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Origins of the Native-Speaker Translator Preference

An idea you hear repeated by translator training programs, translation companies and clients alike is that a translator should only work into their native language; that is, that any translation should be produced by a native speaker of the language into which it is done. I would like to examine the reasons behind this notion, … Continue reading Origins of the Native-Speaker Translator Preference

Vague Job Titles — Wider Reach or Lack of Substance?

One thing I noticed in US business communication is the frequent use of superordinate terms in job titles. For example, instead of saying "translator" or "interpreter," people may say "linguist." Similarly, "educator" is used to mean "teacher" and so on and so forth. I see several problems with this usage. First of all, some of … Continue reading Vague Job Titles — Wider Reach or Lack of Substance?

Invisibility of Translator in Fiction

Translator invisibility is a recurring theme in translation studies. To summarize the issue, I will quote Lawrence Venuti's famous book on the subject: A translated text, whether prose or poetry, fiction or nonfiction, is judged acceptable by most publishers, reviewers, and readers when it reads fluently, when the absence of any linguistic or stylistic peculiarities … Continue reading Invisibility of Translator in Fiction

Overview of (Some) Language Services

You may hear translation tasks referred to by many different names. Naturally, this may be very confusing for the translation services buyer. Why is my language service provider talking about localization instead of translation? What is the difference between editing and proofreading? In this post, I will try to cover some of the common translation-related … Continue reading Overview of (Some) Language Services

Adaptation in Food Translation

As the only (advanced) Russian speaker in our company, I sometimes need to consult my colleagues on certain translation choices and conventions. A question I was asked recently was whether the "BLT" in the translated name of a menu item would make sense to the readers and whether it should be left in English. This … Continue reading Adaptation in Food Translation

US Perceptions of Language Learning

This post first appeared on my personal blog.

Strictly Personal

A question I’ve heard a lot in the US is “How long have you been here?” The answer currently stands at 2.5 years and counting, and the reaction has often been “But your English is so good!” The degree of amazement is usually inversely proportionate to the number heard. You may imagine what it was like when that number was in the months. A frequent follow-up question is “Did you know English before you came here?”

Far from insulting me, this line of thinking is very revealing of the Americans’ notions of language-learning. What I take from it is that people often assume that you learn a language by going to a country where it is spoken. This is consistent with how language-learning occurs for many Americans, and they seem to extrapolate that experience onto other people.

Unlike in many countries in Europe and my native Russia, Americans usually don’t…

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Latin Script in Russia

I have heard a few people asking the same question about familiarity with the Latin script in Russia, so I decided this is worth addressing. An American technical writer once asked me if the Latin script in "Кнопка Shift" ("the Shift button") was as unintelligible to Russians as "кнопка" was to Americans. For anyone who … Continue reading Latin Script in Russia

Russian Dialects

Unlike Spanish translators, who struggle to make their translation usable in multiple Spanish-speaking areas, Russian translators don't really have to worry about locales. Are there regional dialects in Russia? Most academic resources, like this one, will tell you there are two (or three) main Russian dialects, the most prominent difference being pronunciation. However, the extent of … Continue reading Russian Dialects

Move to Rochester

Some big changes happened in my life lately, and I thought I should share them with my readers. I have finished my Master's in Translation at Kent State University and have now moved to Rochester, New York for my new job as a project manager. I am still available for freelance work on weekday nights … Continue reading Move to Rochester

Volunteer Translation

Volunteer translation is a great way for both new and seasoned translators to gain experience, get their foot in the door, and contribute to a good cause. Many fellow translators are probably aware of some way to volunteer in this way. I will list some of the bigger organizations that require volunteer translation. Translators without … Continue reading Volunteer Translation