Found in Translation: Interview with Nataly Kelly, Part 2

October 11, 2012

Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche are the authors of the long-awaited and best marketed book of 2012, Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World. Last week, we published Part 1 of our interview with Nataly, it is our great pleasure to publish the 2nd part today.


Your new book, Found in Translation, was published last week. What shall the readers expect?

I cannot say enough about this book! It is truly a labor of love for the field, so you can expect to find surprises and fun stories about translation and interpreting, hopefully learning something new on every single page. The book discusses how translation and interpreting affect every aspect of life, from politics to business, from religion to entertainment, from sports to human rights – even food and love!  I have no doubt that translators and interpreters will enjoy reading the stories we worked so hard to collect. They were selected with painstaking care, and a lot of heart.

That said, the book is primarily written not for translators, but for a mainstream audience. Our benchmark when writing the book was always, “Will this story be of interest to my uncle? My neighbor? Will a person who does not normally care about translation enjoy this story?” It’s designed to help the average person see how powerful and important translation really is. That is the mission behind it, and why we are working so hard to get the word out about it. So far, many people who have read it have used a word to describe it that is one of my favorite words in any language: accessible. That is the ultimate compliment! Making this work accessible is the only way to inspire others to take an interest in it. But that’s not enough – translation is bubbling with excitement. It’s fun, it’s pleasure, it’s passion. That is what we need the rest of the world to see!

How did you cooperate with Jost during the writing of the book? What were the logistics?

Jost is a great writer, and I’ve always admired his work in the field, and so was delighted when he agreed to work with me on this project. We worked very effectively as a team, even though we live far away from each other and could only communicate via phone, e-mail, and Skype. We also met in person a few times during the course of writing the book, because there were several interviews that we wanted to do together in person.

As for logistics, there was a lot of detailed planning that went into the book! At the start of the project, we drafted a plan and created a timeline. We agreed on the number of stories that each of us would write and the average wordcount needed. We also decided which topics we would cover and how many stories we would cover within each major area. Then, we set deadlines for ourselves as to how many stories needed to be written in order to enable us to complete the manuscript by the final deadline. I must be honest, it was a crazy schedule. There were many nights where I worked straight through the night, because I already have a demanding full-time job. I worked throughout my vacation and pretty much every weekend in 2011 and most of 2012 so far, which my family thankfully understood. Writing a book entails so much more than just writing. In our case, it involved a lot of interviews, research, editing, fact-checking, and a whole lot more.

Will the book be translated into any other languages?

Yes! This book absolutely must be translated! However, the authors don’t have any control over that. The way it works is that local publishers in each country decide if they want to publish the book, and if so, they buy the rights from Penguin USA, which is where the book is originally being published. Then, they contract translators to do the translation. However, any translators out there interested in translating the book are welcome to make local publishers aware of it, and to suggest that this book would be of interest in their local markets. We believe it definitely will be. It would be a dream come true to see the book translated into other languages and made available to more people around the world, because that will help even more people learn about the importance of this work!

What is the biggest joy for you as a member of the translation industry?

There are many things that bring me joy in this industry, perhaps too many to count! But I’d have to say the best part about it is the people. Translators and interpreters make this field what it is, but so do all of the other passionate folks out there who work in non-linguistic areas, such as company owners, project managers – yes, even engineers and salespeople too!  And lest we forget, there are countless people working on the demand side of the industry, at the organizations that purchase translation and have in-house departments dedicated to localization and translation. They are a critical part of this field too, but often seem disconnected from the suppliers or providers in the field.

Because I view the people in the field as so important, one of my greatest joys is seeing others celebrated and recognized for their work. Ever since I first developed the concept for this book back in 2007, I have had this vision in my head of someone from this industry meeting a random person in their community and being asked about what they do, only for the other person to say, “Oh! You work in translation? Wow! I read a book about that – your work is soooo fascinating!” When that type of reaction becomes commonplace, that will be my biggest joy. That is the most critical result I seek with this book – that people will come to truly see how translation touches their lives. Only then, can they appreciate it fully.

Book author bio

Nataly Kelly is an advisor in the areas of language services and international business. She is the Chief Research Officer at Common Sense Advisory, an independent market research firm dedicated to language services and technology, located in the Boston area. A former Fulbright scholar in Ecuador, she is a certified Spanish court interpreter.

She is the author of Telephone Interpreting: A Comprehensive Guide to the Profession, a book about over-the-phone interpretation, and frequently contributes to academic publications. Subscribe to her free newsletter for interpreters at Find her on Twitter as @natalykelly.

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