In all languages, speakers from different regional areas or social groups use language differently. This is known as language variation. Speakers also borrow words from other languages into their own language. This is called borrowing. Different languages do this in different ways.

Language variation and borrowing can be confusing for interpreters and translators. NAATI Interpreting Language Policies help you understand how variation and borrowings will be assessed in your test performance.


General Policies

Policy A: Variations of the Spoken Language

Speakers of the same language sometimes use the language differently because of their regional or social backgrounds. This can apply to the use and pronunciation of words and grammar. Candidates sitting an interpreter certification test must be able to understand common regional and social variations within the language and make themselves understood to speakers of these variations.

In the live role-play dialogue tasks, candidates should use strategies to make sure they understand the speakers and their interpretations are understood by the speakers.

Policy B: Use of English words in the LOTE

In some Languages Other Than English (LOTEs), English words, and in some cases words from other languages, are regularly and commonly used and widely understood.

In these situations, use of an English word will be accepted even if a LOTE word could have been used to describe or express the same information.

For advanced level interpreting tests (i.e. CSHI, CSLI and CCI), there may be a greater incidence of technical terms borrowed from English. Words commonly understood as standard equivalents by technical audiences in the LOTE will be accepted.


Language Specific Information
Arabic

In the context of the NAATI interpreting tests, candidates can use a commonly understood dialectal variant*, MSA or ESA** according to the context and type of communication (e.g. according to the context and type of communication as outlined in the interpreting brief). Candidates must use the variant they choose for a task consistently throughout the given task.

In dialogue tasks, role-players will use either ESA or their dialectal variant*. The dialectal variants used in interpreting tests are commonly understood variants of the Arabic language.

Monologue tasks in the Certified Interpreter test are presented in either ESA, MSA** or a dialectal variant*, depending on the context and type of communication of the monologue.

*Dialectal variants and their lexicon, structures, and expressions are accepted, to the extent where they do not hinder efficient and effective communication for non-users of that dialect. In other words, heavily regionalised dialects (i.e. lexicon, structures, and expressions not widely understood outside a specific region) are to be avoided.

**ESA (Educated Spoken Arabic) is a non-regional spoken form of MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) which serves as a lingua franca for speakers of various dialects in the Arab world.

Burmese
  • The Certification interpreting tests use common Standard Burmese. The use of non-standard Burmese or of vague and ambiguous words which the majority of Burmese speakers cannot understand will not be accepted.
  • Candidates should be aware of the importance of using culturally sensitive registers. They must use the culturally appropriate and/or polite register when addressing their interlocutors during interpreting into Burmese.
  • The use of non-Burmese words may be accepted if these words are adopted or borrowed from English or another language, and if they are commonly used by the majority of standard Burmese speakers, as long as these words/terms are in a current Burmese Dictionary published by the Department of the Myanmar Language Commission, the Ministry of Education of the Union of Myanmar or in any other current Myanmar Dictionaries officially published.
  • The candidates sitting Certification interpreting tests must be competent in the use of appropriate tonal language and articulation of standard syllables when interpreting into Burmese to minimise any feasible deviations, for example “စံ” means “standard” and “ဆန်” means “rice”.
Cantonese

Refer to General Policies A and B.

Modern Chinese comprises seven major groups of dialects, which, in their spoken form, differ among themselves to such an extent that they may be considered as being virtually separate languages. They are largely mutually incomprehensible.

Yue dialects, one of which is known in English as Cantonese, are native to about five per cent of the population of China and are widely spoken in the province of Guăngdōng, in the city of Guăngzhōu (Canton), in Hong Kong and in Macau. Many overseas Chinese, including many residents of Australia with ethnic Chinese background, are native speakers of Cantonese.

Croatian

Refer to General Policies A and B.

