Interview Transcript: María Estevez Muriel

Interview in English

The following text is a transcription of spoken speech. Spoken speech has certain features absent from written speech (pauses, repetitions, false starts, etc.). While we have tried to accurately transcribe the interview, there will be very slight differences between speech and text. 

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Janna Mack (J)

María Estévez Muriel (ME)

J: Hello and welcome to a new episode of our interview series made in collaboration between TermCoord, the European Parliament’s Terminology Coordination Unit and the Pablo de Olavide University in Seville, in Spain. My name is Janna and I will be interviewing students and graduates of the translation and interpreting degree. The interviews are in either English or German.

And today I am here with María. María Estévez Muriel is 23 years old and is from Huelva in Spain. She has studied Translation and Interpreting (in the languages English and German) at the Pablo de Olavide University for 4 years, and last year, she finished her Degree. Thanks to her Final Degree Thesis, she has already collaborated with TermCoord, contributing to the Terminology without Borders medical project YourTerm MED, where she helped work on the Medical Event. This year, she has studied for a Master’s Degree called “New Technologies applied to Translation” as well as for an Expert’s Degree in Translation and Marketing at the Higher Institute for Linguistic Studies and Translation in Seville. Moreover, she has recently applied for a Schuman traineeship at the European Parliament.

Thank you for being here today María.

ME: Thank you, you’re welcome.

J: Ok, so my first question is: why did you decide to study translation and interpreting and why in English and German?

ME: Languages have always fascinated me. Since I was a child, I have always enjoyed learning about other cultures and languages… One day, I was talking with a friend and she told me about Translation and Interpreting and I started looking for information about it. I thought that, studying that degree, I would have more job opportunities and I would also study more than one language.

As for English in German, I decided to study it in English, because I have always studied English, since I was a kid, and I didn’t want to forget everything. Moreover, I am always trying to improve in everything, and I thought that choosing English as my second language would help me to improve it. Then, in German because German is a language that has always attracted my attention. I thought that it would be difficult, and it was kind of a challenge to myself. And moreover, when I thought about my future, I thought that there would be more opportunities as a German translator.

J: That’s really interesting because I speak German myself and that is something you hear from a lot of people actually is that German is perceived as a language that is kind of difficult to learn, especially if the learner does not already have a background in a Germanic language. So that’s really great that you decided to seek out the challenge of studying German.

How was the experience studying translation?

ME: I find this question very interesting because I’ve learned plenty of things about cultures and about languages. I have improved my English skills and I have found out that I love German, both the language and the culture. Ich liebe Deutsch! Furthermore, when I started studying it, I didn’t know that much about what translation was, and now I know that I love translating. I think that I have learned plenty of things, not just about translating. I have learned about economics, computers, medicine, legal systems and so on.

J: Just to pick up on what you said, and that is really interesting, and maybe that is something that people who don’t know a lot about translation don’t know, is that they don’t know that whenever translators translate a text, they also end up knowing a lot about the subject that the text is about. Or they already know a lot when they go into translating the text. For example, as you said if a translator is working on a text about economics or computers they have to do a lot of research on the topic in order to be able to translate it well, and by doing that research they end up learning a lot about that topic themselves.

Which translation’s field do you like the most?

ME: I love translation in general. Nevertheless, it is true that the field I like the most is audiovisual translation and localization. I think these fields are the ones which are more enjoyable, although, in my opinion, they are very difficult because maybe one film is about medicine and doctors and another film is about religion, so the translator needs to familiarize themselves with the terminology.

J: Yes, definitely. The next question is about something that’s quite a topical issue, it’s especially a question that I feel young translators are being asked a lot.

What do you think about machine translation?

ME: Well, I like this question because during my years at the university we discussed it a lot. I think that it is interesting when someone is stuck, and they don’t know how to say something or just need some inspiration. Nevertheless, a computer cannot be as accurate as a person and cannot choose the right translation strategy, or at least not yet. Moreover, regarding terminology, it is really important to understand the context to select the appropriate word, and a machine cannot do this.

J: Yes, so machine translation can help and it does definitely have its uses, but it’s not at a point yet where it can replace human translators.

What do you think about specialized translation? Do you have experience with it?

ME: I like it because I like translating in general. Nevertheless, I prefer audiovisual translation or localization. I think that with specialized translation it is very important to know where to search the terminology as it is very important to use the right word. During my years at university, I translated economic, medical and legal texts. I think the terminology is complicated, because people have to be accurate with the words. So, although they are complicated, when someone learns the cognitive structures and the terminology – I mean the keywords – they translate them easier. Yes, that’s what I think.

J: Ok, so the next question is actually divided into a few smaller questions. What characteristics do you think a specialized translator should have? Can you imagine being a specialized translator? What terminology resources do you use? Do you know IATE?

ME: I love this question since I totally think that a specialized translator needs to have specific characteristics. I think that a specialized translator should be a person who perfectly knows how to look for information. Documentation is fundamental and selecting the right word is essential. They should also be a curious person because they have to search for a lot of information, and they have to contrast it. Moreover, they must be patient, because sometimes it takes so long until the right word is found. I think I could be a medical translator. I prefer translating medical texts over legal or economic texts and I feel good doing important things for the human health.

