torsdag 22 december 2016

New Year, New Projects

Now that 2016 is reaching its end, I am wrapping it up with renewed strength and ideas.

It has been a year with lots of work volume, in which I unfortunately even have had to refuse jobs due to overload. Which is something to be grateful for, indeed! 17 years of experience as a translator has indeed paid off.

Something that helps me a lot in times of such intense translation work are phototherapy patches to activate mental energy. I have had some rather spectacular "anecdotes" with them since I started using them in 2011, so much that I've decided to share it with my translator/interpreter colleagues and other people who work intensely with their mental capacity. The result has become, a web in which I am also blogging regularly.

What I also do on a weekly basis and makes me very happy is sharing my ideas for a more balanced and productive life by Live videos on Facebook. They are public so you can watch them live or access the recording later. I broadcast in English on Tuesdays at 5 pm CET and on Thursdays in Spanish at the same time.

I wish you all a great 2017!

tisdag 10 november 2015

The only Eng>Spa interpreter in Sweden??

In middle June I got a phone call from a translation agency in London. They wanted me to travel to Stockholm on a 2-day interpreting assignment, English into Spanish.

I pointed out I live in Malmö, which is about 600 km from the capital of Sweden - wouldn't it be more cost-efficient for them to hire a Stockholm-based interpreter?

The surprising answer came: they had only found me listed as an English into Spanish interpreter living in Sweden. I do have colleagues working in the language pair Swedish into Spanish with interpreting, and also in English into Spanish doing translation, but not from English into Spanish doing interpreting. Wow, I had no idea I had a monopoly here... I do believe there are others, but in any case, it's nice to know we're not many.

torsdag 5 november 2015

Translating into “International Spanish”

Some languages are spoken in one single culture and country, such as Finnish. 
Other languages may have a few variants, such as French for France, Canada and Switzerland. 
Yet others imply a serious complication when doing international business, and one of them is Spanish, my mother tongue and target translation language.

European Spanish is ideal for Spain, but then every Spanish-speaking country in America has differences – in pronunciation and culture, and also in specific words. For instance, the Spanish spoken in the USA, Panamá, Cuba and surrounding areas has strong influences from English and the USA culture. The Spanish in Mexico has particularly strong regional variations, to such a degree that their common daily Spanish may be something nearly impossible to understand in Spain. Then the South Cone countries have a more or less similar kind of Spanish between themselves (but also different to the one used in Spain). A translation geared to any specific country with its variety of Spanish, while for the most part will probably be understood in another Spanish-speaking country, will feel foreign to them – and in the worst case, the meaning may be different or even insulting.

I can offer you translation into Spanish from Spain (where I was born and raised, and lived most of my adult life), or a more “neutral” variant. My mother is from Argentina and I have many contacts with other Spanish-speaking countries so I am aware of words that can be potentially dangerous, and can avoid flavoring the translation with too much Spain culture.

However, please be aware that there is no such thing as a completely neutral Spanish that will work perfectly in all countries. If you wish to target the people in a given country with best effect, especially when it comes to advertisement and use of colloquial or family language, you will achieve best results with a totally localized translation. In that case I would advise you to turn to a translator that will localize it for that particular country for you, or alternatively, get a translation into Spain Spanish and then proofreaders/editors who will adapt it seamlessly into each of the language locales (say Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, etc).

Feel free to contact me to discuss your particular scenario. I will be happy to offer my professional advice. 

onsdag 21 oktober 2015

Being raised bilingual

I was just reading this article claiming that bilingual people are better lovers - probably because they are better at communicating.

When you are raised in two or more languages (such as was my case after the age of 3), you get to observe the way people behave, communicate, and speak (both verbally and non-verbally) in those languages. In my case, I started being an interpreter for my mother as soon as I started with Swedish (age 3), since she did not speak the language. That went on to my first simulataneous interpreting "assignment" at the age of 12 (whispered, at a teacher-parents meeting at my school). And you quickly realize that the equivalent words do not carry the same meaning in the other language.

