The people behind our translations

At Wilkens we work with more than 3000 translators, in all shapes and sizes. They each have their own specialisations, language combinations and strengths. To celebrate International Translation Day, we did an interview with a small selection of our translators about their experience in the field.


“What is the most striking difference between the world of translation today and when you first started over 30 years ago?”

“Connectivity. A great deal has changed since I graduated 35 years ago, but perhaps the most noteworthy change is the fact that I can now get connected virtually everywhere, then create a hotspot and work. Even in the middle of the bush here in Zimbabwe, many miles from anywhere. And that’s great because it means I can join my husband on safari (he makes wildlife documentaries) and still do my translation work.”

Who is Barbara?

  • Lives in Zimbabwe, works with us on a weekly basis
  • Dutch to English translator
  • Is great at legal translations


“How important is it for a translator to keep specialising?”

“It is essential for translators to keep specialising. I am already specialised in the medical and pharmaceutical field, but a few years ago I noticed that one of my main clients started sending me a lot of very technical cardiology documents. To translate well, you have to really understand what you’re translating. So I read up on cardiology and the human heart and took some online courses on heart diseases and treatments. This additional knowledge helps me understand my source documents better and spend less time searching for terms. I can translate faster and produce higher quality documents because I took the time to really learn more about this particular field of medicine.”

Who is Elizabeth?

  • Specialises in medical and pharmaceutical translations
  • Italian, French and German to English translator
  • Born in the USA


“For over 50 years, we’ve been told that translators will be replaced by machines, but why hasn’t it happened yet?”

“Machines will never replace translators. It isn’t just about getting the “equivalent” words and sentences into the other language, translation is an art that requires discernment, choice and especially context. A machine cannot detect cultural nuances. It cannot know when the same word in one language may need to appear as two different words in the other language. If you look at machine translations, it becomes crystal clear why humans are needed!”

Who is Ruth?

  • Has a Master’s degree in Music
  • Dutch and Spanish to English translator
  • Has been a translator for more than 30 years


“Do you know a lot of translators? And are they fun?”

“People often think translators live a lonely professional life. It’s true that I enjoy working alone, but fortunately I know translators with whom I can occasionally discuss or share experiences. Being a translator, you’re usually part of a large international network that shares the same passion for language. That’s what makes it fun to meet up with other translators: we have many common interests, such as travelling, reading, lifelong learning or making funny puns.”

Who is Emilie?

  • Used to work as a project manager at a translation agency
  • Native Dutch & French, translating from Turkish, French, English and Dutch
  • Technical writer by day, medical/creative translator by night


“What advice would you give to young people aspiring a career in languages?”

“You should specialize in an area you are passionate about. I would advise you to learn the language(s) in their country of origin (Spanish in Spain,…). You should also keep a daily/weekly routine to read, write and watch in the language(s) you work in. For example listen to podcasts, watch movies in the original version, read magazines and books on subjects you are interested in.”

Who is Wim?

  • Flemish translator, living on a farm in France, surrounded by chickens and goats
  • French, Spanish and English to Dutch technical translator
  • Early bird, or “matinal” as he calls it. He truly thrives in the early morning.


Want to know more about our translators and our way of working? Or do you need help with a translation? Do not hesitate to reach out to us through +32 9 265 00 40 or

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