Pilar Tello, the woman behind a worldwide phenomenom

I’m sure that the majority of you know the name of your favourite writer, but, have you ever thought the amount of people that are involved in the creation of a book? Yes, the writer is the most important one, without them the book wouldn’t even exist in the first place but…what about the rest of them? Today I am going to talk about the collective of amazing people that change any book written in another language, to the one that the reader uses to communicate: the translators. And for that, I have interviewed Pilar Ramírez Tello, the translator to Spanish of huge trilogies such as The Hunger Games or Divergent.

When Pilar finished high school she did not have any vocation for anything, she did not like any of the degrees, so as she liked read and write, she tried to find something related to it. At first, she thought in Journalism but she finally opted to the degree of Translation since she had received English lessons when she was little. When doing the degree, she discovered that she liked the translation process, either being a book or a technical manual.

She told me that she started working in an agency where she did a bit of everything. Then, she worked in an enterprise specialized in document management where she has the chance of collaborating on the translation of bilingual specialized dictionaries. Also, she worked in the translation department of an engineering enterprise. As a fact, meanwhile she was working on the engineering enterprise, she started her literary translation.

When talking about the reason of why the job of translators it is not as much valuable as it should, she said that “right now, we bet for visibility”. This one is the reason of why the campaign Acredítame has been created. This campaign asks media to mention the translators of the books that they make reviews to. The idea is to make people more aware of the existence of translator, so it will be easier to make this profession valuable, “believe it or not, there are people that do not even take into account that, for example, Veronica Roth does not write in Spanish.”

Pilar thinks that she had just good luck when the editorial chose her to translate sagas, as huge as for example, The Hunger Games or Divergent. “When the rights of translation of The Hunger Games were bought for Spain, the trilogy was not the smash hit in which it would become later”. In that time Pilar had already translated enough fantasy, science-fiction and youth literature books, so, at the time of looking for someone with experience in that field, they found her. But with Divergent was different as the editorial already knew her.

When I asked her about how it was to be the translator of Spanish trilogies that have succeeded that much, she told me that “at the beginning it made her head spin.” And, when the books that she translated were read by more and more people, the feeling of responsibility and scare appeared since a lot of people could see her mistakes.

“When Mockingjay arrived I could only talk about it with the RBA’s person in charge of press”, she said, speaking when about the third part of The Hunger Games. She also added, “the last pages were not sent from the U.S. editorial until the last time, before I had already the rest of the book translated, because of the fear of it being leaked.” As the editorial wanted to publish at the same time both original version and Spanish version, she had to translate it in twenty days and the last few pages were sent via regular email to avoid other translations or leaks. So, it was necessary to sign a confidentiality agreement.

“For me, neologisms are the most difficult and entertaining thing of translating fantasy and science-fiction novels”, she responded when I asked her about the translation of mockingjay as sinsajo. She added that when they find a term that they do not know anything about, the first thing they do is to research to get a conclusion. Once they are sure that the term has been invented by the author, they have to look for the process that the author has followed to invent it. In the case of mockingjay, she started by analysing the word jabberjay, the term in the original version which makes reference to a man-made bird created to keep an eye on the citizens of the districts. “A jay is a real bird and its equivalent in Spanish is arrendajo. And jabber is a verb that means farfullar. Nevertheless, for an aesthetic question, after have been looking for synonyms, I used the verb charlar.” As a result, jabberjay was translated as charlajo. “When all jabberjays or charlajos were released, as all of them were male, it was supposed that they could not reproduce. But they get to survive and they mated with female mockingbirds, which in Spanish are sinsontes”, she added to explain how the word sinsajo was created: sinsonte and charlajo together make up sinsajo in Spanish. 

Pilar has shown me the great importance of translators and the pressure they have to bear when it comes to the deadline. People should be more aware of what translators have to face every day and value their relevant job. My future job.


Made by María Martínez Lorenzo



How difficult is to have a business in Europe. Interview to Anastasia.

Anastasia Sviridovich is 29 years old, borned in New York. She is an owner for an Academy of  foreign languages in Spain. Her first college was Bard College in the State of  New York. Due to the fact that she had a liberal system of education, she speaks  English, Russian, Spanish and  a little bit of German. Because of  that, she adapts rapidly to changing economic situation. Her second degree is Psicology in Sant-Petesburg.

Anastasia explained me that she decided to come here because she was looking for a new working experience and one day she got an offer to be an English teacher. With time she decided to made an academy and to give knowledges to the people. At first, she has the possibility to give a job to the people and then she is very interested in this field.

