As promised, Clarity Language Solutions is launching its first ever competition!

To enter, all you need to do is post an idiom that somehow incorporates the idea of – you guessed it – CLARITY (or clearness) on Clarity Language Solutions’ facebook page. Here’s an example: ‘To be crystal clear’. You’re welcome to post an idiom in a language other than English but, if you do, please provide an English translation and an explanation of its meaning.

The PRIZE currently up for grabs is a £15 AMAZON VOUCHER. The good news is that this amount will GO UP BY £5 FOR EVERY 50 EXTRA FACEBOOK ‘LIKES’ Clarity Language Solutions’ facebook page receives between now and the date the winner is announced, so don’t forget to share this post with your friends and ask them to ‘like’ the page!

N.B., I will select my favourite idiom from all the entries as the winner. If the winning idiom has been posted by more than one contestant, the first person to have posted it will be awarded the prize. Closing date for entries TBA soon!


Wise Words – Roxana Dumble

In this series I’ll be interviewing language professionals who are at the top of their game to find out how they broke into the industry and achieved their goals.

This week I interviewed Roxy Dumble, who is currently working as a translator/terminologist for the European Commission.


What are you currently up to career-wise?

I am currently working as a Terminologist/Translator at the Directorate-General for Translation at the European Commission in Brussels on a 5-month training contract. Prior to coming here I was both freelancing and working in-house as a Translator and Interpreter specialising in the fields of medicine and aeromedical repatriation. I worked closely with Doctors and Nurses in the UK (on behalf of private individuals and travel insurance companies) translating medical reports and interpreting conversations between the medical teams in the UK and overseas. I work with French, Spanish and Italian, I am an Associate member of the ITI, and have been since April 2007, and I am an Affiliate of the ITI Medical & Pharmaceutical network. I am also currently working towards my DPSI (Diploma in Public Service Interpreting) examinations, which I plan to sit in June 2013, so that I can join the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI).

How did you start out in the industry?

I always enjoyed languages at school, so went on to study French and Spanish for G.C.S.E, A-level and then at university.  I graduated from Liverpool John Moores University in July 2006 with a First Class BA(Hons) in Applied Languages Europe: French & Spanish (with Distinction in spoken Spanish), having studied for a year at La Facultad de Traducción e Interpretación in Granada, Spain and then for another year at the Business and Law School at L’Université de Provence, Aix-Marseille I. My undergraduate degree led to the award of three internationally recognised degree qualifications (a BA(Hons), una licenciatura and une maîtrise) and we also studied compulsory modules in translation, interpreting, law, economics, business and IT throughout, which offered a unique insight into and understanding of the cultural, political and economic context of France, Spain and the UK.

My BA was a great starting point and I knew that I wanted to continue to postgraduate translation/interpreting studies, but I needed a rest, so I worked for two years (for Intel’s multilingual customer relations department, and then for a multilingual publishing company) in order to save up for my MA and also to gain some professional experience. I was determined to find a job where I could actively use my languages and although it was tough I held out and the right jobs came along in the end. Multi-lingual customer services roles are a great way to gain experience and build up your confidence when you first graduate, and there are a lot of them around.

I then went on to read a Masters degree in Interpreting and Translating at the University of Bath, completed work placements at the United Nations in Geneva and at the European Commission, Council and Parliament in Brussels and then began freelancing! I applied to lots of agencies and made use of translation forum websites such as Proz to find work, I talked to friends and colleagues about who to work for (and who not to work for) and still do! In-house Translation positions are few and far between and I was lucky that one came up in Bristol where I live, and so I began to do medical work. I worked in a small team with Doctors and Nurses on a daily basis with whom I could happily and easily discuss any questions about the work that I was doing and so my medical specialisation began.

I very much enjoyed medical work and so decided to study Human Biology with the Open University in order to consolidate the knowledge that I had thus far. After three years freelancing, I decided to come to Brussels to gain some experience working at the Commission and here I am!

What has been your biggest challenge to date…?

This should never be considered a bad thing, but if you work with languages, are well qualified and have varied professional experience you have a lot of choice! I have found it hard trying to choose whether to focus on translation or interpreting (conference interpreting or public service interpreting), whether I wanted to have the security of working somewhere in-house or whether, despite it’s difficulties, I wanted to freelance, which areas in which to specialise, where to work (and whether I would be willing to commute or relocate, in the UK or abroad), whether I would like to go on to further studies and so on.

It is also very hard trying to think of yourself as a business even when you’re working from home! That is to say, your work-life/home-life can blur into one as theoretically you could be working all the time as a freelancer, and it can feel like that sometimes. You also need to “sell yourself” and be pragmatic about the decisions that you take, which can be hard.

…and how did you overcome it?

