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The Translator's Professional Environment

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Translators play a particularly crucial role in enabling business operations in many parts of the world. This is because the world has turned into a globalized economy with different regions trading and communicating across language barriers. Many national languages have to be translated in order to enable coherent communication between the different trading partners. The perception of the translator’s value in such relationships is high because he or she acts as the facilitating agency. This paper focuses on the professional environment for translators working in the translation of English to French and vice versa in the UK. The aim of the paper is to determine differences in such environment for translators in the UK and those in France. It will accomplish these goals by assessing the written professional guidelines, qualifications, institutions, and other support frameworks. It will also assess the codes of conduct for translators in the UK and France. We will also determine the available tools for helping translators in their work, as well as determining the state of the relationship between the translators and their clients. These aspects of the translator’s environment will be assessed through analysis of professional documents and codes of conduct for translators. This analysis will be used to determine the differences in the professional environment in UK and France in order to make recommendations on improvements.

Investigation of the essential aspects of the environment

Frameworks and support systems

Different support frameworks exist in the UK in order to aid translators in verifying their qualifications and getting jobs. Majority of these organizations require the translators to pas examinations as proof of their competence. Other organizations regulate such sworn translators thus enabling them to translate in sensitive areas such as courts and government departments. The main translator associations in the UK are the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL) and the institute of translation and interpreting (ITI).

The ITI is the only independent translation association, and it was established in 1986. It was established as the only professional association for professional interpreters and translators. It acts as the primary information source for the government, the media, and other industry players. The association has a large international membership in countries where English is a key language. The association also has corporate members who work in the provision of translation services. This aids in enhancing the professionalism in the industry. It enables translators to have a professional avenue for seeking work and other aspects of the profession such as training. The governing body of the association is formed by practicing translators and interpreters to enhance its effectiveness in handling their issues (ITI, 2013).

The chartered institute of linguists works with professional linguists in the world as a language assessment and awarding organization. It offers accredited qualifications to linguists in order to aid them in performing their work professionally. It is involved in language issues at international and national levels. The association was established in 1910, and it is meant to serve all professional linguists in enhancing the professional status of language. The association allows members to access essential products and resources such as the code of conduct (IoL, 2013).

The qualifications and institutions involved in training translators, in the UK, are high with a large number of courses available for translators. Many universities such as Birmingham, East Anglia, Heriot Watt, and Aston among others offer courses in translation and interpretation for different languages and at different levels. Students have options to select areas of specialization such as film translation, machine translation and ab-initio translation. Professional qualifications from accredited institutions such as the IoL provide qualifications based on vocational and practical linguistics skills. Other academic qualifications such as Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, as well as postgraduate and certificate courses are also available. The ITI and the Open College Network London are involved in approval of the courses in order to ensure that the curriculum is appropriate and effective in delivering highly qualified professionals.

France also has different professional associations for translators, but the main ones are the Société Française des Traducteurs (SFT) and the Sworn French translators in Paris (CETIECAP). The SFT was incorporated in 1947 with an aim of protecting and defending the interests of translators and other players in the translation field. It is a member of the international federation of translators and has a membership of over 1,300 members. The association consists of in-house and self-employed providers of translation services. The association acts as a single contact point for providers of language services. The association provides essential resources and documents for translators and other interested parties and easy access to providers of translation and interpretation services (SFT, 2013). The institutions involved in training individuals on translation and interpretation are well accredited by the institutions and other bodies involved in the industry. The accreditation standards are well organized and comprehensive to enable highly qualified professionals to provide translation services for the government, the media, and other agencies.

The institutions offering training for translators in France and the UK are similar in many aspects such as their accreditation and the variety of courses offered. The institutions offer opportunities for individuals interested in becoming translators or getting professional qualification to access high quality curricula. They also offer opportunities for growth by providing an international base for translators to connect with the market and other translators. This aspect is more effective in the UK than in France because associations such as the ITI have membership in many countries. In contrast, associations for translators in France do not have such international membership thus do not provide a wide market or significant room for professional growth for translators internationally.

Codes of conduct or other instruments

Translators have different codes of ethics that they have to follow in the conduct of their work. These codes are formulated in order to ensure ethics and professionalism in their work. In the UK, the code of conduct, according to the chartered institute of linguists applies to all members of the association. It also applies to all members who are recorded on the register of chartered linguists. These registered members are the chartered institute, the ITI, or the association Internationale d’Interprètes de Conférence (AIIC). Contraventions to the code are handled using procedures for disciplinary action based on the assessment of the council. The key principle in the code is that practitioners have to recognize their responsibility to the society, clients, and colleagues and act with integrity in order to act according to the high standards of the profession. The code presents clear guidelines on what the practitioners have to avoid and the penalty they may get for acting negligently. They are also expected to protect the reputation of the association and ensure that their professions as linguists are not harmed by their acts.

