Name: Vanira Tavares de Souza
Where you live: Brasília DF Brazil
What you’re doing these days: (translator/interpreter/teacher/professor):
After working as an in-house translator for 25 years, I retired from my job, but not from my profession. I used to work at a breakneck pace, with particularly tight deadlines, and now I have slowed down. In addition to doing translation as a freelancer and reading about translation, I am seeking to give quality attention to my family members, especially my aging mother, and I have resumed my music studies.
Something you’re proud of:
Since working as a professional translator, I have translated many texts. I’ve translated books, articles, essays, letters, forms, certificates, press releases, pieces of legislation, and in other areas, including law, finance, and the environment. However, I am particularly proud to have taken part in translating the 1988 Constitution of Brazil from Brazilian Portuguese into English. Brazil had just emerged from two decades of military rule. People yearned for a new supreme law, and this Constitution resulted from a long process of debates that permeated all segments of society. Two other English translators and I were immediately tasked to translate the new Brazilian Constitution into English. It was then given to dignitaries invited to the inauguration of Brazil’s first popularly elected president in about 30 years. We had two-and-a-half months to translate, revise, and hand in the final text. It was printed overnight for the inauguration ceremony on March 15, 1990.
A bit of your background:
I first graduated from the University of Brasilia with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations because, at the time, I dreamed of pursuing a career as a diplomat. To support myself, I landed my first job as an English teacher. Three years later, I got my second job as a clerical assistant at the Superior
Labor Court of Brazil. Meanwhile, my attention was attracted to translation, and I decided to undertake my second undergraduate degree, the English-Portuguese Translation Course, at the University of Brasilia. At that point in life, I found my true calling and discovered my niche in the professional world. Incidentally, when I was about to receive my Translation degree, the Federal Senate of Brazil held a nationwide public examination to select English, French, and German translators to make up a Translation Service. Thank God I was one of the professionals selected. I then worked at the Federal Senate Translation Service for 25 years.
How long have you been with the ATA? And PLD member?
I have been a member of the ATA and PLD for 24 years! In 1998, a non-English-speaking friend (also not a translator) gave me the contact details of a translator he had befriended at a friend’s house in the US. I got in touch with that translator, who happened to be Tereza Braga, and she was the first person to tell me about the ATA and how to become a member. She even mailed me the forms! I applied for membership, attended my very first PLD spring meeting in Las Vegas, and was privileged to meet Tereza Braga in person. I also had the privilege of being introduced to icons like Donna Sandin, Tim Yuan, Arlene Kelly, Bob Feron, Bira Castro, and so many other kindhearted, highly-qualified translators.
What did the ATA membership and/or the PLD bring to you?
Being a member of the ATA and the PLD division has been an invaluable source of information about the translation industry and the developments in the translation profession. I can find out what is going on and learn about the tools of the trade by reading the ATA Chronicle, listening to the ATA Podcast, browsing the ATA website, attending events, and meeting translators and interpreters who work in several different areas of knowledge.
Current project (or last interesting project/job):
During my years as a translation student and then as an in-house translator, I gathered a number of books and texts dealing with translation theory, comparative translation, and translation practice. I am now exploring them more fully.
A major challenge(s) in your career:
Being appointed Head of the Translation and Interpretation Service of the Federal Senate of Brazil was by far the biggest challenge of my translation career. The Federal Senate of Brazil comprises 81 Senators. That basically means the in-house translators work for 81 Senator Offices, the President Pro Tempore’s Office, and the administrative staff. That’s quite a lot of work! Furthermore, being the head of such a service means leading a team of high-level professionals who speak several languages, each with a rich background and several idiosyncrasies. It means teaching and guiding a group of interns—young, energetic university students. It also means always keeping an eye on the final goal: harnessing all efforts to deliver fast, high-quality translations and interpretation services.
Do you have a hobby?
I love traveling, taking pictures, and reading. Traveling and reading takes me to places, settings, and environments I may have only dreamed of and never experienced before… And taking pictures is a pleasurable activity when I can open my eyes to see more and better and capture art and beauty around me.
What is your favorite book in Portuguese Language literature?
My favorite book in Portuguese Language literature is O Tronco, by Bernardo Elis. O Tronco means The Stocks, a Medieval feet-restraining device used as corporal punishment for enslaved people. In this book, it was used to punish opponents of the coronels (coroneis, or rural political bosses) in the backlands of the state of Goias at the beginning of the 20th century. When I was a child, I had barely learned to read when I found this book at home and started reading a couple of pages aloud to my parents per day. It was a great way to learn about Goias’s history and culture, and pronunciation since my father used to correct me. And we used to have a lot of fun reading about the ways and customs of the hinterland folks.
Currently on your reading list:
I am now reading the Bible, both in Portuguese and English, not only for spiritual purposes but also to compare and learn vocabulary. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted me to read The Decameron, by Boccaccio. Next on my list are Grande Sertão Veredas, by Guimarães Rosa, and Os Sertões, by Euclides da Cunha.
Thank you, Vanira. We really appreciate the opportunity to learn a little more about you.