Faces of Gengo: Sayuri
Our second Face of Gengo is Sayuri from Brazil. Like many of us here at Gengo, she represents a fascinating mix of cultures and languages. Her mother is part Brazilian Indian, part Spanish, and her father’s parents emigrated from Okinawa to Brazil in 1930. In her words, she’s “really half Brazilian, half Uchinanchu. (And a third half German, because I like them so much.)” Her working languages are English, German and Portuguese, but she also speaks Japanese, Spanish and French. Six and counting!
Gengo: Do you translate full-time? What is your special area of expertise?
Sayuri: I’ve been translating full-time since 2011, part-time since 2007. To work full-time as a translator is actually a victory for me— a lot of people thought I was making the wrong decision at the time (because of money, stability, and so on).
My experience can’t be considered extensive, so I don’t say I’m an expert yet, but I feel more comfortable with the areas of IT, medical and literature.
G: Describe your office setup or workspace.
S: The second bedroom at my apartment works as an office, with a proper desk, a printer, a bookshelf with my dictionaries and grammar books. I like to alternate between my laptop and my desktop computer.
I usually prefer to get ready every day as if I had to leave to work— taking a shower, dressing and having breakfast. I think it’s a good way to get your mind ready for work.
As for music, it depends on my mood. Sometimes I even like to listen to news while translating, while other times I feel I need silence.
G: What is the view like out your window or office? What kind of scenery do you look at every day?
S: I live on the 12th floor of an apartment in a very high region of the city, so I have a splendorous view! I can see the mountains on the horizon, very far away, beyond the gray buildings and traffic of São Paulo. It’s nice to watch a storm coming, or the sunset.
G: And your workflow? Are there translation to-dos you check off every day, or an order of operations?
S: I think I work in two steps. First, I try to understand the general message of a section of text and search for more adequate terminology using dictionaries/tools/personal glossaries (like Onelook, LEO, Duden, ProZ, among others), and then I like to imagine how a native speaker would express it. This is the most difficult part. If you are a translator, you feel how difficult it is to let yourself go from the original text, but once you can, it’s the nicest thing.
What’s my day like? First of all I like to check any messages and emails and answer them. Then, if I don’t have an urgent job to deliver, I like to read articles and news online. While translating, I try to establish some pauses to recover my brain from work and also do the dishes or the laundry.
G: Based on your linguistic and cultural expertise, what are the best books you would recommend to others?
S: This question made me guilty. I read a lot less Brazilian literature than I feel I should. But there’s an author I read about the other day who caught my attention. Her name is Juliana Frank and she has just published her first book, Meu coração de pedra-pomes. Critics say she is like the daughter of Clarice Lispector and Hilda Hilst. Sounds interesting!
G: What is your favorite “translator’s snack” for while you work?
S: I’m not the eating-and-working type. I prefer to drink something, hot tea or coffee when it’s cold and iced tea when it’s hot.
G: Finally, if you had to give advice to your fellow Gengo translators, what are the best ways to relax and stay sane as a translator?
S: I think it’s vital to work your body to relax your mind. Doing exercises is great to stay sane and healthy (physically and mentally). It doesn’t matter if it is just walking through your neighborhood, practicing martial arts, riding a bike or playing football.