News & Events
Maddy Shearer responds to reports of low quotes for translation and interpreting services. She suggests that open discussion of remuneration rates will help practitioners avoid undercutting, and examines how the AUSIT Code of Ethics can support practitioners with pricing.Read More
Dr. Yu Zhao explores an ethical dilemma during a late-night hospital interpreting session. Careful reflection and an understanding of the AUSIT Code of Ethics helps interpreters manage difficult situations they sometimes encounter at work.Read More
Rumbalpuy Dhäwu is a new app for speakers of Dhuwal, Dhuwala and Dhaŋu Aboriginal languages to use as an aid when communicating with English-speaking health professionalsRead More
Health Translations is a curated online library of more than 20,000 multilingual resources in 107 languages (including Auslan, Easy English and Plain English) related to health and community services, funded by the Victorian State government.Read More
A combined leadership group is collaborating to improve the outcomes for women from migrant and refugee communities. A dedicated guide for clinicians working with interpreters in healthcare settings is now available.Read More
Congratulations to Mr De-Kang, the winner of a Myer voucher for their participation in the NAATI Surveys draw for the second quarter of 2019 (April 1 – June 30), drawn on the 15th of July 2019.
All test candidates who complete a survey about their testing experience have the option to go into the draw for a $250 gift voucher. Responses are completely anonymous, and details are only used for the purposes of drawing winners. Winners are drawn every three months using random.org. Your email address is never shared with third parties.
Thank you to all candidates who provided their feedback. Your feedback is important to us as it allows us to continuously improve our products and services.
Mr Shiyi Ye 4 April 2019 Myer voucher
NAATI has been working with the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity (JCCD) on an update to the Recommended National Standards for Working with Interpreters in Courts and Tribunals.Read More
Community interpreting is a vital service for communities with groups of ethnic minorities. The Critical Link International conference in Japan brought together delegates from 17 countries.Read More
NAATI has introduced a new application process that will make it easier for you to select your test date. There's a new fee schedule and a new cancellation policy. Transition to NAATI certification will end on 31 December 2019.Read More
The Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT) is the professional association for translators and interpreters in Australia, and has branches in every state and territory. Why is joining AUSIT good for your translating and interpreting career?Read More
The Tower of Babel is a legendary story describing how human languages emerged. It is a cautionary tale about the confusion that multiple languages can cause. Fereshteh Hooshmand explains how wide-spread the myth that depicts the language puzzle is.Read More
Interpreters in Victoria are invited to free training in 'Understanding the NDIS' over a series of workshops run by the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health. Interpreters will be emailed when a workshop in your language has been scheduled. Translators are welcome to attend.Read More
Sydney Interpreter and Translator, Kong Wo Tang, writes about his experience working in courts & and offers some tips on preparation and tools.Read More
Professional development is self-directed activity. As an interpreter or translator, PD is the opportunity for you to set your own program and choose activities that will support your professional life.Read More
Aboriginal elder, Colleen Rosas, has been recognised for services to Indigenous people in the Northern Territory with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). She has dedicated her life to realising the human rights of the 60,000 Australians who speak an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language as their first language.Read More
The Northern Territory Supreme Court is hosting the 3rd “Language and the Law” conference in Alice Springs from - 5th - 7th April, 2019. Improving access to justice for people when English is not their first language, or may otherwise experience language difficulties in a courtroom setting.Read More
Ever since I embarked on my new career journey, I have loved the flexibility and the sense of freedom it provides me with! Having left corporate world with tight deadlines, difficult clients and pressures of long office hours, working as an Interpreter and Translator felt like I got my life back!Read More
WASLI is the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters, an organisation that supports the development professional development of sign language interpreters. Debra Russell, WASLI President, reports on last year's activities and the up and coming WASLI Conference in Paris.Read More
Only translators and interpreters with valid NAATI certification will appear in the NAATI online directory for practitioners. If you have recently moved, or made changes to your business practice, check that your contact details are correct in myNAATI.Read More
Dr Yavar Dehghani teaches language at the Defence Force School of Language in Melbourne. He discusses the differences between interpreting skills and bilingualism and methods of delivering interpreting skills to students.Read More
Mentoring can reinforce study and professional practice in your chosen career. It can help support new practitioner and and help to increase confidence and strategies, clarify professional goals and expand your network. Michelle Ashley writes about a program that ASLIA has developed in Victoria.Read More
Change is inescapable these days, and translating and interpreting not been excluded. Rachel Lai, a former project manager, offers some valuable tips on adjusting to change. Rachel is now working as an interpreter & lives in Brisbane.Read More
Recertification requires practitioners to complete 120 hours of Professional Development and a minimum of Work Practice hours over the recertification period. What do I need to do?Read More
Here at NAATI, we take information security very seriously. We are committed to our obligation to protect and secure the personal information we hold about you. This is why we will be introducing some new and improved security features to myNAATI.Read More
Interpreting isn't always the same as replacing words in one language with words in another. Interpreter Toan Tran writes about some common confusions experienced by Vietnamese speakers in Australia.Read More
NAATI has commissioned two videos for the Deaf community, which explain some important facts about the organisation and the certification system. The videos were produced by Expression Australia.
Who are NAATI? - information in Auslan
NAATI Certification - information in Auslan
Vicdeaf and Tasdeaf have created a remarkable story for their newly rebranded organisation; Expression Australia. In what could be a first in the world for signed languages, Auslan led the design process for the new name and logo.Read More
Indigenous interpreters are now completing intercultural and ethical competency, under the new certification system. Five-day workshops were recently held in Kalgoorlie and Alice Springs.Read More
Victorian interpreters have won support from the Victorian State Government which has announced guaranteed minimum pay rates, improved travel allowances and a reformed procurement process.Read More
Amy McCusker is Certified Interpreter in Auslan. She discusses her journey into higher academic education, and raises questions about how new funding from NDIS may change the demand for training options.Read More
It is clear the art of translation is undergoing disruption by machines. Costa Vasili discusses the latest claims, and proposes tactics for translators in the industry. Success depends on defining the commercial advantages that humans have over machines.Read More
What does it really take to become proficient in a new language? Can you really learn a new language in three weeks? Knowing how to ask for directions in another language is vastly different from studying and working using the language.Read More
(Not) lost in translation: Arts PhD student Adolfo Gentile explores the establishment of an Australian institutionDr Adolfo Gentile has recently completed his PhD, documenting NAATI's establishment and earliest history. Last month Adolfo spoke to Monash Arts News about his work, and its relevance to translating and interpreting standards.Read More
Research by Monash University has led to findings that show specialised interpreters can improve mental health outcomes for people from diverse communities. From this study, researchers have produced guidelines for interpreters.Read More
Understand the differences and opportunities of online learning and how you can benefit. With new options available, find out more about eLearning, webinars, virtual classrooms and compressed learning. Streamline your professional development in the interpreting and translating industry with online learning.Read More
The online portal for interpreters and translators, myNAATI, is open and available to access NAATI services. Practitioners who have successfully transitioned to NAATI Certification will already appear in the new online directory.Read More
Julie Judd, from Vicdeaf's Emergency Services Interpreting Team, reports on the National Auslan Communications for Emergencies Project. Over 12 months, significant progress was made in addressing issues that had been identified as obstacles to communicating with the Deaf community during natural hazard emergency situations.Read More
Jolanta Sieradzki studied English while at university. She was inspired to become an interpreter by her first experiences in Australia, after arriving from Poland in the '80's. Jolanta writes about her role, her commitment to help others, and her experiences as a bilingual speaker. Her story follows ...
A new life in Australia leads to a rewarding career
I was born in Poland during the time of communism. The country was being rebuilt after the damages of the Second World War. There were many challenges and lack of opportunities, especially for young people. I was inspired as a child by the life of my father. He experienced a more peaceful and happy life while he worked and lived in England for 12 years, so when the opportunity presented itself to study while learning to become an accountant, I was very happy. Learning a new language, as well as experiencing another culture, was always very appealing to me.
There were many hardships and in 1981, but despite all obstacles, I was able to fulfil my dream and emigrate to Austria and then to Australia in 1983 with my husband and young son. Knowledge of English proved to be a very useful and practical skill. In my spare time I enjoy reading books simultaneously in Polish and English if a translation is available. My favourite topics include: psychology, art and travel, but also novels and detective stories. My interests also include listening to music like traditional jazz, folk and baroque.
I was inspired to become an interpreter after attending medical or other appointments and seeing brochures translated into Greek, Polish, Arabic or other languages. I realised how important and useful it is to help others who do not speak the language. I knew that many people, especially elderly people in my community, would greatly benefit from such assistance. With my love of the languages and a desire to help my community, professional interpreting was an obvious choice for me. I have now been an interpreter for 10 years.
Interpreting gives me an opportunity to experience a wide variety of situations and areas that are not accessible to most people. This includes interpreting assignments offered by TIS National both face-to-face as well as over the phone. When my phone rings after 10pm at night I know that it might be TIS National with an interpreting request to assist with border control at an airport, or an emergency services call. Interpreting is interesting and challenging. It encourages continuous learning and expanding the vocabulary as well as improving interpreting techniques.
I still remember one interpreter who offered me some guidance after working in the field for over 30 years. Always be confident but respectful of others. Treat staff and agencies that offer you interpreting assignments.
Find out the steps you need to take to become a NAATI certified Translator or Interpreter. Certification is an acknowledgement that you have demonstrated your ability in translating or interpreting. It shows that you are committed to meeting professional standards in the translation and interpreting industry in Australia.
We've created two online wizards. Use these tools to work out which type of NAATI certification is best for you, and how to choose a pathway to be eligible for certification.
October 2017, saw the launch of the Recommended National Standards for Working with Interpreters in Courts and Tribunals, published by the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity (JCCD).
This published work is the result of two years of research and consultation, prepared by a JCCD appointed specialist committee.
The JCCD is an advisory body formed to assist the Australian courts, judicial officers and administrators, to positively respond to issues cultural diversity in Australia. The Council is composed of members drawn predominately from the judiciary, with select representation from legal and community bodies. Members are selected to balance gender, court level and represent all Australian geographical areas. Many judicial officers serving the council come from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Access to fair and equal justice is a legal and moral right in Australia, with “equality before the law,” a principle of our legal system. As Australian proceedings are normally conducted in English, it has long been understood that people from non English-speaking backgrounds should be given access to interpreters, ensuring they receive fair treatment in formal processes. The system should be fair to everyone, regardless of social status, education, disability, or cultural background.
However experience in this sector indicates that there are common problems encountered with interpreters in the court system, such as;
- A lack of clarity about who is responsible for engaging an interpreter
- A lack of training by court officials in assessing the need to engage interpreters
- Interpreters and translators who may not have a suitable standard of training and qualifications.
The Hon. Wayne Martin AC, Chief Justice of Western Australia, and current Chair of the JCCD explained the reasoning behind the project, in an address to the Hellenic Australian Lawyers Association, Brisbane, 10 June 2016.
“In many areas, it will be clear beyond argument that cultural and/or linguistic differences place persons at a significant disadvantage in relation to the justice system generally,” Chief Justice Martin said.
Research conducted by the JCCD into improving access for women facing cultural and linguistic challenges in the Australian Courts system, confirmed that “the effective use of interpreters by courts and tribunals shows significant deficiencies in current practices and procedures,” said Chief Justice Martin.
A JCCD report on Migrant and Refugee Women’s Experience of the Courts identified communication barriers as an obstacle preventing women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, migrants and refugees, from interacting effectively with the courts.
The JCCD commenced a project intended to address the issues revealed by the research, and provide officers of the court, and interpreters, with a set of standards they can use as a guide to best practice.
The final work produced out of this project is the Recommended National Standards for Working with Interpreters in Courts and Tribunals, available from the resources section of the JCCD website and directly here.
Professor Sandra Hale, Professor of Interpreting and Translation, University of New South Wales and National President of AUSiT, was engaged as an expert by the JCCD, along with Hon Dean Mildren AM FRD QC, formerly a judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. The project committee included Mark Painting, CEO of NAATI, Mrs Collen Rosas, Director of the Aboriginal Interpreting Services, and Ms Magdalena Rowan, Senior Lecturer, Interpreting and Translating, TAFE SA.
“Interpreters play an essential role in the administration of justice in our linguistically diverse society,” write the authors of the National Standards.
Justice Melissa Perry of the Federal Court of Australia, who chaired the project committee, spoke at the official launch about the humanitarian and legal rights to equality before tribunals, courts and the right to a fair trial.
“The difficulties of communication may be overlaid by other complex barriers to justice. For example, in the case of our indigenous peoples, factors such as intergenerational trauma and experiences of discrimination, racism and poverty impact on indigenous perspectives of the justice system. Cultural concerns may add further degrees of complexity,” Justice Perry said.
“The consequences of a failure to meet the legal standard may lead to an invalid administrative decision or a miscarriage of justice with consequential delays and economic and social costs. For example, the State may have to bear the cost of a retrial, while the accused and witnesses are put through the trauma of a rehearing.”
“For those with no or limited proficiency in the language of our courts and tribunals, interpreters therefore make their participation possible, and play an essential role in ensuring that justice is done and can be seen to be done in civil and criminal matters,” she said.
The standards are not enforceable on any particular court but seen as a guide to best practice in the judicial system. For example in June 2017, the Queensland Courts adopted a process to fast-track access to interpreters in Family Violence situations.
The project committee explain that it is necessary to build flexibility into the recommendations. This will allow for situations where there are shortages of qualified interpreters in a particular language. For this reason, the Recommended Standards have been designed with a set of minimum standards, and optimum standards that can be applied when there is a pool of qualified interpreters available. The standards can be implemented progressively as capacity allows.
The Recommended National Standards are an in-depth tool for court officials to use; in assessing when to engage an interpreter, how to engage one, and what to expect from them in a court setting.
It also prescribes standards for interpreters such as; impartiality, confidentiality, duty to the court and the process of carrying out justice, duty of accuracy and duty of competency.
The Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs, Senator Zed Seselja, spoke at the recent launch about Australia’s place in the world as a diverse, prosperous and socially cohesive nation, with nearly half the population born overseas or with at least one parent who was.
“The need for qualified interpreters and translators is vital – from helping people with commercial transactions to accurately conveying critical information in a hospital intensive care setting or helping “people understand complex legal documents,” Senator Seselja said.
“Engaging appropriately qualified interpreters in courts goes a long way to ensuring procedural fairness by allowing each court user, including victims and witnesses, to understand and to be understood,” he said.
The launch of the Recommended National Standards for Working with Interpreters in Courts and Tribunalscoincided with the release of the JCCD’s other project; the National Framework to improve accessibility to Australian Courts for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and migrant and refugee women.
The JCCD and project committee is grateful for the support and assistance from the Migration Council of Australia (MCA).
(author: Jenna Gray, 31 Oct 2017)
Language Network is a new Australian online service that connects NAATI accredited translators and interpreters with clients throughout Australia and overseas.
Creator, Nicolo Tiozzo, has a background in IT and logistics. Nicolo has worked in the T&I industry providing IT and admin services to a translation business. After 2 years working in this sector, he decided to create a service to support the specific needs of freelancers in the T&I Industry.
Nicolo created the Language Network after his research into tools and directories revealed a lack of Australian websites providing a platform where job offers are linked with skilled translators and interpreters. He hopes the service will help NAATI professionals pursue their career in the Translator and Interpreting (T&I) industry and says it represents the ultimate tool for freelancers.
Language Network is a marketplace that brings together clients and NAATI professionals;
- Efficiently – with a targeted job search
- Effortlessly – with notifications for new job posts
- Fairly – with a private bidding system
- Affordably – with a free registration
“I have observed on some marketplaces that employers use the opportunity to set a budget for a job, without understanding the scope of the work required. For this reason, I have decided to remove the budget option allowing freelancers to issue quotes without feeling the pressure of what the employer is willing to pay,” said Nicolo.
In the real world, the price of a professional service it is not really a matter of what you want to pay, but more of what professionals charge for that service.
Nicolo believes that freelancers should be free to quote what they feel is right for their service without feeling the pressure of their competitors’ quotes, and for this reason quotes are not publicly visible: only the employer can see them in the project page.
The Language Network has a rating system, together with skill search and freelancer profile functions, which will help employers choose the right candidate for their task based on more than the mere price offered.
“The goal is to provide a high quality, one-stop destination for clients who can easily post a job and get it done without having to spend time over the phone or browsing the infinite ocean of the Internet,” Nicolo says.
At the same time, Nicolo hopes translators and interpreters will save the time and effort needed to build a website and will create a profile on the Language Network platform. Creating a profile is free and employers can browse profiles and contact freelancers directly for quotes.
Only translators and interpreters with valid NAATI accreditation or certification can register to provide services.
Language Network empowers freelancers - Your rates, your time, your life.
NAATI’s newest director, Dr Michael Cooke cares about equal justice. So much so, that he has built his career around the need to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island language speakers with effective interpreting services.Read More
Nearly 80 people attended a cocktail party celebrating NAATI’s 40th Anniversary in Canberra on the 21st of September. It was an exciting time, with the intention to have as many of NAATI’s friends and supporters together to celebrate NAATI’s 40 years in Australia’s interpreting and translating community.
Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs, Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja, in his role as Commonwealth Minister, announced the appointment of NAATI’s newest Director, Dr Michael Cooke.
Dr Cooke has been a member of various working groups related to the Improvements to NAATI Testing (INT) Project, and has extensive cross-cultural experience teaching and researching indigenous languages.
Senator Seselja thanked retiring Chair, Ms Kerry Stubbs, and congratulated Voula Messimeri, who will take up the position as the newly appointed Chair from 1 December 2017. Mr Giuseppe (Pino) Migliorino will serve as Deputy Chair.
In speaking to guests, Senator Seselja said that Ms Stubbs had “overseen significant developments, which have contributed to increasing the professional standing of both NAATI and the sector.”
“NAATI’s contribution to ensuring standards have developed considerably over the past 40 years and continues to command respect from the community and Australian governments alike.”
The Minister also announced a grant of $150,000 from the Australian Government, which will go towards work by NAATI, RMIT University and TAFE South Australia to develop a non-language specific online training course in basic competencies for interpreters.
The focus of the project is addressing shortages of credentialed interpreters in new and emerging community languages. It will also be of particular benefit for people in regional, rural and remote areas, where people do not have the same access to interpreters, as they do in cities.
Senator Seselja went on to recognise, “NAATI’s role in ensuring the quality and standards of translators and interpreters is exceptionally valuable”.
“It is essential that people in any community can communicate with each other”.
Senator Seselja also acknowledged the work of Professor Sandra Hale in leading the development of the new certification system, which will open in January 2018.
NAATI CEO, Mark Painting welcomed the guests, paying respect to the traditional owners of the land, the Ngunnawal people.
“We are honoured by everyone who has been able to join us, particularly those who have contributed to, and shaped the organisation over the years,” he said.
Mark Painting credited the work of Ms Kerry Stubbs, saying that Ms Stubbs “took over the role of Chair in challenging times and steered the organisation through troubled waters. NAATI is in a much stronger position now as a result of her leadership.”
Adolfo Gentile gave a short talk on the history of NAATI.
NAATI would like to thank all guests who were able attend the event, and made it such a memorable evening. We hope everyone had an enjoyable time and were able to revisit previous connections and make some new ones. We look forward to the next stages in NAATI’s exciting future.
If you need to submit work practice evidence as part of your transition application,
use one of these Work Practice record templates to document your evidence.
These templates are in Microsoft Word documents. They will download directly onto your computer to your use. Usually this will be in your "downloads" folder.
Need to know more about how to Transition to certification?
You can use the transition wizard to work out what you will need to do for each individual credential.
Generally, if your credential is already part of the revalidation system, you will not need to provide any additional evidence of Work Practice.
For credentials that are not part of the revalidation system, you will need to provide evidence of work practice in order to transition that credential.
What type of evidence can I provide to prove my work practice?
You may choose to provide either:
- A reference letter/s from your employer or agency detailing the work undertaken; or
- A summary of work completed via a work practice record; or
- A reference letter from an accountant detailing the income generated by translating and/or interpreting.
If you cannot provide any of the above, NAATI may consider accepting a statutory declaration.
How do I apply for transition to certification?
The application form for accredited interpreters and translators transitioning to certification will be available on this website from 9am (AEST) on the 3rd of October 2017.
Practitioners who have preregistered will have their transition form emailed directly to them, along with other important information.
AUSIT is holding a general meeting to formalise a new sub-branch for Interpreters and Translators in Tasmania. The meeting will take place on 30 September in Hobart.
Tasmania's new sub-branch will make it easier to organise social get-togethers, networking events and create the opportunity to organise local PD events.
Presenters from Victoria and elsewhere have been able to offer various PD events in the past to Tasmanian practitioners, however AUSIT (at the national level and particularly at the branch level) has become increasingly aware that this is no real substitute for having an local entity on the ground.
The Tasmanian Sub-branch of AUSIT will help break the professional isolation that practitioners so commonly experience.
AUSIT invites and welcomes any other members who’d like to play a part (even a small one).
Formal members of the sub-committee need to be financial members of AUSIT. Other people can be co-opted to serve on the sub-committee.
Any AUSIT member who would be interested in formally being a member of a sub-branch committee is invited to download a nomination form and return it to the address shown on the form.
Please submit the nomination form either:
- by scanning and emailing to email@example.com by close of business on Thu 28 Sep 17, or
- in person at the meeting.
For additional information or any queries, please contact the General Secretary on firstname.lastname@example.org, or the national office on 03 9895 4473.
Details of AUSIT General Meeting
12:45 - 13:30
A PD Event: Defending Translating/interpreting Decisions If Challenged will take place on the same day from 9.00 – 12.00 am
Upper Main Grandstand
2 Howard Rd, Glenorchy TAS 7010
Public transport information
Metro Tasmania’s regular Glenorchy service operates every 20 minutes from Hobart Bus Mall at weekends. Take a Glenorchy Bus (routes 502, 510, 512, 520) from Hobart city to Bus Stop 23 on Main Road Glenorchy, cross the railway lines and enter off Howard Road.
On-site parking is available at the Showgrounds.
Certification will replace NAATI accreditation in January 2018.
Preregistration for Transition has now closed. Application forms will be available from the NAATI website from 9am (AEST) on the 3rd of October 2017.
Preregistered practitioners will receive their application forms directly (via email) from the 27th of September 2017.
If you are already a NAATI accredited Translator or Interpreter, there is more information in our transition section.
For more information about NAATI certification, go to the certification section.
An Australian translator was awarded a prestigious literary prize for his work in non-fiction across several languages, it was announced in Brisbane earlier this month.
Researcher and former Associate Professor at the Australian National University, Dr Kevin Windle received the 2017 Aurore Boréale / Aurora Borealis Prize for Outstanding Translation of Non-Fiction Literature at a special Award Ceremony at the International Federation of Translators (FIT) World Congress.
The prize is awarded by the FIT every three years, and recognises excellence in translation. It is sponsored by a generous donation from the Norwegian Association of Non-Fiction Writers and Translators Association (NFF).
Dr Windle received the award in the presence of FIT members and the translating community.
In an email Reina de Bettendorf, Chair of the FIT Awards committee, said that “being selected by an international jury to receive this prize signifies recognition to be the “best of the best” by one’s peers around the globe.”
The judges for the award or international jury as it is known, paid tribute to Dr Windle in a written commendation.
"All the nominees for the 2017 Aurore Boréale prize for non-fiction are obviously outstanding translators. Despite this very strong field, however, there was a clear winner, AUSIT nominee Kevin McNeil Windle. He has been translating for some 40 years, including for leading publishers such as Oxford University Press. His work, translating into English from nearly a dozen different languages, and across a wide range of subject areas, is described by his supporters as 'reliably brilliant'," the jury observed.
Kevin Windle is an Emeritus Fellow and former Associate Professor. He was Head of the School of Language Studies at ANU in 2003-04, and Convenor of Translation Studies and Russian. He has taught Russian language and literature at all levels, and inaugurated the Masters’ Program in Translation Studies in 2001. His major publications include the biography: Undesirable: Captain Zuzenko and the Workers of Australia and the World (Melbourne 2012), three co-edited volumes including The Oxford Handbook of Translation Studies (Oxford 2011), and numerous literary and scholarly translations. He has recently been working with Professor Alexander Massov (St Petersburg) and Dr Elena Govor (ANU) on the history of Russian settlement in Australia.
The International Aurore Boréale Translation Prize aims to promote the translation of fiction literature and non-fiction, improve the quality thereof and draw attention to the role of translators in bringing the peoples of the world closer together in terms of culture. Dr Windle was awarded the prize for his non-fiction work.
The FIT World Congress was held in Brisbane on 3 - 5 August 2017 and attracted 800 international, interstate and Queensland delegates.
NAATI wishes to congratulate Kevin on this recognition of his achievement.
As NAATI and AUSIT celebrate the fortieth and and thirtieth anniversaries of their inception respectively, NAATI’s Communications Manager Alessia Maruca reflects on the inherently interwoven histories of the two organisations.
The founding and development of AUSIT is intrinsically linked to NAATI’s own history and development. When NAATI was established on 14 September 1977, it was envisaged that a national professional association would assume responsibility in areas such as discipline within the profession, professional ethics, and the protection of the interests of the profession.
Prior to NAATI’s restructure into a company limited by guarantee in 1983, it was expected that this national association would eventually take over the functions (accreditation, course approval, etc.) of NAATI. However, it soon became apparent that two separate organisations would be needed in order to manage the various priorities of the wider industry.
In September 1987, a decade after its establishment, NAATI convened a national meeting. The two key outcomes were:
- The establishment of AUSIT (including the creation of a constitution and bylaws).
- The stipulation of NAATI Level III as a minimum qualification for admission to full AUSIT membership.
NAATI contributed financially to AUSIT during its establishment phase, and adopted the AUSIT Code of Ethics in 1988. Since then, we have enjoyed a long and positive relationship with AUSIT.
During the 1990s, NAATI introduced what are currently known as Regional Advisory Committees (RACs). The function of the RACs is to advise NAATI on the needs of local employers and on other industry issues. From the inception of these new committees, representatives from AUSIT have been appointed to and involved with them. AUSIT also contributed significantly to a 1992 review into NAATI’s ‘levels’ structure, which resulted in the names by which NAATI accreditations are still known today.
Some current statistics:
19,900 currently accredited interpreters
- 9,700 gained their accreditation through testing
- 10,200 gained their accreditation through NAATI-approved courses
24,600 currently accredited translators
- 12,600 gained their accreditation through testing
- 10,200 gained their accreditation through NAATI-approved courses
The year 2000 was a particularly exciting time, with NAATI and AUSIT working together, alongside other organisations, to run a special testing program designed to ensure the proficiency of language volunteers at the Sydney Olympic Games. Over 700 NAATI accredited volunteers were involved.
From 1989 until 2007, NAATI—under the leadership of our longest-serving CEO to date, Sherrill Bell—developed a close working relationship with AUSIT. During that time, AUSIT and its members contributed to a number of significant NAATI reviews. These included The Cook Review, which looked into test administrative procedures, and The Slatyer Study, which sought to establish the validity and reliability of NAATI testing.
By mid-2006, both The Cook Review and The Slatyer Study were completed. They resulted in a new independent marking system for translation tests and a new format for interpreter tests, introduced in 2007 and ’08 respectively.
The harmonious relationship between NAATI and AUSIT was tested in the mid-2000s, with NAATI’s proposal of a revalidation system to which AUSIT was initially opposed.
Throughout 2006, NAATI facilitated a series of special consultations with AUSIT and major language service providers, in order to refine the proposed system. As a result of these consultations design and planning work was able to progress, and the revalidation system was launched on 1 January 2007.
Since then, AUSIT’s relationship with NAATI under succeeding CEOs—Lindsay Heywood (2007–10), John Beever (2010–15) and Mark Painting (2015–current)—has been strong. For example, NAATI continues to provide funding to AUSIT for specific projects. In more recent times, this has included funding for industry awareness initiatives and PD events, as well as sponsorship of AUSIT National AGMs and conferences.
Throughout NAATI’s 40-year history, many individual AUSIT members have contributed to NAATI’s work, in a variety of ways. We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank all AUSIT members who have served as NAATI examiners, members of various NAATI committees (QAAC, TRAC, RACs, NILIAC, etc.) and NAATI directors.
Today, thanks to the work of AUSIT and its supporters, the T&I industry in Australia continues to grow and professionalise, through fostering the development of professional relationships with various industry stakeholders, and promoting standards in ethics and quality.
Alessia Maruca is NAATI’s communications manager. She is responsible for managing editorial and promotional support for all NAATI communication material, as well as coordinating communication and stakeholder strategies, digital media and other services and projects.
Denise Formica reports on the eighth Critical Link conference held in Edinburgh last year. Critical Link International is a non profit organisation, committed to the advancement of community interpreting, both spoken and signed, in the social, legal & healthcare sectors. The conference broadly covered topics related to sustaining the interpreting and translating profession.
The cool weather and cloudy skies of an Edinburgh summer were not enough to dampen the mood of the eighth Critical Link International Conference, which was held at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh between 29 June and 1 July 2016. Critical Link International is a Canadian-based organisation, initially focused on community and healthcare interpreting, but lately it has increased its scope to advocate for the advancement of community interpreting across the social and legal domains as well. The conference theme, ‘Critical LinkS – a new generation: Future-proofing interpreting and translating’, drew more than 350 delegates from over 30 countries.
There were many interesting presentations and posters from spoken and signed language practitioners, academics and graduate students—as well as others in related professions—on the subjects of research, processes and practices of community translation and interpreting. Some of the hottest topics discussed over the three days will be familiar to Australian community interpreters and raising and maintaining professional standards, remuneration and working conditions, ethics and practice across all domains, and issues regarding pedagogy and training, as well as future prospects for the T&I profession.
