7 ways to learn a language

 

First of all, I would like to start saying that there is no magic potion, no way you can learn a language in just “a few days” or in a couple of months. Learning is a process that requires your dedication everyday of the week for a long, long time. And the more you know, the more you understand that you don’t know anything. We learn a language by practicing the listening, the reading and the speaking (and also writing in case you need it for a job or university). Obviously, you will feel comfortable with one of those more than the others, but you need to practice ALL of them.

First, basic grammar is strictly necessary, and even more if you need that ”writing” part. I am not one of those persons that learn a language fast by assimilation (I am incredibly slow), so for me grammar is everything. Besides, I love grammar – something that not everybody can say. After grammar, the tip that I can give is that you cannot be afraid of speaking. When I started learning Italian, I used to think that first I would get a good comprehension of the language so then I could start talking. That’s wrong. If you don’t start since day one, you will never start, because it always feels that you need to know more in order to speak. So not being afraid of making mistakes, as stupid as it may sounds, is the rule number two. As a third precious advise, you should act as if you already know that language, inserting yourself in that world. And that is the reason of this text. How do we do that?

  • Books

I like reading, so I will start with this one. Reading can be challenging, but you can like if you know how to choose the right things to read that have the grammar on the same learning level you are. In the beginning, you can start with comics, for instance. Comics are easy childish grammar and contains a lot of expressions from the spoken language, it is different from literature language, for example. Plus, images help you to assimilate the meaning and understand what is written. In case you don’t like it, you can also read books from your childhood in the language you are learning. I think that is wonderful! Maybe the language you are learning now is the original language of that book you used to  read as a child. But perhaps, children books aren’t for you. Do you know that there are versions of your favorite adult books in different levels of the language you are learning? Yes! Check it up online. They do different editions of famous book titles for kids of all ages. There are many options.

I know it will be difficult in the beginning. But think that reading is the most easy way to insert yourself in the new language. When you read, you can stop and search for that word or expression, you can read and re-read it again as many times as you need, until you get it. There is no pressure, besides your own. Maybe you won’t understand every single word, but the important is to get the meaning of the text, capisce? However, you cannot read something each year and think that you are doing a huge effort. In order to learn something from reading, you must read a lot. But no worries, after some time the reading part will come easily, you’ll see.

  • Recipes

This is a fun one. Imagine to cook something you got from a recipe in the language you are learning? Here you are going to have a different terminology: cooking words, kitchen utensils and etc. But, at least for me, this is a very important vocabulary. I mean, you need to eat everyday, don’t you? It is important to know the names of the food you are eating, for instance. But if you decide to search for that recipe online, bare in mind that there are different blogs and websites with that same recipe made in different ways. There are the ones that write down a huuuge text and the ones that go straight to the point. Check and compare a few of them before you gave up.

Since we are talking about searching recipes, when you are looking for something on internet, anything, why don’t you look for it in the language you are learning? Since you want to insert yourself on that language, that’s the way to do it! If you type it in Portuguese, for example, your search engine will give you results in Portuguese. That’s a very good tip. One of the things that I noticed with myself, is that we restrict ourselves too much in our own language. There is a whole world out there in different languages that perhaps can help you even more in what you are looking for.

  • News

Reading the news on your target language. I started with this one in Italian, and no, this is not an easy one. The language on the news are not day by day language, it is a formal one. But it’s the same as reading any other thing: first, you will start slow, reading a sentence or paragraph, and then re-reading it until you understand what the text is saying – and not every single word. If you are persistent,  with time you’ll be reading without much effort.

Reading the news is an important part of ”inserting yourself on that world” for obvious reasons. You’ll be reading a journal or magazine from the country of your target language, checking about current events there and learning about that culture. And, again, internet is here for us, so we don’t need to actually buy a journal or a magazine. You can look up for local journals of your target language country and then follow them on Twitter, for example. So, give it a go and be persistent!

  • Films

It seems obvious, but people actually don’t do it. And I can give you many reasons why to do it: watching a movie that was made on your target language country is good not just because you will be hearing the language in use, but you will be watching about local problems of that country, or understanding what is the concept of ”comedy” of this country, for example. Again, you’d be inserting yourself on the culture.

But my tip here is a bit different. Maybe you don’t want to get out of your comfort zone. Maybe you don’t like French movies, for example. So why don’t you take movies that you’ve already seem and watch them now on your target language? They can be American movies or whatever. A movie that you have already watched, maybe in your mother tongue, will help you with the comprehension, even if you ”don’t remember anymore” what happens.  In the beginning you’ll start watching them with subtitles, but after sometime allow yourself to take them off. Listening is also just practice. On the second movie or series you see without the subtitles, you will be already understanding a lot. So every Friday night or weekend that you decide to watch a movie, watch it on the language you are learning, ALWAYS!

  • Games

There are many educational games to learn a language, as Duolingo and Memrise, everybody knows. In my point of view, the only problem about them is that the players want to learn a language and don’t do anything anymore,  just pass the days playing with that game. These people full themselves, and they know that. This games are good for vocabulary and for maintaining yourself on that language world, and I think they can be useful mostly in the beginning. However you cannot assume you will just play Duolingo and the language will come to you like that. This is just a small contribution you’ll be doing to your brain. Much more is need to be done yet. In the beginning, they fill they purpose and, of course, playing is something you do for fun, so everything is easy peasy. However, after you reach a good level on the target language, you don’t see much utility on this games anymore.

