What I really do when I’m not playing pretend:
I have 8 years of work experience (since 2008) as a communications consultant and linguist. This includes: Translating, consecutive interpreting, bilingual editing (copyediting/vetting and proofreading of translations to ensure accurate) as well as media analysis. I’ve also assisted organisations develop guidelines for translation in specific fields. I started off as a research assistant with an international human rights NGO and my highest job title held so far: Lead Editor (at a private contractor at a foreign aid agency) in 2014. I’ve also interned and worked at UN agencies, aid agencies, radio documentary productions, etc.
I’m currently a part-time communications consultant and freelance bilingual editor.
Pairings: English–Indonesian, Indonesian–English.
Experience working with terminology in the following fields:
- Labour rights, domestic workers, child labour in the garment industry;
- Gender equality, governance, policy-making, project management, road safety, transportation infrastructure, urban transportation, aviation, railways, water and sanitation, and vulnerable groups (children, disabled persons, the elderly, the underprivileged);
- Justice, legal empowerment, legal assistance, disadvantaged groups, indigenous peoples;
- Climate change, carbon trade, illegal logging, peatlands, plantations, and endangered species;
- Ocean environment, fisheries, and marine life;
- Finance/banking, logistics, electronics, transportation, automotives, and technology;
- Information technology.
Academic background: International Law (with a specialisation in International Humanitarian law and a personal interest in cyberlaw and cyber warfare). Just mentioning that to shoehorn the fact that I’m also familiar with the terminology.
I’ve also developed my own MS Word custom dictionary for aid work. You can download it here (it’s free).
I know five languages (at different proficiency levels, some I also just use passively). I only work in English and Indonesian, though. It’s irresponsible to accept work in languages you’re not fluent in. I’m going to rate my “proficiency” (not to be confused with ‘fluency’, because to be fluent, one would have to actually be good at speaking the language).
Proficiency rating: 8/10 (but, eh, native English speakers screw up their own language all the time, so I don’t feel too bad about it—shrugs)
Not sure how to describe this one, I think knowing this language since I was 4 makes semi-native, but then I also honestly had no idea that the term “coloured people” was outdated and offensive until circa 2015 (so, I can’t say I’m that advanced or culturally-attuned to Anglophone countries, either). To me, Shakespeare just sounds like jumbled English words that make no sense. But I dig it… I dig the full of shite (I learned to spell “shit” like that from “Trainspotting“, it’s Scottish). I switch between UK and US spelling depending on which client I’m working with any given time.
I guess there is no point in bringing this up since my TOEFL’s already expired (it was the CBT one anyway). But I did score 290/300 (and the only ones I got wrong were the listening answers, and only because the headphones were really crappy). The most current (and still quite valid) English test result is this one:
I’ve never done subtitling work before, but I’d love to do some of that in the future! I’d also be very interested in doing literary translation, but it’s hard to get someone to give me a chance when my work experience is 100% non-fiction and like 80% public sector. I honestly think I could do a decent job as a first-time fiction translator. I mean look at this. Come on, give me a chance! Make me traslate about makeup or something. LOL.
2. Bahasa Indonesia
Proficiency rating: 9/10 (but it’s an easy language with limited vocabulary—it’s been said that on average, Indonesian translations are 50% longer than their original English source material because Indonesian relies on spelling out/explaining concepts as opposed to having specific words for it)
Not sure if this is my “first language”, even. Before I learned Indonesian, I spoke Javanese. And before that, I was told, my very first language was actually Sundanese (as I was born in Parijs van Java) which I have absolutely no recollection of. And I didn’t learn how to speak Indonesian until I was about 9–10 years old (a friend of Father’s brought us some school textbooks from a trip to Indonesia and Mother home-schooled me after school, along with advanced maths so I could keep up by the time we returned to Indonesia).
I only accept ghost-writing gigs in this language as I don’t seem to have a distinct style in Indonesian (I have been told that I’m very formal, but it’s not as easy to tell as when I speak English). The first time three of my short stories were published in 2006–2007 were “so very Mia” that family members knew it was me despite the nom de plume, but I’ve developed a more common style for ghost-writing (still more formal and academic, but not as personalised).
