Translating Our Digital Magazines

Soledad Etchemendy, Barcelona, Spain

I did not grow up bilingual, but I count myself lucky that my parents wanted me to learn other languages and paid for lessons. For me, this opened up a window into other worlds. I remember the thrill I experienced when, as a teenager, I could understand part of what popular songs were about. I also vividly remember the disappointment of realizing that the song with the super catchy tune had the most ridiculous lyrics! Then came books and movies: authors who seemed to talk to me across cultures and oceans, the pleasure of listening to an actress deliver her lines unmediated. I loved this other world so much that I eventually dropped out of chemistry at university and got a degree in translation instead.

Language barrier

I enjoy some things much more if I share them, and so I was frustrated when in issue after issue of LLLI’s Breastfeeding Today, I read wonderful articles that I couldn’t share with my fellow Spanish Leaders and the mothers and families we support. Fortunately, at a session entitled Us and Them: Encouraging Leaders to Play a Part in the Area’s Management during the 2014 EMS (European Management Symposium) in Frankfurt, I realized that if I wanted to share those articles, it was up to me to do it! Almost two years later, and thanks to Breastfeeding Today’s new web format—there are articles being published in French, German, Spanish, and Russian. Our online magazine is finally more international than ever, and we can offer families well-researched articles and mothers’ stories that were previously only accessible to English speakers.

Recruiting volunteers

To recruit volunteers for the Spanish translation team, I reached out to Leaders in Spain and to Spanish-speaking Leaders from the rest of the world via the EnLLLace email group. The team has grown over the months to include Leader Applicants, and currently the translations come from 17 volunteers throughout Peru, Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, and France. With the help of Breastfeeding Today’s Editor Barbara Higham, I have set up some guidelines for all translators to follow. We have worked out a system where I keep track of who is doing what, and when the translations can be expected. When they arrive, I do a bit of editing work (not much, since I really like the regionalisms used by the different translators, provided they are understandable to all readers), and send them on to Barbara. She deals with the publishing end of things—which means her work has multiplied with every new language added to the web publication.

Until now, when I thought an article I had read was perfect to share with a mother, I used to smile apologetically and ask her: “Do you read English? There is a fantastic article about this in the latest issue of Breastfeeding Today!” Not anymore. It is so satisfying to share Breastfeeding Today articles in Spanish with Leaders around the world, and to know that after a meeting I can email a mother a recent article that deals with her questions from one of LLL’s own publications!

Translators welcome

Now that Leader Today is online, we would also like to translate these articles too. However there are only so many hours in the day; the team members are all volunteers. If you are able to help translate for LLLI, please get in touch with me at

Soledad Etchemendy attended her first LLL meeting in 2007 and has been a Leader since 2011. Originally from Uruguay, she now lives with husband Eric and daughters Maite and Eleanor in Barcelona, Spain. There, she leads an English-language LLL Group. She has been a professional translator since 1997 and is very happy to use that experience to help bridge languages and cultures within LLL.