Mason Hiatt’s Story
I draw on twenty years of richly lived experience with Brazilian culture to quickly and confidently create vibrant English translations that stand on their own. Living and working in Porto Alegre, Salvador, and São Paulo – capital cities in three of Brazil’s five major regions – has afforded me a broad understanding of the nation and the ability to convey the full message to English readers. Put simply, you can count on me to build a solid bridge between two very different cultures!
My story with Brazil spans half my lifetime at this point, starting as an exchange student at the University of São Paulo when I fell madly in love – with Portuguese. Unlike many of my gringo classmates, I would spend the better part of each day doubled over books on colonial history and literature, constructing elaborate glossaries and challenging myself to memorize obscure words that didn’t always prove terribly useful in my daily life, words like “perambular” (perambulate) and “postergar” (defer). This passion came as a complete surprise to me. While I had always enjoyed reading and writing in English, foreign languages had to that point been, well, foreign to me. This, along with my desire to share what I was learning with my friends in the U.S. led me to try my hand at translating the news and a few short stories. The dream to become a translator had been born.
Five years later, after earning a C.E.L.T.A. to teach English abroad, I moved to Porto Alegre to work as a teacher and become fluent in Portuguese. Southern Brazilian culture was different enough from what I had experienced in São Paulo that I became even more curious about and engaged with Brazilian history and literature. Reading Darcy Ribeiro’s masterpiece “The Brazilian People” helped fill in many of my gaps in understanding about this place I had chosen as my second home. A few years later, I enrolled in a graduate course in Brazilian literature at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, taught by Gaucho professors like Gínia Gomes and Luís Augusto Fischer, who taught Brazilian literary history and culture from a broader perspective that included all five regions and not just São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Before I knew it, five years had passed without a single trip back to the U.S.! I found myself in danger of losing my English fluency and made a point of visiting the U.S. at least a month out of every year. Finally, after living full-time in Brazil for a decade, I moved back to Portland, Oregon. Now I visit my home in the Southern Hemisphere at least once a year.
My dream of becoming a professional translator came true in 2005, and since then I’ve translated over 3.5 million words for a wide range of clients including small companies, world travelers, professors, stamp collectors and some of Brazil’s biggest corporations. I’m an active member of the American Translators Association and the Oregon Society of Translators and Interpreters. As a professional, I work hard to stay on top of changes in the industry, which is changing fast with the development of CAT tools and machine translation. In April of 2017, I completed the N.Y.U. certificate in general translation program, Portuguese to English/English to Portuguese.