I was born in the USA and moved to Israel in 1986. I was reading English and Hebrew by the age of four and since my youth have been a “word buff” and a bit of a “language” nerd.
Way before COVID-19, I knew how to pivot. I worked as a social worker for around 12 years and then as a grantwriter/ fundraising professional for another 12.
The second career involved a great amount of translating and adapting Hebrew materials to English for websites, marketing materials, grant proposals and more. As a fundraiser, I also hosted many program site visits and served as the interpreter between overseas visitors and local care professionals.
When we went into our first lockdown, I decided to establish a business that I could easily do from home. It just seemed natural to base my new business on my past experience and on my language skills to provide a variety of services to individuals, organizations and companies.
When writing a translation for a client, I do indeed aim for a good turn-around time but I must admit that I prioritize accuracy over speed, every time. My goal is to provide the client with a well-written translation that reflects the meaning of the original. No computer program or app can provide this level of translation. Translating is not about word for word, translating is about understanding what was written and transforming that to another language.
I apply the principle above to my oral translations as well. If one of the participants in a meeting uses a phrase or expression I try my best to “translate” using an equivalent phrase in the other language.
Watch this funny video to see what happens when people don’t follow that principle and translate Hebrew slang literally to English!
I religiously apply the above principle to my subtitling work as well.
Reading Hebrew subtitles can be a great method for improving your language skills in Israel’s native tongue but sometimes it can be disastrously funny! Years ago, I went to a screening of the classic Marx Brothers movie Night in Casablanca in Jerusalem. There is a charades scene with Harpo and Chico. Chico is trying to guess the word. Harpo acts out the words soup and rice in order for Chico to guess “Surprise” as follows: “soup-rice-soup-rice-surprise!”. The Hebrew subtitles were literal and went as follows: “marak-orez-marak-orez-hafta’ah!” Obviously this translation is completely missing the play on words. It is tricky, and in these situations your best bet is to transliterate to show the play on words and translate in parentheses.
As a veteran Olah (immigrant to Israel) of 35 years, at a time when the bureaucracy in Israel was much more complicated and all in person, I wish that I had had someone to help me out and show me the ropes. Today, even though you can do almost everything online or by phone it can still be very difficult especially if you don’t know the language. Many Olim find it difficult to take care of things that were no problem for them in their native land and native tongue. In Israel where they don’t understand the system so well and where there is a language barrier they suddenly find that organizing stuff can be so overwhelming! From getting a refund from an IKEA purchase, to setting up utility and bank accounts, to taking advantage of National Security (Bituach Leumi) benefits and more, I am here to hold the hands of olim and even sometimes “be their voice” and to help them get things done.