The conference opened with an address from Professor Emeritus Ian Mason of Heriot-Watt on the uncertainty that has arisen from a controversial arrangement made in 2011 by the UK’s Ministry of Justice. In a cost-saving exercise that has caused chaos across the system, courts and other judicial bodies in England and Wales are now obliged to obtain T&I services from a single agency. Questions are being raised about the quality of the interpreting provided, as there are no mandatory regulations to ensure the use of credentialled interpreters in UK courts
Mason contended that the low wages and poor working conditions of UK public service interpreters can hardly improve while government agencies enter into contracts with language service providers who continue to outbid each other by slashing interpreters’ pay. A plenary session with the theme of ‘Shaping the future of PSI: Influencing Policy and Practice’, and presentations such as 'The New Barrier to Language Access: The Language of Money and The Public Services Interpreting & Translation Network (PSIT)' lent support to Mason’s claim. If this topic sounds familiar, it is: as the conference continued it became more and more obvious that our own local concerns are mirrored globally.
Keynote speakers and plenary panels across the 3-day conference—especially the final session entitled ‘Future-proofing Interpreting and Translation: the Road Ahead’—routinely spoke to the issues of poor pay, government budget cuts and the subsequent race to the bottom, the need for laws and regulations mandating the use of credentialled interpreters, and our own role in improving the status of the profession.
The panel discussion entitled ‘Interpreting in Times of Turmoil – Conflict and Immigration’ focused on interpreters and translators, and provided a space in which the voices of the many victims of our troubled times could be listened to and reflected upon.
An enthralling discussion for all the tech-heads among us was led by Martin Volk, Professor of Computational Linguistics at the University of Zurich, who is at the forefront of research into machine translation. Introducing conference delegates to the variety of systems that go beyond Google Translate and the like, he also underlined the manner in which technology can improve media access for people with disabilities. And no, according to Professor Volk, we needn’t worry about our work being done by robots—at least not in the foreseeable future!
Among the sessions that I attended were some that focused on the issue of vicarious trauma. The AUSIT Code of Ethics clearly prohibits the interpreter advocating on behalf of the NESB client, but this is not the case in some countries. To guard against the risks of vicarious trauma as a result of interpreter advocacy, an experienced UK-based nursing instructor encouraged health interpreters to adopt an approach known as ‘Care Ethics’, which is applied in nursing training programs. The core component of this approach is empathy, which is described as a cognitive rather than an emotional process. Nurses are encouraged to be attentive, responsible, competent and responsive, while also protecting themselves from possible trauma.
Another session, presented by Canadian organisation Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services, placed great emphasis on the importance of recognising and relieving stress at the earliest possible stage, and then initiating the established protocols, beginning with staff debriefing and concluding with outcome assessments. A secondary presentation in this session, entitled ‘Remaining Professional in Challenging Situations’, advocated strongly for an ‘Interpreter Introduction’, which the presenter described as a ‘suit of armour’ to protect the practitioner from the fallout of traumatic interpreting assignments.
The ‘Interpreter Introduction’ is essentially the same concept as Helen Tebble’s ‘Interpreter’s Contract’, which is familiar to Australian interpreters; and this leads me into a brief overview of the Australian contributions to the conference. It was, of course, impossible to attend every presentation, but the program showed a strong presence of Australian researchers, practitioners and other stakeholders who contributed to the various conference topics.
Recognising that there are challenges ahead is the first step on the road to the professionalisation of our industry, and presentations on research from both spoken and sign language into dialogue interpreting (in the legal and medical domains), telephone interpreting, intercultural communication, pedagogy and technology showed the vitality of the work being done within the Australian community T&I sector.
My own paper entitled ‘ “Are we there yet?” Stages in the Journey towards a Professional Interpreting and Translation Industry in Australia’ included the latest developments in Victoria where, as a result of the initiatives led by Professionals Australia, the Victorian State Government is currently reviewing all aspects of the industry: government procurement, language service provision, and standards in the T&I workforce. This topic tied in well with the plenary webcast session held on the final day of the conference and chaired by Franz Pöchacker. The webcast allowed conference delegates and participants from across a range of countries to raise questions on issues concerning the future of the profession. Unsurprisingly, most of the discussion revolved around the importance of remuneration and working conditions, and the training and credentialling of all translators and interpreters as a means of achieving the recognition that we feel we are all due.
My concluding remarks reflect the consensus I felt was reached during that final session, namely, that as practitioners we should be the first to acknowledge that unless we are part of the solution, we are part of the problem. And if the answer to the question of “Are we there yet?” is less than satisfying, then it is up to every single one of us to become part of the solution: to mobilise, to strategise and plan with our colleagues. This will give us a more unified professional voice—not only in our everyday work in our communities, but also in larger and more formal forums within our various home states and/or nations.
Denise Formica, PhD completed her thesis on the translation of Australian contemporary literary fiction into Italian at Monash University in 2009. She now works as a sessional tutor in Italian Studies at Swinburne University, and also as a freelance professional interpreter and translator, English<>Italian.
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By Jun Liu, (Auckland, NZ)
Literary translation is a unique form of translation, and practitioners need to think creatively as they struggle first to decode the source text, and then to convey it in a style that meets the very demanding standards of a reader of fiction.
In a recent co-translation project of a 21st-century Chinese-language novel featuring almost exclusively Uyghur characters, the close collaboration of two bilingual translators — native English speaker Bruce Humes, and I, a native Chinese speaker — enabled our rendition to touch upon the essence of Uyghur culture and present it in English through meaningful dialogue.
Confessions of a Jade Lord (时间悄悄的嘴脸), by prolific Uyghur author; Alat Asem (阿拉提·阿斯木), depicts the life of a big-shot jade trader based in Xinjiang of Northwest China.
To be published in 3Q 2017, this book is part of a series entitled Kaleidoscope: Ethnic Chinese Writers by China Translation & Publishing House.
In the literary publishing world, it is common practice to commission a translator who works into his or her native language. In actual practice, however, there are some advantages to have a co-translator of the source language on board from the outset.
Confident that one’s partner will eventually catch and correct errors, both translators can focus on putting their instinctive impressions of the text down on paper quickly, without worrying about the perfect grammar or wording.
This is especially important when the storyline switches frequently between past, present and future, as the native speaker can get a quick grasp of the order of events. As in Chinese, verbs are not conjugated, it can be confusing and time-consuming for the native English speaker to recognise when certain actions take place, and thus which tense to use.
Greater translation accuracy is also assured because the draft is scrutinised against the original text by a pair of fresh eyes. This can help to avoid misinterpretations of the source text before the translation reaches the final editor, who may not be fluent in the source language.
More importantly, the co-translators complement each other due to their distinct cultural backgrounds. Cultural nuances and the subtle tone and mood of the characters and scenes might be missed by a person who did not grow up surrounded by the source language, and finding their most suitable rendition in the target language can be equally difficult for someone who doesn’t speak it as the mother tongue.
Through discussion and exploration — and occasional heated debate! — the co-translators should be able to bring the translation onto a higher level than if they worked alone.
When both translators have a solid training in literature, their collaboration can truly breathe life into a novel. As my co-translator Bruce Humes points out, a moving translation starts “from the bone, not the skin”.
At the drafting stage, we put the translation alongside the original text paragraph by paragraph, to make sure nothing was missed or misinterpreted.
Once we had both edited the draft at least once, we deleted the Chinese original and focused on tweaking the English. Without visual “interference” of the source language, we were much more likely to notice expressions that didn’t sound right — even if they felt “accurate” when first translated — or didn’t fit a character or a particular scene.
From the very beginning, we realised an authentic Uyghur flavor to the translation would help the novel stand out in the market. This means using the Uyghur terms for cultural icons, character names, and the way Uyghur men address each other in daily life.
Instead of pursuing a purely “British” or “American” feel, we tried to preserve the author’s unique Uyghur-inspired voice: poetic and philosophical when a character was lost in contemplation; or humorous, down-to-earth, even crude, and full of action when the jade bosses clashed.
We also went one step further — we noticed a few inconsistencies in the narration, and the author was quite happy to give us suggestions. With the publisher’s permission, we took out repetitive parts, shifted some paragraphs around, and italicised surreal scenes and Uyghur anecdotes.
More importantly, we experimented with the tense by putting the beginning chapters in the past, and switched to the present when Eysa ASAP went back to his hometown under a mask, thus creating a dramatic turn that wasn’t obvious in the original.
All in all, we both went through the novel a dozen times, tinkering here and there to make sure a reader who has no knowledge of Xinjiang or even China would thoroughly enjoy the story.
The author Alat Asem, our Uyghur cultural consultant Nurahmat Ahat and my co-translator Bruce Humes are all open-minded polyglots who made this project a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me.
At a time when artificial intelligence might replace human translators and interpreters very soon, I firmly believe that human value shall prevail. This is because we are willing to reach out and work with like-minded people of other cultures, so that the wider world can discover and appreciate lesser-known cultures in their genuine and beautiful form.
- Read an excerpt of Bruce Humes and Jun Liu’s translation of Confessions of a Jade Lord.
- Jun Liu’s unabridged article about the translation of this novel, presented at the NZSTI 2017 Conference on June 10.
- Jun Liu’s interview with Alat Asem in 2013 sheds light on how the Uyghur author became a writer.
- More information about Alat Asem can be found on Bruce Hume’s blog;
- The website of Paper Republic has the latest information on Chinese literature in translation.
By Anne Horton, Sydney, New South Wales
Anne Horton reminisces on her career as an Auslan interpreter, what ignited her interest in learning the language, and how she developed from beginner to professional.
I have been a NAATI accredited Auslan/English interpreter since 1990. Even though I have two deaf (non-signing) relatives, I did not discover the Deaf Community until I was 23 years old. At the time I was studying psychology, and inspired by my young deaf cousin, I researched the impact of deafness on language development and learning. This led to a conversation with a Deaf Society of New South Wales Community Educator (Deafness Awareness). He concluded, “If you are this interested in Deafness, why don’t you learn Auslan and become a psychologist for the Deaf?” Little did I know the huge impact that single comment would have on my life.
I entered the Deaf Community at a time of great change and breakthrough: Auslan had recently been acknowledged to be a language; the Auslan dictionary was published (1989); new courses were launched. Initially I learnt Signed English (1988) until an Auslan course existed (1989). Meanwhile, I socialised with vibrant Deaf people and went to every event I could. I joined a signing bible study group, who entreated me to interpret for them at church saying, “something is better than nothing”. Reluctantly I started to interpret and to my surprise and delight, discovered it was possible! (Apparently God appreciated my ‘leap of faith’ and decided to add His ‘super’ to my ‘natural’).
Soon an Auslan Interpreter Training course began at Petersham TAFE (1990) and I became a NAATI accredited interpreter. The Community Educator I had spoken to, went to another job and I became the Community Educator at the Deaf Society working alongside Deaf people. This role included interpreting and expanded to include work as a psychologist for the Deaf. My dream had come true!
Since having children, I have appreciated the great flexibility and versatility of professional interpreting which has become my career focus. Here are some of the challenges I have faced along the way:
Challenge: A strong sense of obligation - “I can do the job so I should do the job”. Solution: Learning that life needs balance and it’s ok to say “no”.
Challenge: Thinking I could never be such a great interpreter because I wasn’t a native signer. Solution: Realising most Deaf people aren’t native signers either. I’m a good match for many of them.
Challenge: Friendship with clients. Solution: Realising friendship need not compromise professionalism on the job. Familiarity increases interpreting fluency.
Challenge: Tension (muscular and mental). Solution: Exercising to maintain strength. Team interpreting. Massages. Faith. Purpose. A hobby.
Challenge: A tonne of volunteer interpreting. Solution: The NDIS is enabling Deaf people to access and pay for interpreters wherever and whenever they want. This creates another challenge however…
Challenge: The NDIS is creating an even greater demand for interpreters. Solution: Inspire more people to become interpreters; fit more jobs into each day (perhaps via video interpreting despite its many drawbacks); encourage the large number of interpreters working in other jobs (because they weren’t getting enough interpreting work) to come back to interpreting.
I have briefly shared my interpreting “story” of why and how I became an interpreter as well as some challenges I’ve faced. But what keeps me in the interpreting profession after all these years? … the privilege of being “the voice” of others; the importance and joy of connecting people; and the warmth and appreciation I experience from my clients (deaf and hearing) who cause me to feel valued and fulfilled every day. Interpreting makes the world a better place … that’s why I’m an interpreter.
Anne completed a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) in 1988 and went on to research the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on cognitive processing. Anne gained her NAATI Auslan/English Paraprofessional Interpreter accreditation in 1990 and worked as a Community Educator, Interpreter and Psychologist for the Deaf Society of New South Wales until 1995 when she gained her NAATI Auslan/English Professional Interpreter accreditation. Anne’s career has focused on interpreting predominantly medical and religious settings as well as a wide variety of community settings in Australia and abroad. Anne is based in Sydney, Australia.
Reproduced with permission: ASLIA June 2017 e-Update
People requiring interpreters services for Domestic and Family Violence matters will now be able to access interpreters more quickly at all Magistrates Courts in Queensland. The new process was formally endorsed by the Chief Magistrate and announced on 5 June 2017 by way of a Practice Direction (6/2017) which you can access at the Queensland Courts website.
When receiving applications from people for Domestic Violence Protection Orders, counter staff at the court registries will determine the need for an interpreter, and arrange for an interpreter to be present at the first court appearance for domestic and family violence matters. Importantly the courts will pay for the interpreter services for private applications. Police will continue to arrange and pay for interpreters for the first court appearance for police applications.
Previously, registry staff could generally only engage an interpreter once the presiding Magistrate had made an order that an interpreter be engaged.In some cases this led to difficulty for people to understand the court proceedings in those early stages and delays in domestic and family violence matters being heard by the courts and finalised. The new process builds on a successful trial that was undertaken at the specialist Domestic and Family Violence court at Southport over the previous 18 months. Staff and court users found this to be a much more efficient way of engaging interpreters when parties to DV matters required this additional support.
Magistrates Court counter staff have been trained and as well as the Practice Direction, can refer to a new written court procedure and other tools to assist them follow the process.
NAATI anticipates that earlier access to interpreters in the court setting, will improve the experience and outcomes for people involved in family violence situations. Prompt access to a credentialed interpreter, will ensure everyone understands the court processes and what is being said, from the very outset. This is expected to reduce confusion and stress on both parties, with an increased likelihood that respondents follow court orders. It will also ensure that each party has a fair opportunity to be heard, and can be informed about opportunities available in the community for ongoing support.
The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Nigel Scullion, has confirmed the Australian Government will allocate a further $1.6 million dollars towards extending the NAATI Indigenous Interpreter Project. This funding will continue the objective of increasing the number of accredited Indigenous Interpreters approved to act in legal, medical, government and community service settings.
The Indigenous Interpreting Project (IIP) was initiated in 2012 in response to the need identified among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to be able to access language services.
Based on data gathered by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014-15, it is estimated that 11% of First Australians speak an Australian Indigenous language as their main language at home.
In remote communities, people who report that they do not speak English well, or at all, are much more prevalent. The IIP seeks to address issues of access to interpreter services for languages spoken by Australia’s first peoples.
NAATI CEO, Mark Painting said: “This is fantastic news and NAATI thanks the Federal Government for this continued investment. This funding will enable the continuation and expansion of the Indigenous Interpreters Project that will increase both the number of Indigenous languages available for testing and the number of certified interpreters in those languages.
It will also ensure the effective transition of existing interpreters into the new NAATI Certification scheme. NAATI looks forward to engaging with Indigenous communities and respective State and Territory governments to assist in identifying and developing capacity in the priority communities.”
As the national body credentialing interpreters, NAATI designed and delivers the IIP and collaborates with Indigenous organisations to identify languages where there is a demand for effective interpreters. This collaboration also presents an opportunity and a means to establish standards, guidelines, testing and examiner training.
The IIP supports NAATI’s overall mission to enable the existence of a pool of translators and interpreters who are responsive to the changing needs and demography of the Australian community.Using interpreter services, when required, bridges gaps in understanding and upholds cross-cultural understanding.
More information about the NAATI Indigenous Interpreting Project.
Public Information Briefing sessions on the new NAATI certification system which will take effect in January 2018, were held in three cities: Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane from May 30 - June 7 2017.
A captioned recording of the Melbourne event is now available via our YouTube channel, for people who were unable to attend the face-to-face meetings.
A copy of the presentation slides can be downloaded from our website.
More detailed information about the NAATI certification system can be found in the projects section of the NAATI website.
Should you have any further questions regarding the INT information session, please email them to INTproject@naati.com.au.
Our INT project team publishes a monthly e-newsletter to provide the latest project news and results.
By De Brown, (Adelaide)
“The aim of life is not to be perfect but to be progressively less stupid.” Marshell Rosenberg
This quote has become part of a new mental mantra that I have been learning to embrace. Coming back to the interpreting profession after many years away has taken more personal fortitude that I believed I had. Being sidelined due to health and caring roles, not due to a personal sabbatical, I knew that my confidence had taken a beating. My priorities have dramatically changed while away, as has my-self-identity and skill sets. I was doubting my skills and knowledge.
Did I have what it takes to come back into a field (that I loved) but I knew was very personally demanding? My negative self-talk was high and I needed to re-learn and remember how to have confidence in my abilities again. Auslan Services gave me the opportunity to attend Pip Cody’s “Confident Communicator Course”. I am so glad that I took this opportunity to re-establish networks both personally and professionally.
I started the self-paced course with some scepticism. It was my respect for Pip that got me to enrol, not my faith in communication courses. Previous communication modules I had studied only reinforced strategies I knew or I felt were tokenistic in content. It took me about 6 weeks to complete the course (mostly at night when I was mentally free to engage well.) It included four modules and a practical ethics group teleconference, which helped consolidate skills learnt in the modules. The practical nature of the course encourages you to implement the communication strategies taught, which build on each other as the course progressed. There were strategies I personally struggled with including “dealing with conflict” and “welcoming discomfort as if you invited it.” Two concepts I don’t naturally engage with but I am so glad I took the time to investigate my motivations and strategies around them.
In our people orientated lives and careers, “The Confident Communicator Course” offered by Dare Wellness, challenges my-self talk and a lifetime of previous approaches to communication. I honestly believe if “Non Violent Communication strategies” were implemented across the field it would revolutionise our profession. Imagine every interpreter was able to communicate without the psychological barriers that inhibit our ability to define our needs clearly. I think, most importantly, the Confident Communicator course provides practitioners with skills to give and receive quality feedback, equally. This gives the potential for professionals to both be mentored and to act in a mentoring role. Everyone has feedback that is worthy of our attention, whether you have been working for 1 year or 25 years!
Honestly, it has changed my life. The Confident Communicator course is one of the hardest I have ever studied, because I can’t unlearn it. The course has made me re-learn how to communicate, changing strategies I have used for many years, into helpful building blocks that facilitate a clearer communication path. Understanding why I respond and how I communicate is a vital life skill, not just for interpreting. Skills I thought would support my professional practice have overflowed and impacted how I communicate with family and friends. Thank you Pip Cody and Auslan Services for giving me to opportunity to learn how to communicate an improved me…a process that will be lifelong I know!
Find out more about the Confident Communicator course with Pip Cody
De Brown has been a NAATI Auslan/English Paraprofessional interpreter since 2002. Studying in Melbourne and Adelaide, she developed language and interpreting skills under the guidance of wise mentors both deaf and hearing. Her passion for advocacy, equal education and universal access drives her study and professional practice. De calls Adelaide home.
Reproduced with permission: ASLIA June 2017 e-Update
Translators and Interpreters get UN recognition for their work in promoting understanding and diversity
The United Nations General Assembly has officially adopted a new resolution which recognises the role of professional translation in connecting nations and fostering peace, understanding and development. Resolution A/71/L.68 was approved without a vote, at the General Assembly’s 82nd plenary meeting of the 71st session. 
In the same resolution, the United Nations General Assembly also declared 30 September to be UN International Translation Day which will be celebrated across the entire UN network.
International Translation Day (ITD), celebrated on 30 September every year, is commemorated as the feast of Saint Jerome. Saint Jerome was a Roman priest and historian, who is recognised for his original translation of the bible from Hebrew into Latin.
Official recognition of ITD has been one of longstanding missions of the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs/International Federation of Translators (FIT) since it was founded in 1953.
Many attempts have been made to seek official recognition of ITD especially from FIT’s partner, UNESCO. As recently as early 2015, a delegation attended the inaugural launch of the International Mother Language Day, with a letter signed by the FIT President, to the Secretary General of UNESCO.
Multilingualism was recognised by the UN General Assembly in 2015, for its importance in contributing to the achievement of goals of the United Nations.
This earlier resolution states that; “Multilingualism promotes unity in diversity and international understanding, and recognizing the importance of the capacity to communicate to the peoples of the world in their own languages, including in formats accessible to persons with disabilities.”.
The latest resolution complements the Nairobi Recommendation of 1976 by UNESCO,  by citing the value of translation of literary, scientific and technical works, as is referenced in the Nairobi recommendation, but also widens the scope to acknowledge the practical contribution language professionals make in furthering the cause of the United Nations, in maintaining peace and security, promoting human rights and the rule of law, and operational activities for sustainable development. It recognises the role of professional translators and interpreters “in preserving clarity, a positive climate and productiveness in international discourse and interpersonal communication”.
The resolution makes a point that; “respect for the world’s cultural and linguistic diversity is an essential prerequisite for the promotion, in the United Nations, of the spirit of openness, equity and dialogue.” 
FIT hopes that the celebration of ITD in the context of the UN resolution will highlight the “importance and the irreplaceability of professional translation in international human endeavours.”
The resolution will also promote “the critical need for training the next generation of professional translators, interpreters and terminologists to meet this ever increasing demand as international interaction, cooperation and collaboration continue to grow”, FIT notes in an official statement.
FIT would like to remind us all in the profession, that the European Commission and the wider European Union will be observing and celebrating the ITD for the first time in conjunction with European Day of Languages (EDL). This was initiated following last year’s successful meeting between the DirectorGeneral for Translation (DGT) and Director General for Interpretation (DGI) and FIT President at the European Commission.
The theme for #ITD2017 is Translation and Diversity.
For more about FIT’s response to the UN GA Assembly announcement on the FIT website
 United Nations General Assembly. (2017, May 24). Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 24 May 2017. Retrieved from United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/71/288
 United Nations General Assembly. (2015, Sept 11). Official Records of the General Assembly, Sixty-ninth Session, Supplement No. 19 (A/69/19), chap. V. Retrieved from United Nations: https://undocs.org/A/RES/69/324
 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (1976, November 22). Recommendation on the Legal Protection of Translators and Translations and the Practical Means to improve the Status of Translators. Retrieved from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=13089&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
 United Nations. (n.d.). The 4 pillars of the United Nations. Retrieved from United Nations: https://outreach.un.org/mun/content/4-pillars-united-nations
 Federation Internationale des Traducteurs. (2017, May 25). ITD Adopted! United Nations recognises role of professional translation. Retrieved from Federation Internationale des Traducteurs/International Federation of Translators: http://www.fit-ift.org/itd-adopted/
Sophia Ra investigates the challenges encountered by professional healthcare interpreters, to explore their impact on the success of interpreter-mediated consultations and recommend strategies to deal with them.
Australia is one of the leading countries in community interpreting and provides various professional interpreting services within the public health system. This service uses nationally accredited interpreters who are expected to abide by a professional code of ethics. However, in spite of this national standard and policy, healthcare interpreters still face various challenges.
This study sets out to examine cross-cultural issues that could affect interpreter-mediated medical consultations, as well as the perceptions of interpreters working in different language combinations regarding to what extent they might be able to offer cultural brokerage in similar contexts. The study was carried out in a large hospital in Sydney, chosen because its catchment area includes a sizeable migrant population from a range of different ethnic backgrounds. Observations of 20 interpreter-mediated medical consultations were followed by semi-structured interviews with five of the interpreters.
Findings suggest that interpreters face challenges relating to:
- end-of-life situations
- family involvement
- patients’ reluctance to ask questions
- nonverbal communication.
The study also identifies challenges caused by working conditions, protocols and expectations, including:
- a lack of background information supplied prior to consultations
- time constraints placed on the interpreting task
- unrealistic expectations apparently entertained by both medical professionals and patients regarding the role of interpreters.
However, the study finds cross-cultural misunderstanding to be less of an issue for the interpreters involved than expected.
The study also explores a number of unethical behaviours engaged in by the interpreters involved, including side conversations being held between medical professionals and interpreters but not interpreted for patients, and interpreters acting as advisors for patients
Sophia Ra is a PhD student conducting research in the area of community interpreting at UNSW. Her research is supervised by Prof. Sandra Hale and Assoc. Prof. Ludmila Stern.
For further information, email Sophia Ra: email@example.com
This article was originally published in AUSIT's In Touch magazine, Vol 25, #1 (Autumn 2017).
By Bonnie Bellenzier
I began my interpreting career in 2005 in a school. I spent the first two and a half years of my interpreting career working in lower primary education, and in more recent years I have predominantly worked in a secondary school or university settings. However, I don’t only work in education. I currently work in both education and community settings. Working in both domains of work has encouraged a cross fertilisation and diversification of my skill set, my attitude, my values, and my interpreting experiences, and I highly recommend it.
Looking back to my early years in the field of interpreting, I realise I was initially scared to test the waters in community interpreting, but there is no doubt that by challenging myself to broaden my experiences outside of education I have actually enriched and improved my interpreting in the classroom. For me, in the early years, being in the classroom felt ‘safe’. It was consistent, predictable, and comfortable. I knew what I was doing in this setting and I thought I had the necessary skills.
This is of course a potentially dangerous way of thinking as a professional, and can lead to unconscious incompetence. Indeed, in hindsight, I can see my interpreting skills were fossilising and it was critical that I branch out. Fortunately, my timely decision to take the plunge into community interpreting was in an effort to not only expand my professional experiences and skills, but to see interpreting through a different lens that was not solely education-focused.
Community interpreting has allowed me to work in tandem with some amazing interpreters, including Deaf interpreters, and as most of my work in education was solo, in community settings I learned the intricacies of working with another person and how to work in tandem effectively. I have had the privilege of frequently working with Deaf professionals, diversifying my language choices and register from those used in education settings. I have been able to gain experience in high profile public assignments, formal settings, conferences, and interpreting academic presentations into English, as well as gaining experience in working with deafblind consumers.
Community interpreting has also provided me opportunities to work with complex clients in complex situations which has not only helped my interpreting skills but has given me greater perspective to a plethora of social issues we are confronted by as interpreters. Interestingly, this spurred me on to undertake a now nearly completed degree in social work.
Community interpreting has given me a larger tool bag to take into the classroom to use when I am working with students who are still acquiring Auslan (which is far too frequent, sadly, even in secondary school). I am now able to draw upon a variety of linguistic experiences and skills from Deaf people and interpreters that I just didn’t have before branching out into community interpreting.
Educational interpreting is not without its distinct advantages too. It certainly does not deserve its (fortunately slowly changing) reputation as the poor cousin of community interpreting. It is where I learned how important it is to be free in my interpretations; to interpret the meaning and be as visual as possible.
Deaf students taught me the importance of this. This is not easy to do, and whilst I knew how important it was, in those first years of my career I didn’t always have the skills to execute it. My early years in educational interpreting also gave me valuable skills in preparing for assignments, with fortnightly assemblies, excursions and incursions, and thanks to educational interpreting the second verse of the national anthem will forever be etched onto my brain!
Today I continue to work in education, and I am still learning things that I carry into my work in community interpreting all the time. I am particularly fortunate to often work with highly skilled Deaf staff in the classroom, from whom I am always learning, and then integrating my observations of them into my interpreting. I truly believe that in working in education and community settings that I have the best of both worlds!
Bonnie gained NAATI paraprofessional interpreter accreditation in 2006. Prior to achieving this, she completed a Diploma of Auslan in 2004. She has worked as an interpreter in educational settings since that time, and in 2010 she received the ASLIA Western Australia Educational Interpreter of the Year Award for her efforts. In 2013, she was nominated once again for her work. Bonnie now works predominately in community settings in a variety of environments. Bonnie has near completed a Bachelor of Social Work at Curtin University. She intends to tie her experience as an Auslan interpreter to a role in community social work in the future. This article was originally published in the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.
By Catia Cassiano
With the new NAATI certification scheme being introduced soon, I wanted to return to an old blog article I wrote in 2012. In that article, I wrote about the importance of having an accreditation and formal regulation in our industry. Five years have passed and I still strongly believe in the importance of certification for the profession of translating and interpreting.
While I was growing up in Portugal, I saw a lot of high school students with good marks in English, doing translation jobs in the holidays for extra cash. I didn’t think much of this at the time. In fact I didn’t even think that anything was wrong. Once I became a professional translator and came to understand how complex the job really is, I realised how misguided this practice was. After working in this industry for 10 years, it saddens me to hear about unqualified people charging customers for a job they are not qualified for.
In my view, accreditation programs by reputable associations will increase the standards in our profession. Only people who are properly qualified and fully committed can be accredited, and can demonstrate the quality of their work. Those people without relevant qualifications or who are unable to meet the required standards, will have a benchmark to aim for, in order be able to work as a translator. Qualifications and standards also provide a guarantee for clients, identifying the work of professionals, as superior to high school students.
In today’s world we cannot just get a diploma and sit on it forever, we need to be proactive in our careers, and work together to create a profession which is seen as valuable for both clients and practitioners. One of the methods used to encourage high standards within the profession and ensure good practice is a code of conduct. Membership of an association requires compliance with a code of conduct.
Certification can be expensive, especially for professionals who are accredited by more than one association, but it is an investment in yourself and your career, and one that will certainly pay off in the long term. In supporting professionals and their practice, associations need to provide a service for their members. It’s not enough just to provide a directory, associations also have a responsibility to provide basic guidelines and initiatives to help translators and interpreters navigate their work environment.