Communication is far more than words. Translate those words literally into another language and you may get into the worst blunders. A very simple thing I noticed now that I got married is how the mention of the spouses changes from country to country:

  • In English, the priest pronounces the couple "husband and wife".
  • In Spanish, they are pronounced "husband and woman*" (marido y mujer). It would sound terribly funny to call him "your man".
  • In Swedish, a woman refers to her husband as "my man*" (min man). It would sound terribly chauvinist and offensive to call her "my woman".
  • In Mallorca, traditionally women do call their husband "my man" though (mi home).

*= there are of course multiple other synonyms for how you call your spouse.

Quick tip: in a translation of Swedish into Spanish, you must never translate husband as "man" - you'd be puzzling, shocking or even insulting the readers.

fredag 20 mars 2015

A Word Smith

It all started with writing poetry as a child and teenager, something I indulged in doing in my three main languages - and even have a short poem in Italian.

I went on to study "Dramaturgia" which involved creative playwriting, with frequent exercises where I had to imitate the style of a given author. Such a useful skill when translating literature! Imitating the original´s style is what gives flavor to the reader in the target language.

Over the years I have felt an increasing passion for writing and have had the chance to publish 4 articles so far, as well as writing in several blogs (see for instance the article collection at

In recent years I have had a growing number of requests to translate creatively, using alliterations, plays on words, and even rhymes. This has applied to literature but more often to the marketing industry, with creative descriptions of items for sale in the company´s websites - in particular fashion and cosmetics, but also tourist brochures with travel descriptions and museum guides.

Even though creative translation is much more time consuming, I also find it refreshingly fun! And according to client feedback, I am very skilled at it.

I like to see myself as a "Word Smith", a craftsman with words. :)

söndag 1 februari 2015


I was re-reading the November-December 2012 issue of the ATA Chronicle. On pages 24-27 there's a very interesting article by Jeana M. Clark and Esma A. Gregor, entitled "Global English (Globish) and Its Impact on the Translator."

Until I read it, I had not realized it had a name, this sometimes dreadful, sometimes funny English that I often find when translating. It is becoming increasingly common for people who feel bilingual to write in English to start with, and get the translation from that language, rather than their native language. It is understandable from the point of view that English into something else is by far cheaper than from Swedish or other more uncommon languages. Swedes actually do speak a pretty good English but they sometimes pick the wrong word and I can tell it's a straight translation from Swedish. It's much worse when I've translated a manual originally created in Turkey, though... or even in Germany. I have often tried to explain to the client that they should get the English text polished by a native speaker before publishing it. And have asked the agency to please send me the original in Swedish rather than have me translate from the English version (made by the client). Now this article includes a very polite way to break the news:

"We simply suggest to the client that the English provided, although probably acceptable in a spoken environment in today's international business community, does not correspond to written standard English. We then advise them to have it edited and/or retranslated in order to protect the company's image and reputation."

Although English texts produced in Sweden most often have a high quality, in some other countries you do find written information that make the English speaking person twitch. They just don't realize that by saving money in having a native person polish the material, they get to look so terribly unprofessional and may have much greater losses in clients lost and business lost.

Although this was simply a case of a non-native writing and making the text public (not an instance of later translation into another language), I'd like to share the A4 sign created in 2006 by the local government of Madrid, Spain, which was distributed to every single store and business in town and posted on the wall on a visible place. Bilingual sign, reading:

“Existen hojas de reclamaciones a disposición del consumidor”

and below:

“There are oficial complaints form at the consumers request.” (sic!)

I wrote to the office of the town hall and several years later they have changed it. Would have costed them 20-40 euros hiring a professional to do the job. What effect did it cause on the English-speakers who read it? Morale:

onsdag 28 januari 2015

"The Swedish Kitchen"

Sometimes my work as a freelance translator coincides with my passion for food, cooking, and culture. During the fall of 2014, I had the assignment to translate "The Swedish Kitchen," a sweet little book about Swedish culture with some nice gourmet recipes, from English/Swedish into Spanish. The assignment came from the Swedish Institute, is a public agency that promotes interest in Sweden.

This week I had the finished book in my hands. How charming! You can find it at Swedish embassies and consultates around the world, in several languages (note: I only translated the Spanish version).