Interview with Aising O’Callaghan: Professional Irish Translation

Name: Aisling O’Callaghan

Location: West Cork, Ireland


What languages do you work with?  What are some of the intricacies or challenges of the particular language you work with?

I work primarily from English into Irish and vice versa. I also provide translation services from French into both Irish and English. Irish can be particularly challenging due to the different dialects spoken, three main dialects in all. Historically, the Irish alphabet is different from the English alphabet, where the letters j, k, q, v, w, x, y, and z were omitted. This has changed somewhat over recent years with the advent of more technical vocabulary, such as that related to computing.

If you work with more than one language pair, how do you balance between different languages?

The majority of my work is from English into Irish and vice versa. As a result, I tend to concentrate on these languages when undertaking any additional training or study. I have always been passionate about languages and like to keep up to date with any recent changes. When engaging in larger projects in one language pair it can take a moment to readjust to working in another language pair.

 What are some of your most interesting projects? Why?

I find translation in the field of advertising most interesting. Short catchphrases require a thorough understanding of the meaning of the message and of the target audience. The original meaning of the text must be respected and the translator must coin a phrase that is both catchy and unique in the target language.

 What is the best part about being a translator? What do you love about it?

It has to be the the freedom offered by the profession. My favorite “working” location to date was on a spectacular beach in Thailand! I love being able to pick-up and take my work with me.

 How did you know you were “ready” to be a translator?

I don’t think that I was “ready” as such at any particular point. My mother is a fluent Irish speaker and always instilled a great love of the language in me.  When I was a teenager I dreamt of working in France and being immersed in the French language, a dream that I went on to fulfill. It was a natural progression to move into the translation field.

What is the most difficult part about your job?

I feel the most difficult part of my job is finding the time to do everything. There is so much more to being a translator than simply converting a document from one language to another. It can be extremely challenging running an entire business by yourself.

Can you translate a sentence for us? Your favorite quote? Your favorite word?

I’m particularly fond of the following saying:

English saying – He who runs away lives to fight another day

Irish translation – Is fearr rith maith ná drochsheasamh

Direct translation in Irish: A good run is better than a bad stand