16/02/2012

From English to French and from French to English

http://mox.ingenierotraductor.com/2011/02/native-vs-non-native-mortal-kombat.html
Interpreters have to switch between languages effectively, operating in at least two languages. It would be inconceivable to ask interpreters to stick to their native language.

It’s often argued that translators should only translate from their acquired language(s) into their native language. However, the professional standards aren’t so clear cut on this point —
  • The Institute of Translation and Interpreting's Code of Professional Conduct states that members shall translate only into a language which is either their mother tongue or language of habitual use or one in which they have (...) equal competence. 
  • The Société Française des Traducteurs recommends translators should only translate into their "mother tongue or an acquired language handled with precision and ease". 
The idea behind those recommendations is that translators should find expressing words and concepts in the target language easy and natural. Neither of the example standards above limit that competency to native speakers of a language. Do all native speakers of a language express themselves naturally and with ease? If not, wouldn’t a standard framed solely or primarily around the fact of being a native speaker be a flawed one? Indeed, questions of equality could be raised by effectively equating competency with a particular nationality or group of nationalities.

Another way to consider the point is to consider quality control, regardless of native language. Unquestionably, mastery of two languages is essential to be able to translate well. Therefore the native language debate misses an important point: a good translation requires thorough understanding of the text one translates from. In other words, if a native speaker misunderstands parts of the original text, this can affect the quality of the translated text.
Is an excellent command of two languages (as with bilingual speakers) not preferable to high proficiency in one’s native language and a fair to good command of one’s acquired language?

Back to quality control. Are all native speakers able to write well in their mother tongue? Maybe not. That’s where adequate research, extensive reading and writing, and - more importantly - proofreading come in. When looking at a translator’s credentials, look for evidence of their command of both languages, e.g.
  • qualifications measuring language proficiency
  • qualifications in another discipline, as assessment will necessarily involve high proficiency in the language of the awarding body
  • a wealth of practical experience, perhaps in the workplace where command of a particular language will naturally be a requirement
There are plenty of other possible ways of demonstrating mastery of a language. The key factors are that the evidence is benchmarked and that, as a matter of good professional practice, there is evidence of quality control.

In my case, I’m a translator and interpreter and work with both French and English. I've lived in Britain for 10 years. French is my native language and English is my language of habitual use. I started my education in France (where I achieved outstanding results in languages and French, e.g. 20/20 for French in my Baccalaureate) but I also hold one undergraduate and two postgraduate qualifications from British universities.

For quality control, I get all my translations (into French or into English) proofread to ensure complete accuracy and fluency. For translations into French, I find specialists for each project. For translations into English, I work in close collaboration with a native English writer and French linguist who is also a professional translator and proofreader.

Why choose me

Professional linguist with 13 years' experience
Translator, teacher & interpreter since 2004
Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists
Member of the International Association of Professional Translators & Interpreters

Translation experience
Certified translation of official documents:
- birth/marriage/divorce certificates
- diplomas, transcripts & references
- legal/medical/insurance documents
Academic articles/literary essays
Business/marketing communications
CRM software

Interpreting experience
Court hearings
Medical and work-related
Edinburgh International Film Festival 2010
Arts/cultural events
'Fixer' for French TV

Teaching experience
Language assistant at prestigious Fettes College
Teacher at 3 leading UK universities
Organised a T&I workshop

Qualifications
First degree in English Studies
MSc in Translation Studies
Professional Graduate Diploma In Secondary Education (French & Spanish)