As all know is difficult to made a business in Europe because the world economy’s situation is complicated. Spain is in crisis for a long time. I asked to Anastasia if  it is difficult to start a business in another country and if she thinks that Spain is still in crisis. She told me that she is agree with this statement.  According to her, “Thanks to the components such as wars, situation with the refugees, difficult relations between the  United States of America  and Russian Federation, in Europe it’s extremely difficult to boost an economic situation. In my personal experience business success depends on personal skills and abilities. Business opening wasn’t really difficult because if  you are hardworking,  if you have a clear vision  and relevant skills you can create an effective leadership system everywhere. An entrepreneur must adapt to rapidly changing market and follow to basic rules such as communication skills, goal setting, time management, flexibility, desire to learn, delegating and of course passion.”.  So according to Anastasia, due to the fact that an entrepreneur has high relevated skills and is motivated and personally interested he can move forward, adapt to any situation and benefit by any situation.

As she has lived in U.S.A, Russia and Europe, i asked her differences between those countries in terms of  having a business.

She explained me that steps to starting a business are the same everywhere such as writing a business plan, financing the business, determination the legal business structure and startup  recources, understanding employer responsibility, etx. Despite the identical system the most difficult experience that she had was in Russia because there is the corrupted system in all business fields and levels. According to her, Russian government does not give a support or grands to small and medium business. However, in U.S.A the entrepreneureal depend on the bank system and business is usually based on credit system. What she said is “You can grow up very quickly but at the same time you can loose all at the drop of a hat”.

On the other hand, she told me the problem that exists in Europe. According to Anastasia, in Europe there is another problem with taxes and humans resources. She said “ but frankly speaking, i don’t want to jump the gun and make final conclusions. I need time to see if the economic situation is going to stabilize to be able to plan job enrichment because i have lived in Spain since 2015”.

After have talked about how difficult it is to have a business in Europe I asked  Anastasia, what she thinks about the political situation in Europe and Spain. Regarding that, Anastasia told me that she is confused. She does not see the European Union’s clear concept of working plan. She said “ I think that the  EU must concentrate in a refugees question, building stable and mutually advantageous relations with the U.S.A and Russia”. Speaking about Spain she thinks that Spanish government and society must remember about their image in the global political world and in the global market. She declares that “ I know political parties have time to make the union but if  it does not work, society must have a referendum specially when Spain has a critical moment”.

As we know, Europe has a different hot topics such as refugees, Brexit, terrorism, immigration…The main new that it is going on lately is Brexit, because on 23th there is the elections to choose if Great Britain is going to leave the European Union or if it is going to stay in the EU. According to all that, she asked me that the immigration is under the control nowadays. In this case, she is on Donald Trump’s page because she thinks that we must choose a way of strict control . However, she said “ I think that Europe needs leaders for example like Hillary Clinton, confident, good educated, a person with vision, intelligent and ambitious. Specially, if we are speaking about fight strategy with the terrorism and islamic extremism”. About Brexit, she made me a statement that surprise me, she said “ I have to admit that i don’t see Great Britain as a powerful leader in economic and political fields”. For that reason, she explained me that she is in favour of  Brexit, but she thinks that Great Britain is going to stay in the European Union. She thinks that the English are going to vote that UK has to stay.


By: Vanessa Alamedas Mari

A short trip into an Embassy: interview with Anna Ruffino

Anna Ruffino is an Italian young woman who has become the First Secretary of the Consular Chancery of the Embassy of Italy in Madrid after passing all the different and difficult stages of the open competitive exam which is organized, every year, by the Italian Foreign Ministry.

Being the First Secretary of the Consular Chancery of the Embassy entails having a great variety of tasks to execute, the majority of which are the same that, in Italy, are carried out by each municipality and especially by the general register office. So, as Anna Ruffino explained me, her work consists in providing Italian citizens, who are living in Madrid, with all the documents and services they need (ID card renewal, passport, fiscal code, possibility to vote from another country, pensions, registration of a change in the marital status and assistance to the victim’s family in case an Italian citizen dies on Spanish territory). In particular, this final aspect of her work is, for Anna Ruffino, the most difficult but, at the same time, the most gratifying. In her words:

“I know that it means facing difficult and really painful situations and tragedies, but knowing that, in some way, you are helping and supporting them by dealing with all the bureaucratic aspects they are not certainly thinking of in such a situation, makes you feel really helpful and useful.”

