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The Road to Translation: How the Memsource Team Wound Up in the Industry

The road to the translation industry

On Sunday, September 30th, we celebrate International Translation Day. We wanted to mark the occasion by hearing from the Memsource team about how and why they ended up in the translation industry. From fate to entrapment, here are their stories:

It’s a Family Matter

Translation in is my blood. My mother, grandmother, great aunt, and my great grandmother were all translators. Even my cousin has a translation company. I studied at a technical university and then went on to study international relations, but somehow I still ended up in the translation industry.

It Was Written in the Stars

I guess I was destined to become a translator or language industry specialist. Actually, I had a slow start - I did not speak any English at all, not a single word until I was 14 and started grammar school. Soon after this came the Velvet Revolution and the world opened up for us. I had the luck of having some great teachers to start with and when I finished grammar school I went straight to studying English at university.

Later, I started a career as a freelance translator and English teacher, then went on to establish a small translation company. Building on this, David Canek and I teamed up to develop Memsource, and the rest is history!

Childhood Dreams

When I was a kid, I used to watch the cartoon “Around the World with Willy Fog”. The one storyline followed Willy Fog on a journey through India. During these adventures, Willy saves an Indian Princess. The story fascinated me so much that later I applied to study Indology at Charles University in Prague. We used to translate texts from various Indian languages during our studies and from translating short stories it was only a small step towards the language industry.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

I wanted to teach English, but fate had it figured out differently for me and I wasn’t accepted. I went on to get my BA and MA in translation and interpreting at Olomouc University. During my studies, I got familiar with Memsource and my teacher there recommended that I apply when the company was looking for “Demo person”. Fast forward two and a half years, and I’m still here.

A Cure for Loneliness

When I was younger, my family would often travel to France for holidays. Being an only child, I wanted to make friends with the other children around, but couldn’t because we could never understand each other. That haunted me! I hated the fact that I couldn’t communicate with the people around me so my interest in language blossomed at a young age. I went on to study French and Italian and then Translation and Interpreting in London and have worked in the industry ever since.

Fascination with a Sprinkle of Coincidence

Aside from my dreams of being a psychologist, garbage man, or professional wanderer, I have always been fascinated by languages, both by the similarities in their structures and the way they shape our thinking (I’m looking at you, Wilhelm von Humboldt).

In the end, it was by pure coincidence that I ended up going down the languages route when my family moved to Serbia, another Slavic-speaking country, when I was still young. One thing led to another and I found myself studying south Slavic languages and then fell into the translation industry. Now I’d like to find a way to earn money for getting lost in the mountains.

Changing Perspectives

I always enjoyed my English classes as a child and while deciding what university to attend, I found out about the translation department at Charles University. Translation and interpreting fascinated me because it is not just about languages but about enabling communication and understanding among people from very different cultures and backgrounds.

I started looking for a job that would complement my studies and I came across a job offer at Memsource by chance. I liked the idea of working in a company that developed a CAT tool, and a Czech one on top of that. Working at Memsource is an opportunity for me to look into the industry from a different perspective than I’ve known from the academic sphere.

It Started with a Teething Problem

I began translating as an exchange student in Japan. I was 20 at the time, and living with a host family. The father was a professor of dentistry at a local university. He’d ask me to translate faxes of dentist-related research into English from time to time. I used a paperback dictionary and had no idea what I was doing. My host father would assure me that it was good enough to get the gist of the Japanese. I loved the thought process behind translating and being able to enrich my vocabulary at the same time. I went on to become a professional translator for almost 20 years.

Step 1: Dubbing

It all started with a macroeconomics exam at the end of the summer semester about eight years ago. Maybe even longer than that - time flies when you’re having fun in the translation industry! I was chatting with a classmate about his new project while waiting for the results to be announced. He mentioned he was looking for translators for his new website that provided Czech subtitles for popular online videos, music videos, and web series.

Even though I never studied linguistics, I joined the ranks of avid subtitlers and became a regular contributor. I’m not sure if it was our fan base or my passion for translation that grew faster. After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I started working for a dubbing company as a freelance translator and I haven’t left the industry ever since. I’m very happy that friendly chat eight years ago set me on a path to where I am now.

One Word

I got trapped by translations while studying at university and never been released from their nets. At first, the entrapment was all fun. The first thing I translated at a university workshop was a short story, The Kugelmass Episode. A couple of pages of hilarious humor which could consume all of a student’s time, which is quite a lot of time.

I ended up twenty years later as a sworn translator of legal texts; infinitely less humorous, and for which you have infinitely less time. However, primitive text editors have been replaced by advanced CAT systems over time and my interest in translating words has been edged out by interest in tools that make translating - even serious texts- less laborious, quicker, and even funny again. Thus, following a technical support episode, I became Memsource Product Lead, attempting to improve translation workbenches and user experience.

In the beginning was the word, and that word was by Woody Allen, and the word was Kugelmass.

Happy International Translation Day from the Memsource Team!

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