Monthly Archives: November 2011

Certified Translation and Interpretation

By | Interpretation, Translations | No Comments

In areas where the quality of a job is harder for customers to determine, many consumers rely on certifying and governing bodies.  Memberships in these organizations are meant to indicate a certain standard of quality and good practice in that field.  Translation and Interpretation are great examples of one these fields.  Customers usually cannot tell when a translation is well done or not as they likely don’t know the target language.  Because of this a poor translation is not discovered until it is too late and this can result in some serious embarrassment, see our previous posts on some notable mistranslations.

To get around this problem there exist organizations like the Society of Translators & Interpreters of British Columbia (STIBC) and the Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council (CTTIC).  These non-governmental bodies certify members who pass their exams and agree to their codes of ethics and standards.

However what consumers need to be aware of is that translators and interpreters can be members of these organizations without being certified by them.  These people are known as associate members and you can become one just by applying online and paying the fee.  They may be in the process of becoming certified but they have not yet passed any of the STIBC or CTTIC certification exams and cannot be considered certified by those organizations.

So if you are looking for a translator or interpreter and someone tells you they are a member of the STIBC or CTTIC make sure they are certified by those organizations as well.  It’s not fraud for them to say that they are members, it’s just misleading. Caveat Emptor.

Of course here at AZ World we only use certified translators and interpreters.

The Importance and Challenges of Honest Courtroom Interpreting

By | Interpretation, Uncategorized | No Comments

Courtroom interpreters are essential to fair and balanced legal proceedings where not all parties speak the same language.  With the stakes so high, it is important for courtroom interpreters to be as impartial and accurate as they can.

Many people fail to understand, as we’ve discussed before, the nuances of interpreting in general and sometimes literal or “word for word” interpretations do not accurately reflect the meaning of the statement.  This is where problems can arise as colloquialism translated literally may give a contrary meaning.  An example would be in some Northern African languages, “rape” is often referred to as “robbing” in the sense that one is robbed of one’s honour.  If this was interpreted as just robbing without explanation then the meaning of the testimony would be quite different than intended.  This means that not only must a courtroom interpreter be fluent in the language, but should also have the right cultural awareness to properly interpret these idioms.

It is important for an interpreter to be impartial as well, this can be difficult as defendants often view their interpreters as the only one in the courtroom “on their side” due to their common language.  When professional interpreters are unavailable family members and children are often called upon to interpret for witnesses and this is fraught with ethical and legal troubles as these biased interpreters may skew the witness language in a more favourable and less honest way.

A defendant must be able to understand and be present in all courtroom proceedings and courtroom interpreters make that possible. Cases are often thrown out and verdicts overturned if it is revealed that there was any discrepancy in the courtroom interpreting.  One need only be reminded of the high profile case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn to realize how key proper interpretations are.

AZ World is often willing to help you with any of you courtroom interpreting needs!

The Benefits of Archaic Translations

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Stephen Mitchell recently wrote about his process for translating the Iliad in the Wall Street Journal Online.  Mitchell described how he would revise his translations so as to achieve a fluidity and attractiveness of sound.  I take issue with this for two reasons.  First of all, part of the appeal of the classics is their stilted and archaic language.  I feel that translating in such a way is anachronistic and removes the ancient quality of the words.  I realize that this is really a façade as I am still reading a translation and cannot really know the nature of the original language unless I learn Greek, but nevertheless it is a façade worth preserving.

Similar arguments have been brought up with regards to the King James Bible, which is celebrating its four hundredth anniversary this year.  Certain prominent Anglicans have been glorifying its cadence and language, claiming that the more literal recent translations detract from the musicality of the King James Version.  It seems that reducing the word of God to common parlance is somehow blasphemous.  The archaic language in both the classics and the Bible is part of its power.  It lends these great books a transcendental property and magnifies their eminence, this is something fresh and accessible translations just cannot do.

Bilingualism in Business and Translation

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We’ve discussed before the importance of getting a high quality translator or interpreter for your business trips to foreign countries, and then working with that translator or interpreter to achieve your goals for the trip.  Having someone dedicated to that area of the trip provides numerous benefits which we’ve already discussed.

Sticking with the realm of business interaction I wanted to discuss bilingualism.  I often hear business students discussing how learning Chinese would prove a valuable asset in post-university job searches and business dealings.  I would agree with this as simply learning another language is excellent brain exercise and certainly expands one’s intelligence.  It would make the social side of business interaction much easier when dealing with potential clients and this can influence the potential client’s decision as well.  In this way I think it’s fair to say that bilingualism can be a money-maker. But I don’t think it is right to say that bilingualism can be a great money-saver for the international business man, in the sense that some assume.

Being fluently bilingual does not make one a competent interpreter or translator.  This is because the skillsets involved are really quite different.  It comes down to whose thoughts you’re dealing with.  A bilingual person can take their own thoughts and express them in two different languages, and can understand the thoughts of others in those two different languages.  In most cases a person is considered bilingual if they can just speak well in two languages but not necessarily write well in two languages.  A translator, on the other hand, must be able to understand the thoughts of others in one language and change them so that they can be understood by someone else in another language.  A translator must be able to do this through writing and an interpreter must do this either simultaneously or consecutively through speaking.

This transmission from one language to another is so difficult that a translator needs different certification for going between two languages, that is, French to English certification is different than English to French certification.  At AZ World we only use translators who are native speakers in the target language to ensure the highest quality possible of translation.

So go ahead and learn Chinese for your business trip, it will impress potential clients and make things a bit friendlier, but take along a qualified interpreter if your partners don’t speak Chinese as well and certainly get your document translation done by a professional.