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Bureaucracy – Word of the day

American Senator Eugene McCarthy was quoted as saying, “The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is its inefficiency.” While feelings about this statement, and indeed the bureaucracy, may be closely tied with an individual's view of the role government should play, there’s no doubting that the bureaucracy is often a favourite target when complaining about government. Regardless of the actual reason, many times, when a program runs over budget or either doesn’t meet or exceeds the need for which it was created, bureaucracy often receives the lion’s share of the blame. In order to best understand why this term can have such a negative connotation, it’s important to have a look at the word itself and the underlying problem it can cause.

The word bureaucracy comes from the middle 18th century French term bureaucratie and was first used by the economist Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay. Styled after already existing Greek words, such as democracy and aristocracy, the word literally translated as “power of the desk or office.”

In an applicable sense though, a bureaucracy takes the rulings of a government and attempts to properly apply and administer them to the public. Unfortunately for us, as the workings and involvement of government have become increasingly complex, the bureaucracy has become exponentially larger to meet this need.

Behind this rather innocuous meaning given by de Gournay is what the term has come to mean to many: a seemingly endless array of confusing regulations, administrative procedures, filling out forms, and waiting. Representing this understanding is a recent audit of the NHS by The Health and Social Care Information Centre which found that junior doctors were being forced to use two thirds of their time accessing or updating patient notes, instead of actually practising medicine. Additionally, in order to meet bureaucratic requirements, more than two thirds of all surveyed medical trusts are required to take paper notes and then manually type them into an electronic system, thus creating a bottleneck wasting time and resources.

The first known use of our word of the day comes from a November 11th issue of The Times, which, displaying the sceptical nature of the general public towards this mystical phenomenon, states, “From that multiplicity of employments..has sprung that complication of intrigues of wheels within wheels, which is called bureaucracy.” By 1861, as the understanding of the word was taking hold, the Hampshire Advertiser lamenting the increasing complexity of the system writes, “All this bureaucracy has to be set in motion for the mere purpose of deciding if two poor people shall be allowed to marry.” Well into the 20th century, the term began to be applied more broadly, as can be seen in G.M. Trevelyan’s somewhat biased English Social History (1942), where he reminisces, “Many an old family firm was replaced by a Limited Liability Company with a bureaucracy of salaried managers.”

While it’s understood that laws don’t just write and administer themselves and we do need some level of bureaucracy to function, but it is the profound question of “how much?” that always seems to complicate things.


Awkward – Word of the day

Have you ever had one of those conversations that involve painfully awkward silences? Awkward, here, meaning uncomfortable and embarrassing. Many of us know what it feels like to sit and cringe at a silence, while at the same time searching for a way to end it. Or perhaps you’ve had the experience of attempting to introduce someone to a third party but forgetting their name. Now that’s awkward.

But this sense of awkward, though, actually came into being much later than the original meaning of awkward which meant something quite different…

Awkward has an interesting etymology. Experts believe it probably derives from the Old Norse word afug, which underwent a phonetic change to become awk. This means, of course, that it was the Vikings who brought us this word. According to the British Library, when the Vikings began to invade Britain in the 8th century, they introduced about 2,000 words into our language.

Awk, then, means: from the left hand, back-handed, directed the other way or in the wrong direction, and the suffix -ward is used for direction, so we have forward, backward and awkward or in an awk direction. In The story of the most noble & worthy Kynge Arthur (1557), William Copland gives us an example of awk when he writes: “With an awke stroke gaue hym a grete wounde” (presumably: “with a left stroke gave him a great wound”).

Awkward - synonyms

Synonyms for the adjective awkward include clumsy or amateurish, and we can also find the idiom “having two left feet”. Antonyms include dexterous, skillful and adroit (from French: à to, at + droit, thought to originally mean straight, or correct). So it seems that left has long been synonymous with wrong or, at least, with a direction that is physically uncomfortable. In 1530, John Palsgrave, a priest in the court of Henry VIII, wrote his book L’esclarcissement, which was thought to be the first grammar of the French language and in it he included the entry: “Awkwar leftehanded – gauche [left]”. It was from this point that awkward meant a lack of dexterity which evolved into ungraceful, ungainly and then clumsy (a person or an object which is difficult to operate).

