Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today’s post is with SimK, who volunteers with the Translation Committee.
How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?
I’m a translator, beta and the team coordinator for the Malay language translation team. We translate, among other things, news posts and announcements, as well as support sections for the OTW and AO3 such as the FAQ and Terms of Service. While there’s not much fanfiction in Malay on the Archive, it’s important that it remain accessible to non-English speakers, or anyone who has an easier time with their native language, especially sections that can help members use the site to their full enjoyment.
What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?
When it comes to translating and beta-ing, I don’t really have a set schedule and generally do it after work on weekdays. As a team coordinator I organize team meetings that I try to keep fairly regular, where we discuss terms and some of the more complicated translations we face. We work together to set standard terms in order to maintain consistency throughout our translations, but that isn’t always easy. Colloquial Malay, which we use on an everyday basis, can differ very much from standard written Malay, and we often end up with long discussions about exactly how formal or “slangy” we should go.
What made you decide to volunteer?
I’m not living in Malaysia at the moment, and when I saw the recruitment notice I saw it as an excellent opportunity to maintain my command of Malay and to keep in touch with the language, especially living in a country now where almost no one speaks it. I’ve also been using the Archive almost since its inception; it’s only right that I give back to the community that has given me so much joy over the years.
What’s the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?
Finding out how much work goes on behind the scenes. Most people are familiar with the Archive, but aren’t aware of the many other branches that the coexist with it, such as Fanlore, Transformative Works and Cultures, Open Doors and Legal Advocacy. Running all that takes a lot of work and it’s just great to be a part of that.
Within the translation team itself, my favourite parts are the post-meeting chats where we talk about some of the stranger phrases we’ve had to translate, complain about Malay and English language conventions, and reminiscence about our Malaysian education system. Also sometimes just wrangling with a particularly tricky translation can be immensely satisfying. I really enjoy translating legalese, FAQs and any exciting announcements that the OTW and AO3 have to make, such as this year’s Hugo Awards News Packet.
What fannish things do you like to do?
I read and write a lot of fanfic, and every now and then try my hand at a fanvid. I joined fandom in the early 2000s (when Geocities was still around!) and haven’t left since. Over the years, I’ve cycled through various fandoms, making a [bad?] habit of arriving slightly too late once most of the excitement has passed. But as it goes in fandom, there’s always someone still hanging around, or discovering it at the same time as you are, so it’s never dull. I love rarepairs, and in my current fandom I’m trying to nurture a few pairing canoes, alongside the steady tugboat of my OTP.
Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you’d like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.