“It’s always been a pleasure for me”
Rebecka was born and raised on the west coast of Finland, in a small municipality called Larsmo (Luoto). Situated in the middle of a large archipelago consisting of about 360 islands and skerries, Larsmo is one of the larger islands, home to tall pine forests, a number of small towns and Finland’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Larsmo.
“It’s the kind of place where almost everyone knows everyone,” Rebecka recalls: “a small place with lots of forests and water.”
You might think that Finnish is the primary language spoken in Finland, but, as Rebecka points out, “Finland is actually a country of two official languages: Finnish and Swedish,” which explains why Rebecka’s mother tongue is Swedish.
In fact, until 2014, Swedish was Larsmo’s only official language. “My Finnish is very bad actually, but I can still use it and understand a little bit,” Rebecka claims, and it is English that has become her stronger second language.
“English is pretty fluent for me, even if I’m not a native speaker. It’s fairly easy as you hear and see it everywhere, constantly – in music, movies, articles, books.” Translating between Swedish and English was therefore the most natural fit, but her knowledge of languages doesn’t end there as she also has a little French, after spending a year living there, and some German from her studies at school. A desire to learn and understand foreign languages has been with her for most of her life:
I have always had a big passion for languages, so it’s always been a pleasure for me to translate and try to understand languages.
Rebecka started as a bilingual editor with Unbabel a year and a half ago, and there have been many surprising moments.
“There’s been a lot of funny translations to correct during my time at Unbabel. Sometimes you find yourself laughing out loud to some crazy combined words — now that’s beautiful!” She loves the flexibility of working remotely, using her laptop 98% of the time and switching up a desk for her favourite working spots: “my bed, on the balcony or just in general outdoors whenever the weather is nice!”
Instead of tuning into music while she works – “I can only listen to some nice vaporwave tunes, otherwise it tends to take away my focus” – she focuses on the sounds of the world around her: “it helps me craft sentences that make sense.”