Understanding how to keep a steady flow of stable, continuous work and methods of improving translating and interpreting skills, are two important areas where members look for relevant information. Most associations do meet this need; offering courses, workshops and other events, but there are other ways associations could help to make our profession a better and more reliable one.
The creation of appropriate avenues for translators and interpreters to work directly with their association in a positive and consultative way, with the ability to suggest new ideas or opportunities for improvement, would encourage the association to be more aligned with the needs of practitioners. Associations could also provide an opportunity for practitioners to talk about real issues encountered in their work, providing a platform where problems can be discussed and perhaps solved, offering peer support to colleagues navigating similar situations.
It is important clients are aware of language variants and localisation issues that may arise, so they can be better informed and therefore better equipped to choose the right professional for their specific needs. Creating awareness in the community about language services and localisation issues is a service that associations can and should be involved in.
Finally, achieving better communication between associations worldwide, and ensuring the same standards were adopted, would improve the quality of services internationally and serve to promote a more uniform approach to this profession.
Other professions such medicine and law have their associations. Doctors, nurses and lawyers are not be able to practice without accreditation. If we do the same for translators and interpreters, maybe in the future people no longer think that ‘if you know two languages you should be all right to be a translator’ and respect what we do more.
Cátia Cassiano is a professional Portuguese translator who has been living in Sydney since 2006. She is the founder of Updated Words. Catia is passionate about the translation industry and loves to share her knowledge with others.
By Dean Barton-Smith AM
As a high user of professional sign language interpreters for various settings, and having observed and spoken to many interpreters about this concern, I thought I would share a topic that would resonate with you all. I think I can be safe to say (with the backing of many older and wiser interpreters reading this) that the demand and skill sets required of interpreters 20+ years ago is significantly different compared to today. I vividly recall back then how interpreters were once regarded as volunteers, then welfare workers, and how they would at times dread the school holiday breaks - given this means little to no income.
Nowadays, interpreters are seen as highly professional and increasingly well regarded in mainstream society. In years gone by interpreters could get away with wearing casual attire for business meetings, but as more Deaf people have become professionals or are in positions of influence, interpreters have similarly become more conscious of their self-image and professionalism. While increasing demands of interpreters will continue, so too the diverse nature of the task at hand will rise. This in turn requires interpreters to become more acquainted as to the various interpreting settings = diverse skills.
I am very mindful of interpreters who are embarking on work in a new setting. They have to quickly become accustomed to jargon, words that do not have standardised signs and the tempo of the meetings/event being interpreted. In addition to this, demands and pressure is placed on the interpreters to be on the ball and committed to ensuring the Deaf and hearing person/s are receiving quality communication in translation. This goes without saying that a bad day at the office can at times have implications for the interpreters’ credibility/capability which in turn could impact on their ability to gain repeat business.
I have taken the liberty to ask interpreters as to how they prepare and maintain their ability to continually perform at optimal levels- both physically and mentally. I am somewhat surprised that they appear to have not considered how they are looking after their tools as much as they should. Whilst there is a general rule in regards to OHS and taking breaks etc., I do wonder how interpreters are maintaining their tools of trade and ensuring they invest in themselves. I am not talking about investing in further training and development (which is always essential and wise) but investing in their total physical and mental wellbeing.
Think about it. Your main two tools are your arms/ hands and your brain (not neglecting the ears of course). Just as we are always committed to ensuring our car is regularly serviced, do you have the same approach to your main tools? If not, why? If we neglect getting our car serviced regularly, then our car will continue to underperform - leading to more costly outcomes over time. With the ever-dreaded fear for any interpreters to acquire Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), interpreters should consider investing into areas such as recovery massages and the power of mindfulness.
If you think about the amount of action and muscles used to do your role, you are inadvertently mobilising many other minuscule muscles that over time can develop knots and/or tiredness. Investing in undertaking at least half an hour/hour massages – say at least once a fortnight - will not only identify and prevent emerging injuries arising but your body/ arms will thank you. This in turn will allow you to maintain high performance– naturally.
As for your brain, again investing in looking after your mind is also critical. Just as it is important to eat and sleep right, your brain works extensively when interpreting. We should not discount that your role as interpreters can be unpredictable and the nature, tempo and complexity of your assignment can vary suddenly. In addition, you will be exposed to situations that can leave you feeling tired, stressed and/or emotionally taxed.
Again investing in yourself to have a full body massage can not only help your body but evidently helps your mind. Did you know your brain is actively processing around 2,000 bits of information per second on any given day for an average Joe Blow in society? Imagine how much more when you are actually interpreting. Undertaking Mindfulness1 activities is proven to be a very powerful tool to remain in the present moment and stay sharp / focused. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to do mindfulness and the more you do it the more effective it becomes. And it doesn’t cost a lot of money too!
Just as builders, carpenters, painters, mechanics and welders need their tools to be working efficiently and effectively in their job, the same rule should apply for sign language interpreters. This is no different to elite athletes (in my case being an Olympian) as prevention is better than cure and the power of resilience was important. During the prime of my career I was having almost three to four massages a week (three were for recovery from intense training and one was purely a relaxation massage). Given my chosen event the Decathlon, I was susceptible to injuries and mental tiredness and having undertaken such proactive recovery treatment, I had little to no injuries and maintained mental focus during this time.
In addition to this, I invested in ensuring I looked after my mental health and resilience component. Incorporating all this allowed me to maintain and deliver high performance – and when it counted. Costs should not be a barrier in this issue as these could be claimed as a tax deductible expense (check with your accountant) as part of the gap if you can claim under health insurance.
There should be no shame in treating yourself to these treatments regularly. In fact, it is a very smart way to go. Committing yourself to regular maintenance of your tools will ensure that you are treating and respecting your mind and body in a professional way which in turn will enable you to continue to deliver high performing interpreting. There is nothing more frustrating than to be laid off due to injury or feeling mentally exhausted at the expense of losing income.
Given the future will see more demands of interpreting skills across various settings, thanks to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, it is never more important to ensure your tools remain clean and sharp and well maintained. As a Deaf professional myself, having now written this I too am asking myself whether I should be practicing what I preach. I need my tools to effectively do my job in my professional role and I shall be investing in maintaining these tools in the future. Will you?
Dean is an Olympian, two times Commonwealth Games and four times Deaflympian. A National Mental Health Leader, he also holds a Masters in Marketing degree, is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and Associate Fellow for Australian Marketing Institute. Dean is currently CEO of Deaf Children Australia and regularly sought to speak on various matters such as high performance, disability, marketing and communications. This article was originally published in the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.
By Dr Angela Dillon
The discussion ‘Are there sufficient Auslan/English interpreters to furnish our community?’ resurfaces repeatedly within our industry. Regular interpreter users are acutely aware of difficulties in accessing interpreters when needed. Undoubtedly, solutions to this issue are multifaceted, but I believe that the retention of interpreters, and fostering career longevity are a big part of the solution.
I have seen numerous accomplished colleagues come and go over the years. Career attrition is normal, particularly considering the nature of the job and its inherent strains, but I suspect that something may be happening in the field that is exacerbating this attrition.
Having observed this situation from several angles: as consumer, interpreter practitioner, and interpreter trainer, I sense a mismatch between what I see, experience, and hear anecdotally from colleagues. It surprises me when colleagues tell me that they are exhausted and overloaded with work, while others report insufficient work and require adjunct employment to supplement their incomes.
I conducted a very small scale (and unscientific) straw-poll to glean some people’s experiences and views, and factors that might contribute to interpreters leaving, or remaining in, the field. Nine people (a mixture of experienced still-working interpreters; early-career interpreters, and people who had left their interpreting careers) were invited to complete a simple, anonymous Survey Monkey.
Seven people responded. The survey comprised three open questions:
- If you have continued working as an interpreter, what three main things have made you continue working as an interpreter?
- If you have stopped working as an interpreter, or thought about stopping, what three main things have made you leave or consider leaving you interpreting career?
- Do you want to make any comments about factors that may support or hinder interpreters’ decisions to remain in their career, or about the apparent shortage of interpreters?
Respecting word limitations, I will only discuss the two most consistently reported reasons for people considering leaving or leaving, the profession: the “lack of permanent jobs”, and “[o]ther Interpreters [sic]...lack of support and or team work”.
A “lack of regular bookings each week”, and beliefs that there is an imbalance of work distribution featured heavily. Asserting that “[a]gencies definitely seem to favour interpreters”, one interpreter went on to say that “…sometimes I feel like just throwing in the towel when I hear of yet another job that I was capable of but was not offered”.
Questioning the notion of there being “…a shortage of interpreters as such”, the respondent perceives “…a monopoly on many jobs by a small group of interpreters, and agencies who don't explore all options or put feelers out widely enough…The hierarchy of interpreters often means job opportunities and offers are limited”.
Of the six people who responded to questions regarding why they have either left, or considered leaving their career, all mentioned adverse relationships with colleagues as a factor. Reasons cited related to “[b]ullying”, and “politics amongst the interpreting fraternity”. Comments included:
- “…disconcerting when other interpreters you are
- working with are either negative or confrontational”;
- “…nonconstructive criticism…”;
- “…negative feedback from interpreters in power positions”, and
- “Lack of support from colleagues who feel threatened by people who are more skilled or who are potential 'threats' to their own income…who…are unable to reflect on their own practice and behaviours and the effect these have on their colleagues”.
This survey yielded invaluable positive data, on which I would like to have expanded, but space does not allow. Respondents’ views were strongly (and vehemently) expressed, and thus warrant our listening, because these feelings are affecting career longevity and fulfilment. As an interpreter trainer, I am privileged to share the joy and excitement that students bring when embarking on their interpreting careers.
It is my dearest wish that we nurture this positivity, and that these newcomers experience career longevity, buoyed by those supportive, generous and kind colleagues that I know. After all, as one respondent said “Mutual teamwork makes for the best outcome for the deaf client”.
Dr. Angela Dillon has been an accredited Auslan/English interpreter since 1987, during which time she has worked within a wide range of contexts. She currently works as an interpreter trainer in TAFE SA’s Diploma of Interpreting, with both hearing and Deaf interpreting students, and also continues to work in the field. Angela’s PhD focusses on South Australian print media discourse and debates about sign language use and deaf education from the 1970s-2000s. This article was originally published in the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.
By Associate Professor Christine Phillips
Every day Australian doctors see patients whose spoken English can be insufficient to communicate their symptoms or to understand their treatment. Sometimes the person’s lack of English is obvious to everyone. Often the person can talk in English but may struggle to understand technical language. Occasionally people’s command of English has deteriorated due to age or illness. 20 per cent of Australians speak a language other than English and by their own estimate 16 per cent of them speak English poorly. Australia is one of the world’s most multilingual countries and at the same time one of the most monolingual.
Over 200 languages are spoken in this country and yet 80 per cent of us can only speak English. The linguistic diversity of the population is so great that no matter how multilingual the doctor is the languages of doctor and patient rarely match. Most doctors will need to make a decision about whether or not to use an interpreter every day. Here is one day in a typical general practice in a suburb, the one where I work. The practice has eight doctors, two nurses, and around 9000 patients. Although the identifying details have been altered all of these are real cases.
Dr Hut Win a junior doctor training to be a General Practitioner (GP) calls me into his room. He stares glumly at his elderly patient Sara who has booked to see him because she thought he spoke her language, the Myanmar language. ‘My parents are from Myanmar but I can only speak kitchen Myanmar language’.
He and Sara make small talk about food for four minutes while I ring the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National). The interpreter comes on line and Dr Win is able to work out that Sara has gastritis. He explains how to test for bacteria in her stomach. Four minutes doesn’t sound like much but that’s more than a quarter of the allocated consultation time. Time is one of the major reasons cited by doctors for not using interpreters.
Efficient medical practices delegate contacting interpreters to the front-office staff. Dr Win has learned to clarify before the consultation begins that he needs an interpreter, ask the patient to wait while reception contacts TIS National, and use that four minutes to read the patient notes and prepare himself.
I’m called by the nurse to see Amina who has presented with a sore belly after having her first baby six weeks ago by caesarean section. Her young husband hovers in the background. If they had been in their home country an extended family of aunties and sisters would now be helping her to recover from surgery and care for her baby son.
The nurse shows me the problem; Amina’s wound still has the staples used to close it. I stare aghast at the angry wound with its ridges of infected skin, trying to bury the metal staples. These should have come out five weeks ago. When she was discharged from hospital the staff had explained using Google Translate that she had to get the staples removed in ten days. Amina had not understood and had been too embarrassed to say so.
I have a regular appointment with Bruno who has started psychiatric treatment for depression and wishes to speak about his experiences in the war ten years ago. We have booked an on-site interpreter who speaks his language. The interpreter crosses her arms, bows her head, and becomes Bruno’s words as he speaks of massacres. I wonder about the impact on the interpreter of living through Bruno’s war vicariously, and we debrief for a few minutes afterwards.
The receptionist calls. Hana, who has been in the country for five months stands crying at the front desk with a three year old child in her arms. Her daughter has ’eaten an electric’. We have a huddled consultation with a phone interpreter in the treatment room. The child has swallowed the lithium battery from a toy. It will need to be removed by an endoscope under general anaesthetic. Hana wants to wait till her husband, who speaks better English, comes home from work. But there’s no time to waste. The practice pays for a taxi, and through the interpreter the nurse explains the urgency of the situation. I ring the hospital to say they will need to get an interpreter on the phone for the consultation.
Not every consultation where the person has limited English will need a professional interpreter. Sometimes the situation is of low acuity and the patient can make themselves understood. For example, in Amina’s case I had rarely used interpreters as her general English was sufficient to manage a cough or a Centrelink certificate. There is no doubt however that interpreters are underused in Australian medical practice. For every 100 consultations of a patient who speaks poor English, only one will a professional interpreter be used.
There are four circumstances where doctors looking after people, whose command of English may be—at that moment—suspect, must think of using a professional interpreter, and have a defensible reason for not using one. These situations are consent, complexity, crisis and to assess the competence of the patient to make decisions on their own behalf. The doctors who perform the endoscopy and general anaesthetic on Hana’s daughter who swallowed the battery will need to use an interpreter to ensure that Hana consents to the procedure. Performing a procedure without informed consent is an assault.
Yet all too often people with limited English proficiency are asked to sign a paper thrust in front of them, or have it explained by a family member whose technical English may be very limited. A recent investigation of refugees’ accounts of surgical treatments uncovered accounts of patients who had operations including a tubal ligation, a gall bladder removal, and dental extractions with no understanding of the procedure they had ’consented’ to.
Amina’s discharge instructions are an example of a complex message that warranted an interpreter. Even though Amina spoke some English, her understanding was compromised because she was recovering from a major procedure, and she had no prior experience of wound staples. Denied the opportunity to clarify, Amina left hospital believing that staples could be left in permanently. Complexity is also the reason that pharmacists can access TIS National.
Mistakes in medication dosage can have major impacts on the patient, as in a case in our study of a patient who overdosed on a medication that was to be taken intermittently, resulting in major neurological side-effects. In a crisis professional interpreters are often overlooked in favour of any available person. In a famous case in the United States of America, a nine-year-old child who suffered a severe reaction to a medication was herself used as interpreter in the emergency department.
Her sixteen-year-old brother was subsequently co-opted into interpreting to their parents when she died. Failure to use an interpreter in a crisis is an indefensible approach when there is a 24-hour priority phone line to access interpreters. Without an interpreter we would not have understood what had happened to Hana’s child, nor would we have been able to convey the urgency of treatment.
On the way home from work I called into a nursing home to see Wilf, an octogenarian whose ability to speak English, his third language, had declined as he aged. 42 per cent of non-English speakers over the age of 75 have poor facility in English. The absolute numbers have increased by two thirds over the last ten years to at least 100,000 people. Wilf was ignoring staff and refusing meals, and the staff were worried about his mental competence.
As I walked down the corridor to his room I called the telephone interpreter service. Wilf sat up clutching the phone to his ear and wept as we talked in his language. ’I cannot speak to anyone,’ he said, over and over. No staff member and no other resident in the nursing home spoke Wilf’s language. Wilf was perfectly competent, but starved of conversation. In a huge linguistically-diverse country like Australia the majority of interpreted consultations by doctors will always be by telephone.
Rather than being a secondary fall-back option doctors should think of telephone interpreting as their best option. Using a telephone interpreter requires some practice, good administrative processes that empower reception staff to access interpreters, and telephones with speaker facility. Once mastered, telephone interpreting helps doctors to be safer, more efficient and most importantly, to provide better service to their patients.
This article was originally published in the Summer 2017 edition of Talking TIS and is reproduced with permission.
By Bev Sloan
I started my journey into a working life as a clerk for over a decade. I then developed an injury, which saw me unable to continue working and I stayed home for eight years doing nothing. I decided then if I didn’t use my brain I might as well call it quits, so I decide to study a language. Serendipitously my Mum saw a small advert in a community paper promoting a one night a week course ‘Introduction to Auslan’, and so I started a new exciting journey.
Almost immediately I fell in love with this amazing language and my hunger to know more was ravenous. There was no formal course offered at that time and if not for the enthusiasm of a few Deaf people the language probably wouldn’t have been taught in Perth. I joined every class that was offered.
After I completed all of the certificates, I still wanted to know more about Auslan and the next step up in my education was the interpreters course. However, I wasn’t ready to attempt it so I went to the Perth Deaf Club on Friday nights to observe and mix with the Deaf community. This journey into the Deaf society was one of great trepidation for me.
My fear was almost overwhelming but Auslan was like a drug and I needed more. I would go to the Deaf Club and sit in a corner on my own with a Diet Coke (these were two signs I knew so could order this drink.) After a few weeks sitting in a corner, a group of ladies took pity on me and invited me to sit with them.
The next important part of my journey commenced, getting to know the Deaf community and culture, and watching native signers conversing. I will always be grateful to those tolerant ladies who withheld laughter at my many faux pas such as ‘My couch has a vagina (diamond) pattern’, or my confusion regarding the signs ‘ask and explain’ so I ended up signing ‘I will vomit more later’.
It took me quite a while to realise that allowing a ‘hearing’ person into Deaf people’s private lives and trust them not to scam or abuse them in some way was a huge thing. I feel privileged to be seen as a friend and ally to the Deaf community as well as having the honour of providing a service for them as an interpreter and occasional transliterator. The next step in my journey was to become a qualified interpreter and to work in the Deaf community.
Fortunately I passed the Western Australia Central TAFE Diploma of Interpreting Course and went out on my journey into the unsuspecting community. I remember my first job well as a NAATI paraprofessional accredited interpreter, it was a medical appointment.
The client signed they had recently been ‘discharged’ from hospital and then finger spelled a word… and my ‘fear of finger spelling’ shutters came down. What did they say? Please repeat the word? Finally I spelled the word out loud, letter by letter and it was ‘discharged’, which was what I had already voiced to the doctor, oh cringe! Another lesson in my journey learnt, Deaf people would often sign and fingerspell the same word for emphasis.
Throughout my career as an interpreter there have been many opportunities for me to learn lessons and improve my skills. I am so very grateful to all the wonderful, and some less wonderful clients I’ve had worked with in the past 20 years. They have all taught me so much and given me opportunities to work in amazing places and bear witness to even more remarkable things. Some of the jobs I undertook were as a tandem or in a team with both hearing and Deaf interpreters. These opportunities provided more experiential steps along my journey.
Each time I’ve worked with other interpreters I learnt something new, either from them or through self- reflection. I’ve had work with, or observing some truly outstanding interpreters but I have rarely seen any who can take a concept and reform it into something so blindingly clear and comprehendible as that done by a skilled Deaf Interpreter (DI).
I almost groan with envy when observing a DI interpretation. To work with them and know that they are there for the benefit of all of us in the room is a privilege. DI’s have supported me as a colleague and they made challenging jobs immeasurably easier. I thank them for these working opportunities and I am so grateful to have worked with them during my journey.
ASLIA has provided me with an opportunity on ‘my journey’ to be of service to my community and I strongly believe it is a vital part of Interpreters’ responsibilities to contemplate about how they can support others on their journeys through our fascinating field of employment. Reciprocity is a wonderful thing! Our association has also provided extremely valuable professional development opportunities locally and at the winter schools and ASLIA National Conferences. These have made my journey all the more knowledgeable and enjoyable.
Now I’ve been working for 20 years and have been so fortunate to include the Macquarie University Graduate Diploma and NAATI professional level accreditation in my journey. I cherish those who taught me and those with whom I studied. One of many epiphanies for me was in ‘The 5 P’s’ namely preparation. The 5 P’s are sometimes quoted as ‘purpose, people, place, procedures and potential outcomes’ but I remember them as being people, place, purpose, point and perspective. I tried to use this simple but effective tool at every booking.
Sadly my journey within the Deaf and interpreting communities will be coming to an end all too soon. Unfortunately I’m losing my eyesight and I doubt there would be much call for a blind sign language interpreter! I reflect on my journey with so much pleasure and gratitude to everyone who I’ve met, socialised with, worked for or with and the many, many opportunities I was given to be useful.
I’ve enjoyed being of service to the community and I hope others will see this act of service gives back so much in return I am rich in memories, skills and appreciation. So I implore you all to embrace your individual journeys with all the enthusiasm and desire to succeed that you can muster. My journey, which I hope I’ve done well, will live with me forever.
Bev Sloan is a NAATI accredited Auslan/English interpreter. She achieved her first accreditation in 1997. This article was originally published in the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.
By Nicola Thayil
Are you thinking of expanding internationally or entering a new market? One of the first things you are likely to do is to have your marketing materials translated. So how do you get your message and call to action across effectively in a different language.
1. Choose a translator specialised in marketing
Take the time to find a translator who is experienced in marketing and who understands your business. Think about it. You wouldn’t want a financial translator translating your highly creative marketing copy, you can give them a call to translate your annual report but not your website or brochure. Translating marketing documents requires creativity, cultural competency and an ability to convey ideas whilst at the same time retaining meaning and eliciting a desired emotional response.
2. Make sure your company name and tagline are appropriate
Your company name, slogan, logo or tagline all feature prominently on your website and marketing materials. I’m sure you’re familiar with some of the more well-known marketing translation fails such as ‘Come alive with Pepsi’ which was rendered in Chinese as ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead’. Beware: a brand name or slogan doesn’t always translate well into other languages and cultures. Getting it right the first time around avoids costly corrective action and damaging your reputation.
3. Provide style guides and glossaries for your marketing materials
Recurring words or phrases are important to your company’s identity and were originally created to make your marketing content memorable and compelling. It’s therefore important to communicate these to help your translator keep these same qualities and style for materials in another language. Your goal should be to maintain brand coherence as much as possible within any cultural limitations.
4. Educate translators about your brand
The more informed translators are about your brand, the more accurate and effective their work will be. The translator’s role as a linguist is to take on board your brand voice and personality. They do this in order to convey these to your target audience in such a way that the message really speaks to them personally. It’s important for you to be able to present your company’s unique value to your desired target audience through culturally relevant communication.
In summary, when you are looking to translate your marketing materials for a new market, it’s important to choose a specialised translator, check the cultural relevance of your brand name and tagline, provide or develop a style guide and educate translators about your brand. Putting these recommendations in place will go a long way to ensuring that your translated marketing content retains its original compelling message and stand-out qualities.
Nicola Thayil is a professional French to English translator and conference interpreter based in Melbourne, Australia. She has been practising since 2013 after completing a Masters of Interpreting and Translation Studies at Monash University. Nicola specialises in legal, marketing and business texts, drawing on over five years' experience in marketing, as well as a background in international business. She also authors a translation blog here. This article is republished with permission.
"I started interpreting to help my Vietnamese community when I was about 20 years’ old. I am still doing it for the love of it, not for the money".
Hoa started interpreting as an unofficial volunteer assistant when she was about 20 years old in a refugee camp in the Philippines. While she loved interpreting Hoa wasn’t accredited when she came to Australia. She felt inexperienced when sitting for NAATI exams and every time she felt so nervous she didn’t know what to say.
Her personal drive fuelled her to persevere. ‘It is important to get accredited as it opens up more opportunities. Overcoming my nervousness and anxiety became my top priority. I joined The Willing and Able Mentoring (WAM) Program, a Victorian government initiative enhancing employment programme. I met and befriended many people including my mentor who inspired, motivated and encouraged me not to give up my goal of becoming an accredited interpreter.’
"I am extremely happy with my achievement passing the NAATI exam becoming a Paraprofessional Vietnamese interpreter. Looking back at my journey my mentor played an important role otherwise I’d have given it up long time ago," Hoa said proudly.
Follow the code of conduct and ethics
Being a registered nurse and an accredited interpreter Hoa wears different hats for different settings. She believes that maintaining professionalism and following the code of conduct and ethics is important.
"I have worked in hospital and community settings for more than 20 years. Sometimes I am called out to help interpret for Vietnamese speaking clients. When I work as a paid interpreter I don’t voice my opinions, I just interpret faithfully the meaning of what has been said," Hoa said thoughtfully.
Changes in the interpreting industry
Hoa believes interpreting services have changed a lot with the advent of new technologies as well as emerging demands in the community. Telephone interpreting has become an important tool to enable culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people in the rural areas to have access to a variety of services. Hoa says "less people rely on their family members, relatives and friends for assistance".
She continues, "However, sometimes machine-interpreting or translating is not very accurate. You can’t pick up the tone of voice or facial expressions in comparison with a face-to-face interpreting session, which are important means of transferring meaning. Video interpreting is another potential area. It saves time and reduces traffic congestion. It enables people to have equal access to services from anywhere in Australia".
The future of interpreting - training will open up opportunities
Hoa feels strongly about training for interpreters. She believes that the interpreting industry has evolved along with social and economic progress in our society, especially with new migrants coming to Australia every year. She also feels that a professionally trained interpreter workforce will help government and private organisations provide services effectively to non-English speaking residents in different communities.
"I think the future of interpreting is good, with many areas where services could be expanded, such as domestic violence, organ and tissue donation and palliative care. As a nurse, I like to interpret more in the health field where I can use my professional knowledge and cultural understanding to reduce any confusion or doubts helping non-English speaking Vietnamese clients regarding complex health related issues."
"It would be great if interpreters from different CALD communities are trained in these health programmes. They will be better prepared and may be advocates in the community about these programmes," Hoa said enthusiastically. Hoa also believes people should help themselves, "actually everyone should also be encouraged to learn English to support themselves help others and be independent".
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an interpreter?
Hoa believes that as an accredited interpreter one of the challenges is to keep up to date with language skills because everything is changing and it is important to have good knowledge of vocabulary. She offers these great tips for those who want to become an interpreter and keep their language alive.
Hoa suggests "There are many ways to do that, such as reading material in your language, listening to community radio programmes or just catching up with other native speakers. Your group could become not only a social club, but a professional group to learn from each other. Peer support is important as most interpreters work independently".
By Sam Berner
Disruption is staring us in the face. We read about it online, hear about it in the news, and participate in it almost on daily basis. Using Uber? Paying by touching your smartphone? Checking out at Woolworth through self-checkout? Booking accommodation on BnB? Telling a cafe owner off by threatening a one-star review on TripAdvisor? Zooming into meetings? All these and more are in a way or another disruptions to how things were done in the not-so-distant past.
Yet as translators we are led often to believe that disruption must be about doing translations better and faster for cheaper. In fact, preferably for free. This is not totally correct. Disruption is primarily about innovation. It also about coming up with solutions to things that could not be done before or to things that were annoying and inefficient in the way they were done.
Remember the days of bulky typewriters? PCs that weighed a ton? running out of RAM? printers that were so slow they encouraged coffee breaks? Xerox machines with perpetual jammed hiccups? fax machines that ran out of carbon paper in the middle of an important job? I am sure few of us would want to go back to working that way.
Everything that improved our modus operandi - from the access to knowledge and professional networks online to CAT tools and electronic termbases - disrupted the way we work. However, it wasn't all positive. The same portals that open global market opportunities to us, also expose us up to global competition.
If we were once big fish in a small pond, we are plankton in an endless ocean. The widening of our horizons meant we are better informed, provided we can deal with information glut. The speeding up of communications means we can access help at our fingertips, but it also means that the clients expect us to be accessible at their fingertips 24/7.
Disruption brought with it TM and its anagram MT. Both help us work faster if we know how to use them, but with these tools come the dubious blessings of ambiguous intellectual property and post-editing. Many practitioners complain that translation quality is suffering and this is also abetted by the disruption known as crowdsourcing.
As I write this, more disruption is predicted, this time from artificial intelligence and machine learning. Welcome to the possibility of Neural Machine Translation (NMT). For the uninitiated, a simplified explanation would be that we are teaching computers to use language like humans do.
Dr. Henry Liu, President of the World Federation of Translators (FIT), called NMT all “hype” during his presentation at the University of Bristol in February 2017. In its position paper on the future of the profession, FIT was more circumspect about what effect. NMT will have on translators – yes, there is progress, but no, it won’t happen tomorrow and meanwhile we must continue working and strengthening the profession.
In the next paragraph, however, is a call to action:
“professional translators have to adapt, be creative and develop business models that make the most of the latest technologies. These models could include various types of added value or involve translation services provided as part of a diversified offering. New innovative ideas are needed.”
In short, disruption is here, we just won’t call it by its name.
Disruption is a two-sided coin, but we do have a bit of say on which side we want it to fall. That ability to decide is called learnability. In January this year, a survey of 18,000 employers across all sectors in 43 countries, published at the World Economic Forum in Davos, showed that,
“One in five employers (19%) expect technological disruption to increase jobs as they adapt to the future of work and six in ten employers (64%) expect to maintain headcount if people have the right skills and are prepared to learn, apply and adapt.”
