It has always been a personal curiosity of mine to find out what professionals of other industries thought about my profession as a translator and languages in general. In order to find out more, I decided to invite prestigious and successful scientists, professionals and academics not relating with the translation industry to take part in this series of post blogs, where they will give an insight to the above mentioned topic. Their personal opinions, although may or may not be the generally accepted, reflect practically their personal experiences. Some of the parameters (such as geography, native language etc) may influence these experiences and may not match what the majority of professionals of their field feel about translators, however, still they can give professional translators a touch of reality and perhaps a market insight or trend.
Emil Jankovic, Account Manager/Systems Architect at STV (Svenska Tele & Video Konsult AB) in Sweden is our first guest. Emil has been kind enough to accept my invitation and answer my questions! Below you will find his answers
Please give a description of your line of work.
My background is in Engineering. I graduated with a MSc in Media Technology from The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden. My current position is at STV, Svenska Tele & Video Konsult AB a Video Communications/Audiovisual integration company. I basically design AV-systems, mostly Control Room visualization systems, and sell these to any company or agency that needs it.
What is your personal perception of the value of languages in general?
As I see it there is a big value in having different languages in different regions of the world. A language is a reflection of a culture and vice versa. By learning several different languages you also train your mind to think in new ways. Learning different grammatical structures helps the brain in pattern recognition and also gives a better understanding of the “Big Picture”. This is what I have learnt from my own experience speaking three languages.
What is the value of languages in your field of expertise?
In engineering mostly everything said and written has to be precise. There should be no doubt of what is meant. So both using correct language and correct translations is of utmost importance. The use of the wrong word or description can lead to unrepairable problems in any project. In my capacity as a sales representative I may need to use language differently. In that case precision may be exchanged by obscurity and “fine” words glorifying the product or system described. The different approaches all have their uses in their correct context. One just has to know when to use which.
From your professional experience, what thoughts come to mind when someone tells you she/he works as a translator?
If I that person works with translations in my line of work, engineering documents, technical manuals etc. I think that person really has to enjoy that type of language and translations since it is not the everyday language and often fairly boring and incomprehensible if you are not interested in the field. I took a course in Technical English at KTH and it was really useful and fun to learn to differentiate between language different use cases. This made me realize that anyone who is writing/translating anything that is not the standard conversational language needs to have an understanding of what material they are working with. As an example of how bad it could be we have the subtitling in many TV-programs that are a bit more technical/scientific. Most of the time they get all the concepts wrong and make direct word by word translations that do not mean anything or mean something totally different. The same word can mean different things in different languages.
Where you ever in need of translation services? If yes, please provide more details about the nature of the project(s).
The business I am in today does not require many translations since most documents are in English and that is an acceptable language in most cases. Shorter translations of for example user manuals from English to Swedish we handle ourselves since we have the knowledge and correct nomenclature for the purpose.
I used to work in IT and then we used translators mostly for webpages and similar systems. In some cases I actually did the work myself.
Thank you, Emil!