The code of conduct as written by the institute f linguists also highlights the obligations of translators to their principals. This means providing a guarantee of high quality work and reporting any factor that may affect the standard of work. Confidentiality of work by the translator is expected, and in case of consultations, the translator has to ensure that confidentiality and privacy of the client is safeguarded.  The principal has to give consent for work that is to be subcontracted because it is unethical to subcontract such work without the consent of the principal. The code of conduct also provides provisions for translators to ensure that they only carry out work that is within their linguistic or specialist competence. Failure to this means the translator has to ensure that work is checked by somebody who has the relevant competence. One has to work with the languages that he or she is registered according to the association’s code of conduct. However, if a client or principal requests the translator translate from a language that he is competent but not registered, or for translation from the language of his or her habitual use, the translator may continue as long as the necessary safeguards are in place (IoL, 2013).

Standards of work in the UK are clearly highlighted in the codes of practice where translators are expected to show cultural sensitivity and courtesy because of the variations in the cultures. Issues such as conflict of interest have to be disclosed by translators, whether they are real or perceived. This is because such conflicts of interest have a negative influence on the objectivity of the practitioner and may affect delivery of the required services. Withdrawal from an assignment for individuals who are unable to perform the task ethically is allowed, and it should occur without retaliation or threats.

Issues in relation to professional conduct have to be ensured for all practitioners with personal integrity and professionalism expected from all translators. Accuracy and role boundaries also have to be considered by the interpreters and translators. They have to be knowledgeable of their professional role and refrain from personal involvement. Self-evaluation and professional development are necessary for all translators who have to make efforts to enhance and develop their skills through continuous education, training, and interaction with colleagues.

In France, one of the main associations, SFT, has a professional code of conduct for translators and interpreters. The code is meant to govern the conduct of members of the national union of professional translators in France. The key principles required of the members of the SFT are trust, fidelity, and confidentiality. This is because the work of a translator has to ensure the accuracy in order to convey the message as communicated by the principal. Information from clients should not be used by the translator in any way besides conveying the message to the required audience. The code also highlights the legal obligations of the translator in the conduct of work. The translator has to ensure that the laws of the country, in relation to taxation and social welfare, are followed to the letter. The obligations of the translator to the clients are also highlighted in this code of conduct addressing issues such as honouring the trust given by the client, refraining from misleading advertisements, and ensuring an appropriate standard of work. In order to ensure a high standard of work, the translators are expected to translate only to their native language or other language that they are fluent. They also have to ensure that unique skills are obtained in order to complete the work. The subject of communication for translation has to be thoroughly researched to enhance the quality of the work. Knowledge acquisition and skills development should occur on a continuous basis, and unrealistic deadlines should be avoided. The translator has to advise clients on the most effective manner of accomplishing the translation. The translators are also expected to recognize fellow translators and treat them with respect. The level of experience, expertise, and training is essential in the remuneration provided for the work. Other factors such as the amount of work, complexity, and the level of research required are also critical in determining the amount of remuneration necessary for translation. Unfair competition through offering rebates and accepting fees that should be done by their colleagues should be avoided at all costs. The code, however, recognizes that translators may deliver occasional and voluntary services to charities thus rebates are allowed in such cases. It also considers compliance with other essential codes of practice such as respect for intellectual property laws. Rules governing best practice in the field and country where they practice are also considered in the code of conduct. The profession of the translator and the association has to be protected at all times. This means the translator should not engage in activities that demean the SFT or the profession of translators. Breach of the present code by any client or employer provides a basis for a translator to reject instructions from such an employer (SFT, 2011).

These codes of conduct provide a clear guide on what is expected of a practicing translator. They have exhaustive instructions on how different issues should be handled and how breaches in the codes are penalized. The standard requirements of confidentiality, accuracy, integrity, and respect for the profession are essential in ensuring professionalism. They also aid the translator in assessing whether situation may result in violation of trust or other critical aspects and providing a remedy for handling such issues. The code ensures professional practice in the field and enables translators to determine how the relationship with tier clients should be formed and maintained.

The client-translator relationship

The laws of a country, as well as international laws, regulate the relationship between the translator and the client. Laws relating to issues such as property rights, contract, agency, remuneration and others have a significant effect in regulating the relationship between the translator and the client.