In interpreting tests, standard Croatian is to be used. In terms of vocabulary and lexicon, those forms found in authoritative dictionaries such as the Rječnik hrvatskoga jezika (2002) by Jure Šonje (Ed.) (Zagreb: Leksikografski zavod Miroslav Krleža) or the Veliki rječnik hrvatskoga jezika (2003 – 4th edition) by Vladimir Anić (Zagreb: Novi Liber) are to be used. Terms identified in these dictionaries as being specific to particular dialects or regions are to be avoided. Grammatical and semantic expression used in interpreting tests should, in general, conform to normative guidelines such as those recommended in Hrvatski jezični savjetnik (1999) by Eugenija Barić et al. (Eds.) (Zagreb: Institut za hrvatski jezik i jezikoslovlje).

When interpreting into Croatian, standard Croatian is to be used, unless the source text uses a dialect form and the candidate employs a Croatian dialect form that is widely known amongst Croatian- speakers.

NAATI recognises that there are groups of speakers of languages other than English in Australia who regularly and commonly use English words in their LOTE speech. The candidate is required to always use Croatian words. However, when in the English source dialogue, the speaker refers to a specifically Australian concept, the candidate may use the English word but must also provide a Croatian equivalent to this.

In line with Australian government policy, NAATI treats Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian as different languages, each with its own characteristics. Consequently, no tests are held in the Serbo-Croatian language.

Dari

Refer to General Policies A and B.

  • There are several Dari dialects used across various regions in Afghanistan. Candidates sitting an interpreter certification test must be able to understand common regional and social variations within the language and make themselves understood to speakers of these variations.
  • Region-specific terms and expressions can be used to the extent where this does not hinder efficient and effective communication. Candidates will not be penalized for using such region-specific terms and expressions so far as it is understood by the speakers.
  • English terms that can be used are for example: “license – یسنسلا”, “adjust – اجست” “appointment – .etc ” ریزرف – reserve“ ,”درایف – drive“ , ”اپاینتمنت
  • Usage of common informal words such as موتروان، دریور، وارخطا، یب رسُ، بالا روی و غ ریه are allowed and will not be penalized.
French

Refer to General Policies A and B.

German

Refer to General Policy B.

Tests are conducted in non-dialectical Standard German and candidates are expected to express themselves in non-dialectical, non-regional German. Country specific terms can be used by candidates but to a very limited extent, e.g. Grüß Gott by Austrian speakers or Grüezi by Swiss speakers instead of Guten Tag.

The candidate should be able to effectively and efficiently interpret for the German-speaking role player – whether this involves the use of dialectal and/or non-dialectal German.

Region-specific terms and expressions can be used to the extent where this does not hinder efficient and effective communication.

Greek

Refer to General Policy A and B.

Within the Greek Community in Australia, as with many NESB communities, ethnolect (i.e. the use of terms which are not clearly English or Greek but a ‘hybrid’ of the two) are not considered appropriate Greek language for the purposes of this testing.

Hazaragi

Refer to Policies A and B.

NAATI acknowledges that there are regional variations/dialects of the Hazaragi language. However, due to strong cultural and identity connections there is a high level of mutual understanding between these regional dialects.

For the purposes of NAATI testing, a candidate will not be penalised for the dialect spoken as long as what is being said would be understood by an average Hazara person living in Hazaragi speaking regions.

Candidates need to be aware that the Hazaragi language spoken by Hazaras in some locations, including the major cities in Afghanistan, has been heavily influenced by other languages of those cities and areas.

Any use of ‘non- Hazaragi’ words will be penalised.

Hindi

Refer to General Policies A and B.

Oral form of Hindi as taught in schools or as approved by Central/State Education Boards, (also referred to as

Modern Hindi Language or खड़ी बोली) should be used.

Limited use of words and phrases from other languages such as English and Urdu will be accepted if those words/phrases are likely to be understood by a majority of Hindi speakers who do not speak those other languages. English words referring to recent technology or medical terminology which have been adopted in the Hindi language can be used in Hindi where Hindi words are uncommon or unavailable, for example

download – डाउनलोड, ultrasound – अल्ट्रासाउंड. Excessive use of English words will not be accepted. Proper names can be repeated as they are said in English e.g. Centrelink – सेंटरल किं , Department of Home Affairs – डिपाटटमेंट ऑफ़ होम अफ़े यसट etc.

When interpreting into Hindi, numbers should be converted into Hindi. For example, forty-five (पैंतालीस).