This means that, regardless of how artificial intelligence will develop, we cannot just continue doing what we have always been doing, the way we have been doing it. The learn, apply and adapt principle is about learning to code, applying the code creatively to our work, and constantly adapting to an environment in which change is exponential.
In August 2017, AUSIT will host FIT’s 21st Congress in Brisbane, and the main theme is, you guessed it, disruption. A golden opportunity to listen to people in the know, to debate and to enrich your professional knowledge.
Remember: learnability is the key.
Sam Berner is currently the principal partner of Arabic Communication Experts, one of Australia’s leading translation and cross cultural training services specializing in the Middle East. Having spent over 30 years translating, Sam continues to mentor and motivate many aspiring translators to expand their vision globally. She is also an active AUSIT member and a former national president.
By Zane Hema
I saw an advertisement for a job in risk management that prompted me to think how risk management is what we do as sign language interpreters. In the business and financial environments, risk is part of daily life and companies and institutions structure themselves in order to manage risk. The types of risk include credit risk, financial risk, operational risk, technology risk, insurance risk and regulatory risk.
The professional skilled in risk management has undergone specialised training and possesses the ability to compile, analyse and evaluate data and report on how to either avoid or reduce risk to the well-being of an individual, organisation or business. There are a number of things they do to achieve this. For this article I will refer to two:
- (a) being conversant with relevant legislation, contractual and government policy; and
- (b) being able to compile and examine data and applying a variety of criteria, so requiring excellent skills in analysis and evaluation.
In the interpreting environment, risk is a part of our everyday practice on two levels. The interpreter the person is at risk; this could be from fatigue, from vicarious trauma, from Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS) or other occupational hazards. The interpreter’s interpretation is at risk; risk of lacking equivalence, risk of not being understood or worse being misunderstood.
Like the risk manager, the interpreter has undergone specialist training and is conversant with the Code of Ethics, but can also access data from a range of sources, such as literary work, articles, research, PD sessions, peer conversations, conferences, media and many others, that reduce any risk.
An example is data from the research of Cokely which encourages the interpreter to allow enough time to process the source text in order to reduce the risk of omissions, additions, substitutions, intrusions and anomalies (Cokely, 1986). Another example comes from Dean and Pollard who encourage the interpreter to develop control measures to mitigate risks from environmental, paralinguistic, interpersonal and intrapersonal demands placed on them (Dean and Pollard, 2001).
Witter-Merithew and Stewart make a case for reducing risk to consumers of interpreting services by the interpreter, novice or veteran alike, developing a solid foundation in ethical fitness and decision-making (Witter-Merithew and Stewart, 2006). Woodcock and Fisher, in their work Occupational Health and Safety for Sign Language Interpreters report extensively on ways the interpreter may reduce risk or personal injury by offering a wealth of advice and a range of exercises (Woodcock and Fischer, 2008).
So being familiar with the Code of Ethics, its purpose and its content is important. Analysis and evaluation of a range data provides new ways of understanding what lies behind our actions and their consequences and thus provides opportunities for us to better manage the risk to our service and those who rely on it.
Zane Hema is a professional Auslan interpreter but originally trained as a British Sign Language interpreter completing his Post Graduate Diploma in 2000. He also works as an international interpreter educator and is the former President of the Association of Sign Language Interpreters (for England, Wales & Northern Ireland), Vice-President of the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters and Secretary of World Association of Sign Language Interpreters. He gained his first NAATI accreditation in 2014. This article was originally published in the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.
By Karen O'Toole
Interpreting can be a very isolating profession, especially in the area of educational interpreting. Two years ago, despite being involved in the Deaf Community for over 20 years and being a qualified interpreter for over 13 years I still felt I needed to increase my experience and knowledge of the Deaf Community and improve my interpreting skills.
I decided to find ways to improve that did not involve formal study. I have always been involved in professional development and have benefited greatly from the professional development run by ASLIA and ASLIA New South Wales over the years and thought maybe it was my turn to volunteer on the committee and give back to the organisation that had helped me so much.
I would recommend and encourage all those interpreters who have not been involved in ASLIA New South Wales to give it a go. I benefited greatly from the experience and gained an appreciation for those who came before me. Without their tireless efforts, we wouldn’t have the training, conditions, pay, or high standard of interpreters that we have today.
Being part of the committee broadened my understanding of what our professional association does and I gained better knowledge of the disability sector and all the stakeholders involved in providing services for Deaf people. Knowledge like this can only help in the variety of situations in which we interpret. I also made friends and got to know more of the amazing people who share this great profession.
As well as joining the ASLIA New South Wales committee I decided to try more freelance interpreting. I had mostly done educational interpreting up to that point. I was unsure at first and felt out of my comfort zone but would highly recommend to anyone who has been interpreting in the same area for a while to try something new.
Working with a range of Deaf adults, in a variety of different settings helped me to improve my skills dramatically. Being able to work with co-interpreters on a regular basis was also extremely beneficial. Just the incidental learning is amazing and if you are lucky enough to work with co-interpreters who are willing and able to give constructive feedback it can make a huge difference to the speed of your improvement.
I would also recommend approaching the interpreting agencies you work for in your state or territory about mentoring programs. The Deaf Society in New South Wales has a great mentoring program called the John Ferris Internship.
I applied for the internship and was lucky enough to be accepted as an intern in the program which meant that I was paired up with a mentor – a more experienced interpreter- to work for the Deaf Society once a week for a whole day for 13 weeks. This gave me the confidence I needed to accept jobs that I might never have before.
Interpreting is a profession where you never stop learning and improving. The methods I’ve used to improve my skills over the past few years have not actually cost me in monetary terms they have just required time, commitment and a willingness to step out of my comfort zone.
Have a think about ways you could continue to develop and improve your knowledge and skills so that we can continue to raise the standards of this wonderful profession!
Karen O'Toole lives in the Blue Mountains with her husband and two children. She has been involved in the Deaf community for over 30 years both here in Australia and in England. She has interpreting experience in a range of settings including education, medical, business and the disability sector. She is looking forward to meeting the challenges that the NDIS will bring and hopes to be part of this rewarding profession for many years to come. This article was originally published in the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.
By Patricia Avila
This article has been adapted from a training session designed by the author.
What is interpreting?
Within a linguistic context, interpreting is defined variously as:
- “The oral transfer of messages between speakers of different languages …” (Gentile, Ozolins and Vasilakakos)
- “… a form of [t]ranslation in which
- a first and final rendition in another language is produced on the basis of a one-time presentation of an utterance in a source language.” (Pöchacker)
- “… the translation of the spoken word
- …”, with translation defined as “a conversion process from one language to another, in either the written or the spoken mode.” (several authors, paraphrased by Hale)
- “The act of providing spoken (or signed) versions in one language that convey, in another language, the content and intentions of the statements by a speaker.” (from AUSIT’s Interpreting – Getting It Right brochure)
Why are these definitions relevant?
Because therefore, when one person is ‘conveying something’ said or signed in one language to another person in another language, by speech or signs, the act of interpreting is happening; usually in one or other of the following scenarios:
- a) The ‘interpreter’ is adequately trained and accredited. As a result, s/he can be considered able and empowered to deliver interpreting services according to certain standards, including a standard of conduct as prescribed by a code of ethics. (For example, in Australia, the AUSIT Code of Ethics is the accepted ethical framework under which interpreters provide their services.)
- b) The ‘interpreter’ is not accredited or trained. Even if s/he is a fluent and well-educated bilingual and is interpreting as best s/he knows how, the interpreting and its outcomes may not be what the community expects, or adhere to appropriate standards, including taking into account ethical considerations, as mentioned above.
However, if something were to go wrong in either of the above ‘interpreting’ scenarios, the ‘interpreter’ could be found negligent and would be legally liable— whether they had qualifications in interpreting or not.
Therefore anyone engaged in the act of interpreting should be aware of:
- a) the expected standards and relevant ethical principles involved, and
- b) their boundaries and limitations, which should be defined according to the complexity, context and requirements of the interpretation setting, and the messages to be conveyed.
When is assistance with verbal (or signed) communication not interpreting?
Basically, when the communication is taking place entirely in one common language. For example, a bilingual support worker speaking a language other than English (LOTE) to a recently arrived member of a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community who also speaks that LOTE. The support worker may be introducing the new arrival to essential processes and systems in our society—for example, showing them how to take public transport to TAFE, or take their children to school—all the while speaking in the shared LOTE.
Such assistance is very valuable; using a language that a new arrival is familiar with in such situations can greatly decrease the stress that s/he experiences while settling in Australia. However, such support workers are amongst those who frequently find themselves, sometimes reluctantly and often inadvertently, asked or expected to provide interpreting services.
The importance of identifying interpreting scenarios
In the end, the conundrum is not really who is an interpreter and who isn’t, but whether a person at any given time is delivering interpreting services (dealing in two different languages) or not (dealing in one language only). If the person is ‘interpreting’ according to the definitions given above, many considerations should be taken into account.
Although interpreting may appear to be an easy task, it is not. Many cognitive skills come into play, and not all bilingual people can engage in interpreting adequately, especially without training. In Latin America, Europe, Japan and China, interpreters working at a level of community interpreting equivalent to that experienced in Australia are required to have undertaken a full-time four-to-five-year degree course at a tertiary institution.
As Australia has long been the final destination of refugees and migrants from all corners of the world, our universities and TAFEs offer interpreting and translation degrees in many of the languages spoken here, but not all. As a result, it would be near impossible for every interpreter to comply with the rigorous educational standards that apply elsewhere.
NAATI was created to provide testing for those aspiring to be interpreters. It sets minimum benchmarks of competence and accuracy, and the recipients of interpreting services by NAATI accredited or recognised interpreters can at least get some idea of their levels of linguistic skills. NAATI is currently undertaking a revision of its testing and accreditation processes; in the future, all aspiring interpreters will need to undergo a specified number of hours of appropriate training before they are deemed ready to sit NAATI accreditation tests.
As mentioned above, bilingual workers do sometimes perform ‘interpreting’, irrespective of whether they are trained and/or accredited to offer these services. They do so for a variety of reasons—for example, reluctantly, to satisfy their employers, or willingly, because they are ‘on the spot’, and want to help. Ideally only accredited interpreters should be doing this work, for two main reasons.
Firstly, the acquisition and application of the knowledge and skills required, as well as the professional ethical obligations, take years of specific training and experience. In addition, anyone doing this work should have the appropriate Professional Indemnity Insurance (and in some cases Public Liability Insurance), to protect them and their employers/agencies in case of litigation. However, factors including cost and convenience frequently propel bilingual support workers to act as interpreters.
Certain simple and/or urgent interpreting tasks can be undertaken by a bilingual person until a qualified interpreter can assist, but great care has to be exerted as to the level of complexity of the ‘messages’ that need to be interpreted and the level of risk involved—to the CALD client, the agency looking after them, and/or the ‘interpreter’ themselves—in the event that these messages are misinterpreted.
It is very difficult to ascertain when the content of any exchange will be and remain simple throughout. Risk will always be present, as parties cannot be assured that what they have said has been accurately rendered into the other language. Staff from NGOs, settlement and other agencies, and bilingual workers themselves, should be trained to recognise and assess the differences in complexity and potential risk of various interpreting contexts.
They should be expected to decline to undertake any interpreting task that goes beyond a simple conversation, without prejudice to, or belittlement of, the bilingual worker; especially as anyone who engages in interpreting, whether they are accredited or not, may be subject to legal liability, as mentioned above.
In summary, anyone who provides interpreting services of any kind should:
- be empowered to decline requests for interpreting that may put them and their clients at risk
- have the option to decline any interpreting task that may represent a real or perceived conflict of interests for them, or that may impinge on their own beliefs and/or impartiality
- be aware of the basic ‘dos and don’ts’ of interpreting, in order to minimise risk to all parties involved
- seek (or be provided with) training, in order to ensure the appropriateness and suitability of the services they deliver
- endeavour (or be encouraged) to sit the appropriate NAATI accreditation tests (or seek NAATI recognition, if testing is not available in their language), in order to formalise their skills in interpreting.
Anyone who is already providing interpreting services, who enjoys doing so and feels they have the makings of a good interpreter, should be encouraged to seek support from their employers to formalise their skills via the NAATI accreditation process.
In this way they will be supported to deliver quality services and work within appropriate ethical and duty-of-care frameworks, increasing not only their effectiveness, but also the enjoyment they derive from their work, whilst also decreasing risk.
Patricia E Argüello de Avila is an international conference and community interpreter, professional translator and an interpreter educator. She was recently appointed as an AUSIT Fellow and is a member of the inaugural NAATI Technical Reference Advisory Committee (TRAC). She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article first appeared in the summer 2016 edition of AUSIT's In Touch magazine and has been republished with permission.
by Sandra Hale
Have you ever wondered whether your presence as interpreter affects how the accused is perceived and/or assessed by those who are judging him or her? Or whether the mode of interpreting used affects the perceptions of those listening to your interpretation? A research team set out to find answers to these questions.
For the study, a simulation of an interpreted trial was mounted in order to test three conditions (C1, C2 and C3):
- C1: The interpreter sat next to the accused, interpreting consecutively.
- C2: The interpreter sat in a booth, interpreting simultaneously.
- C3 (monolingual; the control condition): The accused gave evidence in English without an interpreter.
The role of the court interpreter, as stated by the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department (1991), is to place the non- English speaker in the same position as an English speaker.
The goal of the interpreter, therefore, is to interpret accurately (both content and manner of speech) in order to render the situation as close to a monolingual situation as possible. This research project set out to ascertain whether the mode of interpreting used affects the fulfilment of that goal.
The mock trial was conducted multiple times in a real courtroom, at different times of day, with a total of 447 ‘jurors’. Each juror was randomly allocated to one of the three conditions. The trial participants, including the accused and the interpreter, were played by professional actors and the dialogue was scripted.
In other words, all jurors, across all three conditions, heard exactly the same testimony from the interpreter and the accused. The interpretation languages were Spanish to English.
The main results of the study were:
1. When jurors were asked to state how likely they were to convict the accused, there were no significant differences between the three conditions. This suggests that an accurate rendition can, as intended, place a non-English speaker in the same position as an English speaker with respect to likelihood of conviction.
2. When jurors were asked about their perceptions of the accused’s evidence (with respect to consistency, reliability and credibility), there were no significant differences between C2 (simultaneous) and C3 (monolingual), thus suggesting that in C2 the interpreter fulfilled their role as defined above. However, there were significant differences between C1 (consecutive) and C3 (monolingual), with the former eliciting a more positive perception of the accused overall.
The interpreter used in the study was well dressed and acted professionally, and it may be that in C1, in which the jurors were often visually focused on the interpreter, the positive impression that this created was projected onto the accused. (By extension, it can be posited that manipulation of other interpreter variables (age, gender and so on) might also alter jurors’ perception of the accused, and that this could conceivably affect the likelihood of conviction.) When the accused’s evidence was interpreted simultaneously, with jurors listening via headphones, they were likely to focus visually on the accused with less interruption.
3. In the afternoon, jurors in C1 (consecutive) tended to report more loss of concentration than in C2 (simultaneous), indicating that consecutive interpreting is more distracting to jurors than simultaneous.
That the study found no significant differences in the rate of conviction across the three conditions is encouraging, as this seems to indicate that when interpretation is accurate, the interpreter will not change the outcome of the case. However, the study also seems to indicate that the simultaneous mode (C2) may be preferable to the consecutive mode (C1) with respect to achieving the intended interpreter role of placing the non-English speaker in the same position as an English speaker.
The consecutive mode tended to distract jurors more and to interfere with their assessment of the accused—effects which did not occur with the simultaneous mode. However, research into the difference, if any, that mode makes to accuracy is needed before any recommendation can be made.
The research team has applied for further funding to conduct the next phase of the research, to try to ascertain whether the same level of accuracy is achieved using consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, across three typologically different languages: Arabic, Chinese and Spanish.
This research project was funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Program 2011, Round 2 (LP110200394) and the following partner organisations:
- the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration (AIJA);
- the Department of Attorney General and Justice (NSW);
- the Department of Justice (VIC);
- PTW Architects;
- ONCALL Interpreters and Translators;
- the Australian Federation of Deaf Societies (AFDS)/Sign Language Communications;
- the Department of Justice and Attorney General (QLD); and
- ICE Design Australia Pty Ltd.
The project was led by Professor Sandra Hale from the University of New South Wales (UNSW). The other investigators were Prof. David Tait, Dr Meredith Rossner and Assoc. Prof. Uldis Ozolins from Western Sydney University (WSU), Prof. Jane Goodman-Delahunty from Charles Sturt University (CSU), Assoc. Prof. Ludmila Stern from UNSW, Prof. Jemina Napier from Heriot-Watt University (HWU), Edinburgh, Scotland and Diane Jones from PTW Architects, Sydney.
For the full research results and more publications, click here.
Sandra Hale is Professor of Interpreting and Translation at the School of Languages and Linguistics, UNSW, and national president of AUSIT. Learn more about her here. This article first appeared in the summer 2016 edition of AUSIT's In Touch magazine and has been republished with permission.
By Jean Burke
I have been a Swahili interpreter and translator for over a decade. In Australia, Swahili (or Kiswahili) is considered a ‘rare language’ as few people speak it and there is not enough interpreting work to sustain full-time employment.
I feel amused about Swahili being categorised as a rare language because it is spoken by about 80 million people globally and is the second most widely spoken language in Africa after Arabic. Swahili is an official language in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda but is also spoken in neighbouring countries.
I am an Anglo-Australian who learnt Swahili as an adult when I lived in the United Republic of Tanzania for twelve years and worked with the Anglican Church of Tanzania. After four months of language school, we lived in villages and later the capital, which were wonderful environments for language learning.
When I returned to Australia, a community worker suggested I consider responding to the need for interpreters. I leapt at the chance of flexible employment which could help me keep my second language, and might also guide me in finding my place in Australian society again.
Swahili-speakers have arrived in Australia due to migration, fleeing wars in Burundi, Rwanda and the Congo and as returning expatriates (like myself). In the 2011 census, there were 6,885 Australian residents who reported speaking Swahili as their main language at home. This makes it one of the fastest growing languages in Australia, increasing more than 100% from 3,051 Swahili-speakers in 2006.
This means Swahili is also an ‘emerging language’, with an increasing demand for language services and without a corresponding increase in the supply of suitable interpreters and translators. In my experience, many interpreters are newly settled refugees with good English, who then move onto other full-time work as soon as they can.
The first interpreting agency I worked with in 2004 took me on although I had no training or recognition: I was their only Swahili interpreter for some time. At an initial job, I discovered a teenager had missed about 16 days of his TAFE lessons due to interpreting for his family.
As I gained confidence and skills, I entered contracts with other agencies. Sometimes I was in a catch-22 dilemma with agencies requiring I have recognition status, which I couldn’t get until I had referral letters from two agencies vouching for my work experience with them.
In 2009, I undertook training through NAATI’s New Interpreters Project (NIP) and was encouraged to sit the newly available Swahili paraprofessional interpreter exam. The NIP was a project that aimed to increase the number of interpreters in specific language groups by covering the cost of obtaining NAATI accreditation or recognition. NAATI shows foresight in running such projects, since interpreters of rare languages only receive income from casual appointments.
Being a rare interpreter and translator brings some unique challenges and benefits. If I cannot accept a job on a particular day or time, a person might go without an interpreter, with consequences like having to come back to court again, or being held in police custody longer, or getting less than ideal service.
This means that I may be asked to nominate alternative days and times that I am available. Occasionally, even if I am not logged in for telephone interpreting, I may be contacted outside the system to check on my availability.
Another particular challenge I deal with is that I defy the usual expectations about African interpreters. I speak English with an Australian accent, since it is my mother tongue. My Scottish and Irish names match my appearance - white skin and freckled with red hair.
For some Swahili-speakers my appearance as a ‘mzungu’ (white European) is extra reassurance that I will maintain confidentiality - they know that I am not moving in their close-knit community. On the other hand, some of the professionals I meet are taken aback by my appearance and have to readjust their expectations and control (or not) their curiosity.
Most of the time, I very much enjoy being asked “where did you learn this rare language?”
Jean Burke is a senior social work lecturer at Australian Catholic University, and a Swahili paraprofessional translator and interpreter. She learnt Swahili as her second language when she and her family lived in the United Republic of Tanzania from 1992-2003. Jean primarily worked with an AIDS project within the Anglican Church of Tanzania, doing community HIV education and supporting a self-help group of people with HIV. On returning to Australia she has interpreted for many Congolese and Burundian refugees and others from East and Central Africa.
Here at NAATI, we have been busy looking at ways to improve our products and services. As part of this, we have changed the way our sample test kits are provided.
Instead of physical copies, all NAATI sample test kits are now sold as USBs. Each USB will be pre-loaded with the particular sample test (or tests) you request.
This new convenient digital format has allowed us to dramatically reduce prices. All sample test kits are now $44.00 for Australia-based customers and $55.00 for internationally located customers.
We have also made some major updates to our application forms. A number of our most popular forms are now in an editable PDF format, meaning that you can fill them online. If your application does not require photos, you lodge your signed form and any supporting documentation via email.
Another significant change is that as of 1 February 2017, NAATI no longer requires application photos to be witnessed.
Applicants will still need to provide us with two Australian passport sized photos as well as having any other supporting documentation certified. Click here to find out who can certify application documents.
By Eirlys Chessa
When I migrated to Australia from Italy, in 1988, I already had 10 years of experience in translating and interpreting. Most of my experience had been acquired on the job in Italy, as it used to be in those days.
Like many migrants, I relied on the information obtained from my relatives and from the Government institutions I dealt with on a daily basis. It was in fact my first visits to a hospital and to Centrelink that led to my being advised to continue my line of work in Australia.
I returned to AUSIT in 2014 after helping to establish the Translating and Interpreting Group in APESMA (now Professionals Australia) in 2012, and have advocated for these two associations joining forces ever since.
Why? Because over the last few years, as a recruiter and support person for my colleagues, I have increasingly become aware of the negative effects on my colleagues’ performance due to professional isolation. In part, this isolation appears due to the lack of interest in, and/or information about, the availability and benefits of peer and employer support.
Professional associations can really help us to develop our support networks and develop our own professional knowledge and awareness of the issues concerning our profession. All this makes us more informed and more effective in managing our business and assisting the people who most need our help.
These people may include speakers of languages other than English (LOTE) who experience difficulty in day-to-day dealings with public services and authorities or, at the higher end of the translating and interpreting industry, businesses and governments needing to communicate with each other, in order to prepare a better future for us all.
If we, as professionals, are able to communicate with each other and learn from each other, we are also less likely to be taken advantage of by unethical clients and language service providers.
This can mean that we can then reach out to our colleagues at all levels and in all nations, creating awareness of the importance of protecting ourselves from vicarious trauma and the risks associated with exposing ourselves to unnecessary emotional and physical stress-related illnesses.
We need to look after ourselves above all others, or we lose our effectiveness in our professional capacity. This applies, of course, to all professionals. Unfortunately, particularly in Australia, many interpreters and translators do not see themselves as professionals partially because of how the industry itself came into being.
Our industry grew on an ad-hoc basis to cope with successive waves of migration causing a constant fluctuation in supply and demand. In fact, the history of translating and interpreting in Australia is a fascinating subject of which many lack awareness.
This lack of awareness also contributes to the frequent misconceptions about what it means to be a language professional in the Australian environment. It is important, not only for interpreters and translators, but for everyone to become more aware of what has led to the current state of the profession and to work towards the necessary improvements which will benefit Australian society as a whole.
Raising awareness and facilitating professional development is what professional associations do best. Please consider joining us.
Eirlys Josephine Chessa, Grad.Dip. Trans & Interp., RMIT, is currently the Vice-President (Communications and Public Relations) of AUSIT. She obtained her first NAATI accreditation in 1990, and has been working in the public service translating and interpreting field ever since.
The Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators, AUSIT, (in parallel with ASLIA, which specifically represents Auslan interpreters) is the main professional association representing translators and interpreters in Australia in non-industrial matters.
With over 750 members nation-wide, AUSIT focuses its attention on issues of professional development, collaboration with educational institutions, liaison with other bodies (such as NAATI) and raising awareness of the profession amongst the public. You can learn more about AUSIT membership here.
By Julie Judd
My name is Julie Judd and I am a practicing Auslan/English Conference level interpreter, with over 30 years of experience in the field of interpreting. I hold a Bachelor of Education (LOTE – Auslan) from LaTrobe University and a Masters degree in Auslan/English Interpreting from Macquarie University.
Currently, I hold the position of Interim Chairperson for the ASLIA National Executive Committee as well as the position of President at ASLIA Victoria. In addition, I have served on the national and the state branch executive committees throughout my career.
I am committed to enhancing the quality of interpreting provision and providing quality educational opportunities in both the linguistic realm and the ‘soft skills’ required by Auslan/English and Deaf interpreter practitioners.
So why did I join ASLIA (Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association)?
Firstly, ASLIA is a non-profit body and is the national peak organisation representing the needs and interests of Auslan/English interpreters and Deaf Interpreters. This is something I am very passionate about. ASLIA is led by practitioners for practitioners.
Secondly, Auslan-English and Deaf interpreters work in very much the same way as spoken language interpreters do. There are a number of areas where Auslan-English interpreting work does differ to that of our spoken language colleagues working in Australia.
These differences include:
- Practicalities in positioning the interpreter
- The domains in which interpreting occurs
- Consideration of the Deaf client’s language use
- Team interpreting
My passion is to ensure training and ongoing learning opportunities that encompass the complexity of our work as practitioners.
ASLIA supports this by encouraging professional development and networking opportunities across the sector, and this is why I have been an involved member, to promote the profession and ongoing training, ensuring practitioners are kept abreast of the needs of our clientele.
Finally, my reasons for membership of ASLIA is due to their vision of:
- Strengthening the position of ASLIA as the peak body representing Auslan/English interpreting in Australia
- Providing a professional framework for Auslan/English interpreting
- Promoting best practice in Auslan/English interpreting
Further to this, ASLIA is committed to ensuring that ongoing professional development opportunities are available to interpreters and work closely with state ASLIA associations to ensure the needs of the industry are represented nationally.
I am a proud member of ASLIA, and encourage all Auslan/English and Deaf interpreters to become active members. ASLIA membership supports practitioners by providing a range of benefits that enhance our professional standards of service provision.
Membership means interpreters are supported and kept informed about research and training opportunities to ultimately enhance our practice.
By Katrin Matthews
Recently, as part of our INT Project, NAATI surveyed practitioners about the current revalidation system. We found that the majority of practitioners surveyed preferred to do online training to meet professional development requirements.
As NAATI's Revalidation Officer, I am often asked about what kind of activities practitioners could do that do not require face-to-face attendance at conferences or seminars. Whilst there are more and more online workshops available now, NAATI does also accept self-directed learning activities for the ethics section.
Under section 1.5 of our PD catalogue, a practitioner can choose to read an article (or articles) about translating and interpreting ethics and write a 700 word report about the content of the article.
But where can you find this sort of material? There are a number of texts available in libraries, however there are a number of good articles that can easily be found online.
Below are some links to free ethics material. Whilst this is not a comprehensive list, or representative of all the literature available today, these links are a good starting point to do some more research yourself -
Translation specific material
Interpreting specific material
- Ethical implications in situations where the language of interpretation shifts: The AUSIT Code of Ethics
- Ethical Issues in Public Service Interpreting
- Ethics: A practical guide for Interpreters
When using these or other texts please make sure you quote your source and provide the 700 word report along with your other revalidation documentation. You can claim 20 points for one report (maximum of 20 points per year) under section 1.5.
If you have any further questions, please contact me at email@example.com.
Katrin Matthews has been NAATI's Revalidation Officer since 2013. She has a Masters in German as a Second Language from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. In 1992 Katrin did an internship with UNSW in Sydney as part of her course in Munich, and subsequently moved to Australia with her Australian husband and their children in 2000. She has been teaching German in Australia since 2001, first at UTS in Sydney and then at ANU in Canberra, as well as teaching and assessing German with DFAT. Katrin is also a certified examiner for the Goethe Institute.
By Nicole Adams
In today's world, being online is a given, and our translation practices couldn't run without some Internet presence. Freelance translators, at least those working in the private sector, need to have a website as an online business card for potential clients.
However, I have noticed a trend for translators, especially our younger colleagues, to become distracted from their profession by social media.
Although I dabbled in social media at one point, I now have neither a Facebook page for my business, a Twitter account, or a LinkedIn profile, as I am a very private individual and do not enjoy being 'out there'.
When I had a look around social media recently, I noticed that some colleagues build a bubble and appear to be important figures but are not actually prominent outside the confines of their group.
Although they are considered an 'industry influencer' amongst their followers, most other established professionals in the same field are not even aware of them.
So having accumulated lots of followers or group members on social media means nothing in the real world and may not be an indicator of whether or not someone runs a successful professional translation practice.
I would guess that the majority of translators don't have the time or need to use social media, so don't be ashamed to be one of them!
Social media is a good tool for staying in touch with friends and family around the globe, but I see it as a distraction when it comes to our businesses.
If you feel at all pressured to use social media, to set up a hundred accounts and force yourself to engage when it's not in your nature, please don't.
Your time would be spent much more wisely attending local translator events or visiting events your clients might be attending, to forge real-life relationships. Those are the ones that are likely to turn into fruitful collaborations.
A lot of younger colleagues also seem to feel pressured to 'diversify'. A few years ago, when I followed a suggestion by an AUSIT past president to put together a book presenting a snapshot of colleagues who happily diversify, I was amazed.
Amazed because I personally wouldn't consider doing anything but translating and, as an introvert who hates the spotlight, I wouldn't have the impetus or energy to, say, present at conferences or host webinars.
Just putting that book together was hard work, and to be honest not all that enjoyable as I had to put my translation business on the back burner for a few months. It made me realise that all those colleagues who happily diversify may not be doing much translation proper, and that that isn't an avenue I'd like to go down personally.
