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Latin American Translators Living Abroad

Many of us work in translation because it provides us with endless satisfaction not only professionally and monetarily, but also on a personal level. It’s a career full of learning. We often hear people say: “I can work from anywhere as long as there is Internet.” This allows us to travel the world and establish our “office” where there are no borders. This way, we can work freelance and be thousands of kilometers from our clients and still be able to offer our services.

This post focuses on Spanish-speaking translators. If we decide to live in a country in which our mother tongue or our professional language with which we work every day is not spoken, we must learn a new language. Many others choose to avoid this by living in a Spanish-speaking country other than his/her home country. But this employment freedom sometimes involves more work on a personal level. As we know, depending on where you live in Latin America, there are various ways of communicating (while speaking) and we have to learn new expressions and words to survive each day in our new “office.”

Let´s look at three countries in particular: Venezuela, Chile and Argentina. From the simple act of leaving the house and taking a “Buseta” a “Micro” or a “Colectivo” (different words for a city bus) to get around the city, to going to a “Centro Comercial” a “Mall” or “Shopping” (different words for a shopping mall) to buy a “Franela” a “Polera” or a “Remera (different words for t-shirt); we practice our profession every day and in countless situations. Of course, this situation is not unique to translators, but rather anyone who chooses to live in another country, but I wanted to focus specifically on those involved in the same profession as myself.

Another recurring theme among Latin American expatriates is going to the supermarket. We never imagined that buying fruit or vegetables could be confusing. We can buy an “Aguacate” or a “Palta” (different words for avocado), an “Auyama,” a “Calabaza” or a “Zapallo” (different words for squash), a “Jojoto” or a “Choclo” (different words for corn) or a “Patilla” or a “Sandilla” (different words for watermelon).

It seems like a simple issue, but it also entails great beauty in terms of the diversity of the Spanish language and its nuances.