Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

Featured


Popular Content

Showing content with the highest reputation since 01/13/2020 in Blog Entries

  1. 1 point
    https://clyp.it/kufimo2g Decided to record this little diary entry about tonight's dinner in 长沙. I'm sure I made plenty of grammar mistakes. 出差的日记.wav
  2. 1 point
    A reply to a recent comment from @murrayjames spawned into something perhaps more worthy of an additional entry. The comment reads, This is correct - there is frequent public failure, unrealistic deadlines and demands, and non-specialists taking on specialist jobs. Here are my thoughts on why the industry is like the way it is at present in the West. There is an obvious disconnect between client and interpreter, which, already so wide as it is, is only exacerbated by the fact the market is unregulated and rife with interpretation agencies offering specialists for every field, which they couldn't possibly afford at the rates the real specialists work at. Of course, clients don't know this and don't care - they just want someone in the booth who is 'fluent' to interpret their conference on a niche topic. Most interpreters rely on a good reputation to build a specialism in a certain field - eg. 'life sciences', 'renewables', and gain repeat clients in this way. It is this which results in the growth of confidence and ability. But such a trial and error approach to finding and building up good interpreters is clearly the wrong way to go about raising great interpreters in the field. The same is of course true for translation, but generally translators have the time and space to do the necessary research during the project, whereas interpreters can only guesstimate what might come up in their next job based on a description from the arranging party who is hopefully well-enough informed themselves. On specialist interpretation: IMO, Interpreters should be in-house specialists in specific fields whenever possible. They should be an integral part of the planning process for any event they will be interpreting at. However organisations these days are always looking to cut costs, and when there are cheaper rates from a general agency rather than employing a specialist freelancer, too often it seems the former is opted for, usually by someone who does not understanding what interpreters do. The latest high profile example of this which caused quite a lot of embarrassment was the interpreter for Sun Yang at his WADA doping hearing (watch here). The interpreter clearly was not a specialist in the field of swimming, drug testing, etc. and the result was quite shocking. On non-specialist interpretation: Non-specialists are a necessity, but will never be able to do a good job. I specialise in arts translation, specifically exhibitions and books on Chinese art. This is too narrow a specialism to build a career in, with science, medicine, law etc. being the best paid routes. But even the 'narrow' field of Chinese art is obviously not narrow at all - you could study a lifetime and still not be finished. But there are people that need the job done in narrow, underfunded areas, and 'non-specialist' is better than nothing in their eyes. The result is, all non-high-paying fields get bunched together and given to 'non-specialist' interpreters. People need the job done, and there are those willing to do the job, but the job will almost never be done to a high standard. Conclusions: 1) While there is money to employ and support specialists as full time interpreters, cost-cutting leads to non-specialists occasionally taking on (or being pushed into) jobs they are unable to do. Result: quality interpretation cannot be guaranteed due to organisations cost cutting at the expense of interpreters. 2) Niche fields need interpreters, but there is no money for specialists in these areas. Non-specialists end up taking on a wide-range of jobs they are not specialist in. The result is bad interpretation, but better than nothing. Ultimately, the problem lies with the misunderstanding of clients as to what ‘interpreting’ and ‘translating’ actually is, as well as an abundance of people willing to take on jobs when they’re not actually qualified. Contrary to popular belief, being ‘bilingual’ does not qualify you as an interpreter, but so many organisations think and hope it is the same thing, and to top it off (and who can blame them) there are bilingual speakers who reinforce this hope, because there is money to be made. A fairly hopeless situation, and I’m sure the market is very different in China, where many people are by virtue of the education system are to a certain degree bilingual (speaking not just of English, but other forms of Chinese beyond Putonghua) and understand at the very least what this means (ie. ≠ able to interpret).
  3. 1 point