Legal protection for the translator is provided through laws on employment, labour and contracts. The law provides protection to translators for copyright of their work in relation to copyright protection if the rights of the author of the original work are not violated. The client and the translator are bound to the terms of contracts signed in the case of freelance translators. As long as the translator adheres to the delivery of the contract, the client has to provide compensation for all work done and the translator can rely on the law for a reprieve in case of violation of the contract terms by the client. The translators are encouraged to have written agreements with their clients in order to enhance legal protection.

Translators have to fulfil certain legal requirements in order to ensure effective relationship with their clients and legal protection. The translator has to ensure that all laws of the country where the business is domiciled are followed. Issues such as taxation and social welfare laws have to be followed in the followed by the translator to ensure that his or her practise is legal. The translator also has a duty to ensure that all necessary certification and other accreditation allowing him or her to work as a translator are up to date. Fulfilling these requirements ensures that the translator’s work is protected legally, and he has the right to work as a translator.

Although there are some accrediting institutions and organizations in the UK for translators, the professions do not necessary require accreditation. The main associations such as the IoL and the ITI qualify individuals as translators by offering tests and examinations. These examinations are offered for their skills for the different specializations such as public service or court translators. However, the clients or the police service does not always consider these qualifications. The accreditation of translators by these associations provides a signalling effect of their qualifications in the domestic market. Clients consider membership in these associations as a sign of the translator’s qualifications and thus prefer those accredited members to those with academic qualifications. Academic qualifications mainly cater for the international market and the clients do not normally consider them as professionally valid (Pym, Sfreddo, & Chan, 2012).

Professional indemnity insurance is required for translators because their work sometimes involves sensitive information and the possibility of a suit is relatively high. Translation is a highly intellectual work and requires a high level of human involvement. It is essential for a translator to protect him or herself from possible lawsuits. Insurance policies for professional indemnity for translators are offered for issues such as loss of documents, errors in translation and other problems that may result in loss of earnings for the translator. Indemnity insurance policies are in place for enabling translators to meet the cost suffered by their clients for errors in translation. Other business risks for translators include standard business risks such as fire, theft, or delivery of wrong services to clients.

The translator and the client need to have an understanding relationship that is based on trust that the translator will provide the required content for the client. This means the translator and the client have to understand each other and have a professional relationship that will enable the delivery of the required work. The contractual agreement between the client and the translator has to be clear to ensure that the instructions are well understood, and the terms of the work are clear. The standard terms of business included in client/ translator contracts are the rates of pay for work and other aspects of the work. The rate of pay provided for the translator has to be equitable in relation to the amount and complexity of the work, amount of research required and other aspects such as expertise required.  The contract also includes provisions for supplementary payment if the translation goes beyond the limits specified in the contract. It should also state the party responsible for obtaining authorization for translating the work. Issues such as professional secrecy and that the translator guarantees the client uncontested enjoyment of the granted rights has to be included in the contract.

Available translation tools

Different fields of specialization for translators have different tools that have been formulated to help ease the work of translation. Translation has become a complex process in today’s environment, and translators have to find the right technology to aid in their work. The workflow for a translator is improved significantly with the incorporation of technological tools such as translation memory technology. Terminology tools such as the interactive terminology for Europe (IATE) are available for the management of terminology. This is a shared terminology database for all institutions within the EU covering all official EU languages.  Different translators in the directorate of translations in the EU insert entries into the database, but mother tongue linguists validate them to ensure the accuracy. Users search for the source language terms and they can refine the results by specifying the domain or context of the terms.  The terms have a reliability code to enable the translator determine the accuracy and reliability of translation. This database was opened to the public in 2007 (European Comission, 2009).

Translation memory technology is a linguistic database that captures the translations  in terms of translation units. This aids in localization of the translations because they capture different phrases as the translator is working and saves time because the translations do not have to be repeated. Tools for translation memory such as the SDL Trados Studio are used by applying the translation memory to documents that require translation. The program extracts phrases that are identical matches or fuzzy matches and places them on the target document. The suggested changes can be accepted or overridden as the translator works through the file. All segments, not in the translation memory are manually translated and added to the translation memory (SDL Translation Zone, 2013).

