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Merry Christmas and Farewell!

December 23rd, 2017

As we approach the end of 2017, I am sad to announce that Which Word Translations will also be wrapping up. I am taking on a new full-time position at Rubric (Edinburgh) from January 2018 and will no longer be offering freelance translation for the foreseeable future.

For over a decade you have entrusted me with your words and it has been a great joy and privilege to work with so many inspiring people in the translation and localisation industry. I am hoping that there may be an opportunity to continue working with some of you in my new role in project management.

Happy Christmas and farewell!




Free tickets can be booked here.




Edinburgh hosted this October a new event – the Kite and Trumpet Festival – celebrating Polish art, design and theatre dedicated to children. As a parent of two bilingual children I was overjoyed. The programme was fantastic and offered 11 days of arts and crafts workshops, theatre productions and daily access to a Playroom, or “Bawialnia”, featuring educational toys and beautiful books by Polish designers and writers/illustrators.

The majority of events took place at the Summerhall, while some were held at the Scottish Storytelling Centre and North Edinburgh Arts. We particularly enjoyed the preserve making workshop with Polish illustrator Katarzyna Bogucka followed by a free tasting of Polish pierogi. We had a dab at letter writing with a real goose feather and ink (messy!) and explored the meaning of bilingualism with experts from the Bilingualism Matters Centre at the Edinburgh University.

We also attended a theatre performance by a group from my home city – Teatr Pinokio – which was shown in conjunction with the Scottish International Storytelling Festival. The Storytelling Machine was very funny and entertaining both in English and Polish.

I feel incredibly lucky to be living in a city with access to so much culture in my own language and my children’s second language. I really hope that Kite and Trumpet festival returns again next year!




Bilingualism Matters

October 19th, 2017

Last Tuesday, I took my kids to a workshop for bilingual children, which was held at the Summerhall as part of the Kite and Trumpet Festival of Polish Art for Children. The workshop was run by Bilingualism Matters – a Centre at the University of Edinburgh.

The workshop was full of fun, but at the same time a great trigger for discussion with children about the importance of keeping their second (and third) language alive by any means available.

I particularly liked the balloon metaphor – language being like a balloon, which can float away if we do not anchor it with various ways of using the language, such as speaking, singing, playing, reading and keeping in touch with family abroad. I have never openly spoken to my children about language loss – it was always implicit in my efforts to encourage contact with Polish by various means. The workshop has helped make them more aware of this challenge. Raising bilingual children is not easy, so I welcome the support offered to parents through events like this and the opportunity to meet other parents facing the same obstacles as myself.




It’s a question of trust

September 4th, 2017

As a freelancer you open yourself up to potential dubious job requests and enquiries. In the past, I have received fake PayPal account closure warnings and other attempts to elicit login information for various services and sites. Recently though, I have received a project enquiry, which went beyond the usual cursory efforts to scam. The email seemed coherent, polite and informative. After an introduction of a Vendor Manager it promised a large amount of work across various fields. It also contained a link to a Google form for registering further details in the supposed recruiter’s database. There were however several things about it that made me pause.

The name of the company was Trusted Polish and it was consistent with the domain of the sender’s e-mail address. However, the very word “trusted” made me immediately distrustful. The project promised 20 million words of documents in various fields, including Law, Finance,
IT, Computers/Software, and Web Localization. This seemed too broad and unspecific to be real. The final part of the message contained a link to a Google form to be filled out by interested freelancers.

Luckily, I have recently read an article on the risks of the Autofill feature, which allows for confidential information to be stolen through invisible fields in the browser’s window. I do not now for sure if this was such an attempt, but it looked like it could have been one.

Before proceeding, I emailed back requesting further details about the company, it’s website and location. Before taking up any projects, I also always look up Proz.com’s Blue Board to check if there is any feedback about the outsourcer. There was no mention of a company called Trusted Polish. A few hours later I received a message that my email couldn’t be delivered to the recipient.

Look out in case you get approached by companies called “Trusted Spanish” or “Trusted Dutch” and remember to keep your guard up!




Merry Christmas!

December 20th, 2016




Art in Translation

March 5th, 2013

Last year I had a wonderful opportunity to work for an award-winning online journal Art in Translation, founded at the Visual Arts Research Institute (VARIE) of the University of Edinburgh. The journal is a highly applaudable initiative which serves the art historical community through making foreign research more readily accessible, but also elevates the role of translators in the process. Their own mission statement reads:

“Art in Translation (AIT) is the first journal that takes as its mission the publication of quality English language translation of the most interesting articles on visual culture presently available only in their source language. (…) It will introduce the English-speaking readership to new areas of scholarship that share as their main qualities their excellence and originality.”