By the early 18th century awkward began to include a sense of embarrassment, too. In A project for the advancement of religion, and the reformation of manners (1709), satirist Johnathan Swift discusses the church clergy and writes: “But I am deceived, if an awkard shame..have not a greater share in this mistaken Conduct”. Here, awkward is used to describe an emotion and this sense of uncomfortable transfers from the physical to the psychological.

No one enjoys an awkward silence, but the next time you experience one, you can reflect that it’s a little bit of Old Norse influence that is helping you to describe your feeling in that moment.


Dentist – Word of the day

Dentist - Word of the day - EVS Translations

Dentist - Word of the day - EVS Translations

In many ways, nobody likes to visit anyone in the medical profession, since this is usually an indication that there is something physically wrong with us. Of all medical professionals though, perhaps the one that many people most loathe visiting is today's word - the dentist. Whether this may have to do with the overall sensitivity of the teeth/mouth and the propensity for pain, or whether people find it hard to justify the expense for such a seemingly minor area, most of us unfairly associate visiting the dentist with one of Dante’s circles of Hell. Though, given the link between oral health and overall health as well as the pain that one can encounter from not regularly visiting the dentist, dentistry has been unfair characterisation. So, let’s start the healing, and learn about this word.

Contrary to the episode of Seinfeld, “Dentites” are not a “proud (ethnic) people” at all. In the UK, studying to be a dentist not only requires undergraduate and postgraduate dental education, but also requires a commitment to continuing professional development and upholding a commitment to quality, typically spelled out by a trade association, such as the British Dental Association (BDA). The word dentist itself comes from the Latin root word dens (dent-), which means tooth, and entered the English via the French term dentiste.

Dentist - dental industry

Currently, the £7 billion dental industry employs almost 9,000 businesses and over 104,000 professionals. Classified as a slow growth industry with annual growth expectations of 1% or less, it has, in the past several years, been coming down from a revenue high in 2009-10. Much of this diminished growth and contraction is due to the fact that approximately 65% of the industry’s revenue comes from the NHS, which, as we know, has been experiencing stagnant levels of funding or even, in some cases, cuts ever the concept of austerity was introduced following the recent recession.

The first known usage of the word dentist comes in a 1759 edition of the Edinburgh Chronicle, where it is written that, “Dentist figures it now in our newspapers, and may do well enough for a French puffer; but we fancy Rutter is content with being called a tooth-drawer.” This was followed, in 1760, by a mention in The London Magazine, where a person was described as “This distinguished Dentist and Dentologist.” Finally, demonstrating that dental pain (or fear thereof) is nothing new, Oliver Wendell Holmes, in his 1855 poem The Music-Grinders, uses the cringe-worthy line, “No! Pay the dentist when he leaves A fracture in your jaw.”


Part III: A Day in the Life of Our Global Head of Human Resources, Martina Radina

Part I: EVS Translations Is Looking for New Team Members

Part II: How to Become a Professional Translator

Martina Radina

Martina Radina - Global Head of Human Resources, EVS Translations

We talk to our Global Head of Human Resources who gives us her international perspective on the company, tells us about the opportunities available at EVS Translations and gives some advice for aspiring translators.

1. What’s been on your “To do” list recently?

As I am responsible for the recruiting of our worldwide in-house staff, one of my tasks since January has been to fill up to 20 additional positions. These are mostly for translators and proofreaders with English, German or French as their native language, as well as additional project managers to coordinate the translation projects. Handling all kinds of issues for our 125+ employees is a daily challenge and no day is ever the same.

