The translation and interpretation field of work has grown in stature over the years in South Africa and around the world. Professional translators and interpreters are in greater demand in South Africa than ever before. Those with foreign languages often have the opportunity to travel and work abroad and those with interpretation and translation skills establish their own companies and have a chance to work at international conferences, in local and national government structures and at community level. Perhaps the critical question to ask is who can become a professional translator and interpreter?
The effective translation or interpretation of one language into another involves a number of key elements such as the use of proper grammar, vocabulary, language nuances, tone and, of course, accuracy. A fundamental step towards mastering these elements is the completion of tertiary education specializing on linguistics or something similar. However, there are certain qualities that one needs to have to become a successful professional language practitioner. These attributes and qualities are captured in Ethics, Efficiency and Willingness to learn.
Being ethical is about being honest and having the ability to differentiate between what is right and wrong. As a translator or interpreter, you will come across sensitive and protected information from confidential documents and high level meetings. Therefore, it is important to ensure you protect such information and interests of the client. By conducting business with integrity and transparency, translators and interpreters build trust and a successful career. Translators must endeavor never to accept work if they are unsure about completing it on time with the needed quality. This will only fetch them a bad name.
With regards to Efficiency, translators and interpreters must have an intimate understanding of both the target and the source languages. This understanding is further sharpened by consistently reading, listening and speaking in the language practitioner’s languages of specialization. Apart from mastering the language, it is important to also familiarise oneself with the field for which one is translating or interpreting. Successful translators and interpreters are always diligent in building and maintaining glossaries of words related to their fields of specialization.
Translators and Interpreters must also have the willingness to learn. This means they need to be able to adapt to the changes that occur due to rapidly growing and changing technology. This also entails, being up to date with the latest communication tools. They also seek advice from more experienced language practitioners and are constantly improving themselves through consistent studying either in the form of additional qualifications or attending formally organized short courses.
By having the stated qualities and attributes above, only the sky can be the limit for translators and interpreters.