Professional French Translation: Interview with Samantha Hoffmann
Name: Samantha Hoffmann
Location: Paris, France
What languages do you work with? What are some of the intricacies or challenges of the particular language you work with?
I work in English, Spanish and French. While Spanish is quite close to French, English is different: there are a lot of subtleties you have to be careful about. Also, when a client asks you not to go too far from the source, it’s sometimes difficult with English formulations! You must be very careful to details and read a lot of reference, especially in the field I chose (medical).
What are some of your most interesting projects? Why?
I’d say that most of my projects are interesting since I work in the medical field. I’m updated on many aspects of the pharma industry and sometimes even scared! My most gratifying experience was being selected as an official translator for UNAIDS – I see this as my small contribution against huge epidemics.
What is the best part about being a translator? What do you love about it?
Being a freelancer has many great aspects: you run your own business, you choose who you work with while being totally free! Translation is also great because you’re the intermediate between the “source” and the target audience. You're the one in charge to convey messages.
How did you know you were “ready” to be a translator?
I love languages. I’ve been raised in Greece and in the UK, so I learnt foreign languages very early. I always liked the idea of understanding everything, wherever I was. That’s probably the reason I chose to help others understand.
What is the most difficult part about your job?
Coping with strict deadlines! The projects are always sent for the day before and you have to be in good shape and VERY ORGANIZED to deliver on time. The PMs are often very friendly and it’s not always easy to say no… but sometimes, you get a small reminder from the QA department; this means you must slow down!
Can you translate a sentence for us? Your favorite quote? Your favorite word?
I have a love/hate relationship with the word “issue” – if it’s very easy to translate in some cases, in others, it just drives you crazy!
As for the quote, I read this one recently (Lorraine Peterson): “Anybody can be cool but awesome takes practice" – I would translate it "Être cool est à la portée de tout le monde mais être génial demande de l'entraînement".
Even though it’s not a very “intellectual” choice, I find it quite funny and ironically, it also applies to translation, for example when a non-French client sends you a text he translated for review…