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Translator Talk

Johanne Ste-Marie has been with Syllabus for over 10 years and we don’t plan to let her go any time soon! She runs her department with a level of professionalism that would impress even the most fastidious among us. Discover the secrets to her successful translation career.

How do you blow off steam after a tough day at the office?

The walk to the subway is a good start. Once I’m back at home, I usually pour myself a glass of white wine. Later I might watch a movie.

What’s your biggest language pet peeve?

Those words that are impossible to translate, like “focus” and “feedback.” I really struggle with the word “feedback”—I find the French equivalents are never quite right.

Do you prefer editing on screen or off?

I can do both.

What’s the latest addition to your library?

I love browsing bookstores, so I have lots of new books—fiction mostly—but far too many to list here!

Do you listen to music while you work?

No, never.

How do keep up with language as it changes?

By reading newspapers and magazines and, for oral language, by listening to the radio. I recently noticed that the word “internet” is being written more and more with a lowercase “i.”

When did you know you were going to be a translator?

I’ve always loved literature and the French language. It’s what I excelled at in school. Translation was a natural progression for me.

What’s your dream translation project?

I’d love to translate a novel written by a writer like John Irving or Paul Auster. A girl can dream!

What do you think about social media and its effects on language?

I’m not a huge fan of social media, but I’m amused when it influences everyday language. Expressions like “lol” make me smile.

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Montreal, QC, H2W 1Z5, Canada

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