Although I did invest in a certificate in business coaching at one point (along with a dozen other certificates ranging from airport management to nutrition), I never put it to use, as it just isn't who I am or what I'm interested in doing.
I did have a single coaching session with one colleague at her request, and although it was only one hour of my time, I felt terribly guilty for charging to help a colleague, so I have never repeated the exercise and much prefer to stick to mentoring free of charge through translator associations, which I believe is what will continue to drive the profession.
I became a translator to translate. While I don't judge colleagues who choose to engage in a variety of other activities, I would encourage you to concentrate on translating if that's what makes you happy.
When you translate 100% of your time, the sky's the limit when it comes to your income. Why would you want to take away from that to sell a few hundred dollars’ worth of products or ancillary services, when you could have earned thousands translating in the same amount of time?
That makes no sense to me, hence I'll continue to stick to only translating, without looking at other income streams. This has worked for me over the past 15 years, so I'll proudly represent our profession for the next 15 years too, and I invite you to join me.
Nicole Y. Adams is a certified commercial German/English translator and editor based in Brisbane, Australia. She has been practising since 2003 and specialises in marketing, corporate communications and public relations. Nicole holds a Masters in Contemporary English Language and Linguistics from the University of Reading (UK) and was awarded Chartered Linguist status for Translation in 2014.
By Athena Matilsky
Do you remember that time, growing up, when you heard someone speaking and you spontaneously replicated what they had just stated in another language? Wait, you can’t remember doing that? Good! Neither can I!
We interpreters tend to polish a few pet peeves. On our scales of righteous indignation, people thinking our job is easy probably ranks right there at the top.
Simultaneous interpretation is not easy. Anyone who has ever tried doing it, knows that. So the purpose of this post is a to serve as a follow-up to Conquering Consecutive. Consider this to be part two on breaking down the modes of interpretation.
My advice to the simultaneous interpreter is - start slow, work incrementally, and don’t get discouraged! Remember, your attempts are successes. When I first started out, I shadowed for six months before I even tried to interpret simultaneously. Because, well, I couldn’t interpret. So, I shadowed.
Even if you are more advanced, this advice will still serve you well. You just have to find a “slow start” that works for you; locate your foundation and then build upon it. For example, even after I had passed my state exam, when I started studying for the federal exam I began at square one (i.e. the first bullet point below).
First, as a warm-up, I shadowed. Then I dual tasked, all the while exercising my brain to get used to a new speed and more specialized content. Then I would attempt the more difficult simultaneous lesson. When I found myself flagging, I reverted back to shadowing or dual tasking and then I tried the simultaneous again.
Don’t discount the importance of prep exercises! As outlined below, they are important for a lot of things, and just because you already know how to interpret doesn’t mean you can’t get better.
Here is a hierarchy of study that I find works well:
PREP FOR SIMULTANEOUS (to be done either on its own, or as a warm-up to interpreting):
- Shadowing: For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, shadowing means repeating what you hear in the same language. This exercise trains your brain to think and listen at the same time, without the added obstacle of converting what you hear into a new language. It also helps you to familiarize yourself with terminology, which you can embed in your brain through repetition (kind of better than that stack of tired-looking flash cards sitting on your desk). If you are just starting out, pick something very slow with a familiar topic. Once you get the hang of that, shadow speeches on harder topics, including those heavy in names and numbers. Then, pick up the pace.
- Dual task: This exercise is a step up from shadowing. Repeat what you did above, but try to simultaneously write the numbers 1-100. When that gets easy, count up by threes. After that, go backwards. Then try writing phone numbers. The possibilities are endless. Consider these push-ups for your brain!
- Rephrase: (This is usually called “paraphrasing” but I find that name to be misleading.) Here you shadow content in the same language, but whenever you can, you substitute one word or phrase for another with identical meaning. For example, instead of saying “my mom,” you can say, “my mother.” “Went back” becomes “returned.” Etc. This exercise allows us to accomplish that same task of listening and speaking, with the added challenge of focusing more on ideas than just robotically parroting words. I know, it’s annoying, but it gets you one step closer to actually interpreting!
Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to embark on the exhilarating roller coaster that is simultaneous interpretation.
- Level one: Begin to actually interpret, using slower material covering familiar topics. If you notice you have missed something, take a deep breath and keep going.
- Level two: Interpret faster simultaneous and/or unfamiliar topics.
- Level three: Interpreter fast simultaneous, and/or specialized topics such as expert witness testimony for DNA, firearms, fingerprints, etc.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Recording yourself and repeating exercises are two vital steps in the process of self-improvement. Compare your recording to the original transcript, marking the sheet as you go. Then determine where you can improve and repeat the exercise in order to integrate what you have learned. If you skip these steps, you are missing half the lesson.
So, yes, simultaneous interpretation is hard. But if you meet yourself on your own individual foundation, so to speak, and then you add incremental challenges, you will find yourself improving.
And if somebody ever tells you that your job must be easy since you are bilingual…Well, just turn on the radio, explain to them what shadowing is, and tell them that if it’s so easy, they should go right ahead.
I can’t guarantee much, but I think I can guarantee they will not underestimate you again.
Athena Matilsky is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree focusing in Spanish interpretation and translation. Through internship programs, specialized coursework and hours of self-study, she became a Certified Healthcare Interpreter, passed the New Jersey interpreting exams at the master level, and achieved certification as a Federal Court Interpreter. Currently, she is adding French as her third language in order to pursue a Master's degree in conference interpreting. She continues to freelance for the courts and she tutors private clients on interpretation technique. You can check out her blog here. This article was republished with permission.
By Ewandro Magalhaes
There is a particular book that tells the story of how I accidentally became a translator — and soon thereafter an interpreter — 30 years ago. It also testifies to how winding anybody’s professional route is and it drives home an idea best summarized in this quote by John Lennon, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.
The book was given to me by a friend during a coffee break in Rio, where we were both pursuing a graduate education in high-performance fitness training. The year was 1986, and I was fresh out of college with a Physical Education degree.
It was a book on a novel sport that had me hooked almost immediately - Triathlon. I had given it a try a year or so before, and ranked high enough in the competition to at least keep training. As soon as I was back in Brasilia, with the book in my bag, I took it upon myself to translate it into Portuguese.
To do so I had to first find a publisher bold enough to risk releasing a book on a sport few people knew anything about. Moreover, I had to find someone crazy enough to believe that over-tanned, skinny-looking P.E. teacher with zero track record as a translator could eventually do the job.
My English credentials were a bit shaky at the time. Unlike most translators, I learned the language in Brazil, through a series of unfinished courses, battered VHS tapes (ask your parents what they are) and thanks to the gracious support of family and friends.
I knocked on at least a hundred doors and got a matching number of rejections. My excitement was fading with each passing day and eventually became apparent to one of the great people I gathered around a pool daily for some coaching in swimming. Flavio Saraiva, a college professor who doubled as chief adviser to the university president, heard my story and offered to deliver a letter to the man if I so wished.
Three days later, he emerged from the cloakroom with a smirk on his face and an envelope in his hands. Inside it were instructions from his boss, Cristovam Buarque (who would later become a senator, a governor and presidential hopeful). The note simply said, “I think your idea is opportune. Please look for Prof. Such and Such at the University Press”.
About eight months later, I had in my hands the very first copy of the book in Portuguese, hot off the printing press. And plastered across the first page was my name as a translator. Folded inside, a note from the editor (and longtime friend since) Regina Marques said, "an accomplishment worthy only of great spirits. Congratulations!”
I eventually misplaced the book. But I kept the note, out of gratitude. I pull it out and look at it from time to time, whenever life wears me down or a dream is taking longer than usual to materialize. Doing so reminds me of a truism I have confirmed time and again - pursuing my dreams and trusting the universe never failed me and never will.
Ewandro Magalhaes is a writer, senior United Nations staff and conference interpreter. He is also a TED author, professor and a former Chief Interpreter of ITU. Ewandro is a coach and mentor to language professionals looking to up their game. He is also the go-to person in the promising field of remote interpretation. You can follow his writing here. This article was reproduced with permission.
By Kieta Philp
When I first studied to be an interpreter, we were taught to 'be invisible'. We were the person in black, meant to stay in our 'box', and our sole function was to bridge the communication gap between deaf people and hearing people. Of course, it wasn’t long into my school career that I found there was far more to it than that.
It is difficult to remain detached or emotionless when you have a legislated and genuine duty of care for the students. In my role at Shenton College, I am responsible for the organisation of interpreters and note takers. As stressful as organising 20 professionals can be, there is one area of the job that is particularly challenging: the judgement calls.
Part of my role is to provide a sounding board for staff to discuss certain dilemmas, ethical or otherwise, they have come across in the course of their duties. Obviously protecting the confidentiality of our students, their families, our teachers and interpreters is at the forefront of each discussion we hold. It is, however, important that everybody in our school community has an outlet to discuss the various issues that they encounter along the way.
Examples of issues that may arise could be: a teacher showing a video without captions, various distractions while in the classroom, a student that does not look at their interpreter, a teacher that is too lenient or too hard on a student…the list goes on and I am sure interpreters in educational environments have all been in situations like this before.
At Shenton College, we discuss and debrief these issues in weekly team meetings, making use of the team environment we work in. Amongst our team we are fortunate to have a wealth of diverse knowledge and life experiences, which we draw upon to try to come to a solution.
This enables us to give the best experience we can to our students before they leave to make their mark on the world. This is also beneficial to staff as a way to de-stress and additionally learn methods, as a team, to deal with any situations we may have to face through the school year.
Often though, given the many different scenarios and time constraints that we find ourselves in, sometimes we need to make an individual judgement call. We are all human, and sometimes we will make mistakes but I believe that when you are faced with the daunting prospect of having to make a judgement call, you simply have to back yourself.
Do what you think is right, and then seek support afterwards by following up with a colleague or fellow ASLIA member. We have all been trained in ethics and it is important we trust in our training. We need to remember that there is plenty of support out there for interpreters. We are all in this together and should never feel we are alone.
Kieta has been interpreting on a full-time basis in secondary education for the past six years. She holds a Diploma of Interpreting and a Diploma of Auslan from Central TAFE and is accredited by NAATI at the paraprofessional level. In addition to this, she undertakes casual community interpreting work. Kieta has travelled extensively, providing her with experiences and knowledge of other cultures and races. This article was originally published in the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.
By Binyao Wei
Based on my own professional experience, I find it relatively easy to correctly translate the original text into the target language. However, I found that, when I was beginning my career, it was difficult to produce smooth work.
Below are some summarized tips to mitigate this difficulty. I hope this helps in your work!
1. Correct it before improving it
Correct translation may not be smooth, but smooth translation must be correct. I strongly recommend that every word contained in the work should be examined carefully. This includes any error, any incorrect word selection, any grammar mistake etc. It is important to remember that accuracy is always the most important rule in translating.
2. Dig it deeper
Chinese grammar is quite flexible, ‘grammar tense’ is typically reflected through ‘adverbial’ or ‘auxiliary verbs’. In my opinion, Chinese is made up of different vocabulary arrays to show its meaning, which is different from English. English is expressed through changes of verbs.
For example, 我该去学习了。‘了’ normally implies past tense. However, the appropriate translation is ‘I should go to study’, which is obviously future tense. Thus, I would say Chinese grammar does not have a ‘tense’, but an ‘aspect’.
Aspect can be simply understood as a reflection of the status of the discussed contents, the meaning of which cannot be simply grasped from one or two words. ‘Tense’ implies the timing of the discussed contents to differentiate the past from future tenses, based on the current time.
3. Reorganise the structure
The language structures of Chinese and English are quite different. Chinese has a shorter sentence structure, while English sentenced tend to be longer.
Meaning in Chinese is expressed directly through words and short sentences that combine these words. However, in English, as long as the sentence structure is free from errors, various sentences can be integrated into a longer one.
For example: 因为贫困，又缺乏有经验的老师，住在农村的孩子几乎没有读过大学，而这个问题由于通讯工具落后，显得日益严重。
When translating this sentence, it is useful to consider English conjunctions, propositions, infinitive verbs and participles. The English translation of the sentence, using one full stop is as follows -
The issue of those children living in rural areas barely go to university due to poverty and lack of experienced teachers is increasingly worsened by the disadvantaged information media.
Moreover, active voice is preferred in Chinese, whilst English tends to adopt the passive voice. Some typical examples of English passive voice include, ‘as can be seen from the fact…’, ‘it is commonly acknowledged that…’, etc. Common structures like these can be considered to enhance the fluency of the translation.
I hope that these tips are quite useful for translation beginners to improve the work. It is a long way to produce smooth translation, but a good beginning is always the best.
Binyao Wei is a professional Chinese to English and English to Chinese translator. He gained his NAATI accreditation in 2015 and has since translated over 60 000 words. Translating is a passion for Binyao who hopes to use his skills in other professions.
By Susanne Creak
Did you know that Nicole Kidman is fluent in Italian and Russell Crowe’s French is of excellent command? Not really – but it seems like it when you watch dubbed Hollywood movies in countries like France, Germany and Italy.
In Holland and Scandinavia on the other hand, our Aussie actors speak English and viewers can understand them through subtitles. It certainly gives people in those countries a head start in mastering the English language and explains why they seem much better at it than the French…
In Australia, we often see foreign movies, documentaries or TV series use subtitles. In news, short clips or magazine-style programs however, we find that either voice-overs or subtitles are used. Most of us have a personal preference on one or the other, and both options have their advantages and disadvantages.
What about English videos though that are directed at foreign language audiences? Content such as corporate marketing videos, training programs, webinars, or specific videos for travellers or migrants… which format is best?
Today I want to talk about the key points to consider when choosing between voice-over and subtitles for your foreign language videos.
In a subtitled video, the audience hears the original language, and written translations appear at the bottom of the screen. The existing audio stays untouched and viewers get to hear the original tone and inflections of the narrator, interviewees and actors. This provides them with a more authentic experience of the original film.
Subtitling use and limitations
Subtitles are typically kept to a maximum of two lines’ length and appear on the screen in synch with the audio and long enough for the viewer to be able to read them whilst they still take in the picture.
It is these limitations in line length and the available number of characters and presumed reading speed of the audience that pose a challenge to subtitlers, particularly when translating from English.
In many languages, full translations are longer and can’t fit into a short window of a few seconds. This means that the subtitler has to make adaptations without compromising on conveying the original meaning or key message.
Professional subtitlers know how to do this by dropping unnecessarily repeated and filler words, or by restructuring whole sentences to make them shorter and eliminating irrelevant bits of information.
For this, they can find themselves criticised by bilinguals who complain that a word may not have been translated, or a sentence not have been translated accurately. However, the key task of the professional subtitler has to be to get the message across, and to do this in the available time.
Even if subtitles are done professionally – they can be somewhat distracting to the viewer and make them lose focus on the other happenings on screen. So, if a video has a lot of strong visual messages, then a voice-over might be the better way to go.
One key advantage of subtitling is the lower production cost, as no voice talents, audio studio or recording engineer are required. Furthermore, subtitles are a great way to offer translated video content online and in a variety of language options through popular video sharing platforms like YouTube and Vimeo.
A voice-over is recorded in the target language from a translated version of the original script. The viewer of the video gets to listen to audio content in their own language. The translations here, too, often require adaptation to be suitable for the recording; how much, depends on the language, the complexity of the video, and on whether the audio has to be exactly synchronised to visual content on the screen.
Many people prefer voice-overs to subtitles because there is no distracting text on their screen, they can follow the information better when they hear it rather than read it and will not miss an entire sentence or two by looking away momentarily. Plus, when there is more than one speaker or character, the use of different voices enables viewers to distinguish the speakers and understand dialogues more easily.
Voice-over use and limitations
Options exist when it comes to the type of voice-over. The so-called “Down and Under” or “UN-style” type is when the original speaker’s voice is played at a lower level in the background, and the voice-over is clearly audible over the top. This is quite commonly used in news and magazine-style programs with one speaker.
Corporate or instructional videos often use a “phrase-sync” voice-over, where the translated transcript is carefully time-coded to match the original timing of the voice and vision. The original narrator cannot be heard, but some original sound effects, e.g. musical elements, can possibly be mixed in.
In “lip-synched dubbing”, the recorded spoken text is most accurately timed to the vision and lip movements. Ambient background sound is maintained, and viewers have the impression that the text is actually spoken by the actors that can be seen on screen.
So, what to use?
When deciding on how to bring your video to foreign language audiences, you will need to think about:
- Which content are you conveying? Your video may be a corporate video explaining technical content on a particular product, service or technology.
- How are you planning to distribute/publish your video? DVDs can provide for both subtitle and voice-overs with menu options to select the language, written or spoken. Video sharing platforms allow for the addition of multiple languages in a cost effective manner.
- How complex is your video? Your video may contain graphics and on-screen text that also requires translation. In this instance, subtitles will make the video too text heavy.
- Who is your target audience? Viewers of a business video will usually be more open to reading subtitles than consumers to whom you are advertising, or people who are being given announcements, advice or support.
Ultimately, when deciding on a format for your next foreign language video, put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. With your video content in mind, determine the option that you think they would prefer, gives them the best understanding of the information and you the desired result for your investment.
Susanne Creak is the General Manager at 2M Language Services. Susanne is a trained subtitler, NAATI accredited translator for German into English and English into German and in charge of all voice-over and subtitling projects at 2M. The original blog post can be found here. 我该去学习了。‘了’
By Nicola Thayil
Translators can easily fall into the trap of sitting at the computer for ten hours a day or more! This is detrimental to our health and well-being. Putting in place habits to make time for yourself will allow you to experience greater gratitude, happiness and meaningful interactions in both your professional and personal life.
Here are five ways that translators can take time out to look after themselves.
Time out for movement. Our bodies are made to move. Translators sitting down all day at a computer can easily develop poor posture. Over time, this can have serious negative effects not only physically but mentally because the way we carry ourselves can shape the way we think.
It’s essential to get moving at least once a day to loosen your joints, improve blood flow and to help cope with stress. Movement to manage stress is important. When we feel stressed or anxious our body produces the hormone cortisol and exercise can help to release this hormone. How we deal with our stress shapes who we are and our mindset. So get up and get moving, improve your health and confidence!
Time out for mindfulness. Freelance translators juggle so many different tasks during the day, from admin and invoicing to translating, proofreading and responding to emails. This can be overwhelming at times. Innumerable studies have shown that we can benefit from a mind that knows how to slow down and focus.
For example, simply being aware of your surroundings and taking the time to focus on your breath allow you to be mindful. Mindfulness meditation is also a great way to take time out. This can be as simple as sitting for five minutes and counting your in and out breaths, observing your thoughts but not dwelling on them, continually bringing your focus back to your breath.
If you make an effort to meditate every day you will improve with practice. Mindfulness meditation widens the gap between stimulus and response, allowing you to react with care rather than emotion. If something happens, you will be better able to step back and respond with the big picture in mind.
Translators are writers! I am a firm believer that if we want to write better we need to read more, but we also need to write! Journaling is a great way to step away from the screen, pick up a pen and to reflect, be creative, unwind and set intentions. Take a notebook and write down how you are feeling, draw pictures, let your ideas and gratitude flow. It may be uncomfortable at first, anything that helps us to grow usually is, but you will improve your writing skills and grow.
4. Meal Preparation
Translators often don’t think about what they are going to eat, their focus is on the next deadline and getting the work done. The risk is that when we decide to eat, it’s usually something quick and potentially unhealthy. When we are hungry we don’t have the patience to turn ingredients into food so we choose the easiest and most convenient option which is usually not the healthiest.
Instead, think about how you can make the healthy options convenient. Cut up fruit, prepare snap lock bags with nuts or plan your meals for the week. You will soon notice the difference as you will be eating healthy nourishing food and you will be free of decision fatigue, giving you more mental energy to concentrate on your translation work.
5. Me time
Freelance translators often work from home and the lines between personal and professional life are often blurred. The problem is, there is often no time left to look after yourself. Me time is different for everyone but it’s just as important for everyone, including translators.
You might like to take a bath, have a cup of tea, go for a walk or get a massage, whatever it is take time out for yourself to relax and refresh. You will feel better, be more productive and ready to deal with what your inbox throws at you!
Nicola Thayil is a professional French to English translator and conference interpreter based in Melbourne, Australia. She has been practicing since 2013 after completing a Masters of Interpreting and Translation Studies at Monash University. Nicola specialises in legal, marketing and business texts, drawing on over five years' experience in marketing, as well as a background in international business. She also authors a translation blog here.
During this year's inaugural National Auslan Conference (NAC) 2016, ASLIA's (Australian Sign Language Interpreters' Association) 25th Anniversary sub-committee presented a book entitled ASLIA: The First 25 Years. This publication documents ASLIA's history as an association from 1991-2016.
Many of ASLIA's collective achievements have been recorded by a diverse range of members, individuals and organisation representatives including NAATI. The focus of the book is how these various elements have come together to support and grow ASLIA.
The book includes:
- A brief description of the interpreting landscape in the lead up to establishing AASLI (Association of Australian Sign Language Interpreters) in 1991.
- The lead up to the introduction of NAATI accreditation testing in 1982 and NAATI's subsequent relationship with ASLIA.
- A column from each of the nine presidents and convenors of ASLIA since its establishment in 1991.
- Reviews and summaries of some of the key events ASLIA has held over the last 25 years.
- Perspectives from individual interpreters, Deaf community members and interpreter service providers about what ASLIA has meant to them.
- Photos from around the community.
ASLIA's role and value should not be underestimated in the working lives of interpreters, Deaf people and the wider Australian community. The NAC 2016 was another significant achievement, marking ASLIA's 25th anniversary and Deaf Australia's 30th anniversary.
This book is an extremely valuable resource for anyone wanting to know more about Auslan interpreting. NAATI is proud of its history with ASLIA and looks forward to celebrating another 25 years.
Click here to download a PDF copy of ASLIA: The First 25 Years.
By Corinne McKay
"Can you give us a quote and a turnaround time?"
As freelancers, we hear or read those words a lot - a client, or prospective client, has a document that they need translated, and they want to know about how long it’s going to take, and about how much it’s going to cost. So, when you’re on the receiving end of that request, what’s the best way to proceed? Let’s look at a few options.
You could pick up the phone. If you have a confident but non-pushy phone manner, a phone call makes an immediate personal connection. "Just wanted to touch base about your document and ask you a few questions that will help me get a better sense of what you’re looking for. What’s the purpose of the translation? What’s the deadline?"
On the plus side, you’re making the effort to make this personal connection, and you’re getting a better sense of what the client is actually looking for (which may be different from what they think or say that they’re looking for). On the minus side, the potential client might view the call as mildly invasive (if they’re thinking just tell me how long it’s going to take and how much it’s going to cost). You also need to make sure that you don’t sound awkward or overly sales-y on the phone.
You could give them a brief and direct answer. It’s going to cost X, and it’s going to take X business days from your go-ahead. On the plus side, this is easy for the client to digest and respects the client’s time. On the minus side, there is no engagement here: the interaction is purely transactional (price and speed), and in a sense, encourages the client to select a translator based simply on those transactional factors. As an aside, *never* give a hard deadline (eg. next Tuesday), because you don’t know when the client is going to respond. Always frame it as "X days from your go-ahead".
You could give them a less brief, but still direct answer. In my unscientific tests, I think that most clients respond better to multiple pricing options, even if the options are a bit of a stretch. For example if a client asks for a quote for a 10,000 word document, I’ll often say, "my normal turnaround time for 10,000 words is five business days, and the cost would be X".
"However I could potentially translate this in four business days, for which the cost would be X. And if you’re not on a tight deadline and you have eight business days, the cost would be X”. I think that simply seeing multiple options makes the client feel that you’re flexible (even if the prices are not wildly different), and avoids a take-it-or-leave-it feeling.
You could give a ballpark answer. It’s generally accepted in the negotiating world that the first person to say an actual number ("it’s going to cost…") is at a disadvantage. Because if you quote less than what the client was willing to pay, you’ve left money on the table.
This is tricky: while it’s certainly possible to ask the client, “What’s your budget?” or “If you work with translators now, what are you paying them?”, it’s generally the service-provider who is expected to say a number first. I like the “what’s your budget?” approach in theory, but I’d be very turned off if I wanted to hire a new accountant, asked about her/his rates, and was then asked, “What were you planning on paying to get your taxes done?” It’s a little odd.
Leave a little wiggle room if you want to. When I give a quote to a new client who looks promising (meaning that I’m very interested in their work), I always include phrasing such as, “If this is outside your budget, just let me know and we can talk further”.
I’m not saying, “If this is too expensive, just say the word and I’ll charge less”. I’m just saying that we can talk about it. Maybe I can negotiate a longer deadline; or maybe I can ask about their budget and suggest what I could do for that amount of money. You’re not required to leave wiggle room, but it’s an option.
Corinne McKay is an ATA-certified French to English translator based in Boulder, Colorado, USA. She has been blogging about translation since 2008, and is also the author of How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator, a career how-to guide with over 10,000 copies in print.
By David Moore
In 2016 the Alice Springs Language Centre is providing a translation pathway for high school students to prepare them for employment in a variety of language-related occupations. This project grew out of a significant need in Northern Territory.
It has been translated into a reality by a project team being the Alice Springs Language Centre principal, a curriculum consultant, a translator and Arrernte language teachers. This Translation Tracks course meets a need as the language industry is in desperate need of trained interpreters, translators, liaison officers and language teachers in Central Australia.
Language maintenance and language development are important. Students gain a deeper understanding of their own Indigenous languages. They also learn about English. They learn about the differences between languages and how to translate figures of speech and idioms, technical key terms, passives, nominalisation, and all aspects of translation.
Students investigate miscommunications between speakers of the languages. They work on developing language resources such as apps and publications. Work skills are a major part of the course. Students visit workplaces and speak with Indigenous interpreters and liaison officers to learn more about the language professions.
The course was discussed with Elders and Indigenous language teachers from eight language groups at Language workshops in Central Australia languages Arrernte, Western Arrarnta, Alyawarr, Anmatyerr, Kaytetye, Luritja, Pintupi, Warlpiri and Pitjantjatjara.
It was also showcased and discussed at the Darwin indigenous language policy meeting with twenty representatives from Katherine and Top End regions. There was unanimous, whole hearted support from these groups. One Alyawarr translator said:
“It’s good, students are learning this course as it is really important. It is hard going from Alyawarr to English and English to Alyawarr. We want our kids to understand that hard English so they can understand it in Alyawarr. This will help our students to get work and help others to understand Alyawarr”.
A language industry stakeholder reference group advised the project to ensure it meets needs of the workplace and leads to direct employment pathways. This group consisted of stakeholders from employers who employ interpreters.
Designing the Course
The course was written at the end of 2015 based on the Australian Curriculum Aboriginal and T.S.I. Language Middle Years Achievement Standards and Content Descriptions. The course began with the year 9 Arrernte class at Centralian Middle School in term one 2016.
The course was edited and translated into Alyawarr and in term two the course has been taught using interactive distance learning (IDL) with Alyawarr-speaking students at the remote Arlparra high school. Course materials were developed term by term as we learnt more about the learning needs of the students and improved the course accordingly. Quantitative and qualitative data was recorded at the start of the project and ongoing throughout the project.
Launching the project
At the start of Term 3 a Translation Tracks workshop was organized for teaching teams from remote high schools to learn about the project in order to begin the course in their languages in 2017. Following the workshop was a launch of the Translation Tracks Workbook which involved students, the language industry stakeholder group, media, the local MLA; elders, teaching teams and education leaders. A short movie showcasing students talking about the course was shown.
Following the workshop it was decided by Yuendumu School; Ti Tree School and Ntaria School to translate the course into Warlpiri, Western Arrarnta and Anmatyerr. These courses will be developed in semester two 2016 and schools will start to teach the Middle Years course at the start of 2017.
Then they will move onto the VET pathway in the senior secondary years. In the future other schools could adapt the Warlpiri and Alyawarr workbooks for use with their own languages. There is also interest from the top end of Northern Territory for this to be a pathway for other Northern Territory high schools.
David Moore is currently a doctoral candidate in linguistics at the University of Western Australia. His Masters thesis (2013) is entitled Alyawarr Verb Morphology and his current research is about the linguistic and translation work of the Hermannsburg Mission in the description of the Western Arrarnta language 1890-1910. David is also a NAATI accredited interpreter in the Alyawarr language and specialises as a forensic linguist in courts and tribunals.
By Sofia Pulici
Yoga has been a part of my life for nearly six years now. I was first drawn to yoga as a teenager. I liked the fact that it enables you to strengthen and calm the body and mind, and connect with yourself – but it was not until 2010 that I started practising yoga regularly.
Back then, I had no idea that I would benefit so much from it, and that regular practice would have such an enormous impact on all aspects of my life, including my work routine. Yoga has helped me to become much more aware of my body and mind.
As a consequence, I started making changes to my sitting posture and the position of my hands on the keyboard, while working. I noticed that my mind was calmer to reply to emails, communicate with direct clients, colleagues and agents, and reflect on translation options.
What amazes me the most is that this all seemed to happen naturally – as my mind became more alert and more aware of what was happening, I started to become more aware of my sitting posture, how my back is supported, how my hands bend or move while typing etc. This awareness allows me to make instant adjustments, paying heed to what my body or mind is trying to tell me.
For some time now, I have been keen to share all this information with my colleagues and fellow translators, so that those interested in starting this practice might also benefit from it. Below are some of the benefits that can be gained through regular yoga practice:
- Releasing tension: as translators, we know all about tension, right? Tension can build up in the shoulders, neck and back muscles, in the eyes, even in the brain.
- Releasing stagnant blood: translators sit for long hours and, and even if we take regular breaks and do physical exercise, we may forget about parts of the body that we do not move constantly.
