Category Archives: Translation

Translating My Book into Portuguese

Cover - thumbnailI recently mentioned to a friend that I’m working on getting my book translated into Portuguese. Her immediate response was: “Why not Spanish? So many more people speak Spanish.”

My main reason is that I want my husband’s daughters, their children, and others in the family who may have some difficulty with English to read my story in comfort.

Also, the book has many references to Brazil and Portugal, and I believe there’s an audience for a Portuguese version. My husband’s story of life under Brazil’s military dictatorship in the late 1960s and 1970s should not be forgotten. Many intellectuals lost their jobs and were arrested, imprisoned, deprived of their income, and made to suffer in other ways. It was unquestionably the blackest period in the nation’s history.

The number of Portuguese readers is not to be sneezed at. While it is true that Spanish tops the list of speakers of European languages, followed by English, Portuguese is a close third, beating out Russian, German, French, Italian, and the others. According to my arithmetic, it is spoken by at least 250 million people. Based on data from Wikipedia, I see that, besides Brazil (population 193,946,886 in 2012) and Portugal (10,562,178), Portuguese is an official language in Angola (20,609,294), Cape Verde (491,875), East Timor (1,066,409), Guinea-Bissau (1,704,000), Macau (582,000), Mozambique (23,700,715), and São Tomé and Principe magellans_travels(187,356). Total: 252,850,713 and counting. The widespread use of Portuguese is the heritage of Magellan and his compatriot voyagers in the Age of Discovery, who covered much of the globe and left their country’s language and traditions behind.

imagesIn my work, I am increasingly asked to translate documents from countries that I know little about. Each new country has been an eye-opener to me – and an adventure. So far, I have “adopted” Mozambique, Angola, and Guinea-Bissau, and I recently had a job from East Timor (Timor-Leste). I took the opportunity to research its turbulent history and read about its charismatic leader Xanana Gusmão and his activist Australian wife, Kirsty Sword. These adventures keep me entertained. They are also humbling: they remind me how vast the world is and how much I have yet to learn.

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Translation

Continuing with my review of 2012 and plans for 2013, once again I’m amazed at how lucky I was last year in all areas of my life. I will start to introduce the areas, in addition to my book, that will be the subject of categories in this blog.

Saint Jerome 4Translation. I am a full-time translator from Spanish and Portuguese into English. Fortunately, I have always known what I wanted to do, and I have always been happy doing it. Translation has been my driving interest since eighth grade, when I first started to learn Spanish. I studied Spanish throughout the rest of my schooling and added Portuguese to my program as an undergraduate. My skill in both languages was strengthened by traveling in the countries where they are spoken, and Portuguese became dominant after I married my Brazilian husband and started to speak the language exclusively at home. Curiosity about the underlying differences between languages led me to do graduate studies in linguistics.

December 2012 marked my 20th anniversary as a free lance. (The term free lance, by the way, comes from the concept of a knight available for hire. I much prefer it to freelancer.) Add 25-plus years as an in-house translator and editor, and the total comes to nearly half a century and at least a couple of thousand deadlines met.

The image is a depiction of Saint Jerome, or Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, the patron saint of translators, who lived from c. 347 to 420. While I do not practice a formal religion, I like to think that he watches over me and makes sure that my work is both accurate and well expressed.

Last year was one of my busiest yet, with more than 50 assignments, some of them quite long, from 12 different clients. I hope the trend will continue in 2013. The hardest part is the business end: creating invoices, sending them out promptly, and following up when they’re not paid on schedule. I’m improving gradually, and I hope to do even better in 2013. Another goal is to make friends with Windows 7—which until now has been slowing me down as I am forced to learn new ways to perform functions that I’ve been doing on auto-pilot for many years.

Tomorrow, another category!

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