The world is getting smaller and global organisations increasingly need to work in more than one language. Transcription companies are responding with a range of specialised language services, provided by some multi-lingual, multi-talented professionals.
Transcription for formal written records is complicated, demanding work; it is important to be accurate, but also flexible, responsive and to have a flair for writing. Not forgetting the meticulous attention to detail. Now imagine doing all this in more than one language.
Paula Gayol is an experienced transcriber and translator who’s been in the business for almost 20 years. She works with Appen on assignments for a number of well-known international agencies and organisations.
Initially qualifying in linguistics and phonetics among other things, Paula went on to specialise in translation between her native Spanish and English. Now, she’s a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists and continues to update her professional qualifications in niche areas like legal and medical translation.
Although translation came first, Paula now also works as a transcriber, moving seamlessly between her two languages in both disciplines.
“Usually I transcribe audio files in which Spanish is being spoken, although I also transcribe audio files in English,” she says. “Occasionally I get a request to transcribe Spanish audio into English; in this case I transcribe the audio in Spanish first then translate it into English.”
As part of her work for Appen, Paula also translates templates used in audit interviews or as part of formal investigations.
It is highly skilled, sometimes challenging work. As well as the technical language skills required it also demands excellent time management and high levels of commitment and patience. Assignments can accumulate and workload can fluctuate dramatically, as Paula explains:
“Things can be quiet, then all your clients come with the perfect assignment at once! But they all need to be happy. Also, you are part of a chain that might also include proofreaders, editors or publishers, all waiting for your piece of the jigsaw. But when that ‘star assignment’ comes along, you relish every bit of it.”
Despite the challenges, it’s a hugely rewarding, satisfying role, according to Paula. The range of topics covered is vast and diverse – everything from human rights or the use of pesticides to dog food or luxury brand shoes can be all part of a typical week’s work.
Transcribers and translators don’t just turn up on the day. A great deal of behind-the-scenes preparation goes into getting an accurate finished product.
Says Paula: “I really enjoy the background research; understanding the wider context for each assignment helps me complete it to a higher standard.”
Another source of satisfaction is knowing how valuable the service can be to clients. Having translated some interview templates for an international humanitarian agency, Paula was pleased to see them in use when she returned months later to complete some transcription work.
With technological developments in speech to text and automated speech recognition continuing apace, how does Paula see her role changing over the next few years?
“Everyone is talking about machine translation. It’s true that there have been great improvements and I’m sure there will be more. But I don’t see a future where the hand of the translator has been completely erased!”
To find out more about Appen’s language services: firstname.lastname@example.org