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Everyone wants to be understood.

Todos quieren que los entiendan. 

On cherche tous à être compris.

Все хотят, чтобы их понимали.

Todos querem ser entendidos. 

I can help. 
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About me

Sonja Swenson,
Translator and Interpreter

Welcome! My name is Sonja, and I have been working as a professional translator and interpreter for over a decade. As a native English speaker, I work with Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Russian, and I live in Washington, DC. 

Living in Southern France while still in high school, I developed a fascination with languages and how people from different cultures find ways to talk to each other. I studied economics in Mexico before completing a BA in Latin American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Later, I studied linguistics in Portugal and went to Belarus to learn Russian. Perhaps most importantly, I obtained a Master of Arts in conference interpreting at the University of Strasbourg's Institut de Traducteurs, d'Interprètes et Relations Internationales in France. 

Today, I work for a variety of high-level clients, including international law firms, the US Department of State, and institutions such as the Organization of American States, Inter-American Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, and agencies of the United Nations. My specialties are law and global finance, and I am delighted to bring my skills and experience to work for you. 


The written word. For the sake of accuracy, style, and nuance preserved on the page, professional translators only work into their mother tongue. I have experience translating complicated legal and technical documents for major international entities such as the US Department of State, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and Inter-American Development Bank, as well as private clients. I also provide treaty and contract comparison, translate subtitles for TV5 Monde, and have provided transcription/translation services for various entities within the US Department of Justice.   


Interpreting refers to the spoken word. I regularly interpret multilingual and bilingual meetings for the US Department of State, Organization of American States, and International Monetary Fund. Interpreting may involve major summits, small meetings, interviews, negotiations, or accompanying international visitors. Depending on the size of your meeting and number of languages involved, equipment and sound technicians may or may not be necessary. I am happy to advise on how to best suit your individual needs.

Legal Language Services

As a certified court interpreter, I frequently find myself working with law firms in need of translation or interpreting services, including legal document review, interpreting international or expert witness depositions, witness preparation, and serving as language expertise for defense attorneys (known as being a "check" interpreter). I have provided comparison services for major international trade treaties, and I am also experienced with international tribunals, having worked as an in-house translator and reviewer for the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials in Cambodia. As with all of my work, I am particularly sensitive to the confidential nature of legal assignments and ensure utmost discretion.


What can I do for you?

As a language professional with experience in global and bilateral contexts, I understand that your message is important and that more than anything, you want to be understood. I also know the most painless and effective way to make that happen. 

In addition to my own skills and experience, I work closely with a trusted network of highly trained language professionals who are up to the task whenever I am not available, or you need a language I cannot provide myself.

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Where I work 

I have worked for some of the most demanding clients throughout my career. Here is a selection of some of them:

    International Monetary Fund

    Organization of American States

    Conference of American Armies

    US Department of State

    US Department of Defense

    US Department of Justice

    Summit of the Americas

    Inter-American Development Bank

    World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

    UN Food and Agriculture Organization

    UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (staff, 2016-2017)

    Inter-Parliamentary Union

    TV5 Monde

    Visa Executive Board

    Princeton University

    Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

    Free Russian Foundation


In addition to my MA in conference interpreting

from the University of Strasbourg in France, I have

successfully passed freelance translation exams

with the following institutions:

  • US Department of State

  • Inter-American Development Bank

  • Organization of American States

  • United Nations

I am a certified translator with the American Translators Association. I have also passed the US Department of State conference-level interpreting exam, and I am a member of the peer-reviewed International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) and the American Association of Language Specialists (TAALS)

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Every client is unique. No matter what kind of help you need understanding or being understood, contact me for a free consultation and fee estimate. 

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