Both interpreting and translation are fundamentally the exchange of meaning by a person (the interpreter or the translator) from one language into the target language. What is produced is the interpreter or translators’ understanding of the meaning of what was originally conveyed. However, the two terms should not be used interchangeably as they refer to two specific roles. Although the two disciplines are distinct in terms of their role and required skill set, and in terms of the practitioners operating in their roles, the basis of each is this paraphrasing of language.
The two roles aim to help open up communications and situations for individuals and organisations either when there is not a shared or common language or when a particular group of individuals would not have access to a particular communication on account of language. Interpreters and Translators can go on to work across all industries and sector groups, and in public, private, and third sector organisations. For both interpreters and translators, they may work within an organisation such as a large multi-national corporation, or for a specialised agency, or indeed work freelance. Some interpreters and translators may go on to work for such bodies as the European Union or the United Nations.
Due to the recent increase in globalised institutions and the global international relations that are consequent upon this, there is an increasing need for individuals with linguistic skills. This opens up attractive career opportunities for those going into the fields of interpreting or translation.
The role of interpreters is to translate oral communications from one language to another, including sign language. Interpreters enable the sharing of ideas and the conduct of business across language barriers. Interpreting involves conveying the meaning and intentions of the source language in the target language. Interpreting is performed using differing modes. These are termed as consecutive, where the interpreter listens to the source language until the completion of a point or a pause in the communication and translates it into the target language; and simultaneous, where the interpreter translates into the target language while listening and comprehending the sentence coming up. Sign language interpreting is also another mode of interpreting; however, this is not dealt with in this framework at this time. Interpreting can also be performed one-way, where the interpreting is only in one direction, or two-way, where the interpreter translates in two directions for both languages that are in conversation.
Interpreters often operate at conferences, in business contexts, or within public services. Public service interpreters often work within education, health, and legal settings, ensuring that individuals understand what is communicated to them. In the light of increased immigration, interpreting can be seen as an important skills need within public services. In terms of the Welsh context census data from 2011 shows that over 20% of Welsh residents whose main language is not English or Welsh stated they cannot speak English well or cannot speak English (Source: 2011 Census: Quick Statistics for England and Wales, March 2011). For these people, many situations can be isolating and detrimental to their development and wellbeing or integration into Welsh society (this needs to be viewed in relation to Wales being a bilingual nation).
In terms of business, interpreting is playing an increasingly important role in facilitating communication across language barriers. This is of fundamental importance as a business is now increasingly conducted across traditional national and linguistic borders. Interpreting can be seen as a key enabler of globalised business processes, opening up such organisations to new benefits and opportunities.
The focus of translators is on the translation of written communications in terms of the conversion from the source language to the target language. Translators require cultural sensitivity when converting a text into the target language; it is necessary for there to be a process of cultural adaptation to the audience of any given communication. Translators need to have a good repertoire of specialist phraseology as they can operate in highly specialised, technical fields of translation, ie scientific, literary, legal, and commercial. As such, the different types of translation specialisms that a translator can develop include the translation of legal documents, novels, plays or poetry, or educational resources. Translation often necessitates the use of reference books and specialist dictionaries and thesauruses for the identification of appropriate terminology. It is important for translators to liaise closely with clients in order to discuss their requirements fully and to form a clear picture of how the final translation should be formulated. The final product that is presented to clients should be thoroughly researched and be grammatically correct and appropriately convey the meaning of the original text. Due to this an essential skill for translators is proofreading and editing. Typically, translators have to deal with deadlines and tight schedules.
It is difficult to accurately estimate the size of the interpreting or translation workforce due to variations in how they are classified and grouped with other professions in national statistics. Translator and Interpreter are included as part of a group including Authors, Artists, and Writers of which there are 9,955 employed in Wales (Source: Working Futures 2012-2022). It can be seen that this is not very helpful in determining the extent of the size of these occupations currently. However, Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru (the Association for Welsh Translators and Interpreters- AWTI) has approximately 350 members. Though, as this number does not necessarily encompass all of the interpreters and translators operating in Wales at the moment, it is likely that the real figure is higher than this.
The two separate pathways within the Level 4 Apprenticeship in Interpreting and Translation are to provide learners with an opportunity to develop their practice as a trainee interpreter or translator in order to be able to go on to a career in their chosen discipline and be able to progress to qualifications that will enable them to gain professional status.
The Apprenticeship has been designed for those in Trainee roles; candidates for this apprenticeship will require language skills in both the source and target languages and may have experience of interpreting or translation-based activities. The apprenticeship may be ideal for those who wish to seek recognition of these skills through an apprenticeship qualification. It is important to note that this framework should not be used as a means of employing individuals who are yet to gain professional recognition, and so at a lower rate. The apprentices who enroll on this apprenticeship should not be expected to do the same work, or carry out the same range of tasks, as an interpreter or translator who has professional recognition. Apprentices on one of these frameworks should be considered as trainees.
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