In terms of choice, I have done a little bit of everything since graduating from Bath. I have finally realised that I don’t need to decide exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life at the tender age of 30! I have freelanced, I have worked in-house, I have worked with private individuals and with international organisations, I have done further studies and so on, and I am gradually finding my feet; I am discovering which areas of this fabulous job make me the happiest, as well as those that have the most purpose and meaning for me personally.

In terms of specialising in certain areas, I have made use of all of my past experience (e.g. my previous jobs have given me experience working with I.T./computers, working as a Proofreader, working with environmental policy and more, and I studied law and economics prior to doing medical work), which was all a good starting point. And the medical specialisation came along naturally with hard work and a little bit of luck thrown in too.

With regard to “selling yourself”, I am still learning about how to be more business-minded, but I am getting there slowly, but surely. I always try to keep office hours even when working from home, so that I don’t feel like I’m working all the time and I think that the rest will come in time. As I said, there is no need to do everything at once!

Do you have any advice for newcomers who are interested in following a similar path to yours?

I would say that a postgraduate qualification in translation/interpreting studies is a must, whether it’s an MA, a DipTrans or another qualification, and joining bodies such as the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL) is a valuable mark of professionalism and shows a keen interest in your work, as well as allowing you to meet more experienced colleagues. Look into doing placements with translation agencies and other companies, so that you can build up your experience gradually.

And it’s a terrible cliché, but network, network, network! Keep in touch with friends and colleagues who have similar goals and interests career-wise and be nice to people! Think of other Translators and Interpreters as colleagues rather than rivals. My work very often comes from friends, or friends of friends. I think that as the Translation and Interpreting industry is not fully understood in the UK (us Brits are not really language-lovers and people are not aware what a complex job it can be), people feel more confident employing someone who has a “connection” with them, even if it’s an indirect and fairly remote one. And make sure you always do a good job; take particular care when working for agencies i.e. tell them if there is some tricky vocabulary or if you can’t make a deadline because of  x, y or z, so that they can help you and/or make other arrangements.

Think about what makes you different and what makes you stand out; use all of your past experience in a positive way, whether it was working as a secretary, doing a ski-season or translating at the European Commission.

Certain factors will affect how much you can charge clients for your work (language combination, deadline, type of document, subject area etc.) but don’t do yourself down! You have to believe that the work you’re doing is worth being paid well for, so that other people have faith in your skills, qualifications, professionalism and abilities. If someone wants to pay you a pittance for your work then don’t accept the job! There will always be someone less-qualified and who is a poorer translator willing to do the job for less, so let the client go to them and learn their lesson the hard way.

And finally, never be afraid to ask questions! If you’re the type of person who loves languages and translation, then you’re the type of person who loves learning, so ask questions if you don’t understand something. You cannot be expected to know everything when you’re just starting out, or even when you’ve been doing the job for ten years. Ask about subjects that you don’t understand and make the effort to learn about them, ask friends and colleagues for advice and help with regard to freelancing and difficult texts and tell people about what a fabulous job you have too!

Thanks, Rox!

You can contact Roxy at:

Wise Words – Valeria Aliperta

In this series I’ll be interviewing language professionals who are at the top of their game to find out how they broke into the industry and achieved their goals.

This week I interviewed Valeria Aliperta, branding guru and Director of the successful start-up Rainy London Translations.


What are you currently up to career-wise?

Oh, I have many things in the pipeline – or at least on my mind!

Plans include more articles, a new website with new shiny features and, in terms of branding, I’m looking into running more webinars and seminars – also focusing on other topics of a more general scope i.e., how to organise your invoicing or folders for work and filing, and using a Mac for translation rather than a PC. I love giving talks and it’d be great to establish a regular wave of meetings and events people can look forward to. I am also planning to explore a new language soon – plus I want to make sure that the monthly #LdnTweetUp trend is one to stay and prosper! (Next one here:

How did you start out in the industry?

I started like many, with a BA and an MA in the bag, a few work placements done and lots of enthusiasm for having my own life. The translation started in a studio apartment without a desk, using my laptop on my bed and, inside, thinking: I will not stand a chance for more than six months. Mais oui – I was wrong! In the middle of a recession, I managed to build up my clientele and then Rainy London was born. The rest, well, you know it! Of course, the beginning was tough but you should always bear in mind that Rome was not built in a day. Many opt for a permanent job and then try to enter the freelancer market from there; I understand the need for a fixed income, but I advice against it, at least in the long run. Try life as a freelancer – give yourself a time scale – and then if you really feel it’s not for you, who said you cannot retrain or change?

What has been your biggest challenge to date…?

Challenges are the bread on my table! Jokes apart… it could be anything: from a client who is supposed to be Italian while he can barely speak it; an emotional medical case that puts you in a difficult place; having no voice on the day of that very high-profile interpreting assignment; files that did not save and could not be retrieved; a client who thinks they can treat you as they please; a speaker who willingly opts not to use the mic in his presentation or one who switches to German mid-speech… (I don’t speak German.).

