Written by:
May 2, 2019

An Interview with a Translator: How Spanish Translator Berenice Font Works

This article is a part of a series where we interview the team behind Drops, sharing a bit about what they do, how they started working in the language field, and why they enjoy being involved in the world of languages.

Name: Berenice Font

Location: Querétaro, Mexico

Languages: Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, Italian, Catalan

One word that best describes how you work: Passionately

How Drops' Spanish translator works

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are today.

I was born on an island in the Nile, 38 years ago. My parents are from Mexico and since my father is a diplomat, I was a nomad up until I was about 27 years old. I grew up living in different places like Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Bogotá, Barcelona, New Delhi, Geneva, and Mexico.

I am an entrepreneurial translator and a specialist in marketing and advertising translation. I also give career and personal brand coaching. I am a happy mother and wife, and I currently live in Querétaro, Mexico.

Even though I hold a degree in psychology (which is one of my passions), I have developed a career in creative marketing translation. As a translation entrepreneur, I have devoted the past 12 years of my life to the translation business. If you use the Mexican version of Tinder, I have translated what’s there. If you read L’Oreal or Colgate’s blog in Mexico, that was also translated by me! Here is a bit more about my business.

I work as a freelancer, but I also work with a team of trusted (and beloved) colleagues who are my professional tribe and to whom I am deeply thankful for walking this path with me.

The things that are important in my life and keep me going are my family, belly dancing, practicing meditation and traveling back to the cities of my life where I have left pieces of my heart.

If you speak Spanish (or are learning and want to practice) you can read some articles I write about life, dance, psychology, travel, visit Caminos Andados.

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What made you first interested in translating?

I never really thought I would end up as a translator. Because of my nomad lifestyle, I am a polyglot and I was often told I should become a translator. I studied psychology in college. However, life always has different outcomes and my first job was as the executive assistant to the CEO of Brazil’s largest software company. My boss, who was a true leader saw potential in me, asked me to translate all sorts of materials for the company. When I left the company after having my baby, I realized translation was a job I could keep up from home and so I started my freelance career. Freelancing is not easy, and it can sometimes be exhausting to the point you lose motivation. But translation has become a passion for me and so I keep going. I enjoy translating creatively. It’s stimulating, always challenging and very rewarding. I think this profession works well for me.

Take us through a standard workday for you--what are some of the things you do as a translator?

A work day starts with many emails in my inbox. My clients are all over the globe. When I get to my office at 9 am, I have to quickly reply to my clients in Europe before they close their business for the day. I have to wait until night to hear back from my clients in Asia and I make sure I also assist my clients in the Americas.

My job is mainly focused on marketing and advertising. I will translate or review updates for regular clients such as Tinder, Snapchat, Brut, Lyft and others. I translate blogs and webpages. One of my favorite fields is Cosmetics and Luxury brands such as Chanel, L’Oreal, and others. I transcreate ads that will later be recorded by voice talents. I am also often called to supervise the VO recordings. This part of my job is fun and interactive. Most of the time, the transcreation will be adapted on the spot in order to fit into the time requirements or other factors encountered during the recordings.

I also elaborate on brand style guides for new translation projects. I have to prepare many quotes and I always dedicate some time to marketing my services.

At the end of the day, I try to work on social media a little bit. I catch up with my continuous education, and if possible, I also write my own creative texts or blog entries. I collaborate with the well-known and award-winning translation blog 20000 Lenguas, I write my own blog and prepare some creative copies to go with art photography, illustrations or any inspiring visuals I publish on my Instagram.

What apps, tools, or resources could you not live without in your work?

For my job, dictionaries and glossaries are a must. I always have to have bilingual and monolingual dictionaries tabs open on my browser. I don’t really rely on Wordreference. Instead, I like using Granada’s University Dictionary. I normally prefer monolingual dictionaries so I consult Oxford, Real Academia de la Lengua, Priberam, and Larousse. My favorite dictionary for the Spanish language is María Moliner, which is not online, but I own the wonderful paper edition.

I also need to have synonym dictionaries. I have them in paper editions, too.

For doubts in Spanish, I always go to fundeu.es and when I am truly lost with no idea of a term, I use linguee.es. However, Linguee is not as reliable. I use it mainly to help start an investigation on a word I might know nothing about.

For glossaries, they are normally personally built or sent in by clients or colleagues. Another private tool truly necessary for my work is style guides and brand guidelines.

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What’s a “hack” or learning technique that you use to figure things out in a new language?

The first and most instinctive “hack” is to simply let my feelings go with the words in different languages. Normally, there will be connections between terms and they will be similar so it will be easier to adopt them into the new language I am learning. I think it’s important to be flexible, not have any expectations on what language should be like. You need to clear your mind and become like a child to integrate into a new language.

How do you keep track of what you have to do?

I am very old school. I use recycled paper to write my to-do list by hand. I use different colors to show priorities. Writing everything down helps me organize the tasks by priority, it helps me remember them better and it’s so rewarding to later on tick off each task as it’s finished!

What’s your least favorite thing to do and how do you tackle it?

Accounting… is by far the last task I ever want to work on. Every translation agency I work with has different invoicing systems, which is hard to keep track of. Then, I have to keep track of due payments, send payment reminders, check bank accounts, etc.

To tackle this, I set myself some time only for this, play my favorite music very loud while doing it and always try to motivate myself by seeing how much income I am generating!

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I love the fact I learn about so many different things. Maybe today I will translate the latest cosmetic campaign, tomorrow it will be the new feature on Tinder, and then, an interesting report on market insights. There is always something new to learn when one translates.

I also love that translating can only improve through experience and like any art it needs to be practiced and polished day after day.

What would you say makes learning languages for translation different from learning languages for other reasons?

If you learn a language so you can translate from it, the priority is on understanding this language thoroughly. One might not put too much effort into expressing oneself in that one language.

However, if you learn a new language for other reasons than translating, you will have to make sure you also express yourself impeccably in the new language.

What are you currently reading or what would you recommend?

I am reading several things at once, a novel, two short stories and some psychology books. A novel I can recommend reading in Spanish is “El juego del Ángel” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I will also recommend any of García Marquez books, especially “Cien años de soledad”.

What’s the best advice related to languages that you’ve ever received?

To never be embarrassed when trying to communicate. One must leave all shyness when learning and expressing oneself in a new language.

What is your favorite "un-translate-able" word or phrase?

Saudade. This is a Brazilian word to describe a kind of longing and nostalgia. It’s the description of a bittersweet feeling--one truly impossible to translate. It’s only possible to explain it, and even so, I am not sure the whole meaning or experience is fully portrayed.

Saudade mixes feelings of sadness, longing, nostalgia, with the happiness and romanticism of what the person feels nostalgic about. A feeling that can’t be fully expressed, nor indeed translated.

How has knowing multiple languages impacted your life?

This has truly been a blessing and a source of strength in my life. Knowing multiple languages makes me capable of traveling the world confidently. It makes me fearless. But mainly, knowing multiple languages has allowed me to work in one of the best professions in the world: translation!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Learning a language is a true joy. I encourage all the readers not to give up and keep reading, listening and speaking as much as they can. Knowing a new language is adopting a whole new way of thinking and looking at the world. And as such, it should only be regarded as a very noble task. Keep learning!

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