    This is my last entry for this blog now that my course has finished (for those asking how the second year is going, it is only a one-year MA at Bath). I’ve been meaning to update for a while, just not had the time to sit down and write. Anyway, here it is: last thoughts on exams, dissertation, outcomes and achievements and of course what the future holds: Final exams As said in previous blog entries, translation and interpretation are totally different in terms of the skillset and workload requirements, and the same was true during exams. I got fairly good marks in my translation exams, which took the form of two unseen English articles to be translated into Chinese, and vice versa. The content for the E-C was fairly technical stuff on windfarms and medicine, the C-E was a clinical trial and an art exhibition (I’m working on some pretty hazy memory tbh, it might have been slightly different, but roughly in these areas). In E-C the biggest challenge was trying to keep up pace with the writing speed of my Chinese classmates. I didn’t finish the exam as a result, I translated the first article in full, but only 80% of the second (bad exam tactic: I drafted my translation in Chinese then wrote out in full in clear kaishu…then ran out of time…yeah). The C-E was a different story, I finished the paper with an hour to spare and walked out just after the amazing Taiwanese/American guy, which was a massive feeling of accomplishment for me. The mark I got was better than I had hoped for too, so that was a big plus. Interpretation was of course another story. Consecutive exams went okayish, I scraped through and got mediocre marks. My simultaneous exams all went terrible, I got so nervous I just froze up and stopped speaking in some of them, it really was awful. My marks were naturally very bad, surely the worst in the class I would imagine. Thankfully my average dragged me up overall, and all that really came of the experience was a harsh reminder that I am not able (nor do I ever hope to) do interpreting professionally. My own personal opinion is that interpreting really is for people who have lived in a bilingual environment for at least 10 years from a young age (starting from teen years at the very latest). I first started dabbling in Chinese when I was 20, and I think I am borderline. I believe I would be able to get to a professional level if I put in another 5-10 years from now (I am 31 as of writing). And I don’t really think I’m willing or able to give that time unfortunately. Dissertation I managed to make contact with a famous Taiwanese author and got the translation copyright for a final dissertation translation of a book on the history of Chinese calligraphy. It was an amazing project to work on, I learned a lot of in depth specialist knowledge, and has given me a lot of ideas for the future. I am very happy to say I got a distinction for the translation, and hope to get an English translation of the full book published at some point in the future. The future If I learned from my exams that interpreting wasn’t for me, I learned from my dissertation that translation…is! That being said, while the money is fairly decent, the way in which projects come at you randomly as a freelancer is not so much fun (sure many here can relate). As a result, I’m hoping to now go into education as a Chinese teacher here in the UK, with translation as a supporting income. The dissertation project has also thrown me in a new direction, with a current cooperative currently being set up with a group of fantastic artists and calligraphers I know from Hubei. I’m sure there will be more to come from this in the coming years too. Final thoughts For me – this was the hardest, most challenging year of my life. Regarding the change in my Chinese abilities over the last year: Pros - Speaking has become a lot more formal and adult like, less ‘cute’ and childlike. - Writing has become a lot quicker and again more formal in style, less ‘wechatty’ - Reading is rapid, I can now do sentence reading in 2-3 chunks rather than word by word now, and reading out loud with proper emphasis is much, much better now. Cons - Listening has become more difficult, as my brain gets frustrated when I am not 100% about every single word, tone, sentence level implication, etc. Although this might be a good thing in the long run. - I hesitate and stutter a lot more when speaking, as I am so much more aware of when word order/grammar/word choice is slightly off during the mental preparation of a sentence. I have learned too many new words over the last year, and not absorbed deep enough – as a result it causes me to stop for recall quite a lot now. If you are a native English speaker interested in doing a Chinese/English interpreting-translation qualification, I say be sure you know why you want to do the course. I was very clear that I wanted to do the course to see whether or not becoming an ‘English’ Chinese interpreter was possible for me or not. I found out it was not. But I met a few people along the way for whom it was, and that’s great! However, some people were doing the course to improve their language skills, and this kind of course will not necessarily do that – in fact it will require you to sacrifice language ability for codeswitching ability, particularly in the case of interpreting. Codeswitching is a skill that requires you to rewire the way in which your brain wants to access information – great for being ‘in the booth’, but not so much for playing mah-jong and general chitchat over some baijiu. I think quite a few students struggled to come to terms with the fact that they were being outperformed by students with worse English but better T/I skills. But as long as you are clear what your goals are before you start, a course like this can only be an asset to your Chinese in the long term. It will weed out every single one of your weaknesses and cracks in your knowledge and remind you of them all day every day until you tackle them. Its been a painful medicine to take, but I certainly don't regret it at all. Good luck to future translators and interpreters reading this!
×
×
  • Create New...