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Qordoba Creatives: Ahmed S.

Tell us about yourself, your background, and how you got into translation? Do you translate full time?

I have a bachelor’s degree in Translation and Interpretation from Al-Azhar University, and am currently attending an MBA program with a major specialization in banking and finance. I am a qualified translator with ten years of experience gained. In 2005, I started my career with the Forum Institute for Translation, then I moved to Mubasher, a subsidiary of Saudi NTG Group, as a junior translator, then I worked for a year at Reuters News Agency. Finally, I am currently working for Alexbank, a subsidiary of Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo, for the 4 previous years as a Full-time Senior Legal and Financial Translator. This is beside my work as a free-lancer for many well-established translation firms.

Where have you lived?

I live in Cairo, Egypt.

What languages do you speak? How did you learn them?

My native language is Arabic, and I speak English and a little French. I have had English as a subject since preparatory school, and during the college term, translation form English into Arabic and vise versa was the major subject.  

French was the second language throughout the college term.

What do you do as a translator at Qordoba? How did you first hear of Qordoba? When did you join our team?

I joined Qordoba about two years ago in 2012, and I translate materials related to banking, finance, business and law.

What has been your most challenging project?

With Qordoba, all projects are deemed challenges, as the leading company requires a special quality within very strict deadlines. This is success.

What’s your favorite thing about languages? What about it appeals to you?

Languages open up a whole new way of thinking, as I have to adopt a completely new mindset to understand the culture. The concept of the Arabic language includes both literary Arabic, and the many dialectal varieties stemming from the classical form that are spoken today. Languages give me the power to express interesting ideas with some ease, with some flexibility, and with some elegance.

Describe your office setup or workspace. What is the view like? What kind of scenery do you look at every day?

I have a proper office either in the Bank or my home. As a professional translator, I have to equip it with the main requirements I need. In the Bank, my office is adjunct to the CFO office, as I am the CFO’s legal translator.

What is your favorite snack to eat while you translate?

Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. (note from Qordoba… OH YEAH!!!!)

What advice do you have for other freelance linguists?

  • Do not expect too much return from too little marketing effort. They should not be discouraged if they have applied to many translation companies and have received no work.
  • Do the most effort you can to improve your level to join as much as well-established groups as you can.
  • Never give up.


Qordoba Creatives 2 Replies

Qordoba Creatives

We at Qordoba are lucky to be working with some of the world’s best writers and translators. Our creatives live all around the world and have diverse cultures and backgrounds. Without them, we would be lost for words – literally. Our new blog series – “Qordoba Creatives” – will highlight our linguists and their talents. To kick-start the series, meet Tyler!

Tell us about yourself, your background, and how you got into translation? Do you translate full time?

I completed my undergraduate degree in the United States, double majoring in mathematics and Middle Eastern studies. I began my university studies as a mathematics major, and took Arabic as an elective my sophomore year. The summer following my sophomore year I spent two months in Sanaa, Yemen, studying Arabic, and decided to continue studying Arabic when I returned to the US. I then spent a semester abroad in Damascus, Syria, and after graduating moved to Lebanon for graduate studies. I first began translation work in 2010, translating press releases for an Iraqi-American NGO that organizes programs for orphans and single mothers. I currently translate part time, in addition to working as a subeditor for a news website.

Where have you lived?

The United States, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Yemen.

What languages do you speak? How did you learn them?

English and Arabic. English is my mother tongue and I began learning Arabic at university in the US. I then continued my studies in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.

What do you do as a translator at Qordoba? How did you first hear of Qordoba? When did you join our team?

I work as an editor and translator at Qordoba. I translate and edit a variety of texts, including news, literature and legal documents. I first heard about Qordoba through a friend in Egypt, and I joined the Qordoba team in September 2012.

What has been your most challenging project?

My most enjoyable experience involved translating a series of Arabic short stories; however, this was also my most challenging project. The text was very literary and included many colloquial phrases that were difficult to capture in English. Although it took a considerable amount of time to complete, it was rewarding to see the final product. I generally enjoy projects related to literature or news.

Some of my most interesting projects have involved directly working with the original author. There is no single “correct” translation of a text, but rather a variety of ways to convey the meaning in a new language. Last year I worked with a Lebanese poet to translate a series of poems from Arabic into English. As I worked directly with the author, I was able to thoroughly discuss the texts with her and get direct feedback on the translation. This process showed me the importance of gaining a thorough understanding of the writer’s background and the intended message before translating a literary work.

What’s your favorite thing about languages? What about it appeals to you?

My favorite thing about working with languages is the rich background behind the words. The Arabic language includes many phrases and words that carry complex and varied meanings, and cannot be translated word-for-word into English. I enjoy the process of searching for the right words that not only convey the literal meaning of the text, but also give the reader a sense of the emotion and spirit present in the original document.

Describe your office setup or workspace. What is the view like? What kind of scenery do you look at every day?

I usually translate from my desk at home, and have a view of an old neighborhood in east Beirut.

What is your favorite snack to eat while you translate?

Coffee or tea.

What advice do you have for other freelance linguists?

To read a wide variety of texts from the countries where your source language is spoken. Each country has a unique culture and heritage that is very present in the language used. Even though most Arabic texts are written in formal Arabic, the word choices vary from one country to another. The more a translator knows about a certain country, the more he or she is capable of thoroughly understanding the source text and producing an accurate translation. It is also very important to read and understand the entire text before beginning the translation, to get a sense of what the author is trying to convey and make sure this is carried through to the translation.

