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Marija Kostović - Pilot Cosmonaut

With a degree in linguistics, our pilot cosmonaut boldly faced hardships to reach for the stars. She has served as a language specialist, cryptography specialist, educator mission specialist, lead psychologist, programming trooper, Oxford comma specialist, IT engineer, and interpreter for whatnot before deciding to take over the command of spaceship Mirara. She loves the diversity of species she has been encountering on her intragalactic travels so far, along with their different languages and scripts. Not a fan of autopilot; prefers to have hands-on control over the trajectory of her aircraft.

Tell us about your background and what attracted you to this industry.

It all started with my elementary school English teacher, who taught me to like everything Anglo-Saxon. Then I spent one high school year in a North American country, where my knowledge of English was quite valuable to other foreign exchange students from Slavic countries, and I started interpreting for them in various life situations for free. Then it hit me that people actually get paid for that kind of interpretation, and once back in the old continent, I decided that this is what I wanted to do for a living. So I got a degree in English and Croatian and started translating. Little by little, my husband and I turned my passion into a business.

Could you describe a day in the life of a pilot cosmonaut?

As a matter of fact, I can’t. It is my responsibility to ensure overall mission success for any mission, and with as many missions as we have, my daily duties are wide and varied. For a mission to succeed, all cogs in the wheel need to deliver, and it is my job to make sure they do. We work with many tools, so I need to make sure everybody knows how to use them; we work with many linguists, so I need to make sure they understand what is expected of them; we work with many clients, so I need to make sure that we all know what they expect from us; basically always making sure everybody is on the same page. And on my happy days, I get to translate.

What makes your job awesome?

Everything, from my teammates to working in a global environment. The overall atmosphere on our little spaceship is great; I love how we have similar tastes in music and we all enjoy listening to our favorite radio station, which forms an integral part of our operations room. Working in a global environment allows me to always have a fresh perspective on the world. In this industry, you really get to learn new things every day; sometimes you like them, other times you don’t, but it’s the diversity that I enjoy most.

What is your worst work-related nightmare?

Malevolent proofreaders. When proofreaders are malevolent, they become like spiders crawling all over me in my worst nightmare. They be like “It should not be ‘loosen’, but ‘unloosen’; it’s a major error in translation and the overall quality of translation is fishy.” It all results in a back-and-forth exchange of self-justifications, which is frustrating for both the translator who has known all along that there was nothing wrong with his/her translation “Loosen bolts on the side of the crane” and the client. I value my time as well as that of our clients and our linguists, so thus produced waste of our time is my worst nightmare. Luckily, we run into them so rarely that I firmly believe that they actually inhabit another dimension.

Do you have any superpowers?

Super humongous toleration. When you deal with a great number of different people, you need to keep reminding yourself of the old saying “To err is human.” I try to be understanding and tolerant of human errors and never let them get to me at work.

If you could change one thing in the translation space today, what would it be?

Some quality management practices seem to be employed only to put extra work before linguists with burdensome questionnaires and forms that do not ensure quality. When your systems include choosing specialized linguists and qualifying them for certain projects, constant monitoring of linguists over time, creating style guides and glossaries, and adhering to industry standards in each and every project, you do not want to burden your linguists with additional questionnaires that take extra time to fill out. In practice, this means that you ask your reviewer to send a quality check export which tells you there are no functional errors, but you also ask him/her to fill out a separate questionnaire where you ask them questions such as “Have all quality checks been performed” or “Please confirm that there are no functional errors in your final delivery.” This is redundant; it is extra work for the linguist, and like I already said, I deeply value everybody’s time…

What is your ideal day off?

My ideal day off is on an isolated mountain, sliding down a snow-covered slope with my family (our Sibe included). This reminds me, I need to get myself some sort of a stereo system for our sled so that I can listen to Kate Bush while running up that hill. Is that a thing? If not, it should be.

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