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A day in the life of a translator

9:00 am

I arrive at the office, sign in to the system and open my e-mail. Today shouldn’t be too busy, but I have to finish a short text that I started the day before and deliver it to the customer by the end of the day. When I open my e-mail, I see that there are a few other jobs waiting, some of which have to be delivered today. I accept the jobs and ask the relevant project managers for more information, and I download the translatable files to my computer from the Vendor Portal of AAC’s translation management system.

9:15 am    

The first job of the day is a translation of a printer's firmware from English into Finnish. It is about two pages long and consists of menu texts and error messages. I am familiar with both the customer and the device, and I get the job done fairly quickly.

10:20 am     

I promise one of our project managers that I will translate a text related to AAC’s new translation portal by 3 p.m. today. It seems that the day will be a bit busy after all, but I estimate that I can fit in one more job. This one will also be translated from English into Finnish, and it contains a lot of user interface terminology that has been translated before and can be found in the translation memory of the translation tool we use. Translation memories are databases that store translated text to allow searching for previously translated sentences and terms. This makes the translation process considerably faster.

10:49 am    

I deliver the first translation of the day to the project manager via our translation management system and start working on the portal translation.

11:20 am     

I get one more request for a small translation by e-mail. The customer has requested delivery by 2 p.m. on the same day. I reply that I can take the job, but I won’t be able to get it done until 4 p.m. The customer is OK with this, so I accept the job.

12:10 pm  

I send the second job of the day, the translation for AAC’s portal, for proofreading. I am ahead of schedule, so I decide to take care of the short translation I promised to finish by 4 p.m. It is a fairly short press release which is translated from Finnish into English.

12:23 pm     

I get an e-mail about a big job that will take the rest of the week to finish. I continue working on the press release for a moment and go to have lunch at a restaurant near the office.

1:34 pm     

After I return from lunch, I finish translating the press release and deliver it to the project manager. Because the press release was short and the customer preferred to have it early, I decided that it didn’t need a language review. After that, I start to translate another one-page press release from Finnish into English. This is also a regular customer, which means that I can finish the text fairly quickly and deliver it for language review ahead of time.

1:40 pm     

I get another job offer in my e-mail, but it is a large project and my week is already full, so I turn down the offer.

2:10 pm     

I send the last press release for language review. By this time, AAC’s portal translation has also returned from language review. I check and implement the changes made by the reviewer and deliver the file to the project manager in charge. Next, I start to work on a small localization job for a media player app for mobile devices. It is a small job of less than a hundred words. However, it is marketing text and the translation is more tricky than usual, because coming up with good slogans takes some time.

2:45 pm   

The second press release comes back from language review. I implement the reviewer’s changes and deliver the finished file to the project manager. Because I managed to finish most of todays’ jobs exceptionally quickly, I still have time to start translating the minutes of a long meeting.

4:10 pm  

It is time to log out of the system and turn off the computer. Even though today’s tasks were mostly translating, a translator’s day often includes many other kinds of tasks as well. The day before, I had been helping a project manager with a technical issue related to a translation tool. Sometimes translators also review the language of texts translated by our customers, and every now and then my knowledge of Japanese becomes useful, when there is a need to check the layouts of PDF files created from texts translated into Japanese or Chinese. Even on days like today, which consist of translation jobs alone, I get to work on so many different texts covering so many topics that every day is different.

Localization Translation Working life

Sami Hurmerinta

Sami Hurmerinta

Sami works as a translator (EN-FI-EN). The areas he has most experience in include IT-related texts (software and hardware), communication technologies and mobile phones. The things he enjoys doing the most at the moment include tai chi, photography, blogging, traveling, and cat herding.

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