Translator Riina Vällo

Tallinn, Estonia


Telephone: +372 52 935 19

Among other things I have translated the following business books from English into Estonian:

Before you entrust the translation of your text to me, you probably want to know who I am and what kind of translation experience do I have. On this page you will find the answers.

Work experience

I began doing translation works in 1995 when studying political science at the university, and since 1997 translating has been my main job. I have mainly acted as a self-employed person, rendering translation services both directly to clients (incl. e.g. to the European Commission) as well as to various translation agencies.  During the period from 2004 to 2007, however, I worked as a full-time Estonian translator/reviser in Luxembourg in the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union (see website here).

I have mainly translated all kinds of utility texts, beginning from business contracts and websites and ending with European Directives and scientific articles. Because of my educational background I prefer texts related to the legal/business/political fields, although any other texts that the customer has needed have got translated as well, including highly technical texts.  

Dave Marcum, Steve Smith & Mahan Khalsa
'Business Think. Rules for Getting It Right ‒ Now, and No Matter What',
Väike Vanker Publishers 2005

Stuart Crainer
'Business the Rupert Murdoch Way: 10 Secrets of the World's Greatest Deal Maker',
Ilo Publishers 2000

Alan Barker
'30 Minutes... To Brainstorm Great Ideas', TEA Publishers 1999

Brian Finch
'30 Minutes... To Write a Business Plan',
TEA Publishers 1999

Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur 'Business Model Generation', Publishing House of the Estonian National Library 2014

Marshall Goldsmith 'Mojo', Hea Lugu Publishers 2011

Patrick Forsyth & Frances Kay 'Tough Tactics for Tough Times: How to Maintain Business Success in Difficult Economic Conditions', Äripäeva Publishers 2009

... and been one of the co-translators at translating these books:

Jim Collins 'Good to Great', Väike Vanker Publishers 2002

Stephen R. Covey
'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People',
Ilo Publishers 1999

Initiative related to
my profession

In order to make my work easier to myself, I have always enthusiastically participated in our Estonian Word Competitions. A Word Competition is a competition where people are invited to make their suggestions to find own-language words for various new things, phenomena or processes of the modern world for which there are no Estonian words. During the past decades such competitions have been held in Estonia at about five year intervals, although the tradition itself goes back to 1970s: a few such competitions were first held in the Soviet era already. Normally about 10 objects for which words are looked for are ‘officially’ listed at such competitions, although participants are also free to add their own items to enrich our vocabulary.

At the Word Competition 2015, the Jury of the Competition acknowledged one of my free words as worth taking into use, and I also was one of several authors of another word for an originally listed verb (see here in more detail ‒ in Estonian). At the Word Competition 2010, though, I was a co-author of as much as 4 ‘mandatory’ words out of 10 ‒ the result that made me the most successful participant in the Competition (see here in more detail ‒ in Estonian). Thus I can say that I am the author of 1 Estonian word and a co-author of 5 Estonian words!

On the other hand, I am of the opinion that, at the present rhythm of word competitions, the Estonian language will not be able to keep pace with the extremely rapid development of the modern world, and the language needs a permanent word competition to take place as an uninterrupted process rather than a competition that takes place every five years as a public campaign. For this purpose a special website for creating new words could be set up where anyone who wishes could enter both items that need words as well as words for them, and where the users could also rate the word candidates submitted. I also presented this proposal for public discussion in the opinions portal of the Estonian national daily Postimees (see here ‒ in Estonian).


Every year on March 14, Estonia also celebrates its so-called Mother Tongue Day in order to draw attention to the need to protect its language that is spoken by a little less than 1 million people. For this occasion, among other things, a Mother Tongue Day's Dictation is organised every year. This means that a short passage of text that is quite tough in terms of its orthography is read out at dictation speed on the national radio, and anyone who accepts the challenge can type the paragraph into a computer and submit it via a special website to put his or her knowledge of the language to test. Those who submit their answers most quickly and with no or the least number of mistakes are awarded with small prizes. The competition is normally held in four categories: schoolchildren, Estonian linguists, adults who are not Estonian linguists, and people for whom Estonian is not their first language.

As a person highly interested in languages, I have always taken part in these dictations, and in 2011, I was even lucky to win this competition in the category of adult non-linguists! (See here ‒ in Estonian)

Education and experience with languages

According to my academic background I am a political scientist. I got my MA degree in political science from the Central European University (see website here) in Budapest in 1997 after having received my BA degree in the same field (minor programme: public administration) from the University of Tartu (see website here) a year before. In the academic year 1994/95, however, I studied in the UK at the Swansea University (see website here).

Thus, I do not have higher education in linguistics, but obviously this is not a must for working as a translator. I do not see the language as an end in itself but a means to communicate information. In fact, I think that higher education in any other field is even more useful: at least you have one sphere of information where you feel at home.

Nevertheless, my three main working languages ‒ Estonian, English and Russian ‒ have been part of me since my early youth. It is all clear with Estonian: it is my first language and the language in which I acquired my secondary education in 1982. I began learning English already from my first year at school: for 11 years I studied in the Tallinn Secondary School No. 21 in a class with special emphasis on the English language and culture. It is a more interesting story with Russian: in my childhood, I went to a Russian-speaking kindergarten for a year, and there I learnt it as if my ‘second first’ language. And Russian was, of course, a mandatory subject throughout the primary and secondary education for anyone who went to school at the time when I did.

After finishing secondary school, I have been living alternately in Estonian-, Russian- and English-speaking environments: during the period from 1982 to 1984 I used to live and study in Saint Petersburg, Russia; I acquired my higher education to a 50 % extent in English (in Swansea, lectures were obviously given in English, but they were also given in English in Budapest), and English was also one of the working languages in the European institution in Luxembourg where I used to work for three years.

In my later life I have also learned other foreign languages as much as the circumstances have allowed. In principle, I am also capable of translating from some other languages into Estonian, although this just takes a bit more time.