While I’m translating, I use Cosnautas when I have to translate medical texts. Sometimes, I also look for information in ProZ. When I have to look for definitions, I use the Cambridge Dictionary. When I need some inspiration or I am stuck, sometimes I use Linguee and then I contrast the information I find.

About IATE, now I know it, because last year I used it to do my Final Degree Thesis. I found the translation of the diseases and some specialized words that I didn’t know. I found it really helpful because it gives you different definitions regarding the context, which other sources don´t offer it. During my Final Degree Thesis, I already collaborated with TermCoord, contributing to your medical project YourTerm Medical and I helped fulfil the Medical Event. It was an amazing opportunity, so thank you again.

J: The YourTerm Medical project María has referred to is related to the Terminology without Borders project. Terminology without Borders is a project launched by TermCoord which aims to enhance communication in different subject domains by producing multilingual terminology tables. One of these domains is MEDicine, so it’s referred to as YourTerm MED or YourTerm MEDICAL. And María actually worked together with Dr. Olga Koreneva (PhD), who is specialised translator and interpreter for German, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, and Italian. She’s currently a lecturer in the faculty of Translation and Interpreting in German at the Pablo de Olavide University in Seville and she actually joined the European Parliament as a Trainee in summer 2018.

Dr Koreneva conceived a specific semantic scheme, called and “event”, to represent concepts related to diseases graphically. This is a cognitive approach to terminology, called Frame-based Terminology. María worked together with Dr Koreneva to create the Medical Event for Terminology without Borders. You can check out the event on And while you’re there you can also take a moment to check out the other projects on

On behalf of TermCoord, I would like to thank you for your work on this, we really appreciate it very very much.

Do you think it is important to know the culture in order to perfectly translate a text?

ME: Yes, it is. I think that you cannot translate a text without knowing about the culture, the country and the people living there. That is why I think that documentation is one of the most important parts during the translation process.

J: How do you feel about the future of translators and specifically, what do you personally think about job opportunities?

ME: That’s an interesting question because I think that if someone studies Translation and Interpreting, they have plenty of job opportunities as they know how to communicate with people in other languages, they can work in tourism, in marketing, as a teacher, and more, not only as a translator and interpreter, thanks to globalization. It is a very gratifying job since it builds bridges between cultures and people and contributes to their understanding. I like it so much.

J: Ok, great so translation as building bridges between cultures and people and I think you’ve put that really very nicely you’ve summarised the essence of what translation really is about. Ok so I have one last question.

Is there any personal experience that has helped you improve as a translator or as a person?

ME: Yes of course and it is a pleasure to talk about it. There are three experiences that have changed my life. The first one was my Erasmus. I think traveling and living abroad opens people’s minds, and makes people more tolerant, mature, empathetic, responsible, etc.

I went to Denmark. I chose that country because I’d never been to a Nordic country before, so I thought that everything would be different from the places I knew. I learned new vocabulary and I improved my speaking and listening skills. I lived in a dorm and there I made Danish friends. Moreover, this experience helped me get to know a different culture and way of life. I love people in Denmark because they are great. They always give you a hand when you need help. They are more ecofriendly than we are here in Spain. They don’t use the car so often; they are always riding bikes and recycle more than we recycle in Spain. For all this, I love the Danish culture and society.

The second experience was my summer studying in England. When I was younger, I went for 3 consecutive summers to study in England.  So, since I was 13, I’ve been a very independent person because I learnt how to do things on my own. In fact, last year I went abroad again, but as a group leader, not as a student. I lived the experience in a different way, but it was also enriching.

Finally, the best experience of my life, was my voluntary service in Kenya. I went there to help in an orphanage. This experience taught me about translation because I learnt, for example, that if a word sounds the same as in Spanish, it doesn’t mean that the meaning is the same. For example, one day I was cooking with two of the kids, and one of them told me “Mi amo”. Here in Spain, “mi amor” means “my love”, and I thought that she was so cute saying “my love” to me. But no, the other girl told me that in Swahili, this sentence means “give me oil”.

But, without a doubt, this experience has changed my life as a person. It was shocking to me when I was there to think that those kids haven’t seen a computer, a shopping center, buildings, … things and situations that are part of our daily lives. Everything is different there. They eat sitting on the floor, they wash their bodies in the lake, they only have one pair of shoes and two outfits, and they don’t need anything else to be happy.

When I was there, we only had light for 3 days because the electricity didn’t work well. One day, the volunteers wanted to play some music to dance with the kids, but we didn’t have battery charge on our phones. So, I used my iPad because I had some battery left on it. Everyone was impressed when they saw this kind of mobile phone and I can’t forget their faces discovering this kind of thing.

Something that also shocked me is that here in Spain, we use bricks to build a house. In the place I lived, there was a man that made the bricks by giving shape to a stone using a hammer. So, I learned to value everything I have. It also opened my mind, made me more understandable, sensitive, tolerant and of course a better person.

J: That sounds like a really amazing experience and it sounds like it was really worthwhile, thank you so much for sharing that today.  And thank you for the entire interview it really has been a pleasure. Is there anything you want to add before we end?

ME: No, just thank you too for giving me the opportunity.

J: Thank you very much and you’re very welcome.

My guest today has been María Estevez Muriel, translator in English and German from Spain.