…and how did you overcome it?

I have to say, I tend to lose my patience much more now than I used to 10 years ago. So I try to count to ten and rationalise. Sometimes it’s not such a big deal as it seems; sometimes it is indeed tricky but so far I managed to find my way out. I recommend this: always double-check all you are being told and verify with clients that what you’re doing is what they want, first and foremost. Errors do occur. And inevitably – very much wrongly so – you’re the one who ends up taking the blame.

Do you have any advice for newcomers who are interested in following a similar path to yours?

I don’t want to sound like a life coach, but here’s my take: never give up, and make ‘yes I can’ your mantra. You should be the first person who believes in you. Never underestimate the power of contacts and networking – they can do part of the work for you. Always give your card out to anybody, and make sure it’s a great, easily remembered one. Hone your conversational skills – you’re a linguist it’s what you do! – and don’t be shy; always listen to others, as you’ll never stop learning. Read all you can, be it a leaflet or a magazine, a specialised manual or a sign on the street. You never know, that content may come in handy one day.

Thanks, Val!
Find out more about Rainy London at or connect on facebook or twitter

Wise Words – Adriana Tortoriello

In this series I’ll be interviewing language professionals who are at the top of their game to find out how they broke into the industry and achieved their goals.

This week I interviewed Adriana Tortoriello who works, lectures and carries out research in the field of Audiovisual Translation. She is a member of ESIST (European Association for Studies in Screen Translation) and EST (European Society for Translation Studies).

AdrianaWhat are you currently up to career-wise?

After spending eight years as Head of the Italian Department at an international subtitling company I decided to go back to freelancing, to give some more space to the other loves of my (working) life: translation and academia. So here’s where I’m at now, dividing my time between translating and subtitling, lecturing and doing research.

How did you start out in the industry?

I actually started as a freelance translator and worked for a number of clients. I had a degree in Translation (in today’s UK terms it would be an MA in translation) and I started off by sending out my CV and doing some translation tests, then getting my first translation jobs here and there. One thing leads to another… The two main things that stuck with me were subtitling, and translation of children’s books. They are still with me, as are other ‘creative’ forms of translation such as transcreation (translation of advertising material). And I love them.

What has been your biggest challenge to date…?

As a freelance translator and part-time lecturer: time management. Competition is harsh in the translation field and rates are not always great, so one tends to accept a lot of work. At the same time, being a perfectionist, and being really passionate about what I do, I aim for very high quality, both for my clients and for my translation students. It can easily lead to sleepless nights…

…and how did you overcome it?

With my enthusiasm. I love what I do, and wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. It is this passion that keeps me going, and that makes the sleepless nights worth my while, even now, after so many years. As an academic, I am often told that my ‘added value’ lies in having so much experience on the field. As a professional, I benefit enormously from my research and my lecturing, and I know that the two feed off each other, and would not want to give either of them up.

Do you have any advice for newcomers who are interested in following a similar path to yours?

If I think about my ‘path’, I think of ‘creative translation’, as I said before. There is a reason why I am not more specific: when students who have been studying audiovisual translation ask me how to become a subtitler, for instance, my main advice is for them to be flexible. Given the state of the industry, flexibility nowadays is very much the name of the game. The skills you learn on an audiovisual translation course – or an MA, for that matter – are transferable skills and must be used as such. There are many other things you can do above and beyond becoming a subtitler: you can work as a web designer, a videogame localiser, a transcreator, a project manager… If you happen to land a job as a subtitler, then great. But if not, it’s important to focus on the skills you’ve got and on how much you have to offer, rather than getting stuck in a one-way road that might end up being a cul-de-sac.

Thanks, Adriana!

Adriana also runs one-day courses at Imperial College, including an Introduction to Subtitling, Advanced Subtitling and one-off stand-alone intensive courses that are open to everyone.

Wise Words – Marta Stelmaszak

In this series I’ll be interviewing language professionals who are at the top of their game to find out how they broke into the industry and achieved their goals.

This week I interviewed Marta Stelmaszak, a successful young translator, mentor and socialmedialite.

What are you currently up to career-wise?

The best aspect of being a freelancer is that I can decide exactly how my career will look. I’ve been concentrating solely on translation and interpreting for the past 5 years, but now I’ve added business mentoring for freelancers; I’m also expanding my portfolio of services towards cross-cultural marketing and language consultancy.

Besides, I’m actively engaging with professional organisations. I’m a member of the management committee of the Interpreting Division at the Chartered Institute of Linguists, and co-head the UK Chapter of International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters.

How did you start out in the industry?

As young translators, we’re faced with a serious problem: We need experience. But we can’t get any jobs if we don’t have experience. We’re caught up in a vicious circle! I know that it puts off a lot of newcomers, but there are some things we can do to break into the industry.

