|FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is translation and why is it more effective to hire professionals to do the job?
Translation is the process and product of rendering text from one language into another with a high degree of accuracy. Translators work with the written word, and interpreters, with the spoken word. A common misconception is that anyone who can speak a second language will make a good translator. In the translation community, it is generally accepted that the best translations are produced by persons who are translating into their own native languages, as it is rare for someone, who has learned a second language, to have total fluency in that language. However, there are certain texts or documents which allow non-native speakers to do as good a job as a native speaker: e.g. birth certificates, driver’s licences, diplomas.
In many countries, a translation/interpreting course takes 4-5 years of university studies. There are also advanced courses at the Postgraduate Diploma, Master’s and PhD levels.
To be qualified as a translator in Australia, one needs to satisfy the NAATI criteria. Most people have to sit a complex examination (unless they have an appropriate overseas qualification to be validated by NAATI), and if they want to be accredited at the professional level (not just paraprofessional), they must have a university degree in some discipline before they are allowed to undertake such a test.
What skills are required of translators?
Translators should have an excellent command of both languages, and have the ability to transform text from one language into another so that it sounds natural and is accurate. Most translators work into their mother tongue. However, some may work into another language as well if they possess appropriate qualifications and skills. Translators should be ethical, and confidentiality is the cornerstone of the profession.
A good translator understands the source language well, has specific experience in the subject matter of the text, and is a good writer in the target language.
What is editing or checking?
Editing or checking means the process of reviewing the final version of the translation by another qualified translator or editor. The purpose of this is to improve the quality of the final translation that the customer will receive, by eliminating any mistakes, no matter how minor they are.
Oftenthe translator and the editor/checker discuss together the best ways of rendering particular expressions and words from one language into another.
What is proofreading?
Proofreading means reading proofs of a text in order to find and correct any errors. Proofs are a text that has been typeset after checking/editing. They often have typographical mistakes introduced by mistyping. Traditionally, a proofreader checks the typeset copy and marks any mistakes using correction marks. The proofs are then returned to the typesetter to prepare an amended copy. Proofreading is a special skill, and a person not trained in this may not see mistakes. The translator of the text is often the proofreader of this text as well.
Some people understand/use the word proofreading INCORRECTLY to refer to checking/editing. This is a separate activity, although there is a minor overlap between the two. Proofreading means reviewing the translation and checking mainly for typos and formatting mistakes. It is done by comparing the translation with the original document often by the same translator. Proofreaders can also do some LIGHT (only) editing, such as checking for grammar and style. A good translator is expected to make a very limited amount of corrections in relation to the contents of their translation as a result of proofreading.
What are the main types of interpreting?
Consecutive interpreting (done after the speaker has finished an utterance, during a pause), simultaneous interpreting (done almost at the same time with the speaker), sight translation/interpreting (interpreting from a written material with little or no preparation).
Also, it could be community-based, or done at a conference level (utilising specialised equipment which includes soundproof booths, microphones and headsets).
Remote interpreting (telephone and video) is popular, particularly tripartite telephone interpreting.
Are there accreditation bodies for translators and interpreters?
Yes, in many countries such bodies do exist. Sometimes it is professional associations of translators and interpreters, eg. ATA (American Translators Association) in the USA and ITI (Institute of Translation & Interpreting) in the UK. In Australia we have a national accreditation organisation which is called NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters).
What is typesetting and why do I need it?
Typesetting involves the presentation of textual material in graphic form on paper or some other medium.
Typesetting is required if documents containing graphics or translated copies in a specific layout are to be printed. A example of typesetting is converting a MS Word text prepared by a translator to a pdf text by a qualified typesetter with inclusion of special fonts, pictures and graphs.
Why is it important to learn about foreign culture if, for example, you travel overseas on business?
If you deal with foreign cultures, and travel overseas on business, as a tourist or for some other purposes, it is important to understand this particular culture and traditions of its people. It could prevent you from finding yourself in an uncomfortable and awkward situation and from making some embarrassing mistakes when dealing with officials, business people or ordinary people of a particular country. Such understanding will contribute to the success of your business negotiations, tourist trip, studies, employment, and will allow you to enjoy yourself in a foreign setting.
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