- Lubricating joints, including hip joints: this improves mobility (remember we experience long periods of sitting!) and helps prevent injuries.
- Strengthening muscles: In particular, yoga can help strengthen the back and core muscles, which helps when sitting for long hours.
- Irrigating the brain: excellent for the long hours of mental processing required of translators.
- Stretching the muscles and spine: also good when sitting for long hours, as it helps align the spine, and causes energy and blood flow better.
- Massaging internal organs: helping maintain perfect health of the organs, particularly in the lower abdominal region, which are compressed when we remain sitting for long hours.
- Balancing and integrating the right and left hemispheres of the brain: positively influencing cognitive processes, helping with concentration and focus, and enabling us to learn better.
- Releasing wind from the body: which, depending on the foods we eat, can accumulate with long hours sitting down.
- Strengthening eye muscles: with eye cleansing techniques that strengthen the eyes and maintain eye health.
Yoga is beneficial for the mind and it helps reduce anxiety and increase concentration. A clearer, calmer mind can be helpful when negotiating with clients or tackling stressful projects. I have learned that, instead of getting anxious or stressed over something a client has said, I am able to react more calmly and consciously.
Yoga is not just about assuming certain body postures (called asanas). Other practices, such as meditation, yoga nidra(full body relaxation and deep state of consciousness), pranayama(breathing practice), and mantra chanting can all help you connect with your body and mind.
Some important notes about yoga:
- Yoga is not something miraculous or supernatural. Yoga helps you become aware of your body and mind and remove the layers (misleading thoughts, habits, patterns) that hide your true essence.
- Although it is not something supernatural, yoga is a serious, subtle practice and should be practised with the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor who is serious about the tradition.
- In order to gain the full benefits, you need practice yoga regularly. It is better to have two regular weekly sessions than to practice yoga sporadically, or at irregular intervals.
Sofia Pulici is a linguist (MA Applied Linguistics) and a NAATI/ABRATES accredited Portuguese/English translator with 10 years’ experience. As a yoga practitioner since 2010, Sofia is committed to improving her yoga learning and techniques. She has studied Vedanta since October 2015 and has been learning the Sanskrit language. Sofia is also currently enrolled in a yoga training program. This article was originally published on the Carol’s Adventure in Translation blog and is reproduced with permission.
By Cátia Cassiano
I’ve been a professional translator for almost 10 years. I love my job, but I must admit it has been a long journey to get where I am today. It is very hard to get your name in the market, but I believe that if you value quality, honesty and perseverance you will eventually get there.
However, your personal circumstances may change suddenly and that may cause great anxiety or concern. I’m going through this experience at the moment as I try to work out how to balance being a new mum without losing my clients.
After working hard over a long time, I’m finally getting more clients. In fact, the volume of my work has increased significantly over the past two years. The dilemma I face is that I don’t want to lose what took me almost 10 years to achieve, but I also didn’t want to miss out on being a mum.
So I’m trying to deal with it in the best way possible in order to minimise the effect on my clients and also be a great mother to my child. I know that one of the major concerns is how maternity leave would affect your revalidation cycle with NAATI.
I am appreciative of the fact that applications are assessed in a case-by-case basis. If you can’t meet the criteria for revalidation because you could not work for an extended period due to pregnancy, you can apply for an extension of your cycle by providing NAATI with medical evidence.
But my major concern is losing my clients. Will they come back when I come back? There’s only so much you can do to avoid losing clients after a long absence, but I believe there’s a few things that can certainly help.
For example, I’ve started by sending letters to my corporate clients three months in advance to make them aware of my upcoming maternity leave. This will help them to minimise any potential interruptions to their usual business.
Secondly, I tried to minimise the amount of full-time leave I am taking. I’ll be totally unavailable for three months and then I will be available on a part-time basis. I know this option may not work for everyone, but it was the best option available to me.
I’m very lucky that most of my maternity leave will be over the end of year holiday period which usually coincides with a slowdown in the amount of work. However, I still need to think of my clients and try to keep in touch with them over this period. At the same time, I will need to be there for my newborn child.
Whilst you can’t really control the volume of your work, I do believe that you can quickly make up professional development points with a little careful planning. It sounds hard, I know, but I believe it’s possible.
Even though I’m still worried that I might lose my clients at the end of the day, I know the quality of my work and I’ve invested time in building a great professional relationship with them. I am hopeful that my clients will recognise this and come back when I come back.
Cátia Cassiano is a professional Portuguese translator who has been living in Sydney since 2006. She is the founder of Updated Words. Catia is passionate about the translation industry and loves to share her knowledge with others.
By Jodie Barney
Below you'll find the answers to six of the most popular questions I get asked when I meet and work with Auslan interpreters.
Question 1: What sign is best for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or Indigenous?
There are different signs for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Indigenous, First Peoples, First Nations, Native Australians, First Australians. However, in Auslan there are many variations that have been used over the years.
It is always best to ask the Deaf client which they prefer. Their choice may be determined by upbringing, their connection to country, their connection to the Deaf community or their exposure to Auslan during their lives. Their preference is what is important to ensure cultural safety during the assignment.
Question 2: What is the difference between the Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country?
Welcome to country can only be done by the traditional owners of the land on which people will be meeting/gathering. This means that other indigenous elders from different areas do not do a welcome to country. It is the cultural practice of the custodians of the lands who have looked after it for generations.
The welcome to country gives permission from traditional owners for you to be on their lands, to go about your business in helping the community and to do no harm. An acknowledgement of country is the respect people show to traditional owners and custodians of the lands, for allowing them to be on their lands, and to go about their business in a safe way.
Question 3: Where should I look if I can’t use eye contact with Deaf Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person?
If you have been asked not to engage in eye contact with a Deaf client, it is best to respect their choice. Some alternatives you could try include:
- Using Auslan for all participants and maintain eye contact with others in the room.
- Casting your own eyes to the ground during the interpreting job, to show your own respect to the client.
- Often women will look down to the left and men look down to the right, you may use these techniques if you observe others doing it.
- Many will maintain eye contact with you even if brief, if they have Auslan skills or have been within the wider Deaf community. They will wait till they trust you before engaging in eye contact.
Question 4: What do Deaf Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders do when they can’t sign?
As I mentioned earlier, the use of visual communication such as 'hand talk' are actually signs used in Aboriginal spoken languages. The ‘hand talk’ is often contextually bound signs that are used in that one community, but some are shared between communities. However, there are signs that are not permitted to be used in the wider community due to their significance to Lore, Women and Men’s business.
Everyone knows these signs; they are used frequently and often so that many are aware of the protocols in using the signs during times such as Sorry Business, Lore, Men’s and Women’s business. Access to these signs is by invitation only. Many interpreters will see signs used in different context, in doing so, be mindful to seek clarification of the signs from elders, family and importantly the client.
Question 5: How many Deaf Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people sign in Auslan?
To my knowledge, there are around 260 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users of Auslan in Australia, this number is my own personal data of Deaf people in communities over the last 25 years working in this area. This number really is for those who have a variety of Auslan skills from basic Auslan to fluent Auslan.
The prevalence of hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is the highest in the world, with up to 90% of the community having ear disease and hearing loss. The use of signs/hand talk is frequent and common place.
Other factors that impact communities are the disadvantages many have with accessing services or learning communication skills due to the high levels of racism, oppression and fear of being removed from their homes. Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people you must remember these factors as to support your client the best way you know how.
Question 6: How will I know if the Deaf Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person understands Auslan?
Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Deaf people, living in urban communities, will understand gestures, iconic signs and may have had some experience with Auslan at schools or socialising in the Deaf community. Also they have their own home signs and continue to use cultural 'hand talk' or sign systems passed down from their families.
In remote and rural communities, Auslan isn’t used at home with various signing systems used in communities. Auslan usually isn’t seen by the many in remote or rural settings due to the difficulties in accessing interpreters, and mostly used in court, hospital (if placed in a city for care) or some educational settings for children.
Jodie Barney is a proud Birri-Gubba/Urangan (Badjala) and South Sea Islander woman from Queensland. She is the owner and lead consultant for Deaf Indigenous Community Consultancy Pty Ltd. Jodie is active across Australia raising the profile of working with Indigenous Deaf and Hard of Hearing peoples’.
This article was originally published in across separate issues of the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.
By Debbie Draegar
I would like to reflect on some of the highs and lows I’ve experienced while interpreting in an educational setting. Over the years I have experienced many joys and moments I would like to forget.
Some of the joys include:
- Interpreting in the Tassie Devil enclosure at a wild life park. Thankfully the presenter could see the huge triangle between himself, the student and I was not working and he invited me to join him in the enclosure allowing effective communication;
- Attending a wide range of excursions and activities, the most memorable was a trip to the Gold Coast Theme Parks with a small group of senior students and staff;
- Being kept on my toes with a quick witted student, who often stirred his teachers or had something funny to say; and
- Being able to bridge the gap in social settings and seeing tense situations diffused and friendships grow, with the knowledge gained.
Some of the not so joyous moments include:
- Attending many detentions;
- Receiving a black eye;
- Working with a teacher who refused to talk to anyone in his class to prove he didn’t need an interpreter in his woodwork and graphic design classes;
- Interpreting “You stupid old …oh I don’t know that sign!” (Just didn’t have the required intent); and
- Being left behind at the theatre after a performance.
The worst experience for me was the day a teacher looked at me a bit shocked and said “I forgot to tell you about the forum we are having today”. It was 3 hours of guest speakers on driver safety. At the end of the forum my arms were so weak with fatigue I was unable to drive, and the student had a headache and eye strain.
So be assertive, take your breaks, and say no when appropriate. Don’t try to be nice and push yourself to the limits. The risk is too great, and it validates the idea that it’s ok to take the interpreter for granted. I am not Wonder Woman and when this happens it’s only because I allow it.
I’ve followed young students from grade one through to college and seen them grow into young adults ready to take on the world and that keeps the passion alive.
This article was originally published in the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.
The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) held a thematic event on ‘Australia’s shifting linguistic landscape: Language policy and practice’ at the Museum of Australian Democracy (Old Parliament House) in Canberra last week.
The report provides an analysis of FECCA’s consultation and research to develop an evidence base on language service provision in new and emerging community languages, that is, languages spoken by individuals who came to Australia as humanitarian entrants over recent years.
FECCA Chairperson Joe Caputo said, “The provision of language services can enhance access to social services for migrants, assist to alleviate isolation and lead to better connections with the community”.
“Quality language services can also improve health outcomes and enable access to fundamental rights, such as the right to a fair trial. The availability of well-trained, competent interpreters to work with individuals in complex circumstances, such as family and domestic violence situations, is critical to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of these individuals”.
Training options for interpreters in new and emerging community languages is limited. In this report, FECCA has recommended an optimal training and accreditation model, based on a review of the various models across jurisdictions and the identification of good practice elements.
There is a strong need for a national, multi-jurisdictional program to increase the quantity and quality of language services to meet the language services needs in new and emerging languages.
With the diversity of Australia’s population increasing, a solution to address language services needs for emerging languages must be sustainable, flexible and forward-looking; one that can be contextualised and applied to specific languages and the changing circumstances of supply and demand.
Dr Joseph Lo Bianco, Professor at the University of Melbourne stated, “to build our interpreting, translating and mediation services we need high levels of proficiency, support for less commonly taught languages, flexibility and innovation”.
“It is in the interests of the entire national community that we support language services, because by doing so the entire community benefits”.
The proposed solution could also have a positive flow-on effect for addressing language services supply and demand gaps for other, more established languages, by developing evidence of good practice and innovative solutions. FECCA’s report outlines a way forward.
By Diana Caruana
Hesitant but excited at the prospect of trying something new, I accepted my first theatre interpreting gig. You know those times when your mouth works quicker than your brain and before you know it, you can't take your words back? That's how it felt when I said "yes".
The script arrived first. It was from a local, contemporary ensemble for emerging artists. Quite an abstract and thought provoking production and like a lot of theatre, was open to interpretation. As practitioners we all know the importance of preparation. This is certainly true for theatre interpreting.
Comprehending a script for a performance you haven't seen can be unnerving. Thankfully, I was given the opportunity to watch the production with my mentor who is an experienced theatre interpreter. The significance of themes, timing, direction and the role of music became clearer.
I took note of scenes that may present challenges because of my stage position, anything visual (that didn't need an interpretation), idioms and humour that required a succinct interpretation. You barely have time to "unpack".
An intense forty-eight hours followed. Meeting up with my mentor to discuss notes and rehearse was invaluable. I was working on stage alone, but for the most part I didn't feel that way. She gave me guidance, advice and validated my understanding of the performance. I can see the importance of a consultant for the larger theatre productions. That support is necessary.
Working alone on stage, using role shift can be hard when you can't see what's happening behind you. While I tried to prepare for this, there were slight differences in the dialogue between performances. Just because there is a script doesn't mean it will be followed exactly.
There will be variances, actors do ad lib! Theatre interpreting is not just about conveying the message. It's about what you want the audience to feel and experience. "Give yourself permission to use free interpretation", was a great tip. Don't focus on words so much, but the meaning behind them. With this thought, I realise I can be freer with space too, without over doing it.
I have a greater respect for colleagues that live and breathe theatre interpreting. You're amazing and I look forward to learning from you in the future. Thank you to those that worked with me. You certainly made me feel comfortable, not so nervous and allowed me to enjoy the experience all the more.
Daina Caruana is a Paraprofessional Auslan Interpreter based in Sydney. She has been practising since 2013 after completing the Diploma of Interpreting (Auslan/English). Daina has a background in management and administration and has been immersed in the deaf community and culture since birth. She now enjoys interpreting in various settings and recently started interpreting in theatre. This article was originally published in the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.
By Loretta Walshe
As a major service provider in the Deaf sector, Deaf Children Australia (DCA) was invited to contribute to this continuing discussion on interpreters and their social media activities. We greatly appreciate the vital role that interpreters play in our workplace and our service provision.
Social media now plays a central role in the community, and particularly the Deaf community. There is an increasingly blurred line between our professional and personal lives which can be difficult for all of us to navigate. On the whole, we have greatly appreciated interpreters’ capacity to maintain confidentiality and impartiality.
DCA expects the same professional behaviour from the interpreters we contract as we do from our staff. We engage interpreters via language service providers, most of whom have social media policies, or references to the same in their employment agreements or staff manuals. Interpreters need to be aware of their obligations under their employment agreements and the expectations of the organisations who contract them.
As interpreters are privy to many confidential discussions and are in a position of trust, we have high expectations. We don’t want to have any doubts about their ability to maintain privacy and impartiality. We understand interpreters have connections across many parts of the Deaf community and it can be a fine balance between their professional responsibilities and personal lives.
Yet whether they do or do not directly provide interpreting services to DCA, we expect all NAATI accredited interpreters to refrain from getting involved in any sector politics, publishing damaging comments, or sharing confidential information.
If an interpreter engages in any debate in the Deaf sector and publishes his or her opinions, then turns around and wants to work with an organisation involved, it could be very difficult. It’s hard to maintain that professional reputation of neutrality in these circumstances.
So our advice is to use your best judgement when engaging online. Remember that what you publish on your personal pages can reach far and wide, and live on for a long time - so you may want to put your emotions aside and reconsider. Even reposting or liking someone else’s inflammatory comments can damage your professional reputation as an interpreter.
The best insurance is 'if in doubt...don't post'. If you make an error on a social media site, be upfront and honest about the mistake and correct it immediately. Remember to highlight that an amendment has been made.
If you are accused of posting something improperly, such as copyrighted material or a defamatory comment, deal with it quickly outside of the social media site (for example by telephone or in person), and then apologise and correct it appropriately on the site. We appreciate your consideration of the complicated challenges which arise through our engagement in the social media terrain.
Loretta Walshe is currently the Communications Manager for Deaf Children Australia. She has previously worked in communications, marketing and fundraising with other not-for-profit and health sector organisations including Guide Dogs Victoria, CatholicCare, Australian Red Cross, Cancer Council Victoria and Austin Health. This article was originally published in the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.
As part of our INT Project work, NAATI has been reviewing the processes and policies around revalidation. NAATI is fully committed to the principle of revalidating accreditations and recognitions and will continue to promote the merits of doing so.
However, we also acknowledge that the current process can be improved and we are determined to work with the sector to improve the administrative process to support revalidation. Last Thursday, NAATI released an online feedback survey to current, revalidating practitioners. The feedback collected from this survey will assist us in making decisions about the future certification scheme.
NAATI CEO, Mark Painting, commented that “whilst we have had plenty of suggestions in general terms, some more useful than others, this survey will give us valuable direct feedback from those currently involved in the process. We accept that we have to make the process more user friendly and efficient and I commit us to work with stakeholders, both at individual and organisational level to ensure we can achieve that”.
NAATI has also been reflecting on other issues associated with revalidation policy. Under our original policy, those holding paraprofessional level accreditation could only revalidate twice at that level before being required to attempt the professional level accreditation.
A number of stakeholders raised concerns about this with NAATI management during the national INT consultation sessions in April 2016. In response to that feedback and further consideration, NAATI has removed this requirement from the policy.
The CEO commented that “the paraprofessional level of accreditation is essential to providing the necessary level of service to the community, especially in particular language groups and whilst we will continue to encourage and provide incentive for practitioners to upgrade, I don’t think it is fair to mandate it. Further, allowing these to lapse will only exacerbate the problem of the shortage of accredited practitioners in these languages”.
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One of the most popular tools on the NAATI website is our online directory of translators and interpreters. The directory allows people to search for an appropriate translator or interpreter based on certain criteria including language and location (country, state and postcode).
It has been in existence since 1981 and was launched as a free online web search in 2000. The NAATI team is very excited to release a significant upgrade to this important tool. This upgrade has drastically changed the search's user interface in order to make it easier to clearly see the number of practitioners available through each search criteria.
Here is a quick guide to performing a directory search:
Step 1: Selecting the language
- All you need to do is simply select the Language other than English (LOTE) needed in the first box.
- Fill in the reCAPTCHA box and then press search.
Step 2: Filtering the results
- If there are practitioners available in your selected language combination, these will show up in a randomized order on the result page. If there are no practitioners available, you will see an error message.
- On the left hand side of the screen, you'll see a number of filter options for your results. In order to use these effectively, you should ask yourself the following questions -
- Category: do I need a translator (written) or an interpreter (spoken)?
- Experience: what are my requirements? eg. if you need a birth certificate translated for a government application you would generally pick professional level or above.
- Country: what Australian state or country should they be located in?
- Postcode or Suburb: Are there enough results so I can search for practitioners that are located closest to my postcode or suburb?
- The brackets next to each option will tell you the number of results that will show up when you apply that filter. These brackets will adjust automatically as you work through the filters.
- To apply any of the filters to the search results, select your filter or filters and then press the apply button at the top of the box.
- The clear button will clear any filters you have selected. The go back button will take you to the search home page.
- In some cases the results will show that there are less than 10 available practitioners in Australia. In these cases, it is generally advisable not to apply any further filters. You should go through the results and contact your preferred practitioner (or practitioners).
Step 3: Going through the final results
- Once you have a list of final results, you can click on each practitioner's name to find their contact details. Alternatively, you can choose to print your results by clicking the print results button on the right hand side of the screen.
- If you are looking for a translator, you will need to make sure you are selecting the right language direction. These language directions (to English or from English) are shown in brackets next to a person's credential eg. Professional Translator (Arabic to English)
- It is up to you to contact your preferred practitioner (or practitioners). NAATI cannot do this for you.
- If you need to start your search again, click the go back button that sits above the filters column.
- To get back to the NAATI website, click the contact us link at the very bottom of the page.
By Zane Hema
I recently read a very interesting article about air turbulence; the violent or unsteady movement of air that makes for a bumpy flight. While it is normal and happens often, it can be dangerous. According to the FAA, in-flight turbulence is the number one cause of injuries to passengers and airline crew.
The 3 types of air turbulence are:
- (a) storm turbulence;
- (b) mountain or wave turbulence; and
- (c) unexpected turbulence.
Storm turbulence is foreseeable. As storms are visible by radar and satellite, turbulence can be anticipated.
With this information together with updates from the ground and other aircraft the pilot can fly the plane around the storm and avoid the worst. When strong winds blowing perpendicular to mountains, pass over the top, mountain or wave turbulence is produced on the other side.
This type of turbulence can’t be seen but pilots can anticipate it and take the necessary action to avoid the worst of its effects. The third is termed unexpected turbulence or clear air turbulence. It cannot be seen and can happen without warning.
Unless the pilot gets reports from other pilots who have just flown through the same region, there is little else the pilot can do to avoid injury to passengers. That’s why passengers are always advised to fasten their seat belts when seated and to minimise any time away from their seat.
Interpreting may be likened to a flight that may encounter turbulence, if by that, we mean those bumpy moments, foreseeable or not, that have the potential to cause injury to our work. Co-working in an environment where it difficult to hear is an example of foreseeable interpreting turbulence.
The working interpreter may avoid injury to their work by combining a number of factors at their disposal, including:
- (a) making sense from the fragments of sounds heard in context;
- (b) calling on the strength of their preparation;
- (c) calling on their world knowledge; and
- (d) support from the co-worker.
Interpreting turbulence can also be unforeseen perhaps where a participant makes a reference to an event, individual or place where the interpreter does not have context.
Or where a participant makes a surprise remark that causes offence to others as well as the interpreter. It could be a last minute change to the program. The potential for injury to work is greater and some quick thinking and sound judgement is required to decide a course of action, one that optimises safety for everyone.
I remember my first interpreting teacher telling us to “expect the unexpected”, because chances are it will happen.
Zane Hema is a professional Auslan interpreter but originally trained as a British Sign Language interpreter completing his Post Graduate Diploma in 2000. He also works as an international interpreter educator and is the former President of the Association of Sign Language Interpreters (for England, Wales & Northern Ireland), Vice-President of the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters and Secretary of World Association of Sign Language Interpreters. He gained his first NAATI accreditation in 2014. This article was originally published in the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.
By Jade Wu
I remember vividly the first class I had as part of my paraprofessional interpreter course at South Bank Institute of TAFE.
Our teacher, a professional interpreter and translator for over two decades, frankly declared to us, “if any of you here believe that being an interpreter means that you only need excellent language skills, you should stop thinking that now”.
Now, after working as an interpreter for over six years, I truly understand the meaning behind that statement.
There is so much more involved with being an interpreter. Every day is different and exciting with a wide variety of work available.
Interpreters work with a diverse group of professionals that are, for the most part, very appreciative of the work we do. Occasionally I have come across people that really do not understand what we do or treat us like machines.
I really do feel like the cultural bridge between people, whether I am working face-to-face or over the telephone. My cultural background is Chinese and I find that Chinese culture can be very different to western culture.
For example, I remember working with one client who had to ring a gas company to ask them to cancel a bill. He spent over 30 minutes explaining his position to the operator.
Then the operator asked him directly, “would you like us to cancel your bill?”, my client would not answer yes or no and continue to explain.
I had to interrupt the call and explain to the operator that directly asking an organisation to cancel a bill can be embarrassing and even shameful to a Chinese person, as we are not accustomed to fighting for our rights.
I then had to explain to my client that it is okay to say yes and that being so direct would not have consequences. After the call reached the hour mark, the yes was said and the problem resolved.
It has been my experience that a lot of elderly clients feel very intimidated or nervous when they meet or talk with English-speaking professionals. It requires a lot of them to move out of their comfort zone.
On another occasion, a client told me to literally interpret everything they said without asking questions. The professional we were meeting with then had me ask the client what they meant by saying such things.
As an interpreter, I become a client’s voice and help them to gather their thoughts so they can be understood clearly.
However, sometimes I feel inadequate as I struggle to find the right words to convey the intensity of a client’s expressions.
Once, during a police interview, the detective asked the alleged why he had assaulted the other man. The alleged person replied that other man had cursed at him, saying that “you are a stupid dog”.
After I interpreted this, I realised the swearing sounded so much worse in Mandarin than in English. The police officer was finding it difficult to understand why this remark would trigger an assault.
I then told the officer, that “even though it doesn’t sound very bad in English, it is very bad cursing in Mandarin”.
After that assignment, I realised that I needed to do some more work on expanding my knowledge of insults and curse words.
There are plenty more stories I could tell. I love this profession and I find that every day is different and challenging.
I’d like to call on my fellow interpreters to hold our heads high and do our jobs with a sense of pride and joy, knowing that every day, we are bringing a little bit of sunshine to someone’s life.
Jade (Ya Lin) Wu is a professional Mandarin - English interpreter working in Brisbane. She has been interpreting for over 6 years since gaining her first NAATI accreditation in 2010. Jade also has a degree in Commerce and is married with three children.
By Yavar Dehghani
As a translator, I know that it can be difficult to find equivalent words for a specific word or phrase in the target language. This difficulty can become overwhelming when a word or phrase in the source language has no cultural equivalent in the target language.
In my professional experience, the best solution for dealing with this type of problem is to explain the context where the word or phrase is used rather than translating them. My preferred method to do this is to use document footnotes.
Below are some brief examples that illustrate this difference and some strategies to overcome the problem. These examples use English and Persian as either the source language or target language.
Title and names:
In Persian, when addressing people, you also include their occupation along with their title and name in this order: title/occupation/name. For example, Mr Dr Ahmadi or Mrs Engineer Bakhshi.
When you translate this to English, you would delete the title and explain why in the footnote.
The Persian language contains a number of idioms to express appreciation and gratitude - dattetun dard nakone (your hand may not be sore) and qorbanet beram (I sacrifice for you).
When translating these into English, you should try and choose the closest the most appropriate English version depending on the context – eg. thank you or sorry for the trouble.
As alcoholic drinks are forbidden in Iran, there are very few words to describe where you would purchase one and what the drinks are called.
The following words and phrases have no equivalent in Persian and should be explained as you see below:
- Beer garden: an area outside a pub where people can sit at tables and drink.
- On the rocks: a drink where your alcohol of choice is poured over ice and served.
- Cocktail: a mixed drink that contains both alcohol and non-alcoholic mixers.
- A sour: usually this is a whiskey drink, but can be made with other types of liquor also. In addition to the alcohol of choice, a sour also contains sugar and lime juice or lemon juice to give it bitterness.
Life and death:
In Persian culture, what happens to a person after death is extremely important. This is why there are number of formal words for death including - marg, ertehal, rehlat, dargozasht, fot etc.
Each of these words are used to express a particular degree of respect and formality. When translating these words into English, you would have to explain the degree of respect intended.
To conclude, careful word selection and some extra contextual explanations can go a long way in making sure your translations can be easily understood by your audience or clients.
Dr Yavar Dehghani is a self-published author, linguist and lecturer in Iranian languages including Persian (Farsi & Dari), Pashto, and Turkic languages including Azari and Turkish.
He obtained his first NAATI accreditation in 2002. Click here to learn about his other works.
The ENPSIT (European Network for Public Service Interpreting and Translation) conference in Paris, June 2015, brought together a number of testing and accreditation authorities from different parts of the world.
After the conference, representatives from the UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Canada and Australia sat down to address and discuss issues arising around testing, recognition and accreditation of translators and interpreters working in the public services.
Public service interpreting and translation, also referred to as 'community interpreting' in some contexts, can generally be defined as interpreting and translation services that make it possible for individuals and communities to access community services who do not speak the language the service is provided in.
All the bodies represented at this meeting face many common or similar challenges regardless of the fact that we operate differently in our respective countries. It was during this meeting the International Language Certification Network (ILCN) was formed.
The ILCN group - comprising of certification authorities, awarding organisations and regulatory bodies - agreed to set up an informal network to share knowledge and good practice, to exchange experiences and lessons learned and to jointly address and find solutions to the common challenges faced.
The initials areas of interest for collaboration identified by the ILCN include:
- The impact of technological change on candidate assessment and accreditation;
- Assessing and certifying ‘rare’ languages where expertise is often equally rare; and
- The application (and development) of international standards.
ILCN participants have varying levels of expertise in these areas and the network aims to collaborate in addressing these issues to provide economies of scale and broader benefits.
Future activities might include joint research, shared standard setting or bids to attract funding.
The other members of the ILCN include:
By Patrizia Burley-Lombardi
A good translation is one that helps the reader achieve a better critical understanding of the literary work.
It is the little things that are the mark of a well-grounded translation; examples abound but, for lack of space, let me just mention one small observation: the family, which is central to the story, is the Vivaldis.
When describing them in their home, the translator chose to leave the Italian definition casa Vivaldi, thus drawing us, the readers, into a truly Italian household without the mediation of the translated English. One other aspect of translation which needs to be understood is the dominant.
Again quoting Cavagnoli, “…when beginning a translation, one must clearly know for whom the translation is meant, that is, who the reader of the novel or short story will be. But it is equally important to know what the function of that translation is.
“One must focus on the dominant, that is, the component which is the focus of the text … What the author tells is important; however, the way the author tells it is not less important… To isolate the dominant of a text in its contents, or in the style in which the story is told, can influence choices….
“It is even more important when the stylistic choices are peculiar … and the chosen words heavy with meaning”. Grave understands the above and A very normal man as a translated text ticks all the boxes. I recommend it for its merit as a very accomplished translation and a good read, but also a very useful text for those who study or teach translation skills and techniques.
A very normal man is a celebrated work of modern Italian literature, written in 1976 and set in the so called years of lead (1969-1981), when bombs would explode in crowded places or guns would be levelled at innocent people, murdering them in the name of a new order.
Cerami was a well-respected writer of film scripts. Even if we were not aware of this, we would notice that the dominant here is manifold: to tell the story in a visual and cinematic style, creating scenes for the reader to see through the eyes of imagination, in the most immediate way possible.
It also tells a major piece of history, as it completely overturns the quiet and well-planned lives of a little bourgeois family in Rome in the 1970s, using the language spoken then by average Roman citizens living average Roman lives.
