¡Hola, reader! I’m Susana Galilea, founder and sole operator at Accent On Spanish. I’m an accredited English to Spanish translator and copyeditor with over 25 years of expertise in bilingual communications.
I graduated with high honors from Lycée Français de Barcelone, and went on to earn a Diploma in Translation from Escuela Universitaria de Traductores e Intérpretes, a pioneering 3-year program in translation studies at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
My language career began in New York City, where I worked as copyeditor and proofreader for several of the leading translation agencies in the area. For over a decade, I had the opportunity to develop meticulous writing and research skills, while gaining an insider’s knowledge of the translation industry.
Since relocating to Chicago in 2003, I have been a contributor to Revista contratiempo, an arts and culture magazine published in the Windy City. My writings on translation have been featured in trade publications such as The ATA Chronicle and La Linterna del Traductor.
I have experienced the magical properties of language since before I existed. After all, it was my Spanish father’s desire to spruce up his conversational French skills that led him to meet my mom, a young mademoiselle visiting Spain for the holidays.
Growing up in Barcelona, my siblings and I were fully bilingual from day one, effortlessly switching between French and Spanish as each situation required. I grew up with the intimate understanding that attached to each language is a lively universe of culture, tradition, and even temperament.
As a translator in training, I learned that all those factors needed to be grappled with when conveying a message from one cultural mindset to another.
During my years in translation school, I immersed myself in new languages (hello, English! ciao, Italian!), and my world became even livelier. The realm 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…
To this day, I can trace my aversion to subtitling snafus to a viewing of Visconti’s classic film Death in Venice. On the big screen, a vendor is hollering “Fragole!” (Italian for strawberries) as he walks the beach carrying a basket of berries—a scene of lyrical beauty wrecked by subtitles that had him yelling “¡Frijoles!”(Spanish 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 peer 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 long-distance call to my Spanish grandmother 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 online 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.