Machine translation is another effective tool used by translators. This tool offers translation of text by a computer without involvement of human translators. This tool was pioneered in the 1950s and provides instant translation using one of two systems. The first system is rule based and uses a combination of grammar and language rules, as well as dictionaries for common words. For translators working in finance, specific dictionaries focusing on usage of words in the finance context are used in these programs. These systems can be effective in delivering accurate translations when they use accurate terminology and have the right dictionaries. These strategies ensure that the context of the words is accurate. Statistical systems do not rely on language rules but learn translations by analysing large amounts of data for different language pairs. Each language pair in a document is analysed against large amounts of data. In order to enhance their effectiveness in finance, these systems can be trained using additional industry-specific data. This results in statistical translation systems producing translations that are not consistent but more fluent sounding than rule based systems. The translator can also decide which machine translation engines to use and how much it is used. Machine translation engines are available over the internet, and examples of them are Google translate and Language Weaver. These engines are available free of charge over the internet, and they provide translations that are generic. Automatic translation engines enable the translator to incorporate the trained machine translation system to deliver accurate and fast results (SDL Translation Zone, 2013).

Automated translation engines such as Google Translate offer a basic tool for translation of general phrases (Google, 2013). Although it offers effective translation for basic phrases and words from English to French, it is not specialised in order to offer specific translation for finance texts. The translations provided for the different phrases or text can be changed using the alternatives provided for use in the statement besides the provided translation. The translation engine from Google is provided free of charge and can enable the translator to increase efficiency and speed of translation by providing different alternatives. It also offers text to speech translation to enable the translator to realize mistakes or other issues that may affect fluency of the translation. It offers translation for different aspects such as websites. It can also be used to translate websites as the user browses the internet. Specialised enterprise software for translation from companies such as SDL can be used to manage multiple translation engines and incorporate other programs in order to provide specialized translation (SDL, 2013).

Other tools available to translators working in the UK in the translation of English to French in finance are varied. One of the main tools in the area of finance is the online business directory (Reverso, 2013). The online dictionary offers translation of all key terms and phrases from French to English. The dictionary offers other translations such as Russian, Spanish, and Italian among others. Users have the freedom to add words into the dictionary and other users can comment and vote for or against the translations. The dictionary also offers translations for common business and finance phrases for translators working on translation of French to English in the UK.

Another key tool that can be used by translators in the UK in finance translation is the financial glossary on proz.com. This is a translation glossary for English to French prepared by Axone Services and Development Company (Dragana, 2007). The glossary offers different terms for use in translating finance related texts from English to French. It also contains terms from other disciplines as well as language pairs such as English to Italian, German to Italian, and German to English. This resource also provides opportunities for translators to engage in discussions and forums with others in different countries and exchange ideas on translations. This also enables translators to determine the correct pronunciation for different words in order to differentiate between accents from different countries or regions.

The proliferation of the internet in all spheres of life has enabled professionals from different fields to use it to ease their work. Tools that enable translators to utilize the knowledge of colleagues in the field are effective in increasing efficiency of translation and the knowledge level of the translator. These strategies enable the translator to get information from others on strategies that may be effective in enhancing the translation. The software tools that are used in translation are highly effective, but human translators are still required in order to verify the correctness of the translation in relation to the context of the usage.

In conclusion, translators have become highly essential in the conduct of business and other aspects of international relations. The results show that translators in the UK have a better connected professional environment than those in France. This is because of the existence of associations that enable them to have an international market and membership. The aims of the study were to assess the state of the professional environment for translators in the UK, it shows that the professional environment is well supported with tools and codes of conduct. The translators are also well informed and protected by the law and guidelines put in place to enhance the relationship with the clients. The tools available today enable translators to perform their work effectively and accurately.

Research Plan and Execution

The data used and the method chosen for analyzing the data were chosen because it would be impractical to collect primary data for the case. Secondary data from the associations and other studies were effective in meeting the aims of the study. Secondary data provides a high level of reliability because it is sourced from different places and for different purposes.

The chosen method of conducting the research was a narrative and did not involve any specialized statistical analysis strategies. This is because it did not have significant data for analysis using statistical packages. The chosen data on the number of associations and their membership in the different countries is effective. It aided in determining the issues such as the effectiveness of associations and support frameworks for translators in the two countries.

Some of the methods and data that failed to work was trying to determine the number of institutions offering translator courses or the number of courses offered. This is because there are no databases showing a comprehensive list of the courses offered in the different institutions. This resulted in the inability to collect the information, and thus making a conclusion on the data became difficult. Doing it again would require a change in the approach used in determining the issue of qualification and institutions. Since there is no comprehensive list of courses, reviews or accreditation by government agencies would be used to verify their validity in offering the required courses.

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