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Mariné is a freelance Spanish translator based in NYC. She started with a bachelor in biology in Puerto Rico. She then studied general psychology and media communication. She never studied translation but helped editing and translating a book for one of her teachers and got really into it. She moved to New York to work as a Spanish project manager in the translation industry before becoming a freelancer.

Do you think that not having a formal translation degree is sometimes missing?

Definitely. When I decided to go on my own as a translator, I looked into certifying myself and I am now a certified member of the ATA (American Translators Association). It is important because it gives clients a sense of security when they look at your resume. Some clients only ask for certified members so it is better to have one.

When I came to NYC I learnt everything about the translation industry and it helped me understand how it worked: CAT tools (Computer-Assisted translation), guidelines, localization meaning not only translating but really paying attention to which country and target you are translating for. So many details that I would have not take into much account before because I did not have proper training in translations.

It may be a remnant of my biology days but the translations I enjoyed the most are the medical ones. I translate a lot in this area: healthcare, research papers. I really enjoy it.

What is your translation routine?

I have to admit that only in very few instances I read the document entirely. I do a lot of research throughout the translation, I have a lot of technical dictionaries, digital copies of course otherwise it would be impossible to carry them around! The most expensive tool I have is this industrial mammoth I use for a client in Bangalore. It cost me $600 but I managed to do a lot of translations from that one time cost.

I also do a lot of glossaries (it is easy to do with Wordfast), especially for medical subjects in which everything has to be consistent from one translation to the other. I also check the TM (Translation Memory) to be sure that everything is up to date.

I use mainly Wordfast, SDLX and then Trados. I rarely use PO Edit, which is a freeware. It is an investment but because of the amount of work, they pay off and I can deduct them from my taxes as a working tool!

Do you think that you could translate books, literary documents?

I never had the opportunity, I think I could, I have friends in this industry, they told me that it is not arid materials, you still need to do researches obviously but there is more editing, you can choose your own verbiage, your own words. If I had the opportunity and the time, I would totally go for it.

Is there anything that you translated, that you feel really proud of? 

The job I had the most fun with was the translation of a video game called Section 8, a sci-fi video game released in the US, France, Spain and some other countries. I would translate it into Spanish for the US and someone would edit it into Spanish for Spain afterwards. Everything was so interesting. It took us 5 months and I was sick of it at some point, it was really a fulltime job but it was really fulfilling, I got to play the demo for testing purposes, How much fun could that be? Yeah, I am testing a video game; lets check this translation while I am killing that monster.  I think that’s the translation I am the most proud of.

How does that work to find jobs? Are you looking or do agencies contact you directly? Any active searching?

I am in a couple of forums (ProZ for example) where I pay annual fees; I am also a member of the ATA. I have clients who send me regular amounts of work, like in Spain or in India. NYC-based agencies send me a mix of DTP proof, testings, and proofreadings…  I do lot of different things which I like, it is nicely balanced. I don’t have time (and I said this as a good thing) to do a lot of searching on those forums.


How do you sensibilize the clients about the amount of work? Educate them?

Today, we really have to educate the client about what is translation and how it works. In my Project Manager days, we would get ridiculous requests of huge amount of words to translate in one day. They sometimes do not understand that even if it is small, if it is technical, you would need someone specialized in this area, you cannot translate technical stuff out of thin air, and you need a specialist! And of course, they sometimes want the translation for yesterday and they are trying to pay as less as possible. Or on the contrary, they say that they can pay you rush fees but you cannot do things magically, after all you only have one brain and one pair of arms!

I also sometimes have to explain the differences of language flavors. Each Spanish-speaking country would have a different one. There are 400 millions of Spanish-speaking people in the world and that is a lot of people! Companies are trying to get to everyone but a translation will always be geared towards one country depending on the translator. For example, if I translate for people in Puerto Rico, Spanish people/Spaniards will understand the bulk of it but not everything especially if it is colloquial. You have to make the client understand that you have to filtrate people and adjust according to the country. We are not outshining the others but you have to be realistic. If you think more Americans will go on your website, you ask for a US Spanish and not a Spanish for Spain.

For technical translation, it is a bit different as it is quite universal even though sometimes it can differ like Pneumonia or pulmonia… even medical terms can have differences depending if it is formal or not.

What do you like so much about translation?

I feel like I am helping to build bridges, to help communicating. I would have missed so many good books if they had not been translated into English and Spanish. There is really something beautiful about helping people communicate.

Today, a lot of what I do is for profit but I sometimes do things just for free, to help and it is extremely rewarding to have people thanking me and saying that thanks to my translation, they were able to understand what the topic was about.

People say that a job you love is a job that you are willing to do for free and that’s how I know that I am really in the right place doing what I love.

Thank you Mariné!

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