2. How do you think EVS Translations differs to other translation companies?

I have interviewed a lot of candidates over the years and heard about how other translation companies work. We seem to be unique in that our internal and external translators don’t have to do any document formatting and can concentrate on their translation work. Similarly, our project managers don’t have to do proofreading or formatting and can focus on their project management tasks. For us, quality checks are only done by our internal proofreaders and the formatting work by our translation engineers.

3. Do you have any advice for people who are interested in applying to work at EVS Translations? Is there any specific advice for translators?

Look at our website regularly or follow us on Facebook or LinkedIn. Speculative applications are always welcome. We have an application form on the careers page of our website and I will decide whether an applicant might be suitable for future positions. For translators, I recommend that they specialize in one or two fields and that they get some experience of CAT tools. This is very important if they want to stand out in the competition.

4. When did you join EVS Translations and what do you like most about working for this company?

I joined EVS Translations in 2006. When I started there were only 22 employees in Germany and 16 abroad. Now there are 68 in Germany and 57 abroad. It's amazing to see how the company has grown in the last few years. And I hired nearly all of them! We have 55 native-speaker translators who are all working in-house in our worldwide offices and always translate into their mother tongue, so you can imagine that it was not always easy to find them.

I enjoy working for such an international company. I visit the other offices at least once a year and when I’m there, I usually attend appraisal meetings to hear about the development of the employees and to ask about any issues they need to address with HR. I’ve learned a lot about international employment law and so far we have 16 different nationalities in our offices worldwide, although that figure is set to rise. I am really proud to say that we have a very good team around the world at EVS Translations.

5. What makes it so attractive to work for EVS Translations?

Firstly, I think it’s that we invest in our employees. For instance, we developed a 6-9 month trainee programme and went directly to universities in the UK to recruit graduates with an MA in languages and translation. We’ve trained up to 20 native English speakers in the last 10 years and most of them have developed into expert translators with specific areas that they specialise in. Two years ago we also started a student programme for “General Management – International Business”.  After graduating with a BA qualification, the student starts his or her career in management at one of the EVS Translations offices. There are excellent possibilities for development and also for moving between our international offices.

Secondly, a flat hierarchy and our work time models are definite pros. We are a family-friendly company with mums who work flexible hours so they can cope with the demands of having children. In all our offices, we offer free water and coffee. Pension plans are available to all employees and additional social benefits are offered depending on the office location. When you’re new to the company, a mentor supports you during your induction phase. And you are made to feel welcome from day one!




Trattoria and Osteria – Words of the day

Trattoria and Osteria – Words of the day - EVS Translations

Trattoria and Osteria – Words of the day - EVS Translations

After examining the differences between the French Bistro and Brasserie, today we head to Italy to check on Tratorria and Osteria.

Like, a typical bistro, a trattoria is a small, traditionally family-owned, rustic eatery that often serves a few choice regional dishes (for example pesto in Genoa and carbonara in Rome) along with local wines. With many of the recipes past down from generation to generation and the typical family model of men handling the cash register, children serving the tables and women cooking.


The story of trattoria establishments started as places where street merchants would retire to for a long lunch and the eateries characterise with casual service, menu on board, low prices, decanter wine and unpretentious atmosphere and delicious home-made style food. The world trattoria has Latin roots, and in the Italian language the verb traiter (to treat) gave the name to a trattoria owner – trattore (host, keeper of an eating house-a trattoria). The word is cognate with the French traiteur - a culinary professional, chef, caterer.

The word trattoria appeared first in print in the English language in 1832, in William Gell book on Pompei excavation works. Gell described the festivity activities at the Pantheon in Pompei and that ”it differed but little in its uses from that which the Greeks called Lesche [public place, place of council, agora], and the modern Italian a trattoria.”

Today, osteria is an eating establishment very similar to a trattoria, but back in the day it was an inn or a local gathering spot where old men played cards and drunk wine from the innkeeper's oak barrels. Wine was the main focus, though some places offered food as well.

