Standards for Translation

It is so sad that few places have standards for professionals. There is translation and then there is translation. I have bumped into too many people over the years who claim to be professional translators, but lack even minute knowledge of the source language. How can you translate what you do not truly understand? I guess you can convey some, or even most of the meaning, but what about the nuances which truly give meaning? So much of history has been lost because a “translator” did not fully understand the content and decided to eliminate a section or two.

The importance of the level of accuracy various according to the content. In certain instances it is okay to have few mistakes, as long as it does not take away from the general meaning. Still, ask any lawyer about the frustrations of dealing with a translator that does not understand the precision of legal terms and the vast implications a simple mistake can have. Anyway, back to my first sentence… I feel that these arguments could be solved by requiring translators and interpreters to be licensed or accredited. Australia does a good job of requiring certification for most professions. If you want to understand what I mean, check out this site: Their page on Accreditation is excellent. It clearly states the various levels of professional translating and interpreting.

I am still looking to meet someone who has passed their Chinese-> English Translating Test. I am currently studying for it. I will let you all know in two years whether or not I pass.

Hey YaPiPi, whereabouts in Taiwan are you? I wouldn’t mind borrowing any of the NAATI prep stuff you might have. I’m already an Associate Member of the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters, but to become a full member in NZ one also has to pass NAATI Level 3 (or whatever they’re calling it these days). At the moment I’m mostly getting practical experience and keeping the work I accept pretty general so as to avoid any potential for severe screwups like your legal example, and once I’ve got a decent amount of experience I plan on sitting for that same exam. Only problem I have, if they’re still doing it the same way as before, is that you can’t use a computer, the Internet, or anything like that, which kind of divorces the test from reality. Although on the plus side, at least you can be damn sure anyone who passes really, thoroughly knows their shit.

Not my forum, so I’m not officially a “mod” in this discussion. Otherwise I’d have pruned half of it long ago. :raspberry:

So basically what we have is a thread calling for people who are interested in translation, but who are not translators, to get together to talk about translation?

NAATI is one thing, but it depends on the level. They run many low-level tests which are likely a cash cow type arrangement. You’d have to think carefully if that credential will actually bring you more work or more credence. It might, it might not. It depends on your own situation and what you hope to do.

NZSTI requires NAATI Level 3 (I think they call it Professional level now, I can’t quite remember) to be accepted as a full member, and if I were working in NZ membership in NZSTI would be a huge benefit. And besides, it looks pretty on the namecard :laughing:

That’s just what I mean.
The IOL in Britain, for example, has incredibly low standards for admission as a general member, but I suppose the letters and the membership show some sort of commitment to the profession.
NAATI wouldn’t be of much use in Taiwan, IMHO, unless you marketed vigorously and educated your clients why having NAATI certification was so much better than not having it, and better than (insert name of other qualifications or certs people in Taiwan have here)…just client psychology I guess.

As for looking nice on the namecard – I always think about the story in one of James Herriot’s books where he met some guy who had “M.K.C” on his cards. They could never figure out what it meant, until one day finally someone divulged that it stood for “Member of the Kennel Club”.

So we could all add “PIDATM” now (Participant in Discussion about Translators’ Meetup" if we like… :laughing: and I’m sure there are many more (much more clever but I’m translating something about the crackdown on dissidents in the PRC so I’m not feeling humorous at the moment)…

Far as I figure, even if the clients don’t know the difference, at the least having done it successfully will prove to me that I’m up to it. And since I plan on moving back to NZ at some point (mostly to make use of the timezone difference), NZSTI membership gives me access to a valuable network of people and resources. Plus some of the agencies back home require their translators to be NZSTI members. And then there’s the other client psychology part - if I’m bidding against others in NZ for a job and I have that accreditation/membership while they don’t, it could swing things, regardless of whether the client actually understands what the qualification/society is about.

Certification/Standardization won’t help, though, as long as you have to work for Taiwanese/Asian clients who tell you that they don’t care about the quality of the translation as long as the price is low enough :s

(But I guess that’s more my problem than yours)


True that, but if I’m trying to get NZ-based clients or agencies in future it’ll be a big help. I’m sure I can think of other ways to bullsh- I mean impress clients here :laughing:

The American Translators’ Association still doesn’t have an exam for Chinese>English translation, though they do certify people in many other languages and directions.

That’s right. They have tried on at least 2 occasions that I’m aware of, and I’ve been asked to serve on the committee. However, having heard of the past committee’s experiences from a translator friend whose opinions I respect very much, I declined.

The other small thing is, if you help to make up the exam, you cannot take it for 3 years following (I believe it is). So, basically you do a lot of work, and then everyone else gets the credential way ahead of you. Great deal. Not!

Anyway, now that the ATA has implemented ridiculous “continuing education” standards to keep a certification once you’ve passed the exam (assuming there is one for your combination), I think fewer and fewer people will bother to take the exams. I have nothing against a reasonable continuing ed program but I am not at all clear on how their current requirements have anything at ALL to do with competence as a translator.