Isabelle Totikaev is a freelance translator. Mostly she translates from English and Spanish into French. Her main client is Amnesty International. Originally she is from Paris, but she has lived for more than a decade abroad. First in Canada, then in Spain and now in Berlin. Isabelle has been a member of betahaus since May.
How did you come to Berlin?
I came to Berlin for many reasons: because of the bad economic situation in Spain and my job allows me to work almost anywhere in the world, Berlin is a multicultural city – I like meeting people from all over the world and I have friends here, because Berlin is a green city where you can have a barbecue in many central parks and is a small city compared to Paris.
How did you discover betahaus? What made you decide to start work from betahaus and how has working at a co-working space affected your work?
I first heard about betahaus from my roommate and decided to pay a visit to it. Before coming to betahaus I either worked at home, which I really dislike, or in libraries, but there you depend on the opening hours and in Spain… the internet connexion in libraries is sometimes weak and in some libraries there is no connexion at all. So betahaus is a good point on this. Furthermore it has the material I need : a printer, a scanner, a silent room… and a kettle.
How does a day in the life of translator look like?
For the moment it’s quite simple for me because I work for very few clients. A major client and two occasional clients. So I receive the documents, I negotiate the delivery date and if necessary I discuss to determine the kind of work it is – translation, revision…
Sometimes I communicate with the client about mistakes in the document or to clarify things. So everything, including communication with the client is written. Not a single word is uttered. This is translation. Not interpretation. The interpreter only speaks. These activities are totally different. Regarding translation I’d like to stress that translating is not just putting words into another language, otherwise google could do it. And google translations are often weird. Translating is rewriting a text in another language. People often think it’s easy and anybody can do it. This is why there are so many translations which don’t make sense. A good translator should have an excellent knowledge of at least two languages, writing skills, be creative and like doing research.Translating takes more time than blowing a candle.
Here are 2 examples to make it simple:
How do you translate in your mother tongue : “We’ll meet at the beginning of the afternoon”? Google will translate in the best case into French: “ Nous nous retrouvons en début d’après-midi”, German: Wir werden uns am Anfang von Nachmittag treffen, Spanish: “Nos encontramos a principios de la tarde”
But what is “the beginning of the afternoon”? In France it’s 1.00 or 2.00 pm – in Spain it’s 5.00 pm. The thing is that you have to adapt depending of the context.
Another example:Translating a quotation may take considerable amount of time – much more than it took to the writer who only copied and pasted :You have to find out whether there is already an official translation, If there are several which one to choose or decide to make a new one, If there isn’t then translate it..
What are some plans or ideas for your future work?
My plans. I would like to keep on using my language skills but not translating all day long, translating part time would be enough, as I like communicating with people. Ideally I would like to get more clients, including in the media, film and tourism sectors…In this view I have started to make a web page with some a friend’s help but I am not a sales nor a PR person. So I enjoy more drawing on this website than writing pages. And I don’t work a lot on it. During my other part time, I’d love to run a bed and breakfast in a warm city!