Interview by Melissa Harkin, PLD Blog Co-Editor
The second profile we are featuring in our interview series with PLD colleagues speaking at ATA59 in New Orleans belongs to Timothy Friese.
About the speaker
Tim Friese (Calamus Translations) is a legal translator working from Arabic, French, Hebrew, Portuguese, and Spanish into English. His past work has included translating in-house at the US State Department, where he served on the team comparing the English and Arabic versions of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. In the private sphere, his work centers on international commercial law and conflicts of law. He is an alumnus of the University of Chicago (BA in Linguistics) and the University of Michigan (MA in Arabic).
You are ATA-certified in Arabic, Portuguese, and Spanish to English, and you also translate French and Hebrew to English. Can you tell us a little bit about how you became interested in languages and what made you want to learn so many different ones?
Timothy: I studied foreign languages as a hobby for much of my teens and twenties, and there are a dozen or so more that I touched at one point but did not go far with: Russian, Amharic, Swahili, Romani, and more. From starting in Spanish as a kid, I was always fascinated by the social magic of foreign languages: you walk into a situation where there could have been a wall between you and the other person, but instead, you can open up a channel of communication. It makes traveling so rewarding when you can just chat with a shop owner or invite someone you met out for drinks and learn more about their life.
When it comes to Portuguese specifically, what have been the most challenging aspects of the language when you translate from Brazilian Portuguese to English?
Timothy: As bilinguals or multilinguals, I think we sometimes lose track of how different these languages are, even as they do share a lot of cognates. But once you get past those, the languages are full of false friends: a processo is not always a process; an ação not always an action; a sociedade not always a society! On top of that, the two languages have such different senses of what good style is or how to structure a report, an email, a court filing, etc. Learning to thread the needle of staying 100% true to the source while also rendering perfect English will be a life’s work for all of us!
I know you are a foodie. Do you have any favorite dishes from Portuguese-speaking countries?
Timothy: I’ve actually been more interested in Portuguese cooking just recently. It wasn’t something I was very familiar with in the past so it’s been a learning curve, although the flavors are somewhat accessible if you know something about Spanish food. I have cured my own olives for years and they make a totally unique base for some of my favorite dishes. They make a good side of rice and olives, but for the showstopper, they go great with roast chicken, along with lemon to perk things up and anchovies to amp up the savoriness. I have also loved trying the Portuguese-influenced food of Macau, China, which has a great representative in the form of the restaurant Fat Rice in Chicago.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why, and who would you take with you?
Timothy: I was just in the Italian Alps for my honeymoon and now I’ve caught the bug and want to go back. In my perfect world, I would be backpacking for several days with my wife and dog and visiting an agriturismo after we finish for wine-tasting and creative home-cooked Italian food.
ATA-certified Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish to English Translator
French and Hebrew to English Translator
Follow Tim on LinkedIn