A Day in the Life of a Translator: Interview with Aurélie Juteau
It’s estimated that there are over 7000 spoken languages globally. Translation is more than just simply converting from language to another. It allows us to communicate, engage, and build relationships with people and customers around the world, a vital need in this ever-globalizing world.
Based in France, in a small town called Doué la Fontaine near the Loire Valley, Aurélie Juteau has been a translator for almost 11 years. Aurélie produces a variety of high quality, multilingual content for Welocalize clients. In this blog, she shares her thoughts and insights into her journey as a translator, challenges she encounters, useful tips, and the current trends she is experiencing within the language industry.
How did you get started in translation?
I finished my European master’s degree in Specialized Translation in 2009 and took my first steps into the localization industry with a 6-month internship at SDL. A colleague I studied with told me that Welocalize were looking for French linguists – that’s how I got to start working at Welocalize and I’ve never looked back since!
What languages do you translate, and do you have any areas of expertise or focus?
I translate from English into French, although I also studied Spanish and German. When I started at Welocalize, I was quickly tested and approved to work exclusively on projects for one of Welocalize’s largest clients, which I have been doing ever since. The variety of content types and the demand for high quality content make the client’s content challenging yet very interesting to work on. With my colleagues from the French team, I work on user interface strings (Web and mobile), help center articles, light legal, marketing texts, and subtitles for a variety of products.
How many words are you able to translate per day?
On average my throughput in translation is around 310 words per hour. On a good production day, I’d say I can translate around 1800 words. Of course, that depends on the content type I might be working on, as some require more research or creativity, and thus are more time-consuming.
Does your approach to translation ever differ depending on the project?
Different content types mean varying approaches. For example, technical or legal content might require a lot more research into concepts and terminology because there is only one correct way of writing about something to cover the same idea in the source and in the target language without ambiguity. Whereas a more creative, marketing project might have us playing around with the sentences and language to find the catchiest or most idiomatic choice of words to produce the same effect on the target reader.
What skills do you need to be a successful translator?
Of course, a translator needs a strong command of languages they translate from, but I am convinced that one needs first and foremost, is to be an expert of one’s own mother tongue. After all, the target language is what the end user will remember. A strong linguist needs a very keen eye for detail, as clients’ requirements are very precise and a typo once seen by the end reader cannot be unseen.
What is the most challenging aspect of translation?
The challenge of our profession might lie in the fact that it is more often than not solitary work. Most translators (even outside of a pandemic!) would be working remotely, at home. While this can be helpful to be able to focus, many people outside our line of work will now have realized there are challenges that come with it. With some of the other linguists at Welocalize, we’ve been building an “office feeling” online and it’s fun but you still sometimes miss the day to day contact.
What is the best thing about being a translator? What is the most rewarding part of the job?
You might find yourself translating on a subject you would never have thought you’d be working on! I enjoy learning about concepts, techniques, people, events, and different subject matters ?
When you work on such a demanding account in terms of quality, there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that you and the client worked hand in hand to produce the best possible content for the end user.
What technology do you use to help you?
We rely a lot on proprietary CAT (computer-assisted translation) tools, translation memories, and term-base interfaces as well. We monitor quality levels closely through the client’s measurement system and data in MS PowerBI reports.
How do you feel about the increasing use of machine translation (MT) and AI-enabled solutions within translation?
As a student, I was more afraid of it “stealing my job” than I am now. I have realized that our job evolves with the constant progress and research in technologies, but the human touch is still very much needed to produce high quality and creative content.
Can you describe an average day in the life of a translator?
Having always worked as an in-house linguist, I am sure there are aspects that freelancers would describe differently especially how they plan their work, but the workflow we follow would still be similar.
In the morning, I check for assignments in the relevant tool, platform, or via emails. Production work will always have priority but we also have other things to fit into our day, such as keeping track of client feedback and quality measurement, arbitrating errors to help maintain high quality scores, helping out with tool testing or taking online trainings required by the client. There is never a dull moment in a translator’s day!
What advice would you give to someone looking to become a translator?
I remember one of my college lecturers telling us to never get cross with anyone because they could be the expert you may need help from in the future! My general advice would be to keep an open mind and be curious of things you don’t know; you might learn something you will need knowledge about someday!
What can a Language Service Provider do to help you do your job better?
Liaise with the client not only on their challenges, needs, and commercial requirements, but also to get in-depth awareness of the product, business goals, and overall role of localization and translation. This helps linguists to produce great content – TIME and CONTEXT!
For more information on Welocalize translation and localization services, connect with us here.