Ivana Krekáňová: Everything Is Possible, You Just Have to Really Want It
Ivana Krekáňová is a young Slovak translator specializing in translations from and to the English language (common as well as official translations). She deals with all sorts of texts mainly from economics, marketing, building industry, environment, press releases or business and legal documents. As books and writing are her great passions, she writes critical articles on her official website as well as her own blog on sme.sk. Go check them out, they’re great! She joined us for the Days of Jerome discussion panels too and we had a great opportunity to chat with her about her beginnings as a translator, translation agencies or what we can do to improve our status as translators. Read more if you want to learn some really useful stuff!
Perspectives (PP): Why do you translate only non-literary texts? Don’t you want to translate fiction as well?
Ivana Krekáňová (IK): I would love to, but you can’t really earn your living with that. The situation was never better; people always translated fiction just for the fun of it, I would say. If I want to pay my bills, I need to do this, but don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it too – otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. The other problem with literary translations is that most publishing houses already have their base of translators whom they give the work and maybe it’s because I don’t live in Bratislava, but I don’t have a chance to get into the “right“ circle of people. It’s like there was an invisible wall between my world and theirs.
PP: Have you ever encountered a word or phrase with which you were struggling for days for example?
IK: Yes, sure. But I can’t give you any example right now. J Non-literary texts also contain some metaphors, proverbs or idioms – they are not so frequent, but they are there.
PP: Can you really earn your living only by translating?
IK: Yes, you can. I support my whole family with it.
PP: When did you start doing it more or less professionally?
IK: During my university studies in my 4th year, I think. But it took me about two years till I built up some clientele. You can’t expect that you will get your degree, start translating and immediately have clients and as high prices for your translations as you would wish for. It doesn’t work like that – in any profession. When you take it as a serious business and really want to do it and be good at it, then you will succeed. Everything is possible, you just have to really want it and be a bit patient in the beginning.
PP: What would you recommend we do now as we are in the middle of our studies with almost no real professional experience?
IK: Send your CVs over to agencies. I know that dealing with agencies can be sometimes difficult and tricky, but you have to risk it. Some of them are good, some aren’t and they just use people and don't pay them properly, but their great advantage is that they have many clients and if you send your CV to 500 agencies and only 2 of them actually get in touch with you and send you some translations it’s still better than nothing. It’s a start. And as a student without any experience – unless someone from your family with a firm helps you gain some – it’s a really good starting point.
PP: About two days ago, you wrote an article on your blog about how important it is to make the translator of a literary work known to the reader better, to create a more visible bridge between the translator and the reader. What else should also change on our translation scene?
IK: Wow, it would be a long list. First of all, teach the general public what translation really is and what it actually requires because many people still think that it’s just retyping one text into another and why we want so much money for it anyway...then we must fight for higher prices and stick more together on this because some of our colleagues do the work for lower and lower prices and then it gets really difficult… and so on and so on I could really talk for hours about this.
So maybe there’s hope for Slovak translators after all! Keep your fingers crossed for this wonderful lady and may we all have so much on our plates as she has now.
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