  • Music

This one everybody knows. It is so obvious that shouldn’t even be here. I am from the time we needed to download musics one by one and risk to download with them 81628127 viruses. Now with Spotify, our lives got a bit easier. You can type there “French songs”, for example, and listen to this album with just French musics while doing your chores. And from that you can start creating a file just with the musics you liked the most, and then just listen to that file. Music will help you with your listening, but it is also important to check for the lyrics online. You will not understand what the singers are saying in the beginning, but when you read the lyrics while you listening to it you’ll start understanding. And then, when you see next time you play that music you will be singing together. With music you can listen how they pronounce the words, and even learn some expressions and slang. And, comm’on, it is something that you can do while working, for example, so there is definitely no reason why not to do it. In fact, there is no reason why you are not doing it right now.

  • Speaking

Unfortunately, there is no easy way, you need to start all this advises since the beginning of your language acquisition. Going to the country where they speak the language is still the best choice, even though I think it is not so fair, since not everyone can afford that. In case you don’t see yourself travelling so soon, there are always other options, as conversation meet ups. Even if you do not live in a multicultural town, usually capitals always have this meetings – most of them in English and Spanish. Another tip is to talk to yourself. Yes, it may sound weird, but the secret of talking to yourself in the language you are learning is to put and maintain your mind on that language. You don’t even need to speak out loud, just thinking on the language you want, and when you see you’ll be automatically thinking in Chinese, for example. Not that easy, I know, but after doing all my last advises, you will be already able to formulate sentences in your head, so there are no excuses. For last but not least, you can search for messaging websites on the language you are learning. Yes, they exist, and I bet there are plenty of them in the language you want! Make this effort and start looking for them today and sign up.  You may found some perverts (I am sorry, but it happens, this is the internet), but just ignore them and talk to the next person. And don’t give up!

Prós e contras na aprendizagem da língua italiana para falantes do português

Aprender uma língua, não importa quão similar ela seja a sua, é sempre difícil e exige empenho e – muita – determinação. Após meses de quase desistência, eu resolvi escrever um post para reclamar mesmo. No entanto, depois de ficar encarando a página em branco do computador na minha frente, percebi que, além de não ter diferentes motivos para explicar que ”italiano é difícil” ou que ”italiano é diferente do português por isso e por isso”, acabei me dando conta também o quanto eu amo essa língua. Independente das vezes em que eu tentei falar em italiano e pareci uma criança de 3 anos com síndrome de down, ou das tantas milhares de vezes em que eu tentei entender como usar as preposições com pouco sucesso, ou de como é díficil manter o foco e continuar estudando, eu amo italiano mesmo assim. Por isso, ao invés de reclamar, eu resolvi escrever um post para ajudar aqueles amigos e amigas que estão decidindo qual será a próxima língua que irão aprender e estipulei alguns prós e contras, na minha opinião, de aprender italiano.

Pontos negativos:

 

Falsos amigos

Esse com certeza é o ponto negativo mais chatinho. No meu primeiro mês estudando, pensei até que fossem coincidências, mas não, a língua italiana tem muitos falsos amigos com o português brasileiro. Falso amigo, para quem não sabe, são palavras com escrita idênticas em duas ou mais línguas, porém com diferentes significados. Ás vezes, a confusão pode ser até engraçada! Alguns exemplos:

Come                    Como (e não ”comer” conjugado na 2a pessoa do singular)

Guardare             Assistir, olhar (nada a ver com ”guardar”)

Espettare            Esperar ( e não ”espetar”)

Birra                      Cerveja (e não a ”birra” que as crianças fazem!)

Burro                     Manteiga (e não o animal)

Cercare              Procurar (e não “cercar”)

Prego                  De nada, por favor (e não aquele de martelar)

Salire                   Subir (esse demora pra entrar na cabeça!)

Testa                   Cabeça (pois ”testa” em italiano é ”fronte”)

Parece bobagem, mas a verdade é que quando estamos iniciando em uma nova língua, falsos amigos não nos ajudam muito. Mesmo quando você já sabe o significado de uma palavra, já estudou, revisou, leu milhares de artigos, e já viu aquele vocabulário no seu sentido correto, a sua mente automaticamente te prega uma peça, pois essa está acostumada a usar aquela palavra no sentido da sua língua materna. Haja paciência.

Preposições

Esse é o ponto negativo mais difícil de enfrentar: as preposições da língua italiana. O único lado bom é que, na verdade, preposições são difíceis em qualquer língua, então não é um exclusividade do italiano. As preposições simples são oito: DA, DI, PER, TRA/FRA, SU, IN, A e CON. A uma primeira olhada não parece tão assustador, pois num primeiro momento você acha que DI, PER, IN, A e CON podem ser substituidos por DE, PARA, EM, A e COM, mas é aí que você se engana. Elas não possuem o mesmo significado sempre, e são usadas em diferentes contextos. Temos que desligar de novo aquela vozinha intuitiva na nossa mente e tentar entender o significado de cada uma na nova língua. O que acontece é que, por mais que existam regras bases, há milhares de excessões e exemplos que não entram em nenhuma dessas regras. Então, quando iniciares no mundo das preposições em italiano, não se preocupe, não será na primeira e nem na segunda vez que entenderás como usá-las. É necessário muito tempo, prática, leitura e escrita… A confusão piora quando temos que estudar as preposições articuladas logo depois. Com essas a lógica é fácil, pois o mesmo processo ocorre no português – por exemplo, ”de” + ”o” = do. O problema é que para usar a articulada, você tem que ter entendido a simples antes, se não está tudo errado! E como preposições são muito usadas numa língua (difícil arquitetar uma frase sem uma delas!), lá vamos nós aos trancos e barrancos tentar se pronunciar em italiano.

