Melanie Aubert and the translator’s quest for the perfect word

Danou Charette
To celebrate its fifth anniversary, The Storyteller presents a series of portraits of clients and partners, highlighting their vision and commitment to a cause that is close to their hearts.

This month, we spoke with Melanie Aubert, a certified translator and collaborator of The Storyteller.

Melanie Aubert is a certified translator, as well as an avid learner, traveler and sommelier. She brings a wealth of experience to her day-to-day translation work, providing her clients with an authentic, high-quality service. She recently took the time to share her vision of the world of translation with us.

Wine as a form of translation

Many years ago, when Melanie was between translation jobs, she began taking wine courses, and eventually obtained her sommelier qualifications. She now writes about wine on her blog, Wining with Mel, a creative outlet through which she sharpens her senses and her mind and shares her passion for words and wine.

“The world of wine has its very own language,” she says. Much like her work as a translator, her role as a sommelier requires her to take a product with which the customer is unfamiliar and translate it through a rich and inspiring description. In the end, being a sommelier and a translator is not so different—both roles connect people to the essence of a product, whether wine or words.

Navigating the importance of context

Melanie’s work goes far beyond simply translating words—the context must also be taken into account, given that each text is produced in a specific cultural, social or geographical context. It’s important to consider the nuances of both the source language and the target language when translating the content to ensure the intention is properly conveyed.

For example, in her translation work, Melanie is often faced with the following issue that is specific to the Canadian/Quebecois context:

“Some documents from Quebec use ‘Capitale nationale’ or national capital. I have to ask myself: is the author talking about the Ottawa/Gatineau region or the Quebec City region, since both the federal government and the Government of Quebec use the same term? Readers may interpret this term very differently depending on where they live!”

This is why it’s important to choose a translation specialist who understands the socio cultural context of the document. For Melanie, it’s a skill that allows her to provide top-quality translations.

An exercise in flexibility and versatility

During our conversation, Melanie mentioned the importance of research skills in being able to quickly and efficiently dive into a text to translate:

“I sometimes translate several texts a day, each one on a different subject, going from fisheries to architecture, or visual arts to gender equality. As a translator, having strong research skills is absolutely essential.”

With these types of related skills in their toolbox, professional translators can provide texts that read like they were written by a subject-matter expert in their client’s field.

The role of AI in translation

Speaking of the translation toolbox, many translators have adopted tools like Google Translate, DeepL and ChatGPT as part of their daily workflow. These digital translation platforms can provide a basic starting point, depending on the situation.

However, as Melanie explains, it’s important to remember that these tools are still just machines. Without awareness, they are unable to grasp the general context and certain subtleties of the text or take into account the cultural references of the reader. As a result, this analytical aspect of translation still requires human intervention.


Working with The Storyteller

What types of projects have you worked on with The Storyteller over the years? 

I have been working with The Storyteller for just over a year, translating blog posts, newsletters and other documents from French into English.

What features or qualities do you appreciate most about The Storyteller?

I love how The Storyteller brings people together and creates a sense of community. I appreciate how they showcase their partners and clients, for example with these profiles.

What are the positive impacts of working with The Storyteller?

Translation can be a solitary profession, especially if you’re self-employed. By working with The Storyteller, I’ve expanded my professional network, met people who are passionate about what they do and discovered local organizations.

Many thanks to Melanie Aubert for taking the time to talk to us about the wonderful world of translation. To learn more about Melanie and her work, visit her LinkedIn profile.