Susana Galilea is an English to Spanish translator with over 25 years of expertise in bilingual communications. She collaborates with businesses and organizations seeking to connect with the Spanish-speaking community in the U.S. and across the globe. She takes pride in delivering translations that are rooted in accuracy and cross-cultural awareness.
Raised in a bilingual Spanish/French household, Susana graduated with high honors from Lycée Français de Barcelone. She went on to earn a Diploma in Translation from Escuela Universitaria de Traductores e Intérpretes, a pioneering 3-year program at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
Susana began her career in New York City, as freelance copyeditor and proofreader for some of the leading translation agencies in the area. For over a decade, she developed meticulous writing and research skills, while gaining an insider’s knowledge of the industry.
Since relocating to Chicago in 2003, she has been a frequent contributor to contratiempo, a Spanish-language arts and culture magazine. Her articles on translation-related topics have been published in The ATA Chronicle and La linterna del traductor.
Beyond the written word, Susana can be found in the dance studio exploring the virtues of movement. With enduring ties to Spain as well as Mexico, she makes time for extended visits to keep current on language and culture trends.
I have experienced the magical properties of language since before I even existed. After all, it was my dad’s desire to spruce up his conversational French that led him to meet my mom, a young mademoiselle visiting Spain for the holidays.
My siblings and I were bilingual from day one, effortlessly switching between languages as each situation required. I grew up with the intimate understanding that attached to each language is a lively universe of culture, tradition and emotion.
As a translator in training, I learned that all of those factors had to be grappled with when conveying a message from one language to another.
During my years in translation school, I immersed myself in more languages (howdy, English! ciao, Italian!), and my world became even livelier. The subject of patterns, rhythm and meaning held endless fascination for me, and I voraciously examined any bilingual content I came across—record liner notes, translated poetry, subtitled movies…
I can trace my aversion to translation snafus back to a viewing of Visconti’s classic Death in Venice. In a scene of lyrical beauty, a fruit vendor is hollering “Fragole!” (the Italian word for strawberries) as he strolls the beach carrying a basket of berries—an incantation wrecked by subtitles that had him yelling “¡Frijoles!” (the Spanish word for…beans!).
Cut to New York City circa 1986. I’m reviewing a translation about vintage bed furnishings, and my dictionary is proving useless with the old-timey terminology. There is no Internet, no social media, no specialized forums to turn to. Translation projects are delivered in hard copy by a squadron of bike messengers zooming at breakneck speed up and down the avenues, decked in colorful spandex.
At a total loss, I decide to place a call to my grandmother in Spain for an informal consult. Sure enough, my yaya knows the right answer and gets me out of a bind from across an ocean.
In today’s digital environment, a targeted web search would have likely done the trick. What has not changed is my readiness to tackle a linguistic challenge, no matter how intricate the task.
Translation is a journey over a sea from one shore to the other. Sometimes I think of myself as a smuggler: I cross the frontier of language with my booty of words, ideas, images, and metaphors.