Free Spanish Translations Guide: Meet Eva, Translator Spanish to English

In the Free Spanish Translations Guide, Eva Obregon, Translator Spanish to English, offers an inside view of translation services. At the bottom of the page, you'll find more Spanish translation resources, including a guide to typical translator rates. (Click here for free Spanish translations online.)

Conversation with a Spanish Translator - Part 1

Q: Why did you decide to be a translator?

A: I’ve always been interested in communication. I studied communication at college and worked in TV production and film production. When I started working in TV here in Spain, I realized that I had been hired because of my English, not so much because of my academic background. At first, this really bothered me because I really wanted to make documentaries and change the world by making better television, but after a few years I began to accept this, and I also realized that I didn’t really like the lifestyle of having to work in an office. So I started thinking about freelance translation.

It seems like something that just sort of happened, but it’s so natural to me because I grew up speaking both languages. I went to a bilingual school when I was little, and I also realized that’s sort of my added value here. So now I’m a translator, and I specialize in the media.

"I like having a very clear role, which is to help people express themselves."

- Eva Obregon, Translator Spanish to English

Free Spanish Translations Guide Interview



Q: You grew up speaking both Spanish and English. Do you translate to both languages?

A: I usually translate into English because that’s the language I write in the best. I sometimes translate into Spanish, but it's more of an effort -- I have to triple-check what I'd double-check in English.

Interestingly, I have an older sister who’s also a translator, and I know she only translates into Spanish.

Q: What do you like and dislike about being a translator?

A: Well, I like working with language. I like researching; I like writing; I like working with my clients; I like dealing with different topics and subjects and types of texts.

I love the freedom that it gives you. Two months ago, I was sitting at a beach shack in Goa doing a translation for a blog. I do a blog for an online novelty gift shop. They have some pretty funny items, and that’s good because I also subtitle a lot of documentaries about wars and devastation. I love being able to work on some things that are profound and also some things that are frivolous at the same time. It kind of keeps me sane.

I like having a very clear role, which is to help people express themselves.

I like having a flexible schedule. I spend a lot of time in front of my computer, but if I don’t have to be there, I can go for a walk. I usually translate about six hours a day. Normally, I don’t do translation longer than that, although I might have to answer correspondence or do other things. I probably work about forty hours a week, but they’re flexible hours, and I like it that I can travel and work at the same time.

What I don't like about it? I wish I could translate mentally without having to sit in front of a computer because I don't really love sitting in front of a computer. But, then again, it has that advantage that if I'm not translating, I don't have to sit there -- it's not like an office job where you have to sit there whether you have something to do or not.

"When I’m translating, I spend hours looking at resources, finding the exact word that has the exact shade of meaning that is comparable to the source language"

- Eva Obregon, Translator Spanish to English

Free Spanish Translations Guide Interview



Q: Could you talk about the differences involved in doing interpreting [spoken] and translation [written]?

A: I’ve always really liked writing. I took journalism classes in college and writing courses here in Madrid. Now, I don’t really like interpreting, to tell you the truth. It makes me really nervous to feel like I’m on the spot and the center of attention. I’m a perfectionist – I like to be precise with words, and I find that spoken language doesn’t really give you time to do this. When I’m translating, I spend hours looking at resources, finding the exact word that has the exact shade of meaning that is comparable to the source language.

Q: Have you noticed any common misconceptions about the craft of translation?

A: I'm glad you used the word craft because I think that's basically the main misunderstanding, that people don't realize translation is a craft. They think that it's like you're a computer, you put in one language and output another one, and that's not how it works. You really have to understand the original very well. You have to be able to analyze and synthesize, to do both. Basically, it’s rewriting something -- it's not just looking up words in dictionary and writing different words in the same order.

Read Part 2 of our conversation with Eva Obregon, Translator Spanish to English: Choosing a Translation Partner

Read Part 3 of our conversation with Eva Obregon, Translator Spanish to English: Special Issues in English-Spanish Translation

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