Millions, billions, trillions should be converted to their Hindi equivalents (लाख, करोड़, अरब). Similarly, when interpreting into English, numbers should be converted into millions, billions.

Indonesian

Refer to General Policies A and B.

Italian

Refer to General Policies A and B.

Candidates are expected to use Standard Italian. The use of some English (or other foreign language) words in the LOTE is acceptable where these words are commonly used by native Italian speakers and are part of the lexicon. To confirm whether this is the case, candidates may make reference to authoritative Italian language dictionaries such as the Treccani, referred to above.

Japanese

The language used should be the standard form (Hyojungo). Style and register should be appropriate to the subject matter and the mode, and dialect and slang expressions should be avoided.

Korean

Refer to policies A and B.

Tests are conducted in the Standard South Korean (표준어), which is defined as ‘the modern Seoul dialect

widely used by the well-cultivated’. Candidates are expected to express themselves in the Standard South Korean. However, a modest regional accent is acceptable as long as it does not hamper the process of understanding.

Mandarin

Refer to General Policies A and B.

Malay

Refer to General Policies A and B.

There are 10 dialects used in Malay language: Bahasa Malaysia, Kelantanese, Terengganu, Kedahan, Sarawakian, Bajau, Negeri Sembilan Malay, Banjar, Bruneian and Indonesian.

The candidate is required to use the standard Bahasa Malaysia. No tests are held in any other dialects except for Bahasa Malaysia. However, where region-specific terms and expressions are to be used, region-specific terms will be accepted, provided they do not alter the effective communication of the message.

Nepali

Refer to General Policies A and B.

Candidates sitting for the Nepali Certified Interpreter tests are expected to appreciate and reflect on the standard, spoken form of Nepali. As interpreting services are mostly required particularly by the older cohort who generally use the rural and regional variation of the spoken language, the candidates must be able to demonstrate competence in comprehension and expression of such variations. Unless there’s a real lexical gap, candidates can’t use English words. Medical and technological terms/words, which are not commonly available in Nepali, such as COVID-19, USB, etc can be used. Special proper nouns (names of businesses, organisations, institutions, service providers) such as Coles, Centrelink, Salvos, etc for which similar or equivalent terms do not exist, can be used as spoken by the English speaker. 

The use of non-Nepali words and terms may be accepted if they’re adopted or borrowed from English or another language and if they’re commonly used by the majority of standard Nepali speakers as long as these words and terms exist in any Nepali dictionary published or recognised by Nepal Academy or similar institution of a Nepali speaking state, territory, province or nation. 

Idiomatic expressions should be interpreted into such available expressions in the target language. For example, “Birds of a feather flock together” should be interpreted as “Bhedaaa bhedasit baakhraa baakhraasit”. If such expressions are unavailable in the target language, the intended meaning must be conveyed not simply by the word-to-word interpretation. For example, “Kaalo akshyar bhainsi baraabar” should be interpreted as “illiterate”, not something like a “black letter is similar”/ “equal to an elephant”. 

Numerals must be interpreted appropriately into the target language. For example, “1 million” should interpreted as “10 lakh” and vice versa. Unlike English, Nepali language has distinct verbal genders which must be used appropriately. 

Certain Nepali verbs agree with certain pronouns or subjects only which reflects the sort of social or familial hierarchy of the pronoun/subject. This can also be related to register. For example, “He drinks milk” can be interpreted as “Oo doodh piunchha” or “Uni doodh piunchhan” or “Wahan doodh piunnuhunchha” or “Wahan doodh pieesinchha”. 

Acronyms must be interpreted into the target language in full. For example, “IMF” to “Antarashtriya aarthik kosh” and vice versa.

Pashto

Refer to General Policy A and B.

Candidates sitting for an interpreter certification test must be able to understand common regional and social variations within the Pashto language and make themselves understood to speakers of these variations. 

Dialect specific terms and expressions can be used to the extent where this does not hinder efficient and effective communication.

The use of Urdu and Dari words and expressions instead of the Pashto equivalent will be penalised. For example, numbers or dates in Urdu or using Dari terms and expressions where there is a Pashto equivalent word available will be penalised.

