Translator Community Spotlight: Meet Popie Matsouka

by Drew Evans
5 Minute Read

Here at Lilt, we’re focused on providing the highest quality translations possible, and that requires a large professional network of translators.

We've spent years building a community of experienced and quality translators, and we're excited to showcase the incredible individuals helping to lead the charge in building successful global experiences. Much like our Liltonian Spotlight series, we're sharing the backgrounds of the talented professionals in our community in our newest series, the Translator Spotlight Series. 

People Spotlights- Litonians 21 (3)

This week, we’re happy to introduce Popie Matsouka, a passionate reader, dog owner, and talented translator. We sat down with Popie to learn more about her background, how she started her translation journey, and her thoughts on the ever-changing translation industry.

 

What does your day to day look like?

Most days, I get up and work until 6 PM, play with my dog Nalla, or meet with friends (pandemic-times excluded!). I also love to spend my evenings watching my favorite TV series, reading books (paranormal romance fan here, but don't tell anyone!), and doing pilates and mindfulness exercises!

I also love to volunteer at the Red Cross, the Panhellenic Association of Professional Translators Graduates of the Ionian University (PEEMPIP), Women in Localization's Greece Chapter, and more.

And now that my niece is born, I plan on spending a lot of time with her.

 

What languages do you speak or have you studied?

I speak English, French, Italian and, of course, Greek. I've also learned a bit of Russian and Spanish.

 

How and why did you become a translator?

Ever since I was little, I had this huge love for languages, their similarities and differences,  and translation. I was always so fascinated by how words and ideas from one language were "moved" to another language, especially in movies. My mother had a video-store until very recently, so I grew up watching movies and learning English and French from subtitles.

In high school, I was traveling with my family in Corfu and we happened to pass the front of the University's main building (a building that was built in 1832 for Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first head of state of independent Greece). There, I saw a plaque with the University's name and Department of Foreign Languages, Translation, and Interpreting written on it. When I got home, I asked my teachers for more information. As soon as I learned more about Ionian University and its Department of Translation, I immediately focused all my energy on getting in, and I have never regretted it since! The day I passed the national exams and joined my colleagues in Corfu was one of the best days of my life. To this day, I love my work and my profession!

 

Do you like to listen to music while you work? If so, what kind?

When I'm working, I can't focus when there is even the slightest noise, so I don't listen to music. I even have to wear special earplugs to help me focus! When I have to work in-house for translation agencies, I wear less specialized earplugs so I can hear my colleagues if they need me.

 

What is your favorite non-English word and what does it mean?

That would be "ενσυναίσθηση" and it is the Greek word for "empathy". Interestingly, the English word "empathy" is a loanword from Greek. The actual Greek word means the complete opposite of "empathy" (i.e. hating with a passion) - just another reason why I love languages!

The word "ενσυναίσθηση" means to be able to put yourself in someone else's shoes and to be able to understand them and what they are going through. It's a characteristic that I wish more people had in this world.

 

When you have an hour of free-time, what do you like to do to pass the time?

I rarely have free time, but when I do… I try to play with my dog or catch up on my various TV series! Though, since my mom is going to read this, I should probably say that "I cook" or something…

 

What's one fact or skill that you've learned recently?

I don't know if it's a skill, but I learned how to cut wood for the fireplace. And the latest fact that I learned is that pilates and mindfulness exercises can help the tired and (often) anxious translator overcome some of the physical and mental obstacles that present themselves after some years on the job. Many of my colleagues do one or both of these practices, and they really help!

 

Has the translation industry changed in the last 10 years? Do you think it will change in the next 10 years?

Yes, it has. The rise of machine translation (MT), the development of new tools, and changes in the way we work (as well as more recent changes from the pandemic and the increase of remote work) have all changed the landscape of our industry.

Historically, there's been pressure towards freelance translators to work faster and cheaper. But we have started seeing more companies focusing on the use of MT and their translators' well-being, work-life balance, and fairer rates — something that I think will advance in the next ten years. 

After having been in the industry for 21 years, one welcome thing which I have noticed is expanding rapidly is that translators now seem to be more united, across borders, helping each other more in everything — from simply being a shoulder to cry on to trainings and volunteer work. I sincerely hope this trend keeps going over the next years!

Keep an eye out for our upcoming posts in both our Translator and Liltonian Spotlight posts! We'll continue to highlight people from across the company and our wonderful translator community.

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