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Aquarius Portraits: Cecilia Falk
This interview was originally published
on the Aquarius web site in March, 2000
We invited Cecilia Falk, the publisher of a famous web site with information for translators to answer our questions: You can contact Cecilia at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hi Cecilia, Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in the North of Sweden 41 years ago. As a child I read a lot, both in Swedish and in English, and I was always interested in all aspects of books, publishing etc. I worked as a proof reader at several news papers for 5 years, and was also a publisher's reader before I became a translator.
- What brought you into translation business?
When I moved to Ireland in 1988 I asked the publishing house I was doing freelance work for if they needed a translator. They did, and I started translating books. As it turned out Ireland was then rapidly becoming the center of software localisation in Europe, and a few years later I was hired by a localisation company as a technical translator. At that point I had virtually no experience of computers, but I quickly got very interested.
I moved back to Sweden in 1994 and started my own company. Even though I had a lot of contacts in the business, the first year was tough. My children were small then, and when they had gone to bed I spent hours exploring my computers possibilities, looking for interesting tools at BBS's, building glossaries etc., when I didn't have any work. After a year I suddenly had more customers than I could handle. During this period I had also established a network of fellow translators, and we all still work together closely, although we all have our own companies and offices. I find this a great way to work: I have my own office where I can work undisturbed, but my collegues are only a phone call or an e-mail away. We communicate several times a day, especially, of course, when we are involved in the same project, but also to help with language issues, terminology etc.
- We all heard about your web site. Can you tell us more about it?
My web site basically contains links to other sites with interesting information for translators. Many of the original links were my own bookmarked pages. There is only one page with a little input from myself, The Tool Box. My intention was (well, still is) to write much more information myself. I have plans for a FAQ for aspiring translators, a page devoted to interesting Word macros for translators, and a page with tips and hints for Trados users, combined with a guide to quickly getting started with Trados.
Many people have asked me how I find time to maintain my pages. The sad truth is that I don't. An update takes around three to four full working days. It involves going through all submitted forms, checking all pages before I link them, going through my special folder with bookmarks to interesting pages that I've found myself, running special software to find broken links, etc.
- Why did you decide to start it?
In the beginning of 1996 I started to get quite a few assignments translating web pages and localising products to do with web page construction. I decided I wanted to learn more about HTML, and realised that the best way to learn would be to create a page of my own. (I've always found that the best way to learn computer related stuff is by trial and error.) It came natural to create a page with information for translators. As I've always been fascinated with the Brontė sisters, I also decided to have a section about them. I started by collecting a nice looking page (forgot which) from the web. I opened it in Notepad and started playing around with the text and the codes, switching back and forth to my browser to see the results of my changes. After four hours I had an embryo to a web site. A week later the site was up and running.
- What is special about your project?
The primary target group is fellow translators who work alone. The page Svenska sidan (the Swedish Page) is in Swedish only, and contains links for translators to and from Swedish, but also links of interest to Swedish translators with their own company.
The thought behind Translators with Home Pages is primarily to introduce translators to each other and inspire translators to create their own pages. I have understood, though, that many people see the listing as a way of promoting themselves, which of course is a bonus.
Translation Companies and Organisations is primarily a source for translators to find customers. Again I have understood that companies sees a listing on this page as a way of promoting their business. This is fine, but not the primary goal of this page.
Language Links consists of links to numerous glossaries, but also to a lot of other interesting pages. I find that I can very easily get stuck for hours when I start browsing these links.
My own favorite page is
The Tool Box, and I am looking forward to the day I will have time to give this page a total face lift.
- What are your plans? Where do you want to be in 2010?
I have just converted my company into a private limited company, TransFalk AB. This was a big step for me, and I am just getting used to the idea.
I collaborate with my fellow translators and friends in my network, and we have a lot of interesting and challenging ideas of how to develope our business activities, and to be able to offer additional services.
- That awful day... The biggest shame of all time... Did you ever have this feeling? Can you tell more about it?
Back in the first year when I had started my company, and didn't yet have many assignments, I was offered 28 pages of legal text to be translated in 48 hours. The night before the deadline I was desperate and had to call in my father. We spent all night at the kitchen table looking up words and phrases in dictionaries. I managed to deliver on time, but swore a sacred oath never to a) take on 28 pages in 48 hours, b) take on such a large amount of legal text.
- Who is your best client? What is so special about him/her?
I have many good clients, and I don't want to point out anybody in particular. I think a good client is a company with people who have worked as translators themselves, understands the problems and are prepared to be supportive towards the translators.
- What do you think of Aquarius?
I think Aquarius is great! It is one of the pages I go to nearly every day to have a look at the classifieds etc. I have had a lot of offers through Aquarius, and I have promoted it to all my students and collegues. I feel very honoured to have been invited to participate in this way. Thank you, Yuri!
Cecilia Falk's Home Page with information for translators can be found at http://www2.sbbs.se/hp/cfalk/indexeng.htm
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