International Translation Day 2021: Translator Q&A

September 30th is International Translation Day, an opportunity to pay tribute to the work of language professionals in bringing the world together through words.


Smartling translators' passion for language is connecting people across the globe. We connected with 4 top translators to learn more about their experience in the translation field, plus get to know a bit more about them!

Sergei Korniyenko, Ukraine

Language Pair: English to Russian

Years as a professional translator: 25 (and still loving it!)

What characteristic(s) make a great translator?

  1. Passion for languages
  2. Striving for excellence
  3. Resourcefulness and ingenuity

Can you recall a funny mistranslation/miscommunication that you encountered in your work? About 15 years ago I met a young translator who thought that "self-phone" was the right English spelling for the corresponding device. It only makes sense when you think of it.

Are there any particular challenges when working in this language pair? The challenges usually come with limited spaces since flexive languages are typically 20-30% longer than English (e.g. 'Play' - 'Воспроизведение') and stand-alone words without context (e.g. 'Shared': past tense of a verb? Adjective? Shared by someone? With someone? To make things worse, exact translation of 'shared' is sometimes impossible in Russian/Ukrainian grammatically, and you have to look for work-arounds).

What other language would you like to learn? I'd like to be really fluent in Spanish.

What is your favorite snack while working? I don't snack while working — it messes up my keyboard, if nothing else. When I do take breaks, I have coffee with 75% dark chocolate. Maybe with a muffin. 😉

Subtitles or dubbing? I definitely prefer subtitling to get the feel of the language and the flow of the characters.

Where is your preferred working place?
I like diversity. Though I spend most of my time working from home, I work in shared spaces and even in parks, occasionally. I have worked on beaches, in the woods, in pubs and coffee shops, on trains, in motor vehicles and even trams, wherever the day and circumstances may take me. That's the beauty of our job: all you need is your head and your laptop, and if you have prepared enough, you don't even need an Internet connection.

Bo König, Sweden

Language Pair: English to Swedish, German to Swedish

Years as a professional translator: 15

What do people usually say when you tell them you are a translator? Either "Oh, I would also like to do something like that!" or "But aren't you an engineer?". Sometimes they say both.

How do you think translators make a difference in the world? Most people think and communicate in words (rather than, say, images). Translation makes it easier to bring foreign texts into people's lives, thereby making their outlook bigger.

Best part of your job? My independence, in time and space. That is: being able to work where and when I want.

What other language would you like to learn? Icelandic is magic. And my French has become somewhat rusty, malheureusement

Music or total silence? (while translating, that is) If music, what genre? Music, always! I'm a music geek, I love Spotify. See 10+ years of monthly playlists at (or a ”translated” version at 🙂)

Any pets that keep you company while you translate? Nope, although my neighbor’s cat often comes by for a snack and a cuddle when it’s time for a coffee break. (Yes, I'm working from home.)

Vanina Kfuri, Argentina

Language Pair: English to Spanish

Years as a professional translator: 18

What was your motivation to become a translator? When I was very young, about 13, I was obsessed with understanding a film, a song, etc. in English, but not for the mere fact of understanding it, I just wanted to tell other people what that song was saying in Spanish... That kind of "obsession" became more serious when I was finishing high school and I understood that I wanted to be a communicator between languages.

What characteristic(s) make a great translator? I think that being persistent, detail-oriented, and having a strong sense of responsibility. Also, being nice and respectful from the other side of the screen 😉

What other language would you like to learn? Chinese

Pizza or Sushi? SUSHI

Any pets that keep you company while you translate? Nope. In fact, I worked all the lockdown with my daughter at home who was not able to attend the school asking me for a dog... So I promised her that we'll have a dog as soon everything here is back to normal

Where is your preferred working place? At home... I'm used to working at home!


Language Pair: English to French

Why did you choose to become a translator? It's always been obvious and natural for me, and it's an art I enjoy greatly.

What motivates you on a daily basis? The bliss I experience from delivering top quality translations every time.

"If I weren't a translator, I would be a ..." Professional musician

What other language would you like to learn? Croatian

What's your favorite snack while working? I'm a health freak who doesn't snack while working

To meet more of our translators, check out the Translators page.

To apply to become a translator Apply Here.