Plural

Logo no início da jornada aprendemos artigos, substantivos, gêneros e… Plural. Se você quer iniciar-se no italiano, já deve saber que nessa língua não é simplesmente acrescentado o ”s” no final de palavras no plural. Em nomes e adjetivos masculinos, acrescenta-se “i” no final da palavra e em femininos “e”. Como em “ragazzo” torna-se “ragazzi” e “ragazza” torna-se “ragazze”. Novamente, a nossa intuição interna quer acrescentar o ”s” para plurais, o que pode levar um pouco de tempo para se acostumar com o italiano na fala. O difícil mesmo de superar no início do aprendizado é entender e usar corretamente os artigos. De novo, não se acrescenta simplesmente o ”s”, então artigos definidos e indefinidos são um pouco mais complexos do que no português: la, il, lo se tornam le, i, gli. Esse não é o pior desafio, mas é o primeiro que enfrentamos.

Pontos positivos:

 

 

Pronunciação

Aqui o italiano ganha pontos positivos em relação a muitas outras línguas. Você fala exatamente o que escreve. E esse é um dos motivos do porquê os nossos problemas com pronúncia quando aprendemos essa língua são, geralmente, mínimos a nulos. Por exemplo, no português brasileiro tendemos a pronunciar “ti” e ”di” como ”txi” e ”dxi”, enquanto que no italiano pronuncia-se como no português europeu. Também trocamos frequentemente ”o” por ”u” e ”e” por ”i”, enquanto que no italiano essas letras manterão exatemente o mesmo som. Como em ”gatto” onde temos que manter o ”o” na fala, enquanto que em português ”gato” pronunciamos ”gatu”. É tão fácil que não tem nem muito o que escrever sobre isso. Easy peasy.

Similariedade

Apesar de haver muitos falsos amigos, não podemos negar a forte similariedade entre as duas línguas. Quem já tentou ou aprendeu outras línguas, consegue ver isso ainda melhor. No início da nossa jornada como aprendizes, é normal e aconselhável para iniciar a falar, dizer a palavra que se quer em português e somente italianizá-la. Parece brincadeira, mas funciona 80% das vezes. É claro que com o tempo só isso não é suficiente, mas essa dica ajuda a passar pelas primemiras barreiras da linguagem. Há inúmeras palavras no vocabulário italiano que se assemelham ou são a mesma em português. Além do mais, a similaridade nos faz ver que, talvez, italiano não seja, assim, um bicho de sete cabeças.

Cultura

Agora, o melhor motivo de todos. Mesmo para você que talvez nunca teve a oportunidade de conhecer o país, com certeza já deve ter uma idéia. Além da aproximação histórica grande entre os dois países (eu venho do Rio Grande do Sul, então a aproximação é ainda maior!), aspectos da culltura italiana vão fazer você escolher essa língua, com toda a certeza. Quando queremos aprender uma língua, sejam por motivos particulares, profissionais ou hobby, o interesse pela cultura daquele(s) país(es) é muito importante. Eu poderia parar por aqui, pois somente a culinária já é motivo suficiente, mas há também atitudes no dia a dia, hábitos saudáveis e a beleza indiscutível do país.

Aprender uma língua vai ser sempre difícil, não importa o que digam. Há aqueles afortunados que aprendem rápido, e há aqueles pobre mortais como eu que não. O segredo é não se comparar e não ser injusto consigo mesmo. O pouquinho que você se dedica dia após dia já faz a diferença e você nem percebe! Primeiramente, escolha a língua que você gosta mais e aprenda se divertindo, e não somente estudando, como uma responsábilidade, algo que deve ser feito. Depois, aprenda a perceber os pequenos avanços que você fez. Leva tempo, mas, obviamente, é muito gratificador!

Starting as a Translator: Unpaid jobs

“If you are good in something, never do it for free.” Correct? God, I wish things were that easy. For all the young people starting their career paths or for the ones whose decide to start from zero, we all know how difficult it is to find a job without experience. This is that famous and endless circle: without experience, you don’t find a job, but without a job you don’t have experience! And let’s face it, you do not have experience, so even if, hypothetically,  you start a paid job you will commit many mistakes, because that is normal. However, you might risk to lose a nice opportunity because you did not develop that skills before. So why do not help others in a way that will be beneficial for you and for the organisation, body or company?

On-site volunteering:

You might not find an in-house Translation volunteer job specifically, but you can find related opportunities in the languages field. An immigrant teaching volunteer, for example, gives you the opportunity to use and improve yourself in your mother tongue or second language, while you are inserted in a different culture. Or, you can work in customer service with your second language, which will boost your speaking. It sounds interesting because it is. Besides, most of us don’t even need to leave our countries to do that. Plus, usually in a volunteer position of this type you will have more freedom, since you will be working a few hours during the week or weekends. So, in the meantime, you can continue looking for different job-related opportunities. For volunteer jobs in the Republic of Ireland check out this website here.

