Interview with Eliane Gurjão Silveira, translator - Behind The Curtains
Updated: Aug 9
Eliane Gurjão Silveira, 19 years of career in translation, previous experience in the area of technology and systems analysis.
Associate in Technology from Mackenzie Presbyterian University (São Paulo, Brazil) and in Languages - Translator and Interpreter from Unibero (São Paulo, Brazil), with a master's degree from PUC/SP (São Paulo, Brazil).
She works with the technical and literary translation area.
Please, talk a bit about your background before you become a translator (your training and previous work experiences).
Before I became a translator, I worked on Systems Analysis. I graduated in the mid-80s, and I was not completely sure what I was waiting for me.
At that time, this concept of career path was not so strong. Some leaned toward more traditional areas, which already had a career path outlined, such as medicine, engineering, and law. The information technology area was still starting in Brazil, so we did not have what we have today in terms of career path. And the computer professional did a bit of everything (indeed!), there were no such specializations that currently exist. You graduated and could already work as a programmer, analyst, tester, design processes, anything related to the task you were performing at the moment.
Anyway, I worked in metallurgical industry, gas markets, banking automation, commercial automation, and telecom. Always working on information systems. I spent almost 20 years in the area, until 2005, when I left and embraced the translation area.
What happened that you became a translator?
In 1995, I was in a crisis, I was wanting to change my life a little. I was always had a flutter spirit and I was not happy, at that point, with my life, it was just working and going back home, every day.
One fine day, going by bus through Av. Brigadeiro Luis Antonio (an avenue in São Paulo city), I saw a banner in front of the former Ibero-Americana, advertising the entrance exam. And I asked myself, why not? I always read books in Portuguese and English, but what would it be like to be part of the process? How would be that work? Did I really need college in that area? Without blinking or talking to anybody, because if you ask an obstacle always appears, I registered myself and only warned at home when the exam date came. A few days later the result came, and I saw that not only had been approved, as well as my placement on the approval list was very good. And that was the beginning.
I graduated in 1998, but I was still in my old profession, which was providing me a good wage. But the market was changing, corporate competitiveness was increasing, and I got tired. In 2005, dismissed from the company where I worked, I decided to change my life at once and embrace translation. It was not easy, I have to confess, but this little push helped me to decide. I got my master's degree, worked as a translation project manager and finally establish myself as a freelance translator.
How did this background help you with translation?
I think that my eagerness for change always made not stop learning new things.
My past in information technology has provided tremendous success in dealing with the technological part of translation. It is not easy for a translator without this experience to visualize the whole picture. As a project manager, my previous experience was paramount because I worked in a small office where I did everything, from receiving material at the start, organizing and controlling the schedule, preparing the material, selecting the translators, distributing the material, and send it back to the customer, among the many things that happen between start and end of a project. For a person who does not know technology concepts, this could be a nightmare. When I decided to become a freelance translator, I was already prepared for this adventure. And I have learned that for the practical part, to be prepared is everything.
What is your personal assessment of the area?
In my opinion, the translation, be it technical, literary or legal, has much to offer. What I have seen here in my "little world" is a scenario that requires great care and discernment. In my point of view, this technological evolution has served for the client to think that everything is easier and for the translator to work with much more hardship and tight rates. I get jobs in the most different CAT tools and always wonder: why so many? This economic war hits us hard..
To save money, the client selects the most "cost-effective" tool, and we receive poorly prepared materials, tools that work poorly or that double the workload, that don't provide technological or linguistic security. And there is no support for this, no institution that standardize the minimum functionalities offered by the tool. I will not dwell on this topic because the discussion is too long and there is no room for it. Maybe in another opportunity.
Competitiveness grows every year, we see translators being prepared in universities, a very deep academic concern. As a result, competitiveness is growing and we hope that opportunities will grow to the same extent.
Nowadays, that I'm already established, I just want to see more improvements and support. Of course, an area with better structure would also provide better remuneration. This would be an excellent scenario.
What is the level of satisfaction that working in translation brings to you?
My work fulfills me and pleases me very much. These little texts are my little children going to the world and taking the information to the readers. It doesn't matter if it is a microwave oven manual or if it is the description of an industrial process, I feel the same affection for every and each job. I think the definition of satisfaction is waking up every day with the urge to turn on the computer and do your best.