The use of some terms and expressions borrowed from English, Arabic and Dari languages that are commonly used in Pashto, will not be penalised.

Persian

Refer to General Policies A and B.

New variations of the Persian language, particularly among youth, make use of uncommon and made up words or phrases, including many ordinary English words (such as timesupport). It is expected that candidates will use the Persian equivalent of the English words in those cases. As per policy B, widely understood, regularly and commonly used English words such as computerhelicopter can be accepted, even if a Persian word could have been used to describe or express the same information.

Certified Provisional Interpreter/Certified Interpreter tests are conducted with role players who speak the official variation of Persian language, with minimal accentual nuances related to the backgrounds of role players. The role players, however, will use vocabulary, structures and idioms common to all or biggest majority of Persian speakers.

NAATI expects the candidate to:

  • Interpret for the Persian speaking Role-Player using the official Persian language effectively and efficiently
  • Interpret into offical Persian appropriate to the audience for the monologue interpreting task
Polish

Refer to general Policies A and B.

Candidates are expected to use contemporary Polish. When an established Polish term exists, candidates are not to use an English word, except when it is part of the lexicon and in common usage.

When interpreting dialogues between a Polish speaker and a professional into Polish, candidates must not use the informal form of address “ty” (you), which is inappropriate in such contexts. The correct forms of “pan” and “pani” (Mr, Mrs) must be used at all times.

Portuguese

Refer to General Policies A and B.

It is recognised that variations in vocabulary and usage may arise in the same language as spoken in different countries, e.g. Portuguese in Portugal and in Brazil. Individuals sitting an interpreter certification test must be able to understand regional variations within the language.

Punjabi

Refer to policies A and B.

  • The use of Western Punjabi and Urdu will be penalised.
  • English words referring to recent technologies, e.g. “iPad”, which is widely adopted in the Punjabi language, can be used in Punjabi.
  • When speaking in Punjabi, candidates may occasionally use words from the English language and other regional languages if they would be easily understood by a majority of Punjabi speakers in Australia. For example – “mobile phone”, “fridge”, “3G networks”, “satellite”. Frequent use of words from other languages that would not be understood by many Punjabi speakers will be penalised. For example, “because”, “marriage”, “documents”. When referring to numbers in Punjabi the useof English numerals (e.g. “thirty-six” for “chhattee”) will be penalised. If a figure is provided in millions in English, it must be converted to lakhs or crores in Punjabi and vice versa.
Russian

Refer to policies A and B.

Test candidates are expected to interpret into the non-dialectical and non-regional standard Russian.

Candidates should follow the rules set in:

  • Розенталь Д. Э., Джанджакова Е. В., Кабанова Н. П. Справочник по правописанию, произношению, литературному редактированию (A Manual on Spelling, Pronunciation and Literary Editing by D.E. Rozental, E.V. Dzhandzhakova and N.P. Kabanova),
  • Зализняк А. А. Грамматический словарь русского языка. Словоизменение. (A Grammar Dictionary of the Russian Language. Word Modification. by A.A. Zaliznyak),
  • Русское литературное произношение и ударение. Словарь-справочник / Под ред. Р. И. Аванесова и С. И. Ожегова. (Russian Literary Pronunciation and Stress. Dictionary-Manual / Ed. R.I. Avanesov and S.I. Ozhegov.),
  • Борунова С. Н., Воронцова В. Л., Еськова Н. А. Орфоэпический словарь русского языка: произношение, ударение, грамматические формы / Под ред. Р. И. Аванесова (Orthoepic Dictionary of the Russian Language: Pronunciation, Stress, Grammatical Forms by S.N. Borunova, V.L. Vorontsova and N.A. Eskova / Ed. R.I. Avanesov),
  • Or any other relevant resource approved by Институт русского языка имени В. В. Виноградова Российской академии наук (V.V. Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences).

Candidates can use pronunciation, stress, and grammatical and word variations approved by the above- mentioned Russian Language Institute (e.g. neutral gender for «кофе» («чёрное кофе») instead of masculine («чёрный кофе»), stress for «творог» («твóрог» or «творóг») or any of the word equivalents («прото́к», «прото́ка»), as long as they do it consistently throughout the text or dialogue.

