Interview with Rose Newell in issue 14 of translation journal Cultus

Interview with Rose Newell in issue 14 of translation journal Cultus

You can find an interview with me in the current issue (no. 14) of the peer-reviewed translation journal Cultus: The Journal of Intercultural Mediation and Communication. This was conducted a little while back with the British co-editor and Professor of Language and Translation David Katan, based at the University of Salento (Lecce), in Italy.

I was invited to take part in this fascinating issue alongside a number of respected colleagues, to offer the value of my own insights, experiences and perspectives on what defines premium-market translation, how and where we thrive, and what makes the way we work so different to the practices found in what is otherwise defined as the “bulk” market.

Among many gems in this issue of Cultus, you will find an interview with the familiar fellow premium-market advocate David Jemielity. There is also an excellent article on how hybridisation adds value in translation and interpreting by my friend and stock referral for German and English to Italian marketing translation and transcreation, Claudia Benetello; I think it’s clear we are singing from the same hymn sheet – despite neither of us being aware of the other’s participation in this issue.

You can view the issue online and download the individual PDFs by clicking on the image below:

Screenshot of the Cultus journal website

The theme of this issue is Translation plus and the added value of the translator. You can read more about why this topic was chosen in the introduction by co-editor Cinzia Spinzi. To summarise, I believe it was inspired by how the general use of machine translation continues to increase not just among translators, but in the world of international business. This means translators must distinguish themselves by doing what machines cannot if they wish to continue their profitable existence. The issue delves into experiences, examples, observations and general advice on how to not merely survive in translation, but thrive through mentally, emotionally, and financially rewarding work. These nuggets apply to everyone, regardless of the market served or prices charged.

My interview details my own perspectives and experiences within this mystical (not mythical) premium market. In particular, I discuss client relationships and communication, while also sharing my own thoughts on terms like “premium translator” (spoiler: I don’t like it).

In some ways, my interview might be controversial. There are things I’ve said here that I haven’t seen stated openly by a premium-market advocate before, but I felt them to be well overdue. While I have long felt uncomfortable with its broad coveting without understanding of the work involved, I have equally long felt uncomfortable with how some translators in less fortunate situations have come away feeling somehow inferior. Low earnings do not represent some lasting and irreparable failure, nor do high earnings reflect that person’s worth as an individual. If people feel intimidated rather than inspired by what we premium-market advocates say, we are doing it wrong.

I’ll leave you with three of my favourite excerpts, but I would encourage you to try to read the whole thing – not just my interview, but the issue in general. It’s perhaps the most relevant collection of articles that relates to translation as a profession I have ever seen.

I think the biggest issue is translators not asking questions and clarifying things. A lot of translators are working within agencies, and those agencies discourage translators from such interactions. Agencies are largely to blame for the impression that Google and DeepL can produce perfect translations. They are the ones giving their clients the idea that they can just insert the text somewhere, send it to the agency, and the translation will appear just like magic. The reason these agencies are struggling and lowering rates, and struggling to get their own clients, is because they’re marketing and presenting themselves in exactly the same way as Google and DeepL.

My hourly rate reflects what I actually earn in an hour, so reviewing just doesn’t work out cheaper than a new translation very often.

DK: What I mean is the collocation [premium translator], because you don’t find a premium electrician, for example.

RN: No, you do find them. They just won’t be the ones fixing your dodgy light switch.

DK: Ok! I didn’t think of it that way.

Relevant blog posts

On collaboration:
Good translators don’t translate alone

On aiming higher:
Successful stagnation

On pricing:
Free price calculation spreadsheets for translators

On the journey upmarket:
The long break – my journey, my reasons, my promise

On agency claims translation is getting (universally) cheaper:
Translation isn’t getting cheaper