What is a translator’s work actually like in practice? In anticipation of International Translation Day, we asked our own translators to reflect on their own work and come up with a list of the best and worst parts of their job. From their answers, you can see that for Maris Multilingual translators their chosen career is definitely a calling, as they found many more positive aspects than drawbacks. When you feel inspired by your work, it’s a lot easier to produce good quality.

Read what our translators had to say about their work.

Here’s what they like best about being a translator:

  1. New things. Without a doubt, you learn something new every day about the world around you.
  2. Effective solutions. When you come up with a new trick or technique that works really well and makes your day a lot easier, for example, finding a way to handle really large files.
  3. Getting lost in the work; when you really get into the flow and a couple of hours just fly by!
  4. Pleasant colleagues, helpful project managers, and cooperation in general.
  5. Lots of freedom and the opportunity to work remotely. You can translate almost anywhere, as long as you have a computer and a good internet connection.
  6. Variety: You never know what subject matter you’ll be asked to translate and what topics are going to interest you.
  7. A good team spirit; and solving problems and finding solutions together.
  8. Learning new things and developing your skills every day; after all, no-one is born an expert!
  9. Nice clients. When the customer sends you the crucial piece of information that you need to resolve a particular translation issue.
  10. When you receive good feedback on your work.
  11. Overcoming challenges; for example when you are called upon to utilise all your detective skills and finally, after an extensive search, find exactly what you are looking for.
  12. When a client trusts your professional skill and judgement as a translator.
  13. When you are faced with a translation project which is right up your street (e.g. interior decorating), where you already know a lot about the subject and therefore have a bit of a head start.
  14. Whenever you come across your own work ‘out in the real world’, for example an advert in a magazine, or a brochure in a rack.
  15. When you have been doing work for the same customer for a long time, in some cases for many years, and it starts to bear fruit because you know each other so well.
  16. When you get to talk with translation students and see how excited they are about their own field. When you give feedback to a new translator and they take it on board and improve in a flash.
  17. When you can leave your own mark on the texts you are translating, because every translator translates in a slightly different way.
  18. The joy of success: That feeling you get when you have done a good job and know that your own translation is crystal clear and perhaps even better than the original.
  19. Humour: Working with fellow linguists and other language professionals who share the same sense of verbal humour.

And what about the downsides?

  1. When the schedule is just so tight that you can’t help, even if you’d like to. Translation doesn’t happen ‘at the click of a finger’.
  2. Technology issues. When you are on a tight schedule and have a large file to finish, but technical problems are holding you back.
  3. If you don’t get the clarification you need from the client, and have no choice but to simply translate the text in the best way you see fit.
  4. When the original source text is of poor quality, or ambiguous, meaning that the resulting translation won’t be as good as you’d like it to be.
  5. Sometimes you sense that the profession you hold dear is underappreciated. The general decline in language and the ‘who cares?’ attitude can be disheartening at times.

We are always happy to pass on our knowledge and experience to translators of the future; both through visits to the Universities of Helsinki and Eastern Finland, and by offering internships to graduates when possible. In that way, we can play our part in helping new translators enter this fascinating profession.

Read the article in Finnish.