Candidates should note that when interpreting names of authorities for which there is an official Russian translation, they should use it.

Spanish

Refer to General Policies A & B.

Sinhalese

Refer to policies A and B.

  1. Candidates are expected to interpret for the role player either spoken or written Sinhalese, but the spoken Sinhalese is preferred.
  2. The use of some English words is acceptable when these words are commonly used by native Sinhala speakers and are part of the lexicon. For example, computer, password, butter, yoghurt, ice cream, Centrelink and tyre are a few.
Tamil

Refer to General Policies A and B.

Tamil language is spoken by Tamil people in many parts of the world, but Tamil is a mostly spoken language in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore. Tamil dialects, however, vary from country to country and even from region to region in those countries. Due to diversification and evolution from its origins for a long period, usage of various dialects in Tamil Language is standardised to an acceptable level by Tamil scholars to establish a uniformity in any forms of communication. Standardised Tamil means it is a formal Tamil with proper grammar usage, without any regional dialects. Therefore, it is preferable to use standardised Tamil in NAATI tests.

Unless there is no exact term or expression in Tamil for an English word, English usage is acceptable, otherwise unnecessary excessive English usage is unacceptable in NAATI tests.

A set of basic benchmark criteria are proposed and elucidated below to ensure the transfer of message is articulated accurately. Therefore candidates are expected to execute these criteria contextually without any doubt.

Candidates should consider and realise the consequences of usage of dimensions of register variations by means of pronunciation in Tamil. Such register variations, ultimately alter and give different meanings as “distortions”.

Example: 

“malai” can be recognised under two different contextual scenarios.

“மைல” refers “mountain”

“மைழ” refers “rain” 

In dialogue settings some words affect grammar and give a different perception.

Example:

In spoken Tamil, words like “vanthanga” can be expressed as a singular verb and on the other hand it can be expressed as a plural verb.

Therefore, it is better to avoid terms like (“vanthanga”), which confuses interlocutor and examiner.

When considering noun words like “Aunty” or “Aunt”, various paternal/maternal relationships are indicated. They are the following:

“Atthai”, “Maami”, “Periamma”, “Sinnamma” in Tamil, which give several misconceptions to the interlocutor and examiner. 

Hence candidates are expected to express above words clearly.

Overall it is important that candidates abide by these protocols during their NAATI tests

Turkish

Refer to General Policies A and B.

Candidates sitting for the Turkish Certified Provisional Interpreter/Certified Interpreter tests are expected to use the standard, spoken form of the Turkish language. They should be able to interpret effectively and efficiently for the Turkish role player whether this involves the use of dialectal and/or non-dialectal form of Turkish.

Türk Dil Kurumu [The Turkish Language Institution] is the reference point in this regard. It is the authority to determine whether a word/ a term/ pronunciation/ usage is acceptable in Turkish or not.

Ethnolect (words which are not clearly English or Turkish, but hybrid, e.g. lokasyon, set etmek, fokus olmamak, kompo, işsizlik ofisi) is not considered appropriate Turkish language for the purposes of this test. Candidates are expected to switch codes appropriately.

Style and register must be appropriate to the subject matter and the mode. Flow of language must be natural, and candidates are expected to pronounce the words/ utterances correctly and clearly with appropriate tone of voice. Dialect and slang expressions must be avoided.

For Interpreter Certification tests, NAATI expects Turkish candidates to adhere to the above rules and standards.

Urdu

Refer to General Policies A and B.

NAATI Urdu tests are delivered in Urdu as used in Pakistan. Minimal use of Hindi words is permissible when those words are widely adopted in the Urdu language.

Numerical concepts i.e. “29, millions, billions etc.” should be interpreted.

Candidates are also expected to use the correct gender verbs for Urdu nouns, regardless of whether these nouns refer to living beings. The use of incorrect gender verbs will be penalised.

The use of English terms may be appropriate and/or necessary in some contexts, for example, for household appliances and medical or other technical terms that do not have appropriate equivalents in the Urdu language. The unnecessary or inappropriate use of English words will be penalised.

Vietnamese

Refer to General Policies A and B.