For example, she has given assistance to the families of the seven Italian Erasmus students who died in Valencia the last 20th March because of the bus on which they were travelling had an accident.

Talking about how to start working for an embassy she explained me that, if someone is interested in starting a career in an embassy the first thing he/she should have is a master degree either in international relationship, law or economics and a very good knowledge of English. Then, he/she must undergo to the five written tests and an oral exam which made up the competitive exam; if the candidate manages to pass all the tests he/she can become Legazione Secretary. When someone decides to work in an embassy, he/she should also be willing to spend two years abroad and after his/her mandate has come to an end he/she can return in Italy and working in the Italian Foreign Ministry, called Farnesina, or in another Italian embassy.

As regards the structure of the Italian Embassy of Madrid it has different offices, the political, cultural, economic, scientific and security one, each of which with its specific function. In particular, I have decided to focus my interview with Anna Ruffino on the cultural issues and projects the Italian Embassy of Madrid carries out. The cultural office is responsible for the coordination of all those events related to the Italian culture which are organized by the public authorities in Madrid and especially by the Italian Institutes of Culture. Moreover, the cultural office improves and promotes the relationships with the Spanish cultural institutions, foundations and universities with a special consideration for Italian studies. With this regard,

“a very interesting thing to know is that in Spain there are two Italian state schools (from kindergarten to high school) of the eight existing all over the world; one of these is in Madrid and other one is in Barcelona”.

Leer más de esta entrada

Ukraine should not have won

The Eurovision Song Contest is one of the longest television shows in the world. In fact, it was firstly organized and broadcasted in 1956 and it is still running today as one of the most important European shows. The show was created with the purpose of uniting all European countries but, this year, public opinion was divided because of the controversial theme of the song 1944.
Ukraine's Jamala reacts on winning the Eurovision Song Contest final at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm

The winner, Jamala, of the Eurovision Song Contest final. TT News Agency/Maja Suslin/via REUTERS

The Ukrainian singer Jamala achieved victory at last Saturday’s grand final with a song that talks about her great-grandmother’s experience during the World War II. In particular, the controversy about 1944 burst because the song contained references to Stalin, Crimea War and ethnic cleansing and so, it breached the competition’s rules. So, did Ukraine really deserve to win taking into account that its representative did not comply with more than one of this year’s requirements?

One of this year’s rules established that “no lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature shall be permitted during the Eurovision Song Contest. No messages promoting any organisation, institution, political cause or other, company, brand, products or services shall be allowed in the Shows and within any official Eurovision Song Contest premises. A breach of this rule may result in disqualification.” But, since the song  talks about the story of thousands of Crimean Tatars people who were forced to expatriate from their own territory under Stalin’s dictatorship, we think that Ukraine should not have been allowed to take part in this year contest, let alone, winning it. Obviously, its participation and victory caused a huge disagreement between some of the participants and the audience especially because of the topic of the song. But, is this what Eurovision should be about? We do not think so. Since its main purpose is to bring European people together and not recall historical conflicts and political issues that may distance people and nations rather than unite them, in our opinion, 1944 is not a “song for Europe” because it does not respect the whole spirit of unity of the event. Furthermore, we also think that political matters, such as the one told in the Ukrainian song, should not be touched, as it could mean the end of this contest.

But, the rule previously mentioned was not the only Eurovision’s rule that Ukraine did not respect. In fact, the guidelines stated that “the compositions (lyrics and music) must not have been commercially released before the 1st of September 2015”, but 1944 was uploaded online on May last year. Nevertheless, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) did not think that that was such an important advantage in front of the other participants. However, in our opinion, Ukraine should not have been accepted in the competition as it did not respect that rule.

To sum it all up, we do not agree with the Ukranian victory because its participation broke the rules and this could lead to more countries breaking the rules in the coming years. However, it is too late to say sorry as nothing cannot be done now and we think that the organization should considerate twice the requirements needed when participating. We think that as Eurovision is a musical contest, Ukraine did not deserve it since there were other songs better musically talking.

The legalization of medical cannabis in Germany

The German Health Minister, Hermann Gröhe, announced early last week that Germany will legalize marijuana for medical aims from spring next year. This substance will be offered to seriously ill German patients on prescription at drug stores.

Before presenting to the German cabinet the draft legislation, the Health Minister announced the legalization of cannabis for medical uses. “Our goal is that seriously ill patients are treated in the best possible way,” said Hermann Gröhe.


