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  • Gabriela Kouahla - Beyond Words Translator

Why am I not a Professional Translator

What is a professional person? Whether a lawyer, translator, interpreter, designer, or even an IT technician?



According to Wikipedia, a professional is “a member of a profession or any person who earns their living from a specified professional activity”. Cambridge Dictionary explains that “someone (adjective) is professional if they show skills and careful attention”.



Following these definitions and based on a simple logic, a professional is a person who has skills and professional awareness. This person works with attention and seriousness, and respects his/her clients, boss and colleagues. A professional can work in a company, a university or in his/her living room.


But the questions I ask myself are:


·        Why do we identify ourselves as a professional, aren't we already identified as such by our profession?


·        Why add this characteristic to our job title?


For us translators, being professional includes a list of characteristics, which in my opinion should be the same, no matter what country we work in, no matter what context we work in, whether in a company as an in-house translator, in an international organization, or as a freelance translator and our office is a separate room or the living room. I have a colleague who works from a boat. Wherever we are, we do our job with the same conscientiousness. 


What are the characteristics of a professional translator?


To become a professional translator, you must first complete a university degree in translation. It is during this basic training that the translator will learn the techniques and methods specific to his or her work. But, if I am to believe the latest statistics, we can become translators even with language training, online translation training or simply because we are talented - opinions are divided.


In any case, language and technology are constantly changing, and a professional translator must regularly upgrade his/her skills, whether through group training or independent learning. In other words, a translator is constantly learning!


To be a good professional translator, you have to read, read and read! Since translators will be called upon to translate texts on a variety of subjects, they must have a solid background of diverse knowledge. Professional translators will therefore spend countless hours reading newspapers, magazines and general or specialized books. Their curiosity and thirst for learning never dries up!


So-called general or non-specialised translations are only a small part of the demand. This is why the professional translator will often choose to specialize in one or more fields: administrative translation, legal translation, technical translation, marketing translation, etc. In addition, the professional translators must master several specialized technological tools that will help them in their work.


The professional translators must be extremely rigorous and meticulous to produce error-free translations. They sometimes have to organize over many small details and do a great deal of research, particularly to find the right terminology to use. This means that they have to concentrate hard to make sure that no detail is forgotten!


Punctuality is key. In today's business world, everything moves quickly, and companies need to communicate with their clients at the right time. This is why the professional translators must have excellent self-discipline to organize their time well and do their work both quickly and well.


Professional translators need to listen to their client and ask the right questions to adapt their work. They must also show integrity and respect the client's preferences and specific requirements. They know that the quality of communication is of paramount importance for the image and reputation of their client.


In short, this is a summary of the characteristics of a professional translator, and I like to believe that anyone who is committed to respecting the profession and the translation process will have the same characteristics. So, following this logic, this person is a professional translator, and he or she does not really need to mention it as a title: professional translator, professional translator specialized in marketing, professional translator since 2000, etc. So, I think we need to focus more on our specialities, and especially on that little thing that makes us unique and makes us stand out from the crowd.


Why not professional?


In my case, I have been a certified translator since 2010, but after years of professional and personal experience in three countries and two continents, I wanted to lay the foundations of a concept that would characterize me and perhaps make me unique. And also, inspired by my marketing courses, I wanted to choose something that could have an impact on the memory of potential future clients.


In April 2018, in a personal context where my two children were more independent and with a full programme at school, I settled down and reviewed my professional life. Where am I and where do I want to go? As a qualified and certified translator in 3 countries, with years of experience, what else do I want to bring to this profession?


This is how the Beyond Words concept was born. Why Beyond Words?

Because the core of my services is the quality of my work, but not only that. I want to go further. I want to offer collaboration beyond the service framework; a good relationship with my clients before, during and after the translation process; help my clients as much as possible.


I don't want to limit myself to the translation process and I want to offer services that are adapted to the demand, context and culture of my clients... a service that is beyond words.


What am I?


As you have read, I don't identify myself as a professional translator, but rather as a certified specialized translator, a Beyond Words translator and scientific proofreader. Or maybe, a doer! A Beyond Words & Borders “doer” Translator.




Take care & till soon...


If you have any questions, write to me at: gabrielakouahla@gkbeyondwords.com.

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