The word osteria, to name a guest house or an inn, originates from the Latin “hospite” (guest). Back in time, osteria had a really important role for the social life of people. Today we won't find as many osteria establishments out there, but those which exist still offer friendly atmosphere and characterise with simple, home-cooked meals and snacks (usually serve a fixed daily menu of two or three courses). Sometimes they also offer bedroom services like in the good old days, or even let customers bring their own food when sipping on the offered drinks.

The oldest certified osteria in Italy dates back to 14th century, but it was only in the 16th when the English readers first met the term in print.

In 1580, Anthony Munday in Zelauto: the Fountaine of Fame: “Being come to this Osteria, I entered, and the first person that I saw, was the Mistress of the house”.


Wanderlust – Word of the day

Let us start with one of Michael Palin's (actor, best know for his parts in A Fish Called Wanda and Monthy Python and his travel documentaries) travel quotes: “Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life”.

And here we go down the road, eager to see what is there over the horizon. When wanderlust hits, regardless if on a low-budget backpack or luxury cruise travelling – new experiences and discoveries await the travellers.

Among the top 3 common regrets, people at the dawn of their lives have – is missing the chance to travelling more.

A couple of well organised package holidays to different destinations annually is the middle class standard. A package tour, indeed, has its pros – a travel agency organises everything to help us dive into the desired relaxation and indulgence. But on the other hand, it often traps the tourists behind the fences of vacation complexes and stuck to a pre-defined standard sightseeing bucket.

Our word of the day – wanderlust can be defined as the difference between a tourist and a traveller. Opposed to the former, the latter would enjoy going off the beaten track and the journey itself would be the real experience rather than reaching a final destination.

The modern English etymology of wanderlust can be easily broken down to – wander (to move without direction / to roam) and lust (uncontrolled desire and passion). But the word is actually a loan one, and was borrowed from the German language. Yes, it is strange to accept that Germans coined a term which calls for uncontrollable actions driven by passion and without a defined result, but the term, indeed, originates from Middle High German (wandern (hike) + lust (desire)).

The first documented use of the term in English comes from only 1902, Daniel Garrison Brinton, The basis of social relations, where the author examines the impact of tribes' aimless roving on the world history and defines wanderlust as: “A natural impulse to change of place; a craze for travel....which arises as an emotional epidemic....and drives communities from fixed seats and comfortable homes, transforming them into migratory and warring hordes.”

Over a century later, the above definition still strongly represents society's dual opinion on wanderlust.

On one hand, leaving one's comfort zone is encouraged as a spring of creativity, growth and dreams achieving (wandering around the world is applauded for gathering new experiences though contacts with different cultures and encouraging self-growth and satisfaction though confronting different challenges along the way).

Yet, on another, wanderlusters (the term first appeared in print in 1927, Sunday Express) are often labelled as unable to integrate into a given society, trying to escape from inner inability to find happiness and fear of commitment by endlessly changing their location.

In general, wanderlust is rarely met as a style of life, and occurs in given periods – most often in adolescence (the natural desire to run away from rules) or following moments of dissatisfaction with family, career and social status. Not to forget the common impulse to see the world and enjoy life until we are still free and can, translated to until we are still single. Reported back in 1948 by the U.S. Department of Native affairs: “when their little interval of wanderlust is over, they can pass into settled family life .”

And at the end, wanderlust, sooner or later, leads to one other German loanword – Heimweh, but more on that in one of our next publications.




Bistro and Brasserie – Words of the day

Bistro and Brasserie – Words of the day - EVS Translations

Bistro and Brasserie – Words of the day - EVS Translations

The terms bistro and brasserie are often used interchangeably in Europe and the USA, but in France, where the words come from, they retain their original meanings and are used to refer different types of establishments.