The work describes the metamorphosis of Giovanni Vivaldi, a fastidious and respected employee in a Rome ministry office, a good man, into a chilling monster, and his descent into his own private hell. At the centre of the novel is a tragedy: the accidental killing of Mario, the dutiful son of Giovanni.
This occurs while he is accompanying his son to take an entry examination which will gain him employment in a government department. Giovanni’s all-encompassing ambition has already been introduced in the opening page, when father and son are out fishing:
“Farai strada, quant’è vero Iddio ... Comincerai proprio da dove sono arrivato io, dopo trent’anni di servizio ... e tu hai soltanto vent’anni ...”
(You’ll go a long way, swear to God you will. You’re only twenty and you’re going to start out from the very spot I got to after working for thirty years…)
As the tragedy unfolds, this is Cerami’s masterful and potent description of the absurdity of the young man’s death:
“Il sangue usciva dai calzoni del ragazzo come da rubinetti lasciati aperti. A ucciderlo furono alcuni colpi di arma da fuoco [...] Cosa successe? Una rapina al Monte di Pietà, alla luce del giorno …”
(Blood gushed from the boy’s trousers as if taps had been left running … He’d been killed by gunfire [...] What had happened? A daylight robbery at the central Monte di Pietà pawnshop.)
Of the many novels set in this period, this is the one which conveys all the above with efficacy and immediacy. It concisely, succinctly and yet beautifully captures a great many of the nuances.
It is no wonder that the novel was later made into a successful film directed by Mario Monicelli, starring Alberto Sordi in the lead role.
In this case, the film doesn’t add to or detract from the written text, both in the original Italian and, commendably so, in Isobel Grave’s masterful translation.
Patrizia Burley’s professional experience spans about 40 years. She has lectured in Art History and Italian Studies and in Interpreting and Translating Studies in Australian and Italian Universities.
She has worked as a freelance interpreter and a translator in Australia and Italy and as a radio journalist in Melbourne. This article was reproduced with permission. You can read Part 1 here.
Patrizia Burley-Lombardi reviews Isobel Grave’s 2015 translation of A very normal man (Un borghese piccolo piccolo) by Vincenzo Cerami (1976).
At times the day starts with some kind of plan in mind, but fortunately fate has other ideas. This is what happened to me when I first came across this novel of only 117 pages. I went to the launch because I am a translator and this was the launch of the translation of Cerami’s Italian novel Un borghese piccolo piccolo.
I was mainly interested in analysing the translation hot off the press. It is unusual, although not unheard of, for the translation of an Italian novel to be published in Australia. It is also unusual to translate a novel nearly 40 years after its original publication, unless it is a work of love.
Here I found a model of a translated text where the original Italian maintains its voice and colour faultlessly. The mark of a good translation is not realising it is a translation, but Isobel Grave has taken this text to a higher plane, where we can feel we are reading an Italian work of literature, written by a very clever author with a unique voice.
We are touched by how the passion, the tongue-in-cheek dark humour and the beating heart of unfolding evil are never lost to the English reader. All this in 117 pages written in an unforgettable style. This translation of Cerami’s first published novel, 39 years after its first publication, is an unexpected treat.
It brings to the non-Italian reader the enjoyment of the original Italian narrative quality and flawless style, introducing them to a classic work of Italian literature. I wish more literary works were translated so well.
Unfortunately, translations are usually noticed or discussed when there is something not to be liked about them. Translation is not just a skill and a craft but also an art form. The Italian translator Franca Cavagnoli says “to read a lot helps one to meet the challenge of a typical aspect of a literary text – its ambiguity.”
She continues, “linguistic difficulties are actually only one aspect of the cultural difficulties one has to confront when a literary text is poured from one language into another”.
So was the challenge of ambiguity met here? Did the literary text fare well from the source to the target language? These are very important points in translator terms, along with the issue of whether the images described by the author transition smoothly into the target language and are received equally well by the readers.
“A translation must be faithful to the original text. It must transfer and preserve its meaning and its aesthetic integrity. Some translators opt for adaptation, that is, for rewriting the original text and adapting it to the target language and culture,” says Alda Marini.
“As much as possible, I try to avoid this …The translator, however, deals not only with words, but with what lies behind the words. In a text to be translated, as in any work of art, what cannot be seen is just as important as what can be seen.”
As a reader, I felt the translator surpassed the author without distorting meaning. I was able somehow to see the images in translation even better than in the source text. But then again, the role of the translator is to also open up new worlds to which one would have no access but by reading literature in translation.
Patrizia Burley’s professional experience spans about 40 years. She has lectured in Art History and Italian Studies and in Interpreting and Translating Studies in Australian and Italian Universities.
She has worked as a freelance interpreter and a translator in Australia and Italy and as a radio journalist in Melbourne. Stay tuned next week when we publish the final part of Patrizia’s article.
By Nicola Thayil
For many people I know, I’m sure they think that just because I can speak French and English, I can translate texts from one language to another. But to get from one language to another, or from source text (ST) to target text (TT), requires a translator to go through a process. Firstly, this involves the translator making a number of choices about how to interpret the ST.
Secondly, it requires the translator to use resources and to apply technical skills in order to thirdly, re-express the message in the TT. From this description, we can conclude therefore that translation is a decision making process. Any kind of process has inherent risk. The Business Dictionary defines inherent risk as, "the probability of loss arising out of circumstances or existing in an environment, in the absence of any action to control or modify the circumstances".
In translation, we could say that risk equates to the possibility of not fulfilling the translation's purpose as proposed by translation theorist Anthony Pym in his 2010 paper Text and risk in translation. I think that this is only a partial view of what we could consider as risk in translation. Within the decision making process of translation, I see three sets of risks to be managed and minimised. Text, technology and trade risks.
Text-related risks are those that Pym refers to – the possibility of not fulfilling the translation’s purpose. This could have disastrous results for the client as many of the marketing and brand name translation fails show us. One particular favourite of mine is when KFC made Chinese consumers a bit apprehensive when 'finger licking good' was translated as 'eat your fingers off'.
Technology-related risks are those faced by the translator in using software and hardware to produce and send translations. If your computer crashes and you don’t have a back-up, or your email client is unreliable, then there are definitely serious elements of potential risk to the translator, the translation and the client.
Trade-related risks are the risks of doing business as a translator. Making sure that your business structure is in order, you budget for your expenses and do your homework on companies and agencies to ensure you get paid. Corinne McKay’s article on payment practices is a helpful resource on this topic.
So how can we mitigate these three risks? A key element is relationship building. If you take the time to build and develop good rapport with your clients, they are more likely to see you as an integral part of their business. This will often result in clients providing you with more information in the pre-translation phase so that you can get the purpose right and add value to the client’s business.
The same goes for trade risks. When you create a trusted relationship with clients by delivering on time, accurate translations every time, they will ensure your working conditions are correct and that you are paid on time. Admittedly some agencies and companies have long payment terms. If this doesn’t suit you, then don’t work with them!
Technology risks are slightly different and it is the translator who assumes these risks. They must invest in the tools of their trade and take steps to protect their work and run their business efficiently. Sometimes it may seem like a time consuming chore, but technology and data management are a key part of a modern translator’s life, so we have to invest in them.
Some translators may groan and whinge and say that clients don’t provide them with enough information. If that is the case, then take the opportunity to educate your clients. They need to know that you are there to add value to their business and to do so you require sufficient information that will both ensure that the translation fulfils its purpose and that any inherent risk is mitigated.
Nicola Thayil is a professional French to English translator and conference interpreter based in Melbourne, Australia. She has been practising since 2013 after completing a Masters of Interpreting and Translation Studies at Monash University.
Nicola specialises in legal, marketing and business texts, drawing on over five years' experience in marketing, as well as a background in international business. She also authors a translation blog here.
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2016 edition of the AUSIT In Touch Magazine and is reproduced with permission.
Some of NAATI's industry partners, including TIS National and VicDeaf, are working with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to provide accessible information and interpreting services to assist culturally and linguistically diverse Australians to complete the Census.
The Census of Population and Housing (Census) is Australia’s largest statistical collection undertaken by the ABS. For more than 100 years, the Census has provided a snapshot of Australia, showing how our nation has changed over time, allowing us to plan for the future.
The next Census is happening very soon on August 9. It’s a moment for everyone to play a role in shaping the future of Australia.
This Census will be Australia’s first Census where more than two thirds of Australia’s population, more than 15 million people, are expected to complete the Census online on August 9.
The online Census form has received certification by internationally recognised industry leader, Vision Australia (VA), to ensure people who are blind or have low vision have a smooth experience when completing the Census.
For other non-English speakers, TIS National interpreters can assist you calling the Census Inquiry Service with general enquiries. The Census Inquiry Service will be available from 22 July —30 September 7 days a week.
However, due to the confidential nature of the information collected, the ABS won’t be offering a dedicated over-the-phone assistance service to complete the Census.
By Megan Beasley
Interpreting runs in the family for Drisana Levitzke-Gray, the Young Australian of the Year for 2015. It is believed that this is the first time that Deaf interpreting has run in a family for three generations, and this isn’t the only first in the family.
Her mother, Patricia Levitzke-Gray, is one of the first two Deaf interpreters to have been awarded NAATI Deaf Interpreter Recognition, in December 2013.
Drisana is delighted with NAATI’s introduction of Deaf Interpreter Recognition is 2013, saying that NAATI’s recognition of the status of Deaf interpreting is the first step towards showing that Deaf interpreting is just as valuable as interpreting in the spoken languages.
She points out that NAATI is a leader in many areas, and also benefits from international advances, with the USA having certified Deaf Interpreters for many years. Once she has gained her NAATI credentials, Drisana plans to work officially as a Deaf Interpreter.
2015 was a busy year for Drisana. Not only did she tirelessly fulfil duties all over the world as a Deaf advocate and Young Australian of the Year, she also studied for and was awarded her Diploma of Interpreting (Auslan) at the end of the year, being the top student in her cohort.
Drisana expressed her gratitude towards her lecturers, who were very supportive and gracious about her frequent comings and goings. She found that her presence benefited the hearing students as well, since they needed to use their interpreting and language skills all the time.
Drisana is full of passion for the Deaf community. A Deaf person herself, and the child of Deaf parents, she is acutely aware of the different roles played by Deaf and hearing interpreters, and the way in which all interpreters work together for the good of the client.
The different skills possessed by Deaf interpreters, who may interpret multiple sign languages, work in harmony with the skills of the hearing Auslan/English interpreter.
The Deaf community is varied, with members coming from a wide variety of backgrounds, upbringings and languages. Drisana herself knows six languages.
She has always pushed for Australian languages other than English to be more fully included in school curricula and Australian communities, envisioning a world where children in Perth schools learn the Noongar language and the Australian Sign Language.
Shenton College, where Drisana went to school, has offered Auslan as a LOTE for three years, and she has noticed that Deaf and hearing students there communicate freely with each other, with Deaf students feeling fully part of the school community.
With Auslan added as a LOTE to the new National Curriculum, Drisana sees a fantastic opportunity for children of all ages, both Deaf and hearing.
“Not only is it likely to be a major influence increasing the pool of accredited Auslan interpreters in the future, but it will also increase the number of bilingual professionals” she said.
Looking forward, Drisana believes the future is looking very bright indeed.
Author Megan Beasley is NAATI’s State Manager for Western Australia.
Multicultural Affairs Queensland has been leading a project to address a lack of training options for individuals wishing to enter the interpreting industry in regional areas of Queensland.
The Interpreter Training Project involved the delivery of a pilot, eight week course in five different regional locations across Queensland. It was unique in that it involved the collaboration of multiple organisations.
RMIT University in Victoria delivered the training and other project partners included ACCESS Community Services, MDA Ltd, Centacare Cairns, Townsville Multicultural Support Group and Kyabra Community Association.
On successful completion of the skill set course, Multicultural Affairs Queensland assisted participants (without prior industry experience) to connect with language services agencies that can assist in providing sufficient work experience to meet requirements for NAATI recognition.
Mr Sibbo Sengabo, a Townsville based participant, has been the first to gain NAATI recognition in Swahili and Kinyarwanda after successfully completing the training.
Since participating in the project, Mr Sibbo has been able to provide on-site and telephone interpreting in the medical, employment and settlement service sectors.
Other project participants who have successfully completed the training in Cairns, Rockhampton, Ipswich and the Gold Coast and meet NAATI requirements also have the opportunity to apply for formal interpreting qualifications in new and emerging languages.
MAQ will be releasing information on future courses on their project page here.
Or you can click here for more information on the Queensland Language Services Policy.
By Heather Loades
My name is Heather Loades and I am the eldest child of the family and both my parents are Deaf. I have worked in the field of interpreting for around 26 years in Adelaide having operated as a freelance interpreter and managed an interpreting service.
Lots of change has taken place during these years, but sometimes it seems the more we change the more we remain the same. Technology has had a positive impact on our profession and I love not having to look for a phone box in the pouring rain to call the agency in answer to a page.
Another positive change is the demand for interpreting services in a variety of areas has grown and now with National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) rolling out even more growth. Now, in emergency situations such as fires or floods the emergency services now include interpreters on the television screen.
Recently in this state there has been a lot of chatter regarding the falling standard of interpreters. So my question is: as a profession how do we address this issue and how do we make sure that we as interpreters can equip ourselves with the necessary skills to keep up with the needs of the Deaf community?
The growth in the provision of interpreting services in the last few decades has been stunning. Interpreters are employed in a wider variety of situations. However, supply has not kept up with demand and, increasingly, interpreters find themselves being asked to work in areas for which they are neither really qualified nor equipped to do.
It is ok to say no to assignments, and ethically that is what we professionals should be doing. We should not be accepting work that is beyond our skill level. Consumers, Deaf and hearing, have the right to a service that ensures both parties leave the appointment with the same understanding.
Education and on going professional development is a must for all interpreters. Learning the language at TAFE and participating in a Diploma of Interpreting course is a good start but one needs to engage in continuing education.
So, if it is at all possible enrol in the Macquarie University course or, if this is not possible due to distance, investigate enrolment at a local university to complete an undergraduate degree. Having mentors that we trust and can go to for advice is invaluable.
I would recommend to new interpreters starting out developing a relationship with an experienced practitioner. Interpreting can be a lonely profession and having a mentor provides access for ongoing support and advice.
Interpreters are human and as such we have all had assignments that we wish we could forget, but these are the times when we need to be honest with ourselves when reflecting on our own practice.
Then we are able to acknowledge areas for improvement. Perhaps we can keep the conversation going in a robust manner so that improvements and change can take place to make the profession stronger.
As they say in the Theatre World break a finger, happy interpreting.
Heather Loades is an experienced Auslan interpreter, based in Adelaide. She gained her first NAATI accreditation in 1991. This article was originally written for the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.
As part of our work to increase awareness of the translating and interpreting profession, our friends at TIS National have allowed us to share some personal stories from their interpreters. This is Afaf's story.
Afaf, originally from Zahle in Lebanon, arrived in Australia with her family in 1965. Today, Afaf is one of TIS National's longest serving Arabic interpreters.
A business career while interpreting
Soon after arriving in Australia, Afaf had a career of working as a sales consultant for Bessemer cookware and Tupperware, and owning and running various businesses. Her mother, sisters and brother asked the owner of the factory where they worked if they could take three sewing machines home to do extra work.
She sewed men’s shirts and pyjamas while raising her young children and looking after her family. After having her fourth child, the machine work became too difficult so Afaf got a part-time job at Woolworths working as a cashier while attending night school to learn English.
After seven years of sewing and part-time cashier work, it was time to move on to a new business. Afaf and her husband purchased a seven day mixed business selling groceries, "we opened from 6.30 am - 9.30 pm for two years, but my husband couldn’t cope, he didn’t like staying inside all day".
Afaf then decided to apply to be an aide interpreter.
30 years working for TIS National
In 1985, the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) was not yet providing services nationally. Afaf started working for TIS as an aide working on the phone. Her supervisor encouraged her to gain her NAATI accreditation as an Arabic interpreter.
Whilst there may have not been much demand for Arabic back then, Arabic is now one of top ten high demand languages for TIS National now.
Challenges of interpreting
After years working from home as a machinist, Afaf’s new challenge was to find her way around Sydney to perform on-site interpreting assignments. If she couldn’t find the address for the assignment, her next challenge was to find a phone box to call the agency contact.
Staying up to date with each language can also have its difficulties. To enhance her English knowledge, Afaf studied for the Higher School Certificate in Australia and she has three dictionaries she refers to: English to Arabic, Arabic to English, and a medical dictionary.
She says, "when interpreting in the hospital, you hear medical terminology you are not aware of. When I come across unfamiliar terminology, I ask the doctor to be more specific".
Tips and advice
"Before interpreting, I was very shy and unable to communicate well".
Afaf now finds that her ability to stand up for herself and communicate has strongly improved since becoming an interpreter. "Interpreters must have confidence. It is so important for someone to have a lot of confidence. Trust in yourself". She also recommends gaining knowledge of the place where you live, your town, and your country.
The future of interpreting
"Communication will always be difficult between a professional and non-English speaking person". And with demand growing stronger in particular fields like health, law, family matters and conferences, Araf believes interpreters will always be needed in the future.
Find out more about working with TIS National interpreters.
By Alana Wiekart
Auslan Stage Left in partnership with Macquarie University presented the Foundations of Theatre Interpreting Workshop, which was held in Melbourne on the first weekend of April, and was nothing short of incredible.
I was one of 40 Auslan Interpreters and Auslan Consultants from all over Australia who were extremely fortunate to have the very animated Alex Jones and the delightful Della Goswell as trainers. Alex is a Deaf Actor, Theatre Interpreter, Consultant and Presenter in both New York and Sydney.
Della is the Convenor of the Auslan-English Interpreting program at Macquarie University in Sydney as well as a Theatre Interpreter and Educator. Both of them generously shared their wealth of knowledge, expertise and advice with us.
One quote that particularly resonated with me was that, “theatre interpreting is not deaf cultural theatre – it is a ‘window’ into hearing culture". Deaf Theatre and Interpreted Theatre are two separate art forms. Interpreted Theatre is not direct communication but rather a hybrid translation of both Deaf and Hearing theatre.
After discussing the translation process we were split in to groups and I was fortunate to work with the very experienced Paul Heuston and Trudy Fraser. We were assigned to translate and then perform the final scene from A Streetcar Named Desire.
At certain times throughout the weekend the Auslan Consultants received specific training about their role, how to give feedback to interpreters, amongst other things. All of the interpreters greatly appreciated the Deaf perspective and their honest but sensitive manner of offering feedback.
Interpreters were also trained to receive this appropriately without responding emotionally. Part of the learning process involved watching our scene, preparing a sight translation of the English script to Auslan, doing research, filming ourselves interpreting, presenting the Auslan interpretation to the consultant for review and feedback.
On Sunday we implemented the feedback we received from our Auslan consultants and then presented our rehearsed scenes in front of the group. Our scenes were either taken from Shakespeare's Hamlet or from A Streetcar Named Desire.
Receiving feedback not only from our consultants, other interpreters and our trainers but also from watching back the footage of our performance provided us with a unique insight that we could never have seen on our own.
Auslan Stage Left intend to run this workshop on an annual basis so I definitely recommend applying if you can. It was such a fun and informative way of improving our interpreting skills that can be applied both in and out of the theatre.
Alana gained her NAATI Paraprofessional accreditation as an Auslan Interpreter in 2006 and is passionate about delivering the best service possible for her clients. She regularly attends professional development and is currently working towards attaining her NAATI Professional level accreditation. This article originally appeared in the ASLIA national e-update and is reproduced with permission.
by Laura Peppas
As an Australian Sign Language interpreter, Sarah Strong has broken communication barriers for graduations, weddings and everything in between.
“I might be interpreting for a corporate meeting, then I’ll go to a specialist appointment, a parent teacher interview, or a cooking class,” Sarah says.
“They say it’s from the cradle to the grave, we’re there for all facets of deaf people’s lives – from pre-schoolers to people in their 70s or 80s – I think that’s a real privilege.”
The Canberra resident became an Australian Sign Language (Auslan) interpreter for The Deaf Society twelve years ago, after studying a Certificate II, IIII and IV in Auslan, Diploma of Auslan and a Diploma of Interpreting.
“I was actually thinking of getting into special education, but I took a year off before going to university and in that time I started learning about Auslan and I actually saw interpreters working,” Sarah says.
“I thought that looked like my kind of thing – I love working with people.”
Demand for Auslan interpreters and people with Auslan skills is expected to swell after the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) roll out this year, which will see more deaf or hard of hearing people gain access to interpreters than ever before.
“Within six months of the NDIS trial site in Hunter [NSW], The Deaf Society saw a 119 per cent increase in demand for interpreters,” says Leonie Jackson, CEO of The Deaf Society.
“We anticipate a similar outcome in the ACT as more deaf people apply for and receive NDIS packages, with full rollout expected by July 2016.”
Recognising the increasing need for Auslan-English interpreters and people with Auslan skills, The Deaf Society has recently launched accredited Auslan courses starting with a Certificate II in Auslan.
The six-month course, which starts in February, is designed to provide students with a basic ability to sign and read back signing, and facilitates an understanding of the sociocultural contexts in which the language is used.
Sarah says interpreting is a fulfilling career with “many rewards.”
“My favourite part of the role is developing relationships with the people I work with on a regular basis,” she says.
“One of the most memorable pieces of feedback came when I was interpreting for a man at a work meeting. After the meeting his colleagues said to me ‘we’ve never heard his sense of humour before, we’ve never realised how hilarious he is.’
“They hadn’t had an interpreter come in before, they’d only communicated with him using emails and text – so it was the first time they’d gotten to see that side of the colleague. A sense of humour can be lost in text-based communication, so it was fantastic that I could help uncover that part of his personality.”
Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer. This article originally appeared on HerCanberra.com.au and is reproduced with permission.
By Alessia Maruca
These days, I am sure many translators and interpreters are already using social media in some capacity in our lives. For some, it means posting across online forums, linkedin and twitter every day or simply logging into facebook once every couple of months to see what old friends are up to.
Let me be clear from the outset - practitioners are entitled to private and personal lives. However, from NAATI’s perspective, the sharing nature of online social media can create issues when the personal encroaches on the professional, or where the distance between private person and certified professional becomes blurred.
As an early social media adopter, I have had my own successes and failures when trying to find the right balance between online sociability and professionalism. And I firmly believe that translators and interpreters can use social media in a positive way to showcase our profession as well as to communicate, interact and share best practices and resources.
However, all too often people jump into using social media to represent their professional lives without thinking it through first. A practitioner’s use of social media, either in a professional or personal capacity, can challenge the privacy, security and reputations of other practitioners, NAATI, ASLIA, AUSIT and the entire profession.
Every practitioner needs to understand that each core value identified in the ASLIA or AUSIT codes of ethics must be considered when making decisions about social media in their identity as a translator or interpreter. These core values are of equal weight and importance. When you sign a NAATI application form or revalidation form it means that you accept these ethical standards as set out by ASLIA or AUSIT as a condition of your accreditation or recognition.
Practically, these values and obligations mean that when using social media, every single NAATI accredited or recognised practitioner is obliged to:
- Be responsible for what they write;
- Respect their audience, both visible and invisible; and
- Respect copyright and intellectual property.
Any activity which represents a failure to meet these obligations may be determined as a breach of the codes of ethics and so NAATI reserves the right to counsel and, in certain circumstances, cancel a NAATI accreditation or recognition.
Now that we have some well-defined boundaries, there are some practical steps you can take to ensure that you are doing your best to comply with your ethical obligations as a practitioner. The values that underpin the ASLIA and AUSIT codes of ethics form a solid base for you to start thinking and ask yourself a few questions, namely:
- Should you have separate personal and professional profiles? If I use one profile, do I have enough time to separate or filter out content so it is only shown to the right people?
- Do your social media comments or posts reflect who you are as a professional? Can these posts be taken out of context?
- Are your photos of a nature that reflects how you want to be seen?
- Are your privacy settings suitable? Who can see your profile?
- Are you accepting appropriate people to be friends or connections on your profile? Are you rejecting requests from people (e.g. current or ex-clients or colleagues) that could put you in a difficult situation?
- Do your friends or colleagues have any photos of you on their sites that you may be “tagged” in? Do these photos reflect how you want to be seen?
- Have you web-searched your own name? Does the search result reflect how you want to be seen?
Answering these questions is important. As a translator or interpreter you are performing a public service in a position of trust requiring high ethical standards. As a general rule, I would always recommend against sharing negative professional experiences or views on a client, meeting or employer, or posting work-related documents on any social media account.
While everything you do or post online can be tracked or found, it doesn’t mean you should simply post nothing on the profiles you create. It simply means giving some thought to what you do post, as a professional, and remembering that what goes online generally stays online. Social media requires careful thought, time, commitment, patience and content to make it a meaningful professional exercise.
Alessia Maruca is NAATI's communications manager. She is responsible for managing editorial and promotional support for all NAATI communication material as well as co-ordinating communication and stakeholder strategies, digital media and other services and projects. This article was original written for the ASLIA e-update and is reproduced with permission.
Are you a regular user of TIS National’s immediate phone interpreting service?
Have you heard about ATIS Voice?
ATIS Voice is TIS National's automated voice-prompted immediate phone interpreting service, allowing people to access interpreters in high demand languages without having to wait in a queue to be assisted by an operator.
TIS National have released this new video that explains the simple five step process to accessing an immediate phone interpreter through ATIS Voice.
ATIS Voice uses voice recognition technology to identify the language requested and automatically connect you with an interpreter in that language.
The service is currently available in the following 18 languages:
*Sudanese Arabic is not available through ATIS Voice.
For languages not serviced through ATIS Voice, call the TIS National Contact Centre on 131 450.
Article by Sam Berner
Prices of translation around the world are falling rapidly and are expected to fall by another 50% in the next two to three years. Pretending that this is not happening or making a fuss publicly is not working. We cannot, and should not, stop progress. We also cannot ethically expect clients to want to pay more than what they can afford.
In this Darwinian economy, the fittest are those among us who know how to obtain and utilise the correct knowledge, and then have the guts to make the jump into a highly disruptive and very volatile market.
So what does it take? As translators:
- Let us be reasonable about our expectations of the foreseeable future. Time will not turn back.
- Let us not panic. The translation market in 2015 is predicted to be worth around USD33.5 billion. Most of that value is in software, but there is still enough to go around to those who want to make money in the industry – mostly through localisation and post-editing.
- We really need to start thinking like our clients so we can pre-empt their needs. Without clients we can kiss our profession goodbye.
- We need to use the new technology to our own benefit. We must become technologically savvy. Since localisation is the biggest market at the moment, it would make sense to learn to program software.
- We also need to understand that technology changes all the time, and we must change with it. Otherwise, reality will overtake us and we will drop out of the market.
- We need to get out of the freelance mode and work together - creating ad-hoc teams that band and disband fast, where members complement each other’s skills and where large amounts of work can be done smoothly and quickly.
- We also need to become more business savvy, learning how to market our services through the plethora of social media, blogs and audio-visual platforms that are now available for free online.
- We need to act business-like at all times giving this profession our all. Translating is no longer a cottage industry. If you don't give it all your time and effort, don't expect it to give you money in return.
- We need to stay informed. The biggest disfavour we can do to ourselves, is not to know where our industry is going. We end up believing in self-created myths of disempowerment.
- We need to concentrate on doing professional development that produces financial results, take responsibility for what you learn, and be weary of spending money on useless exercises.
To conclude: As a translator you need to think outside the box, step outside your comfort zone and embrace change and disruption.
May the power of words be with you on your journey!
Sam Berner is currently the principal partner of Arabic Communication Experts, one of Australia’s leading translation and cross cultural training services specializing in the Middle East. Having spent over 30 years translating, Sam continues to mentor and motivate many aspiring translators to expand their vision globally. She is also an active AUSIT member and a former national president.
This article was reproduced with permission. You can read Part 1 here.
Today marks the start of National Reconciliation Week (NRW) 2016 which is a time for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to celebrate and learn about our shared history, cultures, achievements and plan for our future.
Why are the NRW dates significant?
National Reconciliation Week is held from the 27 May - 3 June each year and these dates mark significant milestones in Australia's reconciliation history.
May 27: 1967 referendum
The referendum of 27 May 1967 approved two amendments to the Australian constitution relating to Indigenous Australians. Technically it was a vote on the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginals) Act, 1967, which after being approved in the referendum became law on the 10th August of the same year.
The amendment was overwhelmingly endorsed, winning over 90 per cent of voters and carrying all six states. The significance of the 1967 referendum was to provide the Federal Government with a clear mandate to implement policies to benefit Indigenous peoples.
The other aspect of the constitutional change, was the enabling of Indigenous people to be counted in population statistics, resulting in awareness of the social and economic disadvantage experienced by Indigenous Australians.
June 3: Mabo
On 3 June, 1992, the High Court of Australia delivered its landmark Mabo decision. The Mabo decision overturned the idea that Australia was ‘terra nullius’ (land belonging to no-one) at the time of European settlement.
The Mabo case centred on the Murray Islands in the eastern part of the Torres Strait Islands between Australia and Papua New Guinea. The Meriam people, led by Eddie Koiki Mabo, received recognition as traditional owners of their land.
The Mabo decision paved the way for the recognition and protection of native title across Australia and led to the Native Title Act.
Native title is the recognition in Australian law that some Indigenous people continue to hold rights to their land and waters, which comes from their traditional laws and customs.
How does NAATI work with Indigenous peoples?
Many Indigenous Australians living in remote Australia speak English as a second, third or fourth language. As such, there is a high need for interpreters in many widely spoken Indigenous languages.
Since 2012, NAATI has been proudly working with the Australian Government and the Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service (NTAIS) to improve access to the accreditation system and increase the number of accredited Indigenous language interpreters.