Online volunteering:

There are many online translation volunteering out there. The Rosetta Foundation is from far the most famous one. The good thing is that anyone can apply and start doing jobs straight away. The bad thing, you are not chose for that job, so while you are looking there are others doing the same… It means that if you find find you want to translate, you need to do it fast before somebody else does. Another one that I like is Per Mondo. Here you will sign up as a volunteer, and wait until somebody assign you a job by e-mail. The bad thing is that this may take months to happen. The Translators Without Borders is also very well known. You register online easily, and after a couple of days they send you the answer. You might do a translation test before starting as well. Do you know TED? And do you also know that their translators are volunteers? Well, I didn’t. The bad side here is that if you don’t experience in doing subtitles, it is going to be way more difficult for you. The good side is that they have videos explaining how to do subtitles! So, it may be a chance to learn something new and work for a big and awesome company.

Unpaid internship:

This is like a volunteer, the only difference is that you will probably need to confirm your degree/graduation, and your hours will be as in a payed job – working full-time during five to seven days per week. Probably because of this, an internship in your curriculum is much more appreciated than a volunteer for most employers. If the internship is payed, even if just for basic expenses as transport and lunch, better, but most of them aren’t. Again, the important is to learn and keep working in the field you chose. You can find internships in the usual job search websites like Indeed and Jobs.ie, for instance. You may also be rejected for the internship that you chose, because it is a job like any other. The secret is to do not stop trying!

With persistence and a bit of confidence, you will start having your experience little by little. Everything takes time. Once you chose what you love and decided to do it for the rest of your life, just keep doing it. This also shows your commitment and passion for that field, which will also help you to have more job opportunities!

Why translation is not that simple (in case you didn’t know)

When I was a kid I used to dream of speaking a lot of different languages and this dream followed me for many years. Having English as a second language, I now come to realise that it does not matter how many years have passed or how many courses I did – I’ve been learning English since I was fifteen -, English is not my mother tongue, and there is always something new to learn and improve. In Translation, this is even more clear, because it is not enough to know the basics or to simply know how to communicate. I have surprises everyday. For that reason, when I face or hear someone saying “I know/speak several languages” I think to myself “Do you?!“. Nowadays, my dreams changed: I am still in love with languages and I will not stop on the English one, but I will try hard to be the best and specialised myself in the few languages that I know.

It is the same about translating. Everybody that knows other language(s) think they can be a translator. A curriculum with a bunch a languages proficiency is beautiful, and don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate people with CVS like this. Nevertheless, when you have a few experience in this field, you start to understand why not everybody can be a translator. In order to be a translator, it requires a deeper knowledge of both target and source languages. This should be obvious, but in the practise it is not for most people. I made a list of the most important points of why translation is not that simple:

Cultural gap:

When I am translating from Brazilian Portuguese, for instance, even tough there is something that I don’t know how to translate or that there is no translation at all, I understand what that term or sentence means. Not only because it is my mother tongue, but because it is the culture I was inserted in. I know how an university operates, for example, so when I see terms like “aproveitamento de estudos” or “vestibular”, I understand their meaning. The other way around, the same does not happen to me when I am translating from Spanish. Depending on what I am facing, I don’t even know where to look for an explanation or possible translation. The same happens to my colleagues whose speak Portuguese but are not citizens. When I explain the meaning of something for them, it is of big help. If you think about it, even living in the country that speaks the language you are learning are not enough. It requires patience and time to have the complete “fluency” package.

Language structure:

Now: how the language behaves. In English, for example, the adjective comes before the noun, and in Portuguese this is the other way around. So, basically, when you have something as this ”Aposentadoria por tempo de contribuição”, in English every word are backwards ”Contribution time based pension”. Obviously, this rule does not work like that every time, so it is not as simple as ”just translate it backwards”. Plus, among adjectives, nouns, objectives, verbs, etc., there are many other examples showing that one language behaves different then the other. So, translation is not just about typing words and sentences, but understanding the structure of the language, something that requires not only studying grammar, but also practise in writing. Again, things that just patience and time will give to you. 

Technical translation

New Translators will work with any kind of document that the clients give to them. And there is nothing wrong with this, because that’s the only way to acquire experience, learn and understand which field interests you more, as it is in any other profession. However, there are documents that are completely technical. And you come to realise that doesn’t matter how many years you studied or how good you are in that language, you are trapped in the technical terms. And for this, just the translation knowledge is not enough, it’s necessary to go beyond that and end up studying something and specialising yourself in a field that has nothing to do with translation, as medicine or law, for example. Again, as in any other job, you need to improve yourself little by little over the years.

Computer skills

I like reading and writing, can I be a Translator? Well, not exactly. To have computer skills is another important requirement. Not just the proficiency of simple tools as Word and Adobe Reader, but also knowledge of  CAT tools (Computer-assisted translation). Some companies will work with one type of CAT tool, so even tough you are used to one of them, for example, you may need to learn how to use the other.  For CAT tools types click here. The good news is that you will acquire computer skills with practise, so, basically, while you work. For most people, this is not a problem, but for others, computers can be a bit of a dilemma. In that case, internships and online volunteering can help. The important is to start somehow.