Brasseries are Alsatian in origin and were originally breweries (as the etymology confirms, the term came to the French language through Celtic and Vulgar Latin with the literal meaning of a “brewery”). The first brasseries were either attached to beer-making facilities or owned by them and specialized in selling beer. Today, other low-alcoholic beverages like cider and wine are also often offered in addition to beer. Brasseries, of course, serve traditional French cuisine, usually with a daily menu that is served throughout the day until sometimes very late at night. The menu lists are likely to contain steak tartare with fries, coq au vin (chicken braised with wine) or choucroute garnie (sauerkraut with sausages).

The first written record of the word brasserie in the English language comes from the June 1864 issue of the UK travel magazine Realm: “May his monument outlive all other brasseries!” In the U.S., the term appeared in 1882 in a New York critic essay: “His comrades were singing in the brasserie.”

Typical bistro

A typical brasserie is spacious, with printed daily menus, professional service and white-linen; whereas a bistro is usually small, intimate and low-key. Bistros are often considered to be the French equivalent of the Italian Trattoria, which were small family-owned places with decent food based on seasonal offerings, value and fair prices. Lunch and dinner are served at fixed hours with typical servings: - boeuf bourguignonne, roasted chicken, organ meats and minor wines flowing freely.

The word bistro is French in origin but with uncertain etymology. Some linguists suggest that the term comes from “bistouille" or "bistrouille", which was northern French slang for coffee spiked with brandy (from "bis," meaning twice and "touiller" to mix) served in low priced restaurants.

Another theory links the word to the western French word “bistreau" which means a cowherd and could have been used to refer to the typical clientele of bistros.

The most colourful yet least plausible theory is that the term derives from the Russian word "bystro" (quickly). During the Russian occupation of Paris, Russian soldiers were in a hurry to eat and drink before been caught by their officers and were always shouting for the waiters to hurry up with the orders.

The word bistro is believed to have first appeared in French print in 1884, but it was only in 1922 that the term was introduced to English readers. It’s in Since Cézanne that art critic Clive Bell writes: “Perhaps the best painter in France, one of the best musicians, and an obscure journalist were sitting in a small bistrot on the Boulevard St. Germain.”


Hula hoop – Word of the day

Hula hoop - Word of the day - EVS Translations

Hula hoop - Word of the day - EVS Translations

How has an item as simple as the hoop managed to entertain so many people for so long? For centuries now people from all over the world have enjoyed hoops whether as part of Native American tribal dances, rhythmic gymnastics, circus routines or, more recently, just to keep fit. In Joseph Strutt’s book The sports and pastimes of the people of England (1801), he provides a brief description on hooping as a pastime writing, “Trundling the hoop is a pastime of uncertain origin, but much in practice at present, and especially in London, where the boys appear with their hoops in the public streets, and are sometimes very trouble-some to those who are passing through them”. In Charles Dickens’ novel Dombey and Son (1848), he also mentions this popular toy: “There is sounder sleep and deeper rest in Mr Dombey's house tonight…The morning sun awakens the old household, settled down once more in their old ways. The rosy children opposite run past with hoops”.

But why did the hoop become a hula hoop? It was British sailors who travelled to Hawaii in the 19th century and saw Hawaiian women hula dancing. Noticing that the hip movements were similar to those of hooping games where a hoop is swung around different parts of the body, they brought home the term hula hoop.

Hula hoop as a hobby

Since that time, interest in the hula hoop as a hobby has fluctuated. In a 1958 article in the Times Literary Supplement, a journalist notes: Hoops, also of ancient origin, had virtually disappeared from shops and streets, until the sudden recent craze for ‘hula’ hoops brought them out in a new form”. When Wham-O, a Californian toy manufacturer, decided to present the world with plastic hula hoops, this toy once again became a popular past time for kids. But it wasn't to last. In 1973, the Daily Telegraph reported that Few ‘craze’ toys have as long a life as the yo-yo: the hula hoop and the late, unlamented ‘clacker-balls’ are examples which had success but were soon forgotten” (6 Apr.)