Proficiency rating: 6/10 (right now, I’m very rusty) but I can be a 7/10 (tops at my best in A2—but I also I can’t give myself anything beyond 8/10 until I complete my B1/B2 levels)
I’m a bit rusty right now, but some mind-jogging usually does the trick! Because Indonesia is an ex-Dutch colony, we learn English (and the occasional Javanese class, if your school in is Java) as a second language at the K-12 instead of actually studying in English (teaching language is Indonesian) and learning French/Spanish as the second (unless your school has French, German, and Japanese as an extracurricular like my brothers’ schools did).
Studied this language twice, both at the Institut Français d’Indonésie (IFI) in Jakarta:
- Studied A1 when I was 19 back when IFI was called Centre Culturel Français (CCF) and used Campus textbooks instead of ; and
- Studied again circa 2013 (and retook the same level about 3 times, just to be sure).
Apparently the problem was that I took evening classes (I’d have classes twice a week after uni). In 2013, when I took the classes again at the 08:00 in the morning, I absorbed the lessons more quickly. Plus, I’d see the weekly films at Wijaya on Saturdays.
I need to continue my B2 classes, I took a break and just sort of “forgot” to come back? MDR! ADHD to the max!
Unfortunately, despite having been an Alfred Hitchcock fan for ages, the first time I had the opportunity to say the man’s name out loud was in a French class (this was at the CCF back when they used the Campus books). This has led to a life-long mispronunciation of his name:
Side note: My voice tends to be the squeakiest when I speak French!
Proficiency rating: 3/10 (decent reader, crappy listener, even crappier speaker—my grammar is a disaster, can’t write)
Studied this language twice also, both at the Erasmus Taalcentrum (ETC) in Jakarta:
- Studied A1 right before moving to the Netherlands; and
- Studied again circa 2014 (and retook the same level about 3 times, just to be sure).
I wanted CNaVT certification, but looks like kan niet! Ha.
Came back from a year in the Netherlands actually worse than before I went to live there! I lived in Leiden and everyone there spoke English (I’ve been told in more rural areas, some locals don’t speak English and it’s better for learning the language). I would start speaking in Dutch and they’d answer in English, but then again it was the Saturday open market and people didn’t have time (it’s a busy weekly farmers’ market).
People who know what a horrible speaker/listener and grammarist I am tend to be caught by surprise when they learn that my reading comprehension is pretty decent! I can even identify “Dutch English” when I hear it, like when the Dutch say “react” to say ‘answer’ because they treat it like the word “reactie”. At the same time, it drives up the wall when people mispronounce Vinny van Gogh’s name… But I still suck at most auditory/verbal ways of communicating with it! My relationship with this language is very odd. LOL.
Side note: My voice is lowest when speaking Dutch.
5. Basa Jawa
Proficiency rating: 2/10 (passive understanding of all three levels, but tend to end up answering in Indonesian)
This is a tough language to learn (I scored 5/10 when I first enrolled into an Indonesian school—to be fair, I could barely speak Indonesian, let alone Javanese, FFS). I was devastated…
I understand krama inggil, madya, and ngoko. But struggle to form sentences. The three levels of languages are used to distinguish groups (by age/seniority as well as social class). If you’re a young person, you’re expected to speak high Javanese (krama inggil) to your elders, as well as someone considered your social superior (like a revered member of society). Two aristocrats can speak low Javanese (ngoko) to their family/relatives/spouse, and manya (middle Javanese) to peers and in-laws.
Which is confusing enough… Except the differing levels of Javanese literally consist of distinct words that sound nothing like their equivalents in the other two levels (it is not like “politesse” en français where you just conjugate stuff). For instance, the low Javanese for eat is “mangan”, in high Javanese you’d say “dahar”, and to illustrate how much I suck at Javanese, I can’t even remember what the middle Javanese translation would be. Meh. Whatevs, I’m a princess:
Note: While I have teeny-tiny bits of experience interpreting and transcribing/translating interviews with domestic workers in Javanese, I do not market myself as a Javanese translator because I’m actually not advanced enough to be doing it professionally! It’s just one of those handy skills when it’s needed, but I’m not worthy-of-hiring proficient!
Relevant stuff I’d like to share with you:
- Pity I can’t find that article anymore! It used to be at this URL.
- For funsies, here’s my answer as a linguist to the question “What are some common movie tropes that you know are silly because of your profession?” on Quora.
- I run a linguistics and writing blog on Tumblr: @Djojowasito (because it’s a meaningful name).