Translation: a Process or a Product?

This is a guest posting by Levi Corrie from Aussie Translations.
Translation, a process or a product?

Translating text from one language to another involves a process in which the translator doesn’t just simply string the words of the source language into the target language, but a meaning related to the text in its context has to be considered too.

When a translator is getting ready to translate some text, whether it is a long or short piece, he or she starts the process with an initial reading and overview of it first. This is in order to get a feel for the text and who it is to target. The message in the translation should be expressed in such a way that the audience defined for the translation is the same as the audience for the source language.

The translator can detect this through the linguistic symbols and language used in the source text. If the text is designed for a specific gender in mind a skilled linguist and translator should be able to calculate this from the language used. The same applies if the targeted audience is age specific or it is aimed at the business community. It might even be so technically based that the audience are those people who relate to that content and no one else like for example a scientist. Deciding on the language to be used in the translation is a decision made by the translator.

Why translation is a process

The art of translation is a process because it converts feelings, thoughts and messages from the source language into the target language where the meanings in both contexts remain the same. The translator cannot do a word for word translation as the language ability of the audience has to be considered as well.

Why translation is also a product
The end result of a translation can be called nothing else but a product. It is something that has been physically produced with an end user in mind. The translation is paid for like any other marketable product. With the increased demand for translations globally as more and more countries, cultures and language groups merge for academic, social or business reasons and the World Wide Web helps to bridge the gap so translation becomes a marketable product uniting the world through communication.

It is no longer the question of providing a simple easy to understand translation but the discipline specialises in different types of translations with their specific features. This includes such divisions as legal translations, technical translations, document translations, product description translations and much more.

These sorts of divisions in a text need to go through a specific process by the translator in order to determine what type of translation is required and who will be the recipient of the translated product. For example, translating a product handbook for a buyer of a product would be different than providing one for a technician trained to fix the product.

All in all a translation is both a process and a product.

The Ethics of Translation

This is a guest posting from David Rainey at DAMMANN German-English Translations.

German Translators, Ethical Translations and Ethical Behaviour

In the course of their duties German translators come across a number of ethical translation issues they need to handle. As a result of this ethical behaviour, maintaining good ethical standards is necessary in order to keep to the best possible practice in translations.
There are some translating organisations, like the National Accreditation Authority for Interpreters and Translators (NAATI) in Australia, that ensure ethical standards are followed in the Australian translation environment. In fact, if NAATI believes that if one of its practitioners has not stuck to the required code that translator may lose the much sought after NAATI accreditation that allows translators in Australia to undertake translations for high profile organisations like government authorities such as the courts and the immigration service.
There are 3 bodies in the country that take part in developing ethical translation criteria in Australia and they include NAATI, the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT) and for interpreters, the Australian Sign Language Interpreters’ Association (ASLIA). Also, when working with certain organisations German translators must follow the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC)

General ethical translation principles for German translators and interpreters are as follows:

  • Respect the client’s right to confidentiality and privacy
  • Reveal any conflicts of interest that are perceived or real
  • Refuse work that the translator is not competent or accredited to undertake
  • Discuss the translation job openly with the client
  • Remain professionally detached from both the client and the translation
  • Don’t use any confidential information discovered in a translation project that could bring about personal gain

When a German translator has reached the standard to pass NAATI accreditation it is acknowledging that the individual when undertaking a translation can transfer effectively information in relation to government, legal or medical matters in a way that the recipients will understand.
Many clients in Australia will not hire German translators without NAATI accreditation. This is partly because the NAATI accreditation takes a good look at ethical translation issues and teaches translators to work appropriately in this area. When German translators sit the NAATI exam they need to be able to answer questions related to ethics.
During the test the participants are given a scenario as it would take place with a translator out on the field. In the questions participants are asked to point out the ethical principle. They have to be able to state which principle a certain statement is related to.
Getting accreditation from NAATI doesn’t mean a translator can’t turn down a translation on ethical grounds. For example, a Muslim translator may refuse to translate texts related to alcohol, porn, casinos, adultery or anything that appears offensive to any ethnic or religious group as well as their own.
When it comes to translating a story found in the news media, if the translator believes the story is an exaggeration, or even a blatant lie, he or she may refuse to translate on ethical grounds. Morals, religion and ethics all play a major role when it comes to a translator’s choices. The news media gains supporters through mistruths and exaggeration and not all translators are prepared to be a part of this sort of translation work even though a translator in the end provides a very good translation, whether it’s ethical or not.
One translator turned down a translation of a whale researcher’s article because the article contained a finely tuned argument that defended commercial whaling, even down to the scientific detail that backed up the view. Sometimes, of course, a savvy translator whether he or she believes in the article or not could be doing the anti-whaling community a favour by translating such an article as it brings attention to the sort of people who are involved in the pro-whaling community.
Another relatively common ethical reason for refusing a translation project is the pay that is offered is too little and the translator doesn’t want to set a precedent in the translation community. There are times when a translator may put up with lower pay if the recipient has limited means but urgently needs a translation for humanitarian reasons. There are even some sympathetic translators who will offer their services pro bono because a client’s future depends on a reliable translation.

Ethics of a German translator

A translator resembles the role of an interpreter who has to report precisely what is said, whether agreeing with it or not. A translator might have his or her own opinion on a subject but this should not affect accepting or rejecting a job. What is more important is that the client can expect to receive a reliable and authentic translation free from bias of the translator.

Author Bio:-
My interest in writing became important to me in 2001 after I gained an MA in Applied Linguistics and I started to move into writing as a means of securing an income.  I have since then specialised in writing blog posts and web pages for a variety of clients including those in the legal and translation niches. I have built up the ability as a highly skilled writer to communicate with a variety of audiences and in an array of styles and formats. Over the past few years, I have worked with executives, entrepreneurs, industry experts and many other professionals in writing and publishing, SEO web content, blogs, newspaper articles and more.
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Perceived Translation Quality Tells Only Little about the Actual Translation Quality

The grammatical correctness of a translation is undoubtedly important per se but its role in the buying, decision making and evaluating process is minor. The customer cares only about the perceived translation quality which is – at least partly – created in the buyer’s mind already before the actual transaction. Any buying process is more complex than we might think, and situations without any prior knowledge or attitudes are rare. Objectivity is not easy to achieve when you have to be an active subject.

Translator’s reputation is one important factor which tunes our opinions from the very beginning. In a buyer’s mind, the translator’s reputation can both build a trustworthy image and act as a guarantee or an insurance against flawed translation. Human mind tends to build causal relationships between different things. We think that a reputable translator is able to produce high-quality translations constantly because otherwise the reputation would be damaged. This kind of circular reasoning tells very little about the actual translation quality but it creates positive energy over the translator.

Professional translators can always build good reputations with their actions, but the situation is different with machine translators; they cannot speak for themselves. I would even argue that although a machine and a human being produce translations which reach the same quality level, we will probably think that the one made my human is better. A professional translator can utilize several kinds of secondary quality indicators which a machine translator cannot have.

The contradiction between the translator’s and client’s points of views leads to an absurd situation. When reading online discussions, it is clear that many translators are extremely concentrated on the grammatical issues. These translators are often very shocked when someone uses machine translation. However, the good enough translation quality combined with quick and easy access can result in perceived quality which is satisfactory enough. People know that machine translation is seldom flawless, but in certain cases it’s the best choice for them.

When machine translation is good enough for you?

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