Recent years have proved, though, that the hula hoop has not been forgotten. It’s making a come-back and not just with kids but adults, too. According to fitness experts, spinning one of these hoops around your waist for one hour can burn between 400 to 600 calories, so it’s no wonder the hula hoop is enjoying a new image. This piece of sparkly or neon-coloured polypropylene tube will make you drop a dress size and reach new heights of hip-wiggling. So much for the yo-yo. Back in the limelight and newspapers, celebrities like Kelly Osborne are raving about their hula hoop regimes: 'I'm all about Hula hooping right now…5mins in the morning 5 mins at night... in 5 days I lost 2 inches from my waistline!' (Daily Mail, 22 Jan, 2013).

Funnily enough, as new exercise trends come and go, so do terms in our language: the new trend is to drop the word hula in hula hooping and use the trendier, simpler term “hooping”. “Hoopers” such as America’s Rachael Lust are now rocking the hooping world. Less trundling and rosy cheeks, more sensational tricks and power work-outs.


Disc jockey – Word of the day

Disc jockey - Word of the day - EVS Translations

Disc jockey - Word of the day - EVS Translations

A disc jockey plays records, but a professional horse-racer is also a jockey. Why does a person who works with music records share the same professional title as a person who works with horses? What’s the connection? Let’s start by looking at the origins of the word jockey.

Going right back to the start of the 16th century, Jock was a by-name of the name John; that is, a name often used as a generic term for common people. The diminutive form, then, was Jockey (or Johnny). In a poem estimated to have been written in 1507, (hence the obscurity of the language), William Dunbar writes: "To Iok Fule my foly fre Lego post corpus sepultum”. Here, you can see the early spelling of Jock as Iok.

The diminutive form jockey can be found in Shakespeare’s Richard III (1597) also with its early spelling: “Iockey of Norfolke be not so bould, For Dickon thy master is bought and sould”. Its modern spelling was well established by 1846 when Charles Dickens published his novel Dombey and Son and wrote: “You're Dombey's jockey, a'nt you?’ said the first man. ‘I'm in Dombey's House, Mr. Clark,’ returned the boy”.

Almost two centuries after its first appearance in English print, jockey was used as a reference to professional horse-racers when John Evelyn wrote in his diary: “We returnd over New-market-heath,..the Jockies breathing their fine barbs & racers, & giving them their heates” (The diary of John Evelyn, a1684). But by this time jockey came with many variations in meaning: it could also be used to describe a beggar, a fraudster, a horse-back courier, or a horse-dealer (all mid to late 17th century).

Disc jockey - music

How did a horse-racer get linguistically lumped together with vagabonds and cheats? Perhaps the jockey in horse jockey derives from jock as the generic name for the common lad (and perhaps the boys who worked at the stables with the horses), and doesn’t suggest anything derogatory about professional horse-racers. Nevertheless, we are still no closer to finding the link between a horse-jockey and a disc jockey.

Disc jockey first appeared in English print in a 1941 article from America’s Variety magazine: “Disc jockey solves vacation. Turning a program over to the public while the emcee is vacationing is big stuff from a listener's angle, WEBR is finding” (23 July 34/4).

So by this point, jockey was being used in the world of radio, but it was also used to refer to drivers of motor vehicles or garage attendants (“garage jockeys”). A 1912 article in Collier's magazine explains: “Some are, so to speak, ‘gentlemen jockeys’, and own, enter, and drive their own cars for the fun of the thing” (28 Sept. 11/2). In 1942, according to the American Thesaurus of Slang, (L. V. Berrey & M. Van den Bark) a motorcycle racer was also known as abroadsider, jockey,..motor jockey”.

Perhaps it’s somewhere around here, then, from early 20th century American motoring culture, that the the word jockey moves away from the horse-racing and motor industry towards the world of radio and music. In the same American Thesaurus of Slang is an entry for truck driver: “truck jockey or spinner... Spec. juice jockey, a gasoline-truck driver”. The word “spinner” here is interesting because people often talk about disc jockeys (or DJs) spinning records.