Many cultures, one language 

 

This one may not apply to everybody, but it certainly applies to me. There are different countries that speak Portuguese, for example, such as Brazil, Portugal and Angola. For a geographical reason, this Portuguese can change from  one country to the other, not just in the vocabulary, but also in the grammar. Even tough I may be translating from Portuguese into English, I sometimes face a whole sentence that I simply do not understand the meaning, and it is my mother tongue! So I need to do my research in order to understand the content of the text.  For that reason, a professional translation should always be from English into the mother tongue of your country and vice versa. Only this way you can assure to provide a quality job.

As any other profession, Translation requires you to have some specific skills and specialise yourself over the years. Nothing new on that! Choose what you want to do and start your experience now!

 

Linguistic Prejudice and Brazilian Portuguese 

I want to write about something that it’s been hunting me for some years now. It is not about the differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese, but that there are, in fact, differences, why they exist and how do we react to them. First, I will start explaining: Many changes in the Brazilian Portuguese grammar were made in history, and more than once the Orthographic Agreement (Acordo Ortográfico) was changed in order to unify the Portuguese language. The Portuguese grammar was always a difficult subject in the schools, and these changes just make it worse. Even though I always celebrated the differences, now that I work with languages I understand their efforts to bring the Portuguese of all these countries together – how simpler would it be if they were just one, just as the Spanish. The attempt to bring the language closer was naive, because, after an ocean of distance and culture between us and our pioneers in Portugal, people in Brazil didn’t change the way they spoke just because a paper was saying it was wrong. Now this, of course, raised some damages. This is the reason, for example, that teaching or learning Brazilian Portuguese is difficult: you need to explain the grammar and then how it works in the spoken language – because is two different things! The personal pronouns, for instance are: eu, tu/você, ele/ela, nós, vós, eles. However we don’t use vós in the spoken language and we add another personal pronoun that does not exist in the grammar: a gente (which also means nós). The conjugation of the verb also changes from the written to the spoken language. As an example, I will use the verb amar.

How the grammar say it is:

Eu amo

Tu amas

Nós amamos 

Vós amais 

Eles amam 

How do we actually say:

Eu amo

Tu ama

Nós amamo 

A gente ama

Eles amam

Now, the facts: European Portuguese speakers like to say we butchered the language. I already heard that the European one was the ” right” Portuguese. What the hell does that mean?! Nevertheless, what hurts me the most is not offences from the outside, but evil comments of Brazilians about their own language. People outside don’t have the obligation to know our history and understand our language, but Brazilians do! Once in a class discussion, I heard a classmate explaining that we do not add the s in the end of the verb conjugated by the second singular person when we speak and that this was “wrong”. To say “wrong” was so wrong that physically caused me pain. I could bet that this classmate thinks (as everybody in the world) that the French language is very elegant, classy and beautiful. Well, guess what, the same process happens in French. We also drop the s in the end of the conjugated verb in the spoken French. And no one, NO ONE, says that this is wrong. What happened in that classroom that day was a Brazilian talking about a  rich part of the Brazilian culture, and as a Brazilian, he is not patriot at all. Too bad. This and other examples is what linguistics call ”Linguistic Prejudice”, and it happens inside the country. For starters, not even one single Brazilian speaks the way the grammar say we should,  so why prioritize a certain way over the other? There are clearly differences between one part of the society more educated and rich and the other with less opportunities. We say “leixti”, instead of “leite”, but we criticize who says “menas” instead of “menos”, or “seje” instead of “seja”. Why? People don’t understand their own language and cannot see their own mistakes. I already heard that are the people that make the country, and I guess that’s true. Myself, I think differences are completely normal and we cannot run away from it. So, instead of fighting it, we should look at the bright side. All this particularities of our language is what makes us unique in the end. And more, everyone that I know that is learning or would like to learn Portuguese prefers the Brazilian accent and sounds way more than the European one – sorry guys. The musicality of our particular language is beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I am also a non-patriot of my country. But I am trying to change this when is to defend something that I believe is good. And I think you should too.

Here is a fun video about the differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese with an important message in the end:

Writer style in translation

Working as an in-house Translator and Project Manager Assistant, liaising with clients and other translators, I am facing one of the most difficult challenges of the translation field: the clients. Yes, it may look ironic, but who works with customer service of any kind knows the struggle. There are many misunderstandings between the client-Translator-Project Manager, however the one that makes me more sad is that people don’t understand that there are different personal styles in translation. According to one of the definitions in Dictionary, style is: 

the mode of expressing thought in writing or speaking by selecting and arranging words, considered with respect to clearness, effectiveness, euphony, or the like, that is characteristic of a group, period, person, personality, etc. 

