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What you need to know about translation and interpretation


Translation can be defined as the rendition of written down texts from the source language to the target language. For example, a medical report or legal text can be rendered from English to IsiNdebele or vice versa. Interpretation is the rendition of source language into the target language in oral or signed form and it happens in real time or on the spot.

Translation and interpretation is not deemed as rendering one language to another but it is a way of facilitating communication across cultures as well as bridging linguistic gaps that occur in our daily utterances. It is done to clear misunderstandings and to ensure that everyone receives and understand information.

As professional translator and interpreters, it is imperative that we maintain the invariant core so that we do not distort the intended meaning or the implication to the target language and audience. Translation and interpretation is another way of preserving and promoting multilingualism and linguistic human rights in a country.

Looking at the aspect of delivery, interpretation happens in real time, hence, the interpreter has to be fluent in both the source language and the target language. Whereas, in translation, the translator is given time to familiarise with the text and also research if there are things that he or she does not understand depending on the deadline of the client. Translation goes on to allow and give ample time to the translator to utilise technologies, reference materials and to consult expects in producing high quality and error free text.

It is crucial for people to access translation and interpretation services online or physically approaching the entity that deals with those services. However, in my own experience, l realised that if you tell someone that you are doing translation and interpretation they get amused and surprised asking questions like “what is that?” or “what exactly will you be doing?”. However, it is of paramount importance that awareness campaigns or social media marketing as well as the Government to make it visible to the public that translators and interpreters are there to simplify jargon, to act as bridges to access and success, to facilitate communication, to ensure that the linguistic rights are exercised and to act as linguistic mediators for those who are linguistically incapacitated.

Translation and interpretation is a wide discipline and profession as it overlaps to other sectors like editing, proofreading, creative writing and publishing. However, each and every discipline and profession has its own demerits, and in this case mistranslation and misinterpretation can cost the life of the translator, interpreter or the client. For instance, legal and medical documents to mention a few, require a crucial eye and confidentiality which then makes the translator or interpreter to be trustworthy. Therefore, such ethical values should be exercised by the translator and interpreter.

Another aspect is that many people think that being bilingual which is the knowledge of two languages, makes one an interpreter and translator. There are skills that a translator and interpreter should possess such as linguistic competence, grammatical competence, to be audible enough when interpreting and to be able to navigate out of a problem and ICT skills to mention a few hence, bilingualism is an added advantage to a translator and interpreter.

I hope this article will be an eye opener to all the lay and expect learners.

Thank you! If there are any questions, we will be happy to respond and assist on that with immediate effect. # stay safe # mask up and curb the spread of corona virus.


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