As the American motor-jockey, or “spinner”, listened to his radio, the meaning of jockey transferred from the person at the car wheel (and the lad steering his horse) to the person who sat at the controls in the radio station spinning records.


Part II: How to Become a Professional Translator

Part I: EVS Translations Is Looking for New Team Members

Become a Professional Translator

How to Become a Professional Translator - EVS Translations

Translation companies are never short of CVs from language graduates aspiring to become translators. Among their list of skills, they often cite a year abroad at an overseas university, additional language qualifications, as well as a passion for languages. And the response from the translation company? “Thank you, but we only work with professional translators.”

The problem is that going to a translation company and saying “I have great language skills” is like applying to a high-end restaurant and saying “I can cook really well”. When you apply for a job at a translation company, it is assumed that, as a minimum, you have great language skills, but these do not equate to an ability to translate. Here are the key areas in which an aspiring translator must develop their skills and advice on how to do this.

What does it mean to translate?

The skill of reading a foreign language text and transferring that information into the target language is not easy and takes time to develop. Source languages and target languages are structured differently and may contain cultural references or concepts that do not make much sense or even exist in the target language. For inexperienced or underqualified translators, it proves a difficult challenge to create a translated text that sounds natural to the target audience. Remaining so faithful to the source text that the target language sounds awkward is a common problem in beginner translations.

Time is never on your side

The translation industry is a deadline-driven industry. It is one thing to be able to effectively transfer information from one language to another, but it’s an entirely different skill to be able to do this under time pressure. This is a major hurdle for inexperienced translators and many are defeated by tight deadlines. A professional translator, however, can work within a specified time frame and still produce quality work. Some of the difficulties translators face when translating texts include the omission of a subject in Japanese sentences, or long sentences in German that must be reconstructed into multiple English sentences. An expert translator can look at these problematic paragraphs or sentences and make quick decisions. They can also perform effective research on specialist terms when necessary, understanding the best places to look for this information and selecting the appropriate translation for the purpose.

Learning the tools

Translators use translation software to maintain consistency of terminology. There are a variety of software packages available and different language providers will choose different brands. A translator, therefore, gets used to working with different kinds of software and moves away from traditional “Word document” translation, which is only usually suitable for small projects. These days, translation service providers like to see experience with at least one software package. They are usually expensive, but free trials are sometimes available and professional translation organisations may offer seminars that teach translators how to use translation software.

Specialising is key

To gain an advantage over the competition in the translation industry, a great translator will have excellent translation skills plus a subject specialisation. The difference between a specialised text translated by someone who understands the subject matter and someone who doesn’t is significant so, for many translators, specialising in documents such as legal contracts or annual reports is the key to success. Opportunities through study, professional seminars or work experience focused in one particular area help to develop an excellent understanding of a subject area that a translator wishes to specialise in.

A practical path to success

Practice translating texts, join a professional translation organisation and participate in their seminars and Continued Professional Development courses, or volunteer as a translator for charities. Post-graduate courses in translation at universities are gaining in popularity and offer opportunities to learn about translation software, translation techniques and strategies. However, translation companies may be sceptical about the ability of new graduates to produce quality work to real deadlines. CEO of EVS Translations, Edward Vick says: “Bring a translated text to your interview and show what you can do. The mistake is equating a language degree with an ability to translate professionally. Unfortunately this is not the case; you have to learn a lot before you can start working as a translator.” This is why EVS Translations periodically offers a six- to nine-month trainee programme for university graduates to become in-house translators. They start out as a junior translator and work towards becoming a senior translator or a proofreader, who is responsible for ensuring the final quality of translations.

If you’re a language graduate, don’t be disheartened but rise to the challenge that comes with translation. Translation is an opportunity to channel your passion for languages, which is the reason you apply to work in translation, but not the evidence of your ability. Expect to work hard to develop your skills in all of the areas outlined in this article and don’t forget to get in touch with EVS Translations if you’re interested in joining its talented team of translators.