NAATI works collaboratively with a range of organisations to deliver the Indigenous Interpreting Project (IIP) including the Kimberley Interpreter Service Aboriginal Corporation (KISAC), NTAIS, the Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre (WMPALC), TafeSA and others.
Article by Sam Berner
It is argued that we live in the knowledge economy, and that translators are knowledge workers.
This implies that we need to be knowledgeable in specific areas or descend from professionals to unskilled labour. Our knowledge, therefore, intrinsically impacts on our financial bottom line. It is not so much our linguistic knowledge, because that - so far - is a given, but the skills set that we need in addition to it - that is what I want to touch on in this article.
When we glance at the knowledge environment that we live and function in, we see that it is a very interconnected world. Social media, handheld devices, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data are all things we need to know about because this is what we are expected to translate about. In addition, the modes of production in our profession are being disrupted by crowdsourcing, globalisation, and artificial intelligence.
Translators today are expected to not just know, but also to work, on online platforms provided by clients - sharing their translation memories generated through CAT tools, and post-edit the ever-improving machine translation output. We are expected to work in teams made up of project managers, terminologists, editors and proof-readers with large multilingual jobs distributed across a number of translators all working simultaneously in the cloud.
Another factor effecting our bottom line is the power of certain languages vis-a-vis others. Any entity wanting their work to be read internationally, is forced to write it in English. If we want to be able to use the myriad of products that the consumerist world throws at us, Chinese is the language to know.
Other languages become important for various reasons - conflict, mass migration, international events with their importance then subsiding. Then, there are languages that never become international. This McDonaldisation of the world acts on the minority languages by obliterating them. Translating becomes a moral duty, rather than a money-making exercise, best suited to crowdsourcing.
The pervasiveness of social media as a marketing tool, the speed with which businesses want to access expanding markets, the need to translate faster than the competition does, and at an acceptable quality, means that the market wants more, faster and cheaper. It is just a matter of time before all this hits the translators, but it would be unreasonable to expect that it could be any different.
Time is money. In the translation process, time is wasted at every junction: during quoting, project managing, translating and typesetting, during quality assurance and so on. For a client wanting their website translated into 20-30 languages, this is a massive amount of time (and therefore money).
Yet over the past decades, translators have consistently failed to accommodate the client. We continued doing what we do best: translating in the same way we have been for hundreds of years, oblivious of how change was affecting our clients. Into the vacuum of our inaction stepped others including programmers with very little understanding of translation but great understanding of artificial intelligence.
Sam Berner is currently the principal partner of Arabic Communication Experts, one of Australia’s leading translation and cross cultural training services specializing in the Middle East. Having spent over 30 years translating, Sam continues to mentor and motivate many aspiring translators to expand their vision globally. She is also an active AUSIT member and a former national president.
Stay tuned next week when we publish the final part of Sam’s article. Part 2 will cover practical tips that all translators can apply in their own practice.
Interpreter and AUSIT ACT committee member, Eirlys Chessa, shares some of her experiences working with the Italian community in Australia.
As an interpreter and translator, loving and understanding your community is a major prerequisite. So is empathy, resilience and a sense of humour, as the stories you hear will often be highly sensitive or confidential.
Not all are tragic or stressful however. Our presence, however brief, often relieves the tension and helps clarify minor issues!
The role of the interpreter and translator is often misunderstood, and sometimes even misrepresented, so here are a couple of examples from my experience, which I hope will give you an insight.
I work mainly with elderly members of the Italian community, who have been here 50 years or more. One day, I was called to the Emergency Department to interpret for an elderly Italian-Australian, adamant she needed an interpreter.
The nurse could not understand why, as the patient spoke excellent English! I introduced myself and she immediately said: “I have lived here 45 years! I speak English! But I can’t understand HIM!” (pointing at the doctor).
The doctor repeated the question that was the issue : “..’re y’in pin? ” He was speaking with a heavy Gaelic accent that reminded of a scene from “Chicken Run”.
I smiled politely and interpreted: “Are you in pain?/ Ha dolore?”.
“YES!”, she said. That’s all it took and the rest of the ED assessment went smoothly. I really thanked my Scottish-Irish-Italian ancestry that day.
On another occasion, the pre-admission nurse called me to assist a patient who some months before, had been consented with his daughter summarising the doctor’s explanation (the daughter had power of attorney).
I overheard him talking to himself in the corridor, and realised that he had not understood the nature of the operation. For months, he had been convinced his ear would be removed, instead there was only going to be a small graft to close the hole in his eardrum.
I immediately told the nurse, and we described the entire procedure again, showing him pictures of the procedure (which his daughter had avoided doing at the time, so as not to “worry” him, fearing he would not consent).
He emerged happy, grateful and hopeful that his hearing would finally be restored, while his daughter finally realised why he had been extremely depressed for months in the lead up to the operation.
Sometimes, it is the small details that count.
Article by Dr Greg Dickson
It’s not a trivia question I’ve come across. But if someone asked: “which language, only found in Australia, is spoken over an area the size of Spain and is the second most common language in the Northern Territory?” would you get it right?
The correct answer – Kriol – is not a traditional Indigenous language, but refers to the creole language spoken across swathes of northern Australia. No one really knows how many people speak it, but the 2011 census figure of 4,000 is certainly an under-representation. Linguists put the number of Kriol speakers closer to 20,000, knowing that census data struggles to accurately capture high levels of multilingualism in remote Aboriginal communities.
Kriol is now even a language of Shakespeare. The critically acclaimed King Lear adaption The Shadow King (2013) was partially translated into Kriol by Aboriginal actor and musician Tom E Lewis. It will debut internationally in London this June, coinciding with celebrations for Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary.
But what is Kriol? Well, Kriol is (not surprisingly) a creole language. Some may immediately associate the word “creole” with southern USA, which is home to French-influenced culture, cooking and language. But that association is a red herring.
Creole, as a linguistic term, is a type of language typically born out of abrupt and often brutal colonisation processes. Creoles are generally based on the dominant language of the colonisers, such as French (as in creoles spoken in Haiti, Louisiana or Mauritius), English (as in Solomon Islands, Belize or Hawai'i), or even Portuguese (in Cape Verde).
The lexicon and grammatical structures of creole languages are largely derived from the dominant language, called the “lexifier”. But speakers of creole languages adapt and innovate upon the lexifier to such an extent that the creole becomes incomprehensible to people who only speak the standard form of the lexifier.
The emergence of Kriol
The genesis of Northern Australia’s creole language is attributed to a combination of factors, including the expansion of the pastoral industry into the Northern Territory and Kimberleys, the violent frontier deaths that swiftly diminished the numbers of speakers of local Indigenous languages, and the establishment of missions.
At the Roper River Mission (now Ngukurr), established in 1908, Aboriginal children from various traumatised language groups were placed into dormitories with reduced parental contact. Bound together by a Pidgin English developed in New South Wales, they developed it into a fully-fledged creole: a language in its own right with a distinctive vocabulary, sound system and grammatical rules.
Over the course of a century, Kriol has spread or emerged in many other northern remote communities and where it has, it dominates daily life. English is usually reserved for dealings with white people and traditional languages so endangered they are barely heard.
In the fringes of Kriol country, some communities have recently created new languages, like Light Warlpiri and Gurindji Kriol, that systematically mix Kriol with the original language of the community.
The label Kriol is now used uncontroversially in many (but not all) places, but it took several generations to be legitimised. In the 1960s and 70s, linguists challenged the idea that creole languages were unsophisticated, lacking rules and a poor imitation of English.
Bible translation and academic research began to demonstrate that what was dismissed as Pidgin English was actually a language. The name Kriol was introduced and, fifty years later, it remains.
In legitimising the language, linguists and Kriol speakers showed that it was rule-governed and distinct from English. For example, Kriol speakers use the English word we (spelled wi) but the Kriol wi and English we are false friends. Kriol has finer distinctions and its speakers use four pronouns to cover what English speakers use only we for.
Sometimes, a word might be a recognisable English form, but the meaning is unique to Kriol. Drand, from “drowned”, simply means to go underwater. Death is not implied. Spilim, from “spill”, means to pour liquid intentionally. You can spilim ti to make your cuppa once the billy has boiled. But if you knocked it over, you might use the verb dilbak.
While most of Kriol’s lexicon is derived from English, words like dilbak, from traditional languages, make a small but important contribution to distinguishing Kriol further from English. In Ngukurr, you ngarra when you look surreptitiously. A few hundred kilometres away in Beswick, the word roih is used to describe the same thing. Words like roih and ngarra that differ based on geography also exemplify how different dialects have evolved across the large area where Kriol is spoken.
Kriol is a fully-functional, expressive language and can be used in all facets of life. Internationally, some creoles are national languages, as with Bislama in Vanuatu or Krio in Sierra Leone. Australia, with its monolingual mindset, has struggled to afford prestige to Kriol, as it has with traditional languages. Despite this, in the space of fifty years, Kriol has gone from an unnamed creole, to a language that has been used in government education, liturgy, in stage and popular music, is interpreted widely, and now heard daily in ABC News.
The emergence and growing acceptance of Kriol is not without issues. Not everyone who a linguist would say is a Kriol speaker is comfortable applying that label to themselves. Kriol speakers typically place greater cultural importance and prestige on traditional languages, and those languages are declining rapidly.
For Aboriginal people who are concerned about the loss of traditional languages, Kriol is an obvious scapegoat, seen by more than a few as a language killer. Counter-arguments can be made that the same forces of colonisation and inequity have caused both phenomena: the loss of traditional languages and the emergence of Kriol.
Actor Tom E Lewis, who grew up speaking Kriol at the Roper River Mission, says Kriol is a 'double-edged sword':
"We’re proud to speak Kriol. But it kinda backfired, because our [traditional] language is gone."
Whether you see Kriol as a positive or a negative, it deserves to be more widely known, if only because it is the largest language spoken exclusively in Australia. In its short history, it is now a significant part of Australia’s rich linguistic fabric. Kriol is a growing language, heard across much of Northern Australia, yet remains under-recognised and unfortunately is still sometimes stigmatised.
Dr Greg Dickson is an ARC Postdoctoral Research fellow based at the University of Queensland. You can find out more about him and his work here. This article was reproduced with permission from the conversation.
Jason Luu is a Vietnamese TIS National interpreter who loves to Broadway dance in his spare time to keep his mind and body active. He was inspired to become an interpreter by his father who was a lecturer of economics. His father spoke with overseas businessmen and encountered negative experiences with interpreters.
Jason graduated in 2000 from Vietnam National University completing his Bachelor of Arts - interpreting and translating. He was offered a job as a teaching lecturer in the college of foreign languages section at the Vietnam University while practicing as a conference interpreter (which involves simultaneous interpreting as opposed to consecutive interpreting).
In 2002 he was awarded a full scholarship for an intensive course on conference interpreting in Brussels, Belgium. In the same year he was awarded a second scholarship from the Australian government and came to Melbourne to complete a master’s degree in education interpreting at Monash University. Jason is now a dual citizen.
Advice for interpreters and those who use them
Jason has worked for TIS National since 2008 and really enjoys his job. He has lots of great advice for those wanting to work in interpreting and for those who need to use interpreters.
"If you want to be successful in interpreting it’s not only the skills but the background knowledge. With business people you need to cut down to the main message as they are busy, but working in a legal setting make sure you interpret precisely what is being said. I like to be an actor and represent body language so it’s conveyed as part of the message" he said.
Jason’s’ top tip is "the best interpreters are the most invisible ones. I am just your voice. Interpreters need to forget themselves and not take it personally’". He advises interpreters to do as many courses as possible.
When working with interpreters, Jason suggests the biggest challenge today is ensuring agencies know how to work with interpreters. He recommends that reading information on how to work with interpreters beforehand is helpful.
The future of interpreting
Jason believes the future of interpreting is in simultaneous interpreting. He said "if more people were qualified as conference interpreters it would save time and resources for all parties. More and more Australian business people are going to see what opportunities are overseas and investors are coming to Australia".
Find out more about working with TIS National interpreters.
The Australian Government has developed a Family Safety Pack for men and women coming to Australia. It includes information on Australia’s laws regarding domestic and family violence, sexual assault and forced marriage, and a woman’s right to be safe.
The family safety pack is a key initiative of the Second Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022. Under the National Plan, the Australian Government is committed to understanding and addressing violence against women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds and improving support available to CALD women and their children.
Interpreters play a crucial role in ensuring that people who don’t speak English, or speak English as a second language, are able to access appropriate support and legal services.
To complement the Family Safety Pack, the Australian Government has developed the following two factsheets to raise awareness of the role and responsibilities of interpreters in domestic violence situations:
- Interpreting in domestic violence situations: This fact sheet has been developed by the Department of Social Services for interpreters who may take on work in domestic violence situations. It includes information on the AUSIT Code of Ethics, training and professional development opportunities, and where to go for confidential and professional support.
- Interpreters and family safety: This fact sheet has been developed by the Department of Social Services for anyone working in the domestic violence sector. It includes information on how to access an interpreter, tips for working effectively with interpreters, and what to do if there are concerns that an interpreter has acted inappropriately.
The purpose of these factsheets is to raise awareness of the importance of using professionally trained interpreters, how to effectively engage with interpreters, and awareness of interpreters’ responsibilities under the AUSIT Code of Ethics.
For more information about these resources please contact the Department of Social Services here.
by Rachel Spencer
Lawyers cannot assume that their clients are able to speak and read English. Interviewing a client involves being certain that the client has a level of English proficiency to the extent that the client understands what the lawyer is saying. The client must be able to communicate with the lawyer, ask appropriate questions and give competent and accurate instructions.
A rudimentary comprehension of the English language is not sufficient for a client to fully understand his / her rights and to convey all of the information that a lawyer requires in order to provide comprehensive advice. The law is already complex and intimidating for the lay client. Linguistic factors add another dimension to the lawyer-client relationship. If your client is not proficient in English, you should obtain additional professional help in order to ensure that communication is actually taking place.
An interpreter’s role is to facilitate communication between two or more people who use different languages, being either spoken or signed. This means transferring messages from one language to another in a way that makes their intended meaning as understandable to the recipient as possible.
An interpreter facilitates communication between the client(s) and the English speaker(s) by transferring their utterances from one language to another as accurately as possible and in an unbiased and non-judgemental manner. The interpreter is not responsible for what is said by either party, but is responsible for ensuring that everything that is said is communicated accurately in the other language.
When engaging the services of an interpreter, it is important to consider a professionally accredited interpreter rather than just a family member or friend of the client. Family members may not have the requisite objectivity and may inhibit the client from giving detailed instructions, especially in sensitive matters like family law or sexual assault cases.
Professional interpreters in Australia are accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI). NAATI is the only authority that issues accreditations for practitioners who wish to work in these professions in Australia.
NAATI accreditation tests are available in 61 of the major language groups of the Australian community. [NAATI “Recognition” based on proficiency in English, interpreter training and interpreter work experience is also available in languages for which NAATI accreditation is not available.] There are different levels of NAATI accreditation: Paraprofessional, Professional and Conference.
An interpreter who is qualified at Paraprofessional level (formerly known as Level 2) has a level of competence in interpreting for the purpose of general conversations and non-specialist dialogues.
Lawyers seeking to engage an interpreter should ask for an interpreter who is NAATI accredited with Professional Interpreter level competence (formerly known as Level 3). This is the minimum level recommended by NAATI for work in banking, law, health, and social and community services. There are two more levels beyond the Professional level which are for Conference Interpreters (levels 4 and 5).
All interpreters in Australia are required to adhere to the principles of the AUSIT (Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators) Code of Ethics. These ethical principles include accuracy, confidentiality, impartiality and competence. In Australia, clients who use the services of a NAATI-accredited interpreter can expect that whatever information they divulge during the course of the interpreting service will remain confidential. They can also expect the interpreter to remain completely impartial at all times.
It is appropriate in certain circumstances for lawyers working with interpreters to brief them prior to the interpreting session and/or debrief them afterwards. However, the interpreter should interpret everything that is said back to the client, and should under no circumstances engage in a private conversation with the lawyer.
When working with an interpreter, lawyers should speak at all times to the client, not to the interpreter. This means keeping eye contact with the client, even when the interpreter is speaking. Use short sentences, and give the interpreter time to interpret everything that you say. Make sure that you give the client time to respond, and then allow time for the interpreter to interpret the client’s words back to you.
This is undoubtedly a complex and sometimes frustrating process, but it is important to remember that the client’s rights are paramount, and that in acting in the best interests of your client, you must ensure that the client understands what you are saying, and feels comfortable talking to you, even though it is through a third party.
Lawyers working with interpreters will obtain the best service if they use clear language. The interpreter might ask for repetition, rephrasing or clarification if a message lacks clarity and should not be held responsible if the non-English- speaking client does not understand the message because of concepts that are linguistically or culturally unfamiliar to them.
The interpreter should alert the lawyer if a concept is untranslatable or culturally inappropriate. The interpreter must tell the client what they are saying to the lawyer. So for example, if the lawyer is talking about precedents, the interpreter might know the word for precedent, but the client may not understand if the client comes from a different legal system. The interpreter should then say to the lawyer that this concept does not exist in the client’s culture.
Contact between the interpreter and the English-speaking lawyer and non- English-speaking client should cease as soon as the interpreting service is completed. This means that the interpreter cannot be expected to clarify any information after the interpreting service has ended nor to provide other help or act as a friend to the client. The lawyer should not ask the interpreter to give an opinion about the client’s health or state of mind.
Do not ask the interpreter direct questions about the political situation of the client’s home country or whether the interpreter believes that the client is telling the truth. Nor should a judicial officer ask such questions of an interpreter. The interpreter’s role is to facilitate communication with the client/witness and should not be treated as an expert witness on the subject of language or culture.
It is important to note the difference between an interpreter and a translator. Translators are concerned with the written word. They transfer written text from one language into another, undertaking assignments which range from birth certificates to more complex written materials, such as commercial material, articles in specialised professional journals and literature.
Rachel Spencer is the Director of Professional Programs at the University of South Australia and is a member of the NAATI South Australian Regional Advisory Committee. This article was prepared with the assistance of members of the NAATI Regional Advisory Committee.
This article was published in The Bulletin, Law Society of South Australia, Volume 38, Issue 2, Pages 36- 37, and is reproduced with the kind permission of The Bulletin.
When I arrived on the shores of Sydney in 1997, Down Under had a whole swag of surprises and cultural curiosities for me. One of the things I learned quickly was the BYO formula. Bring your wine to the restaurant, bring your chair to a neighbour’s garden party…
Today there are BYO phone plans and BYO cups for coffee shops and BYOD is the increasing trend towards employee-owned devices within a business, so we shouldn’t be surprised that BYO has even found its way into the world of conference interpreting.
For all of us, technology is driving the ways we communicate and conduct business, no matter what industry you are in. The key to success is to stay one step ahead of the game. This means we all have to be open and boldly pilot new applications. As Charles Darwin famously said: ”It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
So what’s new out there in the interpreting world? Here’s a brief overview:
What equipment is currently used for conference interpreting?
When it comes to equipment, gold standard for conventional simultaneous interpreting is the use of soundproof booths, interpreter consoles and wireless receivers using digital infrared technology, as this is secure, interference-free and ensures superior sound quality.
In cases where budget might be an issue e.g. for large numbers of delegates, radio frequency receivers could be considered. Consoles now have a series of new features including ergonomics and the ability to connect external video display screens to the interpretation system, and interpreters can select the visual content that is most useful to them.
What is BYOD?
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) kicked off in earnest approximately 5 years ago. Whilst smartphones are the most common example, employees also take their own tablets, laptops and USB drives into the workplace.
BYOD is part of the larger trend of IT consumerisation, in which consumer software and hardware are being brought into the enterprise. Benefits include reduced costs and higher employee satisfaction, but security concerns and compliance issues are among the downsides.
BYOD in conference interpreting
Now conference delegates can use their own smartphones to connect to the simultaneous interpreting system through an app. Their phone becomes the receiver, and the app streams audio via WiFi straight out of the interpreters’ booths.
Event organisers see clear advantages as there is no need to rent receivers and headphones anymore, nor distribute them, collect them or replace lost or stolen ones. The more costly infrared digital infrastructure is not needed, and overall costs are thus reduced.
Another upside are streaming services to the Net. These allow for people to view/listen to an almost live webcast of an event and the interpretation (5-10 second delay only), or to a recording later.
What are the challenges?
The audio quality is not as good as with digital infrared and will suffer if the WiFi connection becomes slow. If you use it in 3G or 4G mode on your phone, you will chew through your data allowance very quickly, as we are talking about streaming audio, and it will be unacceptable for overseas delegates due to roaming fees.
At a conference, the WiFi infrastructure is already under pressure with all the devices that want to connect i.e. there are potential latency issues. An alternative is to build a separate WiFi system to only support the interpretation. This requires a specific build of access points.
In addition, if you wish to provide the audience with access to the Internet (Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter etc.) then a gateway needs to be provided, which means significant additional data charges for the event organiser.
Security concerns are another issue for meetings of a sensitive nature or where privacy is required. Recording, transmission and disclosure might not be allowed. On the delegates’ side, some might not be allowed to download an app or use an untrusted connection on their work phones. And phones can run out of battery.
Depending on the meeting, not every delegate might have a smartphone or some might have forgotten their device. Furthermore, delegates are entitled to multilingual communication when paying registration fees and it is the organiser who is responsible for it.
What is Video Remote Interpretation?
Remote Interpreting includes all forms of interpreting where the interpreters are not physically in the same place as the delegates. With the Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) method, interpreters are working through a videoconferencing solution.
In Australia, this is often used for short interpreting assignments in hospitals, Courts, or businesses in regional Australia where no accredited interpreters are based. VRI equipment suppliers make it easy as you can merely download the software to your computer and access it on your phone. The efficiencies in travel costs, time and logistics are significant.
Disadvantages are possible audio and video feed disruption, delay and other quality issues. Another problem is that interpreters cannot always view body language and visual cues, so VRI is not suitable for events of high interactivity. An onsite technician is recommended but often not provided, leaving interpreters with the added stress of having to take care of technology instead of concentrating on interpreting.
What is Booth Borrowing?
Here, the interpreters and their booths are not located in the same room where the meeting or conference is taking place. This common scenario enables facility managers to overcome physical space limitations, handle last minute venue changes more easily and is mostly used when the meeting room does not have enough space for all interpreters. Video transmission provides the interpreters with visuals of the speakers.
Virtual Multilingual Meetings
Here, everyone is offsite and connects to the web conferencing service. Participants can choose their language, and dedicated video remote interpreting software provides more security and a smoother process than a generic video calling app like Skype for example.
Remote interpreting is here to stay and the future will improve these solutions and the quality. High profile meetings still rely today on robust technology and onsite interpreting.
Also known as automated interpreting, Machine Interpreting combines machine translation (MT) and voice recognition software. Automated telephone interpreting that allows users to turn spoken words into a foreign language already exists. But for interpreting to be simultaneous, the technology would need to be able to predict and interpret sentences before they finish, a task challenging in languages which place the verb at the end of the sentence (e.g. German).
Furthermore, voice recognition is unforgiving with heavy accents, regional dialects, background noises and any slight mispronunciation. Machines still lack human judgment and cultural awareness, so this solution will still take a long time before it becomes viable.
Horses for courses I say. There are instances where it is appropriate to employ new technology, and others where it is clearly not suitable yet. But we need to continue to test and pilot and, most importantly, listen to our stakeholders and respond accordingly. This will ensure our survival.
This article was written by Tea C. Dietterich, CEO, 2M Language Services. The original blog post can be found here.
Article by Yati Raj Ajnabee
I started on this path almost seven years ago. The day I arrived in Australia, I attended an orientation session presented by Centrelink where an interpreter was provided. That was the second time in my life that I heard and saw an interpreter in action before an audience. The idea of becoming an interpreter first came to me in the refugee camp when the representatives of the UNHCR spoke to a crowd of some three thousand people through an interpreter. I was impressed by the way the language facilitator converted the information presented by the native English speaker into a language which could be understood by all.
My aptitude for bilingualism began at the end of primary school where the medium of instruction was English. My interest in Nepali literature has also contributed to my language skills. If it were not for my curiosity about the literature of these two languages, I would not have become an interpreter.
The first interpreter I had witnessed inspired me with his linguistic proficiency and the second raised my awareness of how complex the job is and how a poor translation of another person’s words can have serious repercussions. Interpreting is one of the most challenging jobs for those who honestly and earnestly take it as a profession and not merely as a way of making a living. To really enjoy something you should have both passion and patience. I work as an interpreter not only to earn money but also to serve those who can’t speak or understand English although they have minds and intelligence like everyone else.
The majority of about 100,000 resettled Nepali speaking Bhutanese would not have had a clue of what resettlement would be like and how they would benefit, if UNHCR had not provided them with an interpreting service for the information session before they opted for resettlement. As a member of the Nepali speaking Bhutanese community, I thank the Australian government on their behalf for the provision of the interpreting service without which they would not have had access to any of the services, such as Centrelink, Medicare, hospitals, schools, etc. Nothing is more testing than starting a new life in a country you had never thought of in your wildest dreams. Dealing with a language barrier makes it even more daunting.
The satisfaction you derive from interpreting for the needy is indescribable. As interpreters, we have to work in a variety of settings, We are privileged to learn new things during every assignment we perform. Challenging ourselves to work in different scenarios exposes us to the different terminology and jargon used in various professions and situations. One of the most remarkable experiences I have had through interpreting is working in detention centres. In many instances, I have learned to be hopeful about life while working with the hopeless detainees and their service providers. I have also come to know many incredible people.
Thankyou to Marina Morgan and her team at TafeSA for sharing this story with us.
Translators have played a crucial role in shaping an SA legal first.
The Legal Services Commission of SA has published – in ten languages – a summary of the State's key laws in a series of guides aimed at migrants. Never before have these SA legal publications been made available in so many different languages.
“We had to summarise the most important laws, present them in simple terms, and do so in ten languages; as you can imagine, this gave us some headaches!” said Commission legal education officer Kate Muslera.
“This was about more than simply translating language. It also included the challenge of conveying legal concepts which do not exist in some cultures. Fortunately, we worked closely with skilled translators who went beyond the semantic language to give life to the underlying legal purpose of the words.”
The Law For You guides are available in ten languages commonly spoken by new arrivals in South Australia (Arabic, Burmese, Chinese [Mandarin], Dari, English, Hindi, Persian, Swahili, Nepali and Vietnamese). They cover laws relating to common life events including renting a home, buying a car, getting married, raising a family, dealing with police and fines, separation and divorce, family violence, and purchasing goods or services.
Top judge highlights legal language barriers
The guides mirror the sentiments of Australia’s top judge – High Court Chief Justice Robert French AC – who has highlighted the legal hurdles facing migrants.
Earlier this year, Chief Justice French said “those involved in the administration of justice in various ways should ensure so far as they can that people are not disadvantaged in their access to or interaction with the justice system by reason of their culture.
“With the very significant shift in the composition of the Australian population and the many countries of origin from which Australians now come, the potential for misunderstanding and misinterpretation, by people of different cultures, concerning the working of the justice system and the potential for misunderstanding and misinterpretation of those people by those involved in the justice system is real.”
“The Law For You guides are free of legal jargon and are extremely practical,” says Commission Director Gabrielle Canny. “They directly address some of the concerns raised by Chief Justice French.
“The Commission provides legal advice to all South Australians - and that must include those for whom English is not their first language.”
Helping new migrants
The Legal Services Commission has a long history of working with translators and interpreters. It provides free legal advice services by phone and face to face. All members of the SA public can make an appointment to seek legal advice in person at the Commission’s offices, at no charge and with a professional interpreter present if required.
"One of the challenges was to work out the level of detail the guides contained,” said Commission legal education officer Kate Muslera. “As lawyers, we often seek to provide the most comprehensive legal outline to clients. But in this case, the challenge was to strip things back to the key points so that migrants would have an accessible overview that introduces them to key aspects of the law.”
The guides were produced using funding from the Law Foundation of SA. They were launched at a weekly gathering of Adelaide's Bhutanese community, one of SA's newest migrant groups.
The Law For You guides are available in electronic and hardcopy form through the Legal Services Commission of SA, which has offices around Adelaide. For further information, click here.
“This successful project has attracted national attention – and we couldn’t have done it without the work of the expert translators involved,” said legal educator Kate Muslera.
“We were dealing with different languages, different legal concepts and different legal systems."
“The guides again demonstrate that translators are an essential – if not always sufficiently recognised - part of the justice system.”
NAATI has become aware of further questionable approaches to NAATI-accredited translators which might be related to their listing in the NAATI directory. They appear to be very similar to a scam that NAATI notified practitioners about over the last few years.
There are two types of recurring fraud issues:
(i) Payment via international cheque: Translators are contacted by someone who claims to be from overseas, who has a document they would like translated in English. People committing fraud generally inform the translator that they can pay by certified cheque or international certified cheque only.
(ii) Requiring refund from overpayment: As with the previous scam, it appears that once the translator agrees to take the job they are sent a money order or cheque for more money than agreed for the assignment. The client claims that this is an error on their part and then asks to be refunded the overpayment, generally through Western Union to a given name and the address varies. The original payment to the translator will not be cleared by the bank, even though it may appear that payment has been cleared. It appears that it can take some time for the bank to advise the translator that the funds have not cleared and this can result in the translator having already refunded money they have not actually received.
Please note the above names are only a few examples that have been recently reported to NAATI and we have provided them here as an example.
Be aware that fraud perpetrators can also supply fake documents, which seem official such as passport biographical pages. If you have doubts about processing payments from a client please contact your bank and inquire about payment methods, as they may able to warn against similar cases of fraud.
NAATI strongly urges practitioners to take great care.
The online portal for interpreters and translators, myNAATI, is open and available to access NAATI services. Practitioners who have successfully transitioned to NAATI Certification will already appear in the new online directory.Read More