be outside and enjoy the fresh air.
What advice would you give new translators just out of school?
I would mostly advise them to try to get lots of experience translating within the actual business. I did take some translation classes in university, but I found working in a translation company is quite different. I do not as much spend days or even weeks on end just translating one book or text, as we did in class, but rather do many different types of translations each day. On one day I may work on multiple different subjects, ranging from marketing to a technical manual for a medical device to a legal text, etc.
Would you like to become a project manager? What would the pros and cons be?
I actually started my career in the translation business working as a project manager for about two years. But I found it was not really my cup of tea, and I much more enjoy doing the actual translating. I really like getting my head around a difficult text and trying to solve the puzzle of finding a nice, fluent translation, much more so than juggling with emails from clients and translators.
Do you think machine translation will ever replace JL’s services?
I do not think machine translations will ever replace the work done by translators and I think a human translator/reviewer will always be needed. I think machine translations may be good for generic texts where you have many similar, repetitive sentences, but for example for marketing texts you will always need a manual translation for a more custom tailored translation. And I’d like to think a manual translation will still always result in the best quality.
If you couldn’t become a translator, what would you have wanted to become?
I always wanted to be a meteorologist actually, working on weather data or even studying subjects such as global warming. But then I chose to study English instead, because I was afraid the physics and mathematics would be too hard.
What types of translations do you prefer working with?
I like the really challenging texts best of all. I did a rather challenging text on dental implants a while back, for instance, and that needed a lot of investigation on the different procedures involved in creating the implants. I was a lot of work and it got really frustrating at times, but it was also really fun to do. Besides that, I also like projects where I am involved in the entire process, starting off working on a new product and then updating and fine-tuning the translations all the way to the end. I have been working for a while now on the translations for smartphones software, and that was especially fun since I got to really start from scratch rather than updating an existing translation.
What kind of translation do you like to work with the least?
As an in-house translator we also get to do small updates of a few words on an existing translation. So for example a product manual has already been translated before, but now that product has a new feature and we just need to add two or three sentences to that manual. And doing reviews is not really much fun.
What is the funniest/craziest translation you have ever worked with?
The most fun translation for me was that of a game where you have to shoot zombies. Since of course we had to really get to know the product to be able to get the highest quality translation, we had to play that game a lot.
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