A medical marijuana dispensary in the US. Credit: AFP

According to Die Welt, the German cabinet has approved this measure but only for those seriously ill patients who satisfied two conditions: the first one is to have previously consulted a doctor and, the second one is not having other therapeutic alternatives. The Health Minister added that if patients cannot be helped in any other way, then, health insurance companies have to cover all the costs.

However, as reported by the CNN, Marlene Mortler, the Drug Commissioner of the Federal Government warned that “marijuana should not be considered completely safe”. She also said that “the use of cannabis as a medicine within narrow limits is useful and should be explored in more detail”, but she continued saying that since cannabis is not a harmless substance, “the aim and purpose” of it is that this substance “is intended for medical use only, not for private pleasure.” Also Gröhe recognised that marijuana “is not an inoffensive substance” and for this reason, he underlined that it would be possible to get it from “pharmacies only on prescription.”

The list of countries that allow the consumption of this substance for medical purposes includes Italy and Czech Republic. According to  the news agency Europa Press, nowadays, people in Germany affected by severe illness, such as Cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis could only have access to cannabis through a special approval, paying it themselves.

The use of “recreational and medical cannabis” is a controversial topic in many countries. On the one hand, there are opponents who “fear crime connected to drug abuse and addiction” and, on the other hand, others claim that its use “could lead to dependence on harder drugs”, says The Telegraph. From its side, the German Hemp Association, a lobby group advocating for cannabis legalization, considered the compulsory participation of the cannabis patients in the research as a condition for reimbursement, suggested by the German Health Ministry,  as “unprecedent and difficult to accept”.

As reported by Reuters,  the German government “is to set up specially supervised plantations to grow cannabis and will import what it needs for now”. Gröhe also stated that “until the government-controlled cultivation in Germany is established, which presupposes cannabis agency, the medical cannabis will be covered by import”.

According to a survey conducted by Infratest Dimap, a German institute and company, the 82 percent of Germans is in favour of the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes. Of this 82 percent, only the 30 percent is completely in favour of the legalization of marijuana, both for simple enjoyment and for medical use.


Obama pleads for unity in Europe

The US President intervened in the EU referendum debate pleading the UK to remain in the European Union. His intervention made him be defined by the Mayor of London as a hypocrite part-Kenyan.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and US President Barack Obama (L) attend a press conference at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in central London

David Cameron and Barack Obama  attend a press conference on 22nd April. REUTERS/Andy Rain/Pool

During the 22nd April joint press conference with Barack Obama, David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, distanced himself from Johnson’s statement. In particular, Cameron did not share what the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wrote, on the Sun, about Obama. In the article concerned, Johnson stated that Obama’s plea to Britain was incoherent, inconsistent and completely hypocritical and that such a decision only regarded UK citizens. From his side Cameron underlined the long-lasting friendship and mutual respect that exist between the UK and the US adding that even though the decision about leaving or not the EU is in the hands of the British people they should take into account the opinion of their friends.

In the article published on the Telegraph, Barack Obama stressed how important is that Britain remains in the EU because, only together, the UK and the EU can tackle the economic crisis and prevent terrorist attacks. He also affirmed that the Britain’s membership in the EU has magnified it not only within the European Union itself but also at the international level enabling the UK to increase its influence abroad since a strong Europe accentuates United Kingdom’s global leadership. In his words “the UK’s powerful voice in the European Union ensures that Europe takes a strong stance in the world and keeps the EU open, outward looking, and closely linked to its allies on the other side of the Atlantic. So the U.S. and the world need your outsized influence to continue – including within Europe”.

In the joint press conference, which took place in London, the US President reaffirmed what he had written in the Telegraph asking, again, the UK citizens to vote to remain in the European Union. He also declared that the alliance between the US and the UK is one of the oldest and strongest in the world and that only together they make “the world safer and better”.

Obama continued his discourse saying that if it is true that the future of the United Kingdom within the European Union is in hands of the British voters alone, it is not possible to deny that this decision will affect not only the UK but also the United States. In fact, the US want a strong partner and the UK “is at its best when it’s helping to lead a strong Europe”. From its side, the EU has helped the UK not only “to spread British values and practices across the continent”, but also, it has improved British economy thanks to the single market created among all the countries members of the EU. To support his words, Obama added that “this ends up being good for America because we’re more prosperous when one of our best friends and closest allies has a strong, stable, growing economy”.