I knew that I had the skill because I did my degree in translation and started with translating for charities and NGOs. Some of my friends also turned to me to carry out some translations for them, and I was happy to help them out with their dissertation abstracts or articles for testimonials. It turned out that a few of my colleagues were establishing their start-up companies, so I offered to provide translation and proofreading for them as well. But you have to be very careful here. I vehemently oppose working for free, that’s why with start-up companies I’d ask them to pay me with their services for my translation.

That’s how I got started with my professional experience!

What has been your biggest challenge to date…?

Most translators come to the industry further down their career paths. It’s difficult to be recognised and valued if you’re young. The biggest challenge for me was, and still is, to be acknowledged as a professional translator. When I was even younger, I was getting the vibe of dismissal from more experienced colleagues. Luckily, young translators are more common now and our fresh ideas are starting to be recognised.

…and how did you overcome it?

I worked much harder to hone my translation and interpreting skills. I knew that my skill set had to be complete and of the highest quality if I wanted to be taken seriously. It involved a lot of reading and practising, but now I know that I can offer fully competitive services; I also teamed up with other young translators and felt their company very reassuring.

Do you have any advice for newcomers who are interested in following a similar path to yours?

I finally broke into the industry and I couldn’t be happier. Languages are my thing and I definitely support everyone who wants to pursue their careers in this industry. I wish I had such support when I was starting up. For this reason I set up my Business School for Translators – a blog and community of business-minded translators. Sharing our experience is essential if we want to make the whole profession stronger and more integrated.

Thanks, Marta!

You can find out more about Marta on her website or visit her Business School for Translators

Wise Words – Clare Suttie

In this series I’ll be interviewing language professionals who are at the top of their game to find out how they broke into the industry and achieved their goals.

This week, I interviewed Clare Suttie, Director of Atlas Translations.

Clare (centre left) and her team at Atlas

What are you currently up to career-wise?

I’m the Director of Atlas Translations Ltd. My job is really varied, which I love. Mostly I oversee the office and my staff, ensuring that everything runs smoothly, and sorting out any problems when it doesn’t. I also keep an eye on new technology, marketing, the website, accounts… to make sure we are doing a good job in all the background stuff as well as our service to clients.

How did you start out in the industry?

My very first job was in Customer Relations at Panini Stickers, and that taught me a LOT about how to deal with people and how to turn problems around. Having studied Spanish and Linguistics, much later I temped at a translation agency and really enjoyed it. In 1991, in the middle of a recession, Atlas was born. It is hard to imagine now that work was mostly sent by post, on 5 ¼ inch disks. Some translators didn’t have accents on their computers so we had to put those in. And everyone worked in WordPerfect.

Translators tended to be good with technology, and we started using modems to transfer files, which was a revolution. Then email arrived, which we embraced, but many clients were slower to catch on!

21 years later and we are still here…

What has been your biggest challenge to date…?

When Atlas started I was 22 years old. It was sometimes difficult to be taken seriously by clients, and even staff who could be older than me I had worked in all different environments, but didn’t have experience of managing staff. In many areas I was learning on the job. As a small company, initially with 2 staff, we had to cover everything – from signing contracts to cleaning the office.

…and how did you overcome it?

I took lots of advice from friends, suppliers and contacts I made. I learned to seek good advice in areas I was not an expert or likely to become one (such as legal contracts). I sought regular feedback from staff and know that I am a much better boss now than I was 20 years ago. I learnt to delegate and realise that I couldn’t possibly “do everything.”

Plus now I am ancient, so everyone takes me more seriously…

Do you have any advice for newcomers who are interested in following a similar path to yours?

You have to enjoy this industry. You have to love languages, and enjoy talking to clients and suppliers. As a business owner, you never really stop having ideas about where to go with the business, but it’s good to try to lay down some plans when you start and then review them regularly. I feel very lucky that I never get that Monday morning feeling – I do love my work and that’s quite a rare statement to hear –but quite common in the translation business.

I couldn’t agree more. Thanks, Clare!

Expect to hear more from Clare soon on this blog, where she will talk about Atlas Translations’ achievements in supporting the next generation of translators through its long-standing Work Placement Scheme.

Wise Words

Last week, I promised you all a treat, so here is a quick update on what to expect…

Over the next few months, I’ll be interviewing some well-known and very successful language professionals about how they broke into the industry and achieved their goals. Interviewees will include the owner of a major UK translation agency, a translator for the EU, a subtitler and university lecturer, the owner of a thriving start-up and a successful young translator/mentor, to name but a few.

Expect to learn about their backgrounds and challenges they have faced, get real insight into how the industry works, and receive great advice and tips from professionals who are at the top of their game!

Coming this Friday.