Found in Translation with Ammar Al-Sharif

At Tarjama, we recognize that our business is driven by technology, but it is our team of dedicated linguists who truly make the difference. Our linguists bring their extensive knowledge and expertise to bear every day, providing our clients with exceptional service that exceeds expectations.  

To celebrate their contributions and showcase their unique perspectives, we have launched a new interview series called #FoundinTranslation. This series offers a glimpse into the lives, personal experiences, and visions of our linguists, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the people who make Tarjama great. 

This week we are introducing Ammar Al-Sharif; a Palestinian translator who has been with Tarjama for four years. He’s a senior linguist with a bachelor’s degree in finance. His passion for language and intercultural communication drove him to pursue a career in the translation and localization industry. 

Now let’s get to know more about him! 

What’s your first thing to do after you turn off your computer? 

Is that a trick question? Well, I won’t lie and say that I pick a book and sneak into a corner with a sheet in hand to read and put pen to paper—far from it! The first thing I do is let out a sigh of relief after a long, hopefully productive, day of work. I then spend some time checking my phone, just like you. Fast forward a bit and I’d be zoning out thinking about everything personal. Soon after I go about doing the usual stuff. You know, staring into the fridge, checking up on my beautiful wife and beloved son, calling a friend or relative, etc. It’s at night when I dream while awake. That’s when I study, read, write, and enjoy the quiet. 

How do you see the future of a linguist 5 years from now? 

Now that’s an interesting question, one which I’m tempted to answer. Technology will continue to gain momentum in the translation industry. It goes without saying that we’ve already been witnessing quite remarkable improvements in NMT. I think five years from now machine translation will dominate translation work. Does that mean the world will no longer need my services? Preposterous. There’s no doubt that our work will still be needed, but (and it’s a big one!) the nature of translators’ work will change. With machine translation post-editing on the rise, more and more translators would assume that role soon, leaving virtually no one behind. We’d still do the ‘usual’ translations, especially in creatives fields. Linguists would also increasingly tap into other language-related careers by working, for example, as cultural advisers (fancy phrase for ‘bilingual consultants,’ which is also fancy), translation project managers, copywriters, terminologists, and machine translation specialists. In short, there’ll surely be many interesting things to work on aside from proper translation. 

What’s your favorite song to motivate yourself? 

I don’t have a specific song to motivate myself. I usually toggle back and forth between Eminem’s and Hans Zimmer’s tracks. Two worlds apart, I know. But Em boosts creativity and Zimmer keeps me sane. Other favorite picks are Brave Heart by Lupe Fiasco, Better Days by Outlandish, and Written in the Stars 2.0 by Eric Turner. 

Who or what inspired you to pursue the career you have today? 

The career I have today is a product of chance. It all began in 2014 when a friend approached me and told me about an opportunity to translate a document from English into Arabic. I didn’t hesitate and went for it. Later I received positive feedback on my work, which led me to undertake many translation projects. Soon enough I grew fond of the profession. The passion I have for translation stems from my love for reading and writing. My first memorable encounter with reading a translated book was in 2015 when I got my hands on the English translation of René Guénon’s seminal work The Crisis of the Modern World. The book was originally written in French. And although I do not know French, I was amazed by how well-written the English version was. This encouraged me to read many books that have been translated from English into Arabic and vice versa to polish my translation skills. Moreover, I derive great joy from translating because I get to help one culture understand the world of another. 

What is your favorite article/quote? Why? 

That’s a tough one. But my favorite article is probably George Orwell’s Why I Write. I’ve been always drawn to, and to some extent influenced by, his style of writing. I remember stumbling upon this article while searching for his other works after reading 1984, a book that still occupies my thoughts to this day. The article highlights Orwell’s reasons for writing, reasons which resonated with me. Apart from the four main reasons he provided (sheet egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose), I was particularly intrigued by his ideas on how language could be used to expose lies or disguise truths. This brings me to my favorite quote in relation to this:  

“The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.” ― George Orwell, 1984. I should certainly write a Why I Translate article.  

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