Maarit Paun

“An impossible blend of courage and humility”

Maarit Paun is a Russian language translator and interpreter at the Prime Minister’s Office. The Translation and Language Division at the Prime Minister’s Office serves all the ministries, providing services that include legal translations, terminology, and interpreting. Around 12,000–15,000 assignments are translated annually at government level.

“I joined the Prime Minister’s Office when the Government Administration Department was established in March 2015. Before that I was a translator in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

“My principal job is to translate government texts from Finnish to Russian. I also put together a newsletter for the ministries and security organisations that present an overview of news about Finland in the Russian media. Another aspect of my work is to occasionally interpret for ministers and the President of the Republic in connection with international meetings. It’s always interesting to join meetings and events as an interpreter, as the subject matter can be almost anything, from business reports to special arranged visits to Finnish businesses for Russian reporters.

“Translation is not only about language skills, but also about precision, persistence and excellent information research skills. Writing is easier when you’ve done your research. The work also requires cultural understanding: for example, there are differences between the Finnish and Russian communication styles. Interpretation in turn is an impossible blend of courage and humility. It’s important to be boldly present in all situations without attracting attention to yourself. Interpreters must be sensitive to the occasion, and they must have nerves of steel and good knowledge of world events.

“For me, translation is the most important element of my work. I always wanted to be a translator. The work is versatile, and you never get stuck on one particular theme. In the Prime Minister’s Office I get to work in a real translation service that is arranged into various units and is part of a larger organisation. As colleagues we interact and become better translators together.”