The Reason I Wanted to Become an Interpreter is…

I wanted to become an interpreter/translator because of Avril Lavigne. At first, the relationship between my career decision and a singer I don’t necessarily like can be a little vague. But rest assured, that after this story, you’ll understand why.

I grew up in a home that made me into a bilingual, whether I would have liked to or not. Living in CT, I’d go to school all day and speak English and then arrive at home only to speak Spanish with my family. Although this went on for about a decade, since I was 5 until I was 15, the thought of using my bilingual ability didn’t cross my mind.

It wasn’t until I moved to Ecuador that I truly understood how beneficial being bilingual is. The first couple of months I’d sit in at a couple of schools to learn Spanish. The day to day Spanish I learned at home back in CT was in no way enough for me to switch to spanish for the rest of my high school education.

And it was at one of those schools I went to that a teacher came up to me to ask for a favor.

¿Victoria, como eres gringa, me puedes traducir unas canciones para mi sobrina? ¿Sabes inglés, no?

She wanted me to translate a couple of songs for her. Of course I knew English and since it was just one song, how hard could it be, right? Well, I came to realize that when it comes to translating/interpreting you can’t make assumptions.

She gave me the lyrics to the song “Sk8er Boy” and “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne.

And from the get go, just with the title, I wondered how I could make a Spanish speaker understand that sk8r = skater. In English, the 8 replaces the word because it sounds exactly alike. But when in Spanish the number 8 is pronounced “ocho”, there is no way it can be understood this way. How could I explain that in writing?
I had to adapt cultural references into Spanish (preppy clothes= ropa aniñada) and some jargon in Spanish.

The translation part wasn’t difficult, but I realized that there are many aspects that come up when you’re translating that I hadn’t thought of before. It isn’t like math when you have a formula and need to get an exact answer. It isn’t like chemistry when you have to memorize a periodic table of elements to do some exercises. Each text that needs translation has its own challenges and I liked the fact that I had to decide what the best option would be in the other language.

To make a long story short, I was 15 when I first translated those songs. Now I’m 22 and about to finish my bachelor’s in translation and interpretation.

Who would have thought that it would have been Sk8tr Boy that would first lead me along this path? I surely didn’t.

Victoria Alicia

3 comments

  1. I am glad that you found your career through music. Even if it was by an artist you didn’t like the sound of. Spanish sounds like a really nice language. Keep sharing your gift of languages to those you meet. You’ll do well 🙂

    PS, thanks for “liking” my language post 🙂

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