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I know that all you German people are dying to ask this question if you haven’t asked already, because you asked me all the time, and if you want to know – yes – it is annoying. If you are German, you know how much we love to complain, so to reiterate on that note, it is annoying to have to answer the same question over and over and over again.

I was born in Zimbabwe at a time when it was called the Breadbasket of Africa. My father was a mining engineer and my mother was an English lecturer at a University. Moreover, my father also had a Scottish stepfather. This meant that I grew up in a home filled with encyclopedias, numerous English dictionaries and books about advanced physics and mathematics, classical English and Russian (translated) literature, as well as books about the Second World War.

I am also autistic. When I was a child, and learned enough words to enjoy having adults read me stories, I would pester my mother from the moment she woke up until the moment she went to bed to read a 300-page book of nursery rhymes to me from start to finish. I was incredibly demanding and had no understanding of the fact that my parents needed to get other things done. Eventually it disrupted our family life so much that my parents were forced to teach me how to read at around the age of three. So, I started reading all the books in our house – and as you can imagine, the history of Germany was quite a prominent factor. Not only because of the numerous scientists, physicists, physiologists and engineers who influenced every aspect of how we understand the known universe, but also because of the Franks and Charlemagne, and Frederick Barbarossa, and the mediaeval battles that shaped the history of central Europe. One of my special interests is the Hanseatic league, known in German as the Hansa – the most incredible international trade organisation that stretched from Russia to the UK at the time when most human beings never even left the walled cities that they were born in. Everyone knows the Vikings, but nobody knows about the Hanseatic League! Frankly, if everyone in the world knew this amazing story, who would not want to live here?

I studied medicine and graduated with a degree in internal medicine and surgery, and moreover, my degree is recognised in Germany. However, my experience of practising medicine in South Africa was incredibly traumatic. I entered hospital work as a general practitioner (Allgemeinärztin) at the height of the HIV epidemic in South Africa. Working in internal medicine, walking in on a Monday morning, you knew that 50% of the patients you saw on ward rounds would not be there by Wednesday morning. The hospital did not have a CT machine, so if a patient suffered a head injury, we either had to arrange for an ambulance to take them to the nearest private hospital and cross our fingers, or we had to send them to a hospital about 80 km away. There were about three ambulances covering an area of about 300 km² at the time. The moment I knew that I could not continue was when I had to harvest skin for a skin graft from a child who had not received adequate anaesthetic – the lead surgeon in the department told me that I could either reschedule the surgery and leave this child in the ward for another 6 to 8 months waiting for a slot or harvest the skin and give her a chance to leave the hospital after a year of recurrent MRSA wound colonisations and infections in an overcrowded ward. The emotional toll was so heavy that I suffered from autistic meltdowns, which remained undiagnosed until I came to Germany. I used to dream of being a world-class surgeon, but I had to give up that dream to save my mental health.

I worked at Accenture for four years as a business analyst, ultimately building custom add-on technical solutions to SAP provisioning systems, predominantly working in SQL. I also designed custom educational materials using Macromedia Flash (now Adobe animate), familiarising myself with ActionScript in the process. I was able to acquire the job at Accenture without studying computer science because I grew up with a computer, and my father demanded that we master the use of MS DOS, Windows and the entire Office Suite from a very young age to perform complex analyses for him in programs like Excel and Access. I also spent most of my childhood playing videogames in my free time!

Ultimately, I would like to see Düsseldorf develop into a linguistic centre of excellence that sets the standard for the use of terminology and style in the medical device industry, attracting the best language talent from around the world.

I would love to be able to work with both SMEs and researchers to leverage the use of big data in order to dominate the global market wherever possible. Obviously, countries like China are at an incredible advantage in terms of data science, but I predict that this might be due to the ease of ensuring nationally coordinated change management.

Absolutely. There is no need to let good talent go to waste if they are competent and effective translators, I am more than happy to simply edit their work at a “per hour” rate.

Translation starts with an assessment of the client’s needs and requirements, asking penetrating questions about the target audience and purpose of the translation, confirming the language and style required, and finally reading and understanding the source text to determine the intended message. Generic machine translation can be a very useful and cost-effective way to manage translations, but does not replace the above steps. Let’s get in touch and discuss your specific needs and find services that suit you.

*United Kingdom

The English used in the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth is the native language at Sarai Pahla Translations, and Sarai will be happy to discuss translating into this English variant.

I need to develop business relationships with US* companies/source talent from the US/communicate with regulatory authorities in the US.

*United States

Sarai has extensive experience working with pharmaceutical and medical device companies who needed international English or US English scientific, medical or regulatory translations. However, Sarai is not available to provide non-academic US English translations (e.g., marketing materials, sales materials, promotional materials). She will be happy to refer you to a trusted US English native translator or copywriter to meet your needs in this regard.

Absolutely not – there is literally so much data being produced by the entirety of humanity on a daily basis that we do not have the computing power to even translated with machines, let alone have it translated by humans.

There are definitely translation agencies who use shady practices: using generic machine translation, then hiring non-native speakers to check the poor quality output at very low rates… I would rather you, as a potential customer now or in the future, avoid being taken for a ride.

Instead, I have carefully chosen to mention specific companies who do incredible work, and who have impressed me as a translation industry insider. We are not in competition because we offer two completely different services – I offer highly customised and individualised services in a very small group of languages for extremely demanding clients who deserve personal attention. Agencies can provide an extensive range of services that go beyond translation, such as subtitling or interpretation, and often have massive databases of international translators working from any language you can think of.

It is an absolute pleasure to be in the same industry as these incredible companies, and to collaborate with them in offering you the very best service possible – whether separately or together.

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