„I was very surprised that pigs could be an invention. (…) There are inventions that we can laugh about, or that we can understand better…” Paweł Łączyński

Dec 5, 2022

Paweł Łączyński specialises in the translation of English and German patent specifications in the fields of biology, chemistry and mechanics. He also translates law and legal documents for the firm. He has worked as a translator of legal and marketing texts as well as films and as an English teacher for adults and children.

Tell us how it happened that you started working at JWP as a translator?

This is an interesting story, I’ve been working for JWP since 2017, but my first job interview was in 2016. The interview was for a position other than translator, but I still remember it because it lasted 2.5 hours and there was very good chemistry between me and the recruiter. I was not successful in this recruitment because the position required different competences than mine. In the following year, 2017, JWP was looking for an in-house translator probably for the first time – previously I had seen offers of cooperation for freelancers, but now they were looking for someone to join the office on a permanent basis. Thanks to that first job interview, I was remembered and that’s how I ended up at JWP.

So ‘it was meant to be’? 😊

Above all, I really wanted to work as an in-house translator in a company office. I graduated much earlier, in 2009, and at that time it was difficult for me to find such a job. There were very few offers for in-house translators. For the first few years I was freelancing, translating from home and teaching on top of that, but I kept looking and wanted to try a full-time job with a company and just then JWP had their offer.

Translating specialised, technical or legal texts is a difficult task?

Yes, their language is understood primarily by experts in the field, but when applying here I did not particularly think about that. Somewhere in the back of my mind I was aware that these would be specialised texts, from fields I had not dealt with, but I also found this challenge appealing.

What were your first few months at work like? Was it a reality check for you or did it go smoothly?

There was no trouble, it was very enjoyable and I have good memories. I was the first and for a few months the only translator. It was a nice time of getting to know the firm and colleagues. I was making contacts with the patent attorneys or their assistants and all staff in the patent-related departments, namely mechanics and biopharma. I was getting to know a new reality, it was great joy.

You were the first translator, and now I think there are more than a dozen people in your team?

Yes, there are now more than a dozen translators at JWP. Things have evolved a lot since then.

Could you give an example of an interesting text that you translated?

I still remember the first patent I translated. This was a text from German on how military vehicles communicate. This was my first translation, so I worked on it for a long time to make sure everything was tip-top. I also remember a patent where transgenic pigs were an invention, because I was very surprised that pigs could be an invention. And of the kind of difficult texts I remember, I think it was the text on the subject of ore enrichment, because… Well, I’m just looking at your face, everyone is wondering ‘what the heck is that’? I also asked myself what it was about, I had to do some reading, and it was difficult to find materials that addressed this topic.

There are inventions that we can laugh about or that we can understand better, because they are, for example, everyday objects, or there are those that are repetitive, such as electronic cigarettes or chemical compounds that later become, for example, medications.

Your day-to-day work also involves talking to patent attorneys and exploring the topics you are working on…

Yes, if I am given a text from a field that is completely new to me, the first thing I need to do is to understand the matter in question, read something in Polish, English or German, find source texts, and parallel texts. It is also a must to have some contact with the patent attorney, though certainly at the beginning of my work for JWP there was a lot more of it than now due to the fact that I am already more familiar with some topics. Yet, there is always something new, and that, for me, is the most interesting thing about this profession. There is this permanent need to familiarise yourself with something that you don’t deal with on a daily basis, that you generally know nothing about. This part of exploring, of satisfying your own curiosity, is the most fascinating.

Everyone I talk to comes to the conclusion at some point in the conversation that it is impossible to become bored here, because every now and then there is something new and surprising that pops up. You once mentioned in a conversation about your beloved artificial intelligence. I was very intrigued by this, who is this?

This is a plug-in that we use in the programme we translate in. 😊 The plug-in, which I also now call artificial intelligence, drops us its own translation, the so-called machine translation, i.e. what is generated by a continually learning programme. We check it, adjust as necessary, and post-edit it. The suggestions it drops us are sometimes better, sometimes worse, it also depends on the language. It’s doing pretty well with English, but not in every field. When it comes to life science, texts are better machine-translated. But even so, there are still funny situations resulting from such machine translation, when, for example, words have two meanings or the whole context of the description implies something completely different from what the plug-in suggests, based on a single sentence. That’s when you can have a laugh.

A bit like Google translator for me.

Now Google’s translators also rely on artificial intelligence. This wasn’t the case in the past, but that quickly changed at the end of the second decade of our century.

Could you please tell us what you like to do in your spare time?

There is little free time in my everyday life. I have two sons aged six and nine and a lot of time is taken by things like homework, shopping, preparing meals or after-school activities or reading books in the evening. So there is not much time left for a classic type of hobby. If I find a moment and feel I have the energy to go out in the evening, I go for a run. I try to do it regularly, once or twice a week, because I have a very sedentary lifestyle, spending loads of time in front of the computer.

However, there is much more going on at weekends. We like family outings, these are regular visits to the grandparents, because we have them outside of Warsaw, but we also sometimes manage to go further into the country. I now have this idea of going to Ojców. It’s autumn, the tree leaves are beautifully coloured and I love taking photos. I like going to the mountains most and my wife enjoys going to the sea, but we manage to meet halfway. We would like to visit all the national parks in Poland, we have probably already managed to see more than half of them. I also have this idea of going to the mountains with my sons, with one or both of them. We made it last years, this year we ran out of weekends, but the future is open.

And what are your dreams?

If I plan anything, it’s all about travelling. This is where I haven’t been yet, this could be an interesting place… There are of course quite a few such points on the map, I keep them in the back of my mind. I don’t know if they will all be achievable, but it’s always worth having dreams.

And where would you like to go most?

New Zealand, such a distant destination and a very distant reality. But we’ve also never been to Portugal, and I can recall quite a few stories and photos by friends. Lofoten in Norway – I’ve always loved photographs from there, I might go there, too. I’ve been to England and would love to visit Scotland as well.

And I’m also thinking about that destination that my professor once showed me when I was at university, it was Russia. There is a wealth of spectacular nature to be seen there, but given the current situation, it will be difficult to go there. There is nothing I can do about it. But I have collected quite a few plans and ideas. It’s good to have and use them.