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Meet the linguist: Sarai Pahla (@SaraiPahla)

Hi everybody! Happy Friday! 
It's a great honor for me to continue with the #followfriday tradition by recommending another great colleague and also a friend, Sarai Pahla. Sarai writes a brilliant blog. Besides, she once took part in my series about translation specialisation. Here you can learn more about how Sarai chose her specialty field.
As usual, I asked Sarai some questions and here are her replies. Enjoy :)

1. Could you share some fun/weird facts about you that you don't normally write in your bio?

I am not known for being a particularly feminine woman – in fact, most people who meet me think I am a complete tomboy, but I am absolutely in love with Japanese Kawaii Culture. I actually know the words to some Kyaru Pamyu Pamyu (KPP) songs because I listen to them so often (KPP is a Japanese pop-star who is also an ambassador of the Kawaii movement).

2. What was the best project in your career?

It is really hard to pick just one – I really enjoy all of them. I must admit, I prefer really long translation projects – I had a clinical trial translation that lasted about a month and a half and that was just the perfect time frame for me. I had enough time to really go back through everything, to agonise about terminology for hours (although always with one eye on the deadline), to communicate my concerns to the client and to actually learn a lot about the disease itself. However, I worked on that project alone and since then, I’ve been working as a part of an amazing team of experienced translators, proofreaders and editors – I don’t get as much time to get wallow around in the work, so to speak, because there is someone else who needs to go through the files, but I am learning lots of new techniques and tricks to make things more efficient without compromising quality.

3. What was the worst project in my career?

Actually, it wasn’t a project – it was a trial translation. Firstly, when you don’t have time to take on trial translations, say no and be firm about it. The company wasn’t offering a significant increase in pay over what I was already receiving, but they were a prestigious journal publication from Germany and I really wanted to work directly with them, so I squeezed the trial into my already-full schedule. Their standards are incredibly high and although not devastating, their feedback was quite negative. This was about a year ago, and I remember actually crying about this – translating for a medical journal would be an ideal (freelance) position for me. I tried again a few months later and was unsuccessful, and for a while I refused German to English translations altogether because my confidence was just shattered. On the other hand, it certainly motivated me to dramatically improve my translation skills and I recently registered for formal training in translation, so I am looking forward to trying again two years from now.

4. What are the three things you love most about being a freelance translator?

  • Naps! Naps are a vital part of my working day. I love naps. I can’t always sleep a full 7 – 9 hours a night, but I make up for it by taking naps. Well, technically they are miniature “sleeps” – usually between 1 – 3 hours long.
  • The ability to work via the Internet and not have to deal with office politics. Of course, there are politics of a different kind when freelancing, but you can switch off your computer to get away from it all, which you cannot do in an office environment.
  • No dress code! I translate in my pyjamas. Don’t get me wrong, I attend meetings with clients or formal events in formal clothing, and I enjoy looking professional when the need arises, but I think the 1.5 hours that I would spend getting “ready” for the working day can be put to better use.

5. Why do clients love working with you? What's unique about your services?

To be honest, I work with very few direct clients at the moment, and the reason is because I want to first perfect how I handle relationships with clients. Also, while I would like to raise my income, I would also like to offer direct clients a wealth of experience gained from my work in the translation industry, rather than simply offering my subject matter expertise as a non-practicing medical doctor – it simply is not enough. However, when I do present myself, I emphasise my passion for the work that I do and my readiness to do what it takes to ensure that the client is satisfied. I also emphasise that I value the role of collaboration – in my view, a translation is a collaboration between a client, a translator and two other key players – bilingual proofreaders and monolingual editors.

Dear Sarai, thank you so much for your replies! I certainly wish you all the very best in your career!

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