Translation is not a logical field, which means that every single person has a different written style. One sentence, expression or sometimes even a word, it’s not going to be translated the same way by different translators. And that does not mean one of this translations is wrong. And yes, that also applies for formal documents and texts. The same way there are different written styles in literature, this is what makes the languages field even more magical. I am asked to change things in my translations from turchoise to blue, because some clients want it exactly as they would translate. Besides being ironic – you paid for a service and end up doing it yourself – it is also quite offensive. Even though my work colleague said to me “le client est le roi“, I think there are some limits and I should stand for I believe is right and question what I think is wrong. The moment you ask me to modify my work – when there’s nothing to do with grammar and spelling mistakes -, you are taking from me all the fun, power and magic that the language gave me, that is to choose my preferable vocabulary and structure and put myself in that translation. When I change, it’s not me anymore. One of my favourite quotations from the poem of the Dead’s Poet Society movie, summarised the inner me and made me choose to work with languages. And it also may summarise how I feel about this topic:

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

How to become a translator

Check the original text in Italian here

  1. Learn at least one, preferably two foreign languages! If you still don’t speak fluently this language, learn it. To have some idea of the level that you reached in one language, you should find yourself in front of a word that is not so common in your mother tongue and feel comfortable using it. But suceeding in a foreign language is not enough. Make sure you are practicing in this language by reading, watching movies and television, listening to music, making friends in this other language, traveling, etc.

  2.  Practice in your mother tongue. The good thing about translators working with their own language is that this is the language from which they express themselfs better. Because of this, you should commit yourself to read write and speak the more you can – feel comfortble with your own language.

  3.   Try to obtain a qualification. Do a graduation in a foreign language, in translation and interpretation, linguistic and culture, foreign litterature, or linguistic science, and pass all the tests that you want, depending where you want to work, as the EPSO exam, for example, if you decide to work in the European Union.

  4. Practice and get experience. All the universities (or almost all of them) include in their curriculum a mandatory training. If in your university they don’t have one, find nother solution. Do an internship with a translation organization or company or try to ask one of your translator teachers if you can work with him/her during your studies.

  5. Define what is your main objective. Decide what you want to do. Do you want to translate books? Do you want to translate for a big organisation? Do you have your own bussiness? Make a decision.

  6. Get fast inside the work world once you finish your studies. This depends on what kind of translations you want to do. If you want to translte books, put yourself in contact with a publishing company. If you want to translte for an organisation, find one and contact them. It could be a good idea to do a internship in his organisationbefore graduating, because you can show your skills and turn out to be hired. If you want to start an activity by yourself, well, then you need to find clients.

  7. Try to be professional. Try to be fast, give a fair price for your translations and maintain a high quality in your work.  And more, professionals do not accept work that they are not prepared to do and they don not take too many works at the same time. Also, nobody wants to work with someone that does not respect deadlines.

Advices:

  • Speak and read in the chosen languagem the more you can.

  • As an exercise translate an article of Wikipedia.

  • Translate one WikiHow article in other language. This is very helpfull not just for you, but also for others WikiHow readers.

  • There are plenty TV channels in French, Spanish, Chinese, English, etc. Search for them and try to translate the program while you are watching it. In order to practice better, wite down your translation.

  • Pay attention to slangs, way of speakiing and cultural differences of this language If you study French, for exemplo,  don’t use all you time just in France, take into consideration the dialects and culture of Quebec, Belgium, Switzerland, Algeria, etc.

Novos tradutores: como sair da linha de partida

Texto original em inglês: Clique aqui

Somos frequentemente abordados por ambiciosos jovens tradutores a recém iniciados nessa profissão querendo conselhos e orientação. Porque lembramos claramente como era quando estávamos tentando começar nossas carreiras, decidimos escrever uma série de posts relacionados aos desafios/dilemas que esses tradutores iniciantes comumente enfrentam. Esperamos que isso ajude e, é claro, se você tem mais perguntas relacionadas a tradução, contate-nos…

1º desafio: o vicioso ciclo “sem experiencia = sem trabalho”

Um dos desafios mais difíceis a superar no início (não importa se você quer trabalhar para alguém ou sozinho) são as portas fechadas que encontramos. Com muita frequência, conseguir trabalho ou obter clientes só depende da experiência que você tem, todavia para ter experiência você precisa conseguir um trabalho ou cliente! Ai! Como começar?

Assim como tudo na vida, um pouco de tenacidade é vital, uma pitada de (boa!) sorte sempre ajuda e vale a pena pensar fora da caixa. Então, aqui vai alguma das dicas da TransTech para lhe ajudar a ter trabalho e experiência simultaneamente…

1)Trabalho voluntário:

Apesar de não ser pago, uma das melhores formas de obter experiência em qualquer ramo, incluindo o da tradução, é se voluntariar nos lugares certos. Em tradução há uma série de companhias que procuram por tradutores voluntários, e essas podem te prover com uma valiosa experiência e algo sólido para por no currículo.

Exemplos de algumas dessas  companhias:

www.translatorswithoutborders.orgwww.permondo.eu e www.volunteermatch.org.

2) Candidate-se a um estágio:

Muitas companhias que não tem capacidade financeira de contratar um tradutor pelo ano inteiro aceita estudantes ou recém graduados para estágios de pequena duração. Isso ajuda o tradutor a obter experiência e fornece a companhia uma mão de obra extra – na maioria das vezes alguém que está estudando ou completou os estudos numa área relacionada. Estágios são frequentemente postados em sites de universidades e faculdades, mas também podem ser encontrados em famosos portais de tradução como www.proz.com e www.translatorscafe.com.

