Secret Agent Kaisa Nurkka


As one of my alter egos, Aforismi-Nurkka, states on her Finnish Instagram account, a translator is like a secret agent: unseen, unknown, takes on different roles, is not allowed to disclose who they serve, and has an influence on people without them realising it. Granted, a secret agent may perform tasks that set their pulse racing slightly more than a translation task might, and they do have that well-known license to kill, whereas a translator mainly breaks a sweat due to the poor air-conditioning of their home office in the back corner of the kids' bedroom, and their licence is merely that of an over-priced computer-assisted translation tool. But there are similarities. Especially after signing a lifetime's worth of non-disclosure agreements you really do feel like a spy. Which makes a translator's blog a bit of a tough nut to crack – what can I talk about, if I can't talk about anyhting? 

It seems I have two options: either to keeps things general or talk about my personal life. Maybe the answer is a combination of the two. A bit of language professional's working life, and a bit of chaotic and fun home life. Sounds... like my life!

So who is Kaisa Nurkka, or Käännös-Nurkka, or should I say Aforismi-Nurkka, or in fact Agentti-Nurkka? 

First, my education: I got my MA from the University of Helsinki in 2015. I majored in English Philology and studied Translation and Finnish Literature as additional subjects. I did a year at the University of the West of England in Bristol. This changed the course of my life, but more of that in another post... 

Second, my work history: I'll skip all the child care/au pair/short-term receptionist work and dive straight into language and communications. While I was studying, I worked part time at a Finnish import company as a translator, publicist, and an all-round language consultant. I became agile in switching between different top brands' styles and learned how to adapt to different medias like a chameleon (or perhaps, like a spy...). I translated catalogues, brochures, instruction manuals and adverts to match the mindset of the Finnish audience, and wrote press releases on new products that gained wide media exposure. 

After graduation, I worked at a large, international language service provider, where the spark to work as a language professional became a roaring flame. After three years I went on maternity leave, during which the flame spread into a fire so wide I could no longer ignore it. 

Hence, at the end of my parental leave at the beginning of 2022, I started up my own business offering translation and language services. After ploughing my way through a jungle of corporate bureaucracy and accounting issues, I have absolutely loved working as a translator and language professional. I have broadened my horizons and started subtitling TV series and translating dubbing scripts for children's animations. I can honestly say that working is now almost always a joy. Every day is different – I may start my day with a highly legislative press release, and by lunchtime I am singing a children's song I just translated for a TV show – and probably annoying my peacefully retired neighbours. Every day I can't wait to see what kind of work I will do. 

Follow the Agentti-Nurkka blog to see what the life of (at least one) language professional is really like.