One such article is Stanisław Czekalski’s “The Internationale of Automobile Salons and the Hagiography of Revolution. Mieczysław Szczuka at the Crossroads of New Art” (June 2012 issue of the journal). The author looks at the Constructivist movement in Poland in the 1920s and the dilemma of artists such as Szczuka, who were caught between political ideology and the need for artistic freedom, between communist propaganda and Western commercialism.

It was a great pleasure to work on the English translation of the above text. It is always very gratifying to work on a project, which allows one to learn, and not just linguistically. It also allowed me to work in tandem with my husband, who happens to be an art historian and a native speaker of English, and therefore a perfect proofreader of my translation.

As a side-mention, an important source of existing English translations, which I used in my work, was this anthology: Charles Harrison and Paul Wood (eds), Art in Theory 1900-2000. An Anthology of Changing Ideas (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003).




Translating Tumblr

April 23rd, 2012

In the past 6 months I have disappeared off the surface of this Earth and started to live virtually in the Blogosphere. All of this, because of my last large translation project – Polish localisation of Tumblr! I have to say that no other translation job has had such an impact on my life as this one and I can confirm with all certainty that Tumblr is very addictive!

What is it like translating a popular site like Tumblr?

Well, it’s been an exciting but also a humbling experience. Nothing puts you more under pressure than a few very vocal and devoted users of the platform who all have very clear ideas (often very different ones too!) of how things should be translated – if translated be they must!

I think what surprised me the most was the possessiveness (I can’t think of another way of describing this) of those Polish users, who felt that their best-kept secret was just about to be revealed to the wider masses of the unworthy. They have been using Tumblr happily in English and didn’t want to share the platform with a broader Polish audience. They liked the idea of being privy to something very special and exclusive (only in terms of language accessibility – Tumblr is anything but ‘exclusive’).

Having been on Tumblr for a few months, I think I can understand this now, but don’t appreciate the selfish viewpoint of those few. What I have learnt about Tumblr is that it is full of very creative and talented people from different walks of life and I get inspired every day looking at what they produce, discover and do. Some of them pride themselves for being an anti-mainstream crowd. They put themselves in opposition to Facebook, which is for “everyone else”. In this respect, there was some discussion in the translation process about how NOT to sound like Facebook!

I have also found some very generous users and have made friends. In particular, a wonderful person from Poznań, who was one of the beta testers, but turned out to be more than that. She kept my spirits high in the moments of “doubt and despair” and provided ample input and advice. Ave – I do hope we meet in person one day, as I still owe you a few drinks for keeping me sane back then!

Translating Tumblr is not a one-off thing. Tumblr is dynamically growing, changing, expanding and there is always plenty to do for the team of localisers (currently 8 languages and more coming up). So I have been sucked in, but sucked into something that I wouldn’t want to go away from…

You can find my Polish Tumblr blog here: Polka Dot. I also work on the Polish version of the Tumblr staff blog – Tumblr: Blog ekipy.




Merry Christmas from Which Word Translations!




On British Irreverence

December 18th, 2011

I have recently re-watched the British animated film “Father Christmas” (1991), which is based on two graphic novels by Raymond Briggs – “Father Christmas” (1973) and “Father Christmas Goes on Holiday” (1975).

As on the first viewing of the film, I was amazed at the subversive interpretation of this classic children’s character – Santa is a grumpy old man, who likes his liquor and complains about his job. He goes on holidays to France, then Scotland and Las Vegas, where he over-indulges on drink, food and partying before returning home to read his post and prepare for his busies day of the year. We never hear him say “Merry Christmas” – instead he calls it “Bloomin’ Christmas” – and that’s the curse word (milder version of “bloody”) he uses in every sentence in the film.

Raymond Briggs Father Christmas

Brigg’s Santa is not unlikeable and he has a good heart, but he is depicted as much more human than the St Nicholas I had grown up with in Poland. Watching this animation, my reaction was a totally mixed one including disbelief (are you for real?), confusion (but you can’t do this!), amusement (this is funny!), guilt (I shouldn’t be seeing Santa’s naked bottom!) and awe (you couldn’t get away with this in Poland!). It also brought home the fact that, despite seeing myself as an open-minded person, I have been brought up with a certain model of the world and that it is hard to see beyond that experience.

This irreverence and taboo breaking seems to me a very British thing: from King Henry VIII’s break up with the Catholic church to comedy shows of today (“Father Ted” is a good example) – Brits seem to be always questioning authority and testing the limits of what is allowed and what isn’t. “Father Christmas” made me realise that there is a big difference in mentality between Britain and Poland, with the latter one desperately trying to hold onto its national heroes and traditional figures of authority (political, religious or cultural) and maintain their special status – above everyone else. In Britain, nothing is really off-limits – one can make jokes about the Queen, the Prime Minister, the Church, the politicians and Santa Clause. After all, we are all only human!

“So jump up on my sleigh and we’re all on our way to another bloomin’ Christmas!”

Raymond Briggs - Father Christmas