Além do mais, contactar agencias diretamente (por telefone faz o com que o contato pessoal lhe dê pontos contra a competição) pode trazer resultados surpreendentes. Alguns podem lhe oferecer só algumas semanas com despesas de viagens incluídas, mesmo que o salário não seja incluído também. Pode ser uma grande  oportunidade de adicionar um trabalho especializado no seu currículo.

3) Canditate-se a trabalhos internos:

Ao contrário do conhecimento popular, tradutores internos não são encontrados geralmente em agencias de tradução. Eles estão em grande empresas onde há traduções regulares e especializadas (companhias automotivas, bancos e instituições financeiras, agência de empresas). Essas oportunidades são atualizadas no site dessas empresas e também em grandes portais de emprego online. Incluindo portais de emprego internacionais como www.monster.com, sites de tradução específica como www.monster.com, e também sites em países específicos como https://jobs.theguardian.com e http://www.nytimes.com/section/jobs.

As duas maiores vantagens do trabalho interno são a experiência que você ganha e o salário fixo, mas existem também outros pontos positivos: oportunidades de crescimento profissional que vêm com o trabalho; crescimento da sua lista de contatos no ramo; a oportunidade de fazer outras tarefas relacionadas a tradução (edição, revisão, administração de terminologia); e, é claro, tempo para decidir qual área lhe interessa mais para começar a se especializar.

4) Canditate-se a trabalhos em agências de tradução:

A maior parte das traduções feitas no mundo são dentro de agências. O volume de pedidos de grandes empresas que não possuem seus próprios tradutores pode apenas ser  administrado efetivamente por uma agência com um time de gerentes de projeto e tradutores. Softwares de tradução são fundamentais hoje em grandes projetos para garantir consistência e, geralmente, apenas agências podem investir na variedade necessária de tecnologias.

Consequentemente, trabalhar para uma agência pode lhe trazer diferentes tarefas diárias relacionadas a tradução. Gerenciar projetos lhe dá a oportunidade de compreender o processo de tradução em geral, da cotação a entrega, além de lhe expor trabalhos feitos por tradutores experientes, o que é de grande apreso para incrementar as suas próprias habilidades. Existem também agora muitas específicas qualificações de qualidade que agências obtêm para aumentar a sua credibilidade (ex.: ISO 9001:2008, UNE EN-15038:2006, TÜV Rheinland). Conhecimento nisso pode ser uma adição útil ao seu currículo.

Mas atenção: trabalhar numa agência pode ser estressante e exigir bastante de você. Apesar de  que a interação com clientes e ter colegas de trabalho por perto o dia todo são, sem sombra de dúvida, dois dos maiores pontos positivos de trabalhar dentro de uma agência, lidar com clientes que querem trabalhos feitos em prazos irrealistas e longas horas de trabalho são bem frequentes. Antes de aceitar trabalhar para uma agência, tente pesquisar a cultura corporativa dela é. Algumas oferecem uma vida profissional mais equilibrada que outras e se você está procurando trabalhar por um longo tempo em uma agência, seria mais sábio fazer uma pesquisa antes.

5) Candidate-se a um trabalho freelancer:

Onde, como e com quem achar um trabalho freelancer é também o conteúdo de muitos blogs, obviamente. No entanto, eu não preciso dizer aqui que para ganhar experiência, você deve considerar qualquer oportunidade que aparecer. Frequentemente isso envolverá trabalho freelancer, você querendo uma carreira freelancer ou não.

Além de enviar o seu currículo para agências e para clientes particulares diretamente, trate de mostrar presença online rápido (um site pode ser criado em segundos  hoje em dia). Dessa forma, as pessoas podem entrar em contato com você e é surpreendente as oportunidades encontradas com esses meios.

Se não estiver fazendo nada, crie em perfil globalmente renomados sites de tradução como  www.proz.com www.translatorscafe.com.

Quando possível, identifique tradutores experientes, pois muitos deles têm muito trabalho para fazer sozinhos e geralmente precisam de uma mãozinha em pequenas traduções ou em alguns pedaços de texto para serem traduzidos de uma área generalizada. Entre em contato com eles e explique que você é novo no ramo e está buscando experiência. Assim como agências frequentemente pedem por um teste de tradução, eles também podem lhe pedir para traduzir algumas 200 ou 300 palavras (não concorde em fazer mais do que isso!) de graça, para demonstrar a sua capacidade. Se eles se mostrarem satisfeitos com o seu trabalho, você pode começar a receber trabalhos imediatamente e  trabalhar com um profissional mais experiente que irá lhe dar conselhos e preços honestos, e também te dar alguns tipos de traduções e daí por diante. Veja isso como um aprendizado e você poderá estar começando uma longa e saudável relação de trabalho.  No ramo de tradução freelancer, que é geralmente útil e solidário, é exatamente isso que todos nós estamos procurando!