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5 examples of how the languages we speak can affect the way we think

SOURCE: www.blog.ted.com – posted by Jessica Gross

Economist Keith Chen starts today’s talk with an observation: to say, “This is my uncle,” in Chinese, you have no choice but to encode more information about said uncle. The language requires that you denote the side the uncle is on, whether he’s related by marriage or birth and, if it’s your father’s brother, whether he’s older or younger.

“All of this information is obligatory. Chinese doesn’t let me ignore it,” says Chen. “In fact, if I want to speak correctly, Chinese forces me to constantly think about it.”

This got Chen wondering: Is there a connection between language and how we think and behave? In particular, Chen wanted to know: does our language affect our economic decisions?

Chen designed a study — which he describes in detail in this blog post — to look at how language might affect individual’s ability to save for the future. According to his results, it does — big time.

While “futured languages,” like English, distinguish between the past, present and future, “futureless languages,” like Chinese, use the same phrasing to describe the events of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Using vast inventories of data and meticulous analysis, Chen found that huge economic differences accompany this linguistic discrepancy. Futureless language speakers are 30 percent more likely to report having saved in any given year than futured language speakers. (This amounts to 25 percent more savings by retirement, if income is held constant.) Chen’s explanation: When we speak about the future as more distinct from the present, it feels more distant — and we’re less motivated to save money now in favor of monetary comfort years down the line.

But that’s only the beginning. There’s a wide field of research on the link between language and both psychology and behavior. Here, a few fascinating examples:

  1. Navigation and Pormpuraawans
    In Pormpuraaw, an Australian Aboriginal community, you wouldn’t refer to an object as on your “left” or “right,” but rather as “northeast” or “southwest,” writes Stanford psychology professor Lera Boroditsky (and an expert in linguistic-cultural connections) in the Wall Street Journal. About a third of the world’s languages discuss space in these kinds of absolute terms rather than the relative ones we use in English, according to Boroditsky. “As a result of this constant linguistic training,” she writes, “speakers of such languages are remarkably good at staying oriented and keeping track of where they are, even in unfamiliar landscapes.” On a research trip to Australia, Boroditsky and her colleague found that Pormpuraawans, who speak Kuuk Thaayorre, not only knew instinctively in which direction they were facing, but also always arranged pictures in a temporal progression from east to west.
  2. Blame and English Speakers
    In the same article, Boroditsky notes that in English, we’ll often say that someone broke a vase even if it was an accident, but Spanish and Japanese speakers tend to say that the vase broke itself. Boroditsky describes a study by her student Caitlin Fausey in which English speakers were much more likely to remember who accidentally popped balloons, broke eggs, or spilled drinks in a video than Spanish or Japanese speakers. (Guilt alert!) Not only that, but there’s a correlation between a focus on agents in English and our criminal-justice bent toward punishing transgressors rather than restituting victims, Boroditsky argues.
  3. Color among Zuñi and Russian Speakers
    Our ability to distinguish between colors follows the terms in which we describe them, as Chen notes in the academic paper in which he presents his research (forthcoming in the American Economic Review; PDF here). A 1954 study found that Zuñi speakers, who don’t differentiate between orange and yellow, have trouble telling them apart. Russian speakers, on the other hand, have separate words for light blue (goluboy) and dark blue (siniy). According to a 2007 study, they’re better than English speakers at picking out blues close to the goluboy/siniy threshold.
  4. Gender in Finnish and Hebrew
    In Hebrew, gender markers are all over the place, whereas Finnish doesn’t mark gender at all, Boroditsky writes in Scientific American (PDF). A study done in the 1980s found that, yup, thought follows suit: kids who spoke Hebrew knew their own genders a year earlier than those who grew up speaking Finnish. (Speakers of English, in which gender referents fall in the middle, were in between on that timeline, too.)
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AmCham Germany!

Qordoba GmbH is proud to annouce it´s Membership into the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany (AmCham).

The AmCham are an important alliance in building our Business not just here in Germany, but also in other countires as we continue to grow.

For more Information about AmCham, check out their Website at: www.amcham.de


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Join our enterprise sales team!

We are growing our sales team! You will be representing an emerging industry leader in a growing market with proven services and technologies. If you want to be a part of a company that thrills its customers, we invite you to take the next step in your career and join us in leading the future of content creation.

So, this job is for you if:

You are a hunter and experienced in selling high-end services and software to executives at large companies and government agencies. Creative, energetic and a self-starter, you understand the sales process, how to analyze needs and provide solutions-based sales, and can drive deals forward and compress decision cycles. You also love understanding a product in depth and then communicating that product to the marketplace.

Our sales team members are core to the company, focused on bringing in new accounts and growing current accounts. Typical translation accounts cover a broad swath of industries: consulting, PR, communications, legal, finance, government and start-ups. Geographically, our sales are currently concentrated in MENA + Europe, but we are expanding globally quickly.

We are looking for a track record of proven sales success with at least 4 years experience in service and software sales to leading MNCs, SMEs and government agencies. In this role you will enjoy a rewarding commission structure, opportunity for career growth, and the chance to represent “wow” products in a rapidly growing market. This position reports to the head of sales.


  • Develop and execute sales strategy as a resourceful, bootstrapping, entrepreneur
  • Identify & meet with stakeholders at target companies: CEOs, Sales Executives etc.
  • Use solutions-based selling to identify where Qordoba products can solve needs
  • Demonstrate Qordoba’s technologies via web demos, phone calls, and in person
  • Negotiate business terms and see new contracts through to execution
  • Meet or exceed activity, pipeline, and revenue targets
  • Ensure 100% satisfaction with all customers
  • Travel as needed (typically 1-2x per month regionally)
  • Near-native fluency in English and another language (Arabic strong plus)


Send your resume to jobs@qordoba.com. In your email or cover letter, let us know why Qordoba interests you. Looking forward to hearing from you!

- May