Secrets of an Interpreter (1)


Having worked as a translator and interpreter for clients all over the world for more than 17 years, I think it is a good time to get accredited in Australia. The National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) is the national standards and accreditation body for translators and interpreters in the Great Southern Land. It is the only agency in this country that issues accreditations for people working in these two professions.

NAATI offers a series of workshops and online courses for people who wish to take accreditation tests to become professional translators and interpreters. In late 2013, I was awarded a Creative Industries Career Fund from Australia’s Copyright Agency, which supports individuals working in the publishing and visual arts sectors to develop skills and enhance their careers. As a result, I am able to participate in six workshops and two online courses throughout the first half of 2014. I can also take accreditation tests in mid-2014 to become a Professional Translator (English-Chinese) and a Paraprofessional Interpreter (both directions between English and Mandarin).

I am currently taking an online course called “Behaving Ethically”, which lasts two months. The aim of the course is to provide translators and interpreters with a sound knowledge of the ethnics in these two professions. It focuses on the skills to apply the principles in real life situations.

The course begins with a specification between ethics and morals. While morals are one’s sense of right and wrong that enables people to deal with each other in socially acceptable ways, ethics are unique codes of conduct to be applied to specific occasions on which one’s words and actions may have direct impact on the others. A lawyer, for example, is obliged to act ethically in his profession even in situations where his morals are compromised. Under these circumstances, he can make an ethical decision when he fully understands the consequences of such a decision.

The course then gives a fascinating summary of the history of ethics. In ancient times, issues of ethics were presented simply in terms of what to do and not to do, and rarely took into consideration the rights and needs of those who were deemed inferior in their social status. It is only later that a sense of equality between all human beings was established, and philosophical debates began on the nature and significance of ethics. Do we want to do good because there is a perpetual and meaningful good, or because doing good has good consequences, or because doing good is what we believe the virtuous people are doing? There are subtle differences between these three proposals, which renowned philosophers around the globe are still exploring today.

The next part of the course will discuss how ethnics are defined in translation and interpretation industries.

Image thanks to: Australia’s “National Interpreter Symbol

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