 

5 Nice websites to learn Italian

           I know learning by ourselves can be difficult because it requires a lot of will, organisation and perseverance. And believe me, I do not learn languages easily, altough I wish I did and altough I envy (so, but so much) that ones that do speak 6,7 or 10 different languages as it was the most simple thing in the world. Nevertheless, I love reading about acquiring a new language and articles and news in the languages I appreciate. After marrying an Italian and after I had traveled to Italy, it is understandable my desire for the Italian language now. I studied by myself for one month, more or less, and I wish to continue and engage in a course in the near future so that further more I will be able to participate in MeetUps and, maybe, try some Italian course in Italy. When I started looking for it on internet, I was more than glad to see that there are many websites to help me  in my new resolution. For those who didn’t know, I studied French in the past for one year and a half, and after one year I lost touch. I tried to look on websites for at least maintening what I already knew, but everything seemed to be paid. I just found people talking about learn French and books and online courses (everything paid, of course). For Italian it was completly different (yey!). I want to share some of the websites that I used and that I think were the most helpful, in case you also decide this is your new resolution our just have an interest:


      1. Online Italian Club – Clique aqui

This one for sure is the most vauable one. It give you the links of the whole Italian book with the whole package: explanation, exercises, listening and vocabulary. It starts in the beginner/elementary, so you can liiterally start from zero!

       2. The conjugation of the verbs in Italian – Clique aqui

This is also a must. When studying and the doubt comes in, you can do a quick research in this website. You just search for the verb in the infinitive form and it gives you all the verb tenses. This one helped me a lot. Even if you want just to practice the conjugations by writing them down on your notebook and then correcting with this site.

       3. Rai Cultura – Clique aqui

This one had a really nice idea. It is a website from a Italian channel that had the iniciative of doing a platform with Italian language lessons for immigrants in Italy. It has videos and exercises of comphreension and listening. The only problem is that, even though it starts in the elementary level, for those that does not live in Italy, it starts in a very advanced level – because it shows people talking in Italian in a normal daily basis. However, the communication in the videos are slow and repetitive, so I think one should really give it a try. It is an wonderful iiniciative and we should take some advantage of it, being an immigrant in Italy or not.

      4. Só Italiano – Clique aqui

This one is for the Portuguese speakers learning Italian. Hopefully, it is translated to other languages, but I am not sure. It always helped me in all the subjects when I was studying for the exam to get  inside the university. It gives you a big help when you just want to answer a quick  doubt or understand better a detail of the grammar that you did not get.

     5. Culinary blogs: Clique aqui

Next time you are looking for a recipe,  why not to look for it in the language you are learning? It may take you more time to do a simple recipe, but you are going to feel pleased after you finish something you copy from an Italian website! The link I post is just one I stick with, just a suggestion. Being a huge fan of food, this tip works on me. You can just type on Google ”ricette di (name it)” and basta!

 

Caroline Varella Gonsioroski

Harlan Coben – The Woods

          Nowadays I’ve been losing myself in books just for the purpose of relaxing – this means no Classics! – to go back home in the end of the day exhausted and just forget about the outside world in a light and refreshing story. Reading about something that thrills me, but, at the same time, does not take much effort of my brain. And don’t get me wrong, that is nothing bad or less (something) about the books I choose. As this novel of Harlan Coben that I bought for my husband back in the days we were still boyfriend and gilrfriend. He didn’t touch it, and when we moved in together, ”what is mine is yours” started to prevail, so I was more than content when I discovered this one book that I haven’t read yet in our cabine.
Crime, suspense, court and attorneys stuff. I always like this style don’t-ask-me-why. The novel is about four murders that happened twenty years ago in a campsite inside the woods, Two couple of teenagers left their beds to full around inside the forest and never came back. The plot is that two of those teenagers bodies were never found – Jane Copeland and Gil Perez – and, of course, for all the families that remained waiting for a corpse to bury the hopes to find their kid alive, this closure never came. Paul Copeland was working in the camp that night and was suppose to watch the others. He wasn’t in his post when these kids sneaked throught the night, because, guess what, he was also fulling around with his girlfriend. Nothing sounds weird, because they were all just teenagers anyway. However after twenty years this boy, now the County Prosecutor, still can feel the guilty like a worm in his mind. The thing is, one of the bodies that were never found, was his sister Jane. The drama starts when the Prosecutor is called to identify a recent body of Manolo Santiago. Our main character get in a investigation when he put inside his mind that the corpse wasn’t Manolo Santiago, but Gil Perez that supposely didn’t died that night in the woods but instead twenty years after that. Many questions, lies and mystery.
The book starts already with Paul Copeland father, widowed and in a position of success professionaly. Maybe the sense of mystery and suspense would had been better placed if the first chapter had started in that night in the woods, just to evoke in the reader excitement and shiver. Or perhaps, I read too much Sidney Sheldon in my teenage years – miss you Sidney! But it is with the masters that we learn, isn’t it. The reading don’t awaken too much my interest until the end, when everything starts falling into place. You want to know what happened, that’s why you keep reading, nevertheless it does not have much action in the middle. Maybe I  am already influenced by this internet and images world, where everything needs to be fast or you loose interest in the first three seconds. I am not going to say that I am not a bit guilty here. I remember reading The Girl on the Train and not giving it too much credit either and I hated the main character. Then when I saw the movied I was amazed, because it is exactly my kind of story. It is not easy to admit that but images, sounds and a faster plot are more valuable these days. However, like I said in the begining, I wasn’t exactly looking for a life changing book.
The book is well written and modern, so it is not a difficult language. It catches your attention because once you started you need to know what happended in the woods at that night. And nothing like some crime to thrilled me – ok, maybe I am not that normal. I bought it in the first place because I have already read Harlan Coben in the past, and the guy knows how to write and catch our attention. I don’t regret having chose these book to read this week.

 

Caroline Varella Gonsioroski