November 1997

Today’s Valley Living

This article represents one in many of a series about women entrepreneurs, with a focus on the challenges they have faced and the story of their accomplishments.  This month’s feature is about Rosa Aucar Steventon, owner of America Translating Services (ATS), located in the Valencia Industrial Center.

Having immigrating from Cuba 27 years ago, Rosa originally pursued a career in real state while working full-time for a local medical group and as a part-time interpreter for physicians in Valencia.  However, it didn’t take long for her to realize the tremendous local and global need for such services, especially in the Los Angeles area and throughout California.

       Q.) How did you get your business off the ground?

After closing escrow on my last piece of property and resigning from the doctor’s office, I began going door-to-door along Ventura Boulevard offering my translating/interpreting services.  Never saying “no” to a job, I soon realized that I couldn’t handle the work by myself.  Today we have a staff of 200-300 on-call and full time interpreters, translators and narrators.

      Q.)  What’s the difference between interpretation and translation?

       A.) Interpretation is done verbally and in-person; translation is done in writing               


Q.) Considering that there are an estimated 3000 languages and hundreds of               dialects worldwide, how do you go about choosing the right interpreter/translator    for a particular assignment?

First, we review and become familiar with our client request, the material and the subject matter.  Then we locate the interpreter/translator that specializes in that particular subject.  We provide experienced, state-certified staff to meet any need – whether it is in technical, legal or medical fields, conferences, seminars, meetings or guided tours of foreign delegations.  Our staff consists of specialists who have worked in a wide variety of settings and this experience is taken into consideration when assigning personnel to a particular job.

There have been many occasions when we get an assignment having to do with a language or dialect we’ve never heard of.  The challenge is to research that language, find the interpreter/translator experienced in the subject matter and be able to take on the assignment.

Q.) Where does ATS get most of its clients and is there a typical type of      assignment?

Most of our clients are based in California because this is where I studied and began the business, although we have clients throughout the United States.  And, no, there isn’t a typical job, however, the majority of work we get from our California clientele is legal or related to the entertainment industry.  In some other states we get quite a bit of business in the field of international public relations.  You never know what to expect from one of the next!

      Q.) How do you calculate the charges and time needed to complete a translation      project?

Calculating the charges and the time needed comes with experience.  You       have to develop a “clinical eye” or ways to determine if the charges should be per word, per page or per project.  The time frame is always when the client needs it!

      Q.) Why pay an agency for translation services when there are several computer     translation programs available?  Are the computer programs accurate?

Each language pair involves seven major phrases that a computer program cannot do; only the human mind is capable of deciphering the original text and obtaining the meaning of the material for an accurate translation.

     Translations are very complex.  It takes a professional several hours of editing   and re-writing because a document cannot simply be translated verbatim.  For example, if translated verbatim from English to Spanish, the slogan “got milk”, from the California Milk Processor Board, would literally mean “Are you lactating?”

     Computer translation programs are not accurate and cannot be relied upon. Also of note are the many cultural differences that a computer cannot take into account, which may make or break a translation.  Some cross-cultural differences are political, social, economic and religious in nature.

    Q.)  What was the most challenging project to come across your desk?

Well, in this business, no two days are the same when you have to take language, personal, social, religious, and political bearings into consideration.  But the most recent challenging project would have to be a translation and narration for a company that conducts helicopter tours over the Grand Canyon.  The job consisted of the translation and narration of their tour into multiple languages – all on a tight deadline.

And, to top it off, I had to run out and buy the equipment needed for the narration.  This job marked the beginning of the narration portion of our business!

Proud to call Valencia her home, Rosa likes to partake in ethnic-orientation activities, such as plays, dining and travel.