Interpreters and translators serve as the only gateway between two people who speak different languages. Therefore, the role of ethics in translation industry is certainly important.
Because they are usually hired to interpret in stressful or delicate situations, the set of rules and guidelines were created in order to secure and guarantee the high level of professionalism.
The theme of social responsibility emerged as a strong common concern across diverse contributions on interpreting, translation and other forms of cross-cultural communication.
Communication across languages and cultures clearly involves important questions for citizens and society at large, and the various participants in translated encounters – interpreter/translator, ‘client’ and ‘user’ – are confronted with broad issues of social responsibility. These issues often arise unexpectedly and with little or no prior training, preparation or opportunity to reflect on appropriate strategies to respond. It is ethics in translation industry that can prevent such problems in intercultural communication.
Social responsibility and the translation and interpreting professions
Interpreters and translators are faced with an abundance of ethical issues they must work through on a daily basis while professionally interpreting or translating in the field. There are a variety of scenarios in which professional interpreters and translators must maintain a high ethical standard in order to stay neutral and avoid intervening in a situation or perhaps muddling intended meanings. The ethical responsibilities taken on during language services are just as important to the success and completion of the translation or interpretation as the actual conversion of words. Ethics in translation industry is not something new to professionals working in this industry.
There are several common ethical standards which are accepted across all professions. While codes of conduct for translators and interpreters do exist in some countries, they mostly set out guidelines on issues related to professional competence. In other words, a professional focus on social responsibility may have an impact on individuals and society far beyond the narrow professional sphere.
Guidelines for the highly-qualified specialist
Multi-Languages Translators Code of Ethics defines what it means to be an outstanding translator. “Every translation shall be faithful and render exactly the idea and form of the original – this fidelity constitutes both a moral and legal obligation for the translator.” – International Federation of Translators
These guidelines are relevant for other professionals in the translation and interpretation business as well. Below is a summary of the main points from the code of ethics in translation industry.
Translators should endeavor to provide service of the highest quality in their professional practice.
Interpreters and translators are hired for their ability to correctly understand what one client is saying and convey it accurately to the other. The translator must translate accurately. By accurate translation, we understand a translation that preserves the meaning, style, and register of the source document. Speaking about interpretation, it should be noticed that much of human communication is portrayed not through words, but facial expressions, the tone of voice, body language, etc. Interpreters should have clients speak to each other rather than to them, and make eye contact, to help them pick up on these nonverbal cues.
An interpreter or translator is likely to be handling sensitive or otherwise confidential information. Even if it seems trivial, clients need to be sure they can trust you not to share it with other people. The translator must respect, under all circumstances, confidentiality and privacy of the information contained in all documentation provided by the client for the purpose of translation, unless otherwise required by law. All information submitted shall be confidential and may not be reproduced, disclosed or divulged.
Impartiality and Conflict of Interest
In order to maintain professionalism, the translator must remain impartial and declare any potential conflict of interest (including personal or ethical values and opinions) that may affect his/her performance while translating a document.
Limitation of practice
The translator must know his/her linguistic limitations and decline assignments that go beyond his/her skills and competence.
The translator must only accept assignments that he/she can complete and deliver in a timely manner (by the due date).
The translator must accept documents that he/she can translate. No work should be subcontracted to colleagues without prior written permission.
The translator should possess sound knowledge of the source language and be an expert in the target language.
The translator should accept translations only for fields or subject matters where he/she has knowledge and experience.
Sensitivity to Cultural Misunderstandings
There are some situations where conveying information is not enough. As an expert on the culture of both languages, a translator should be aware of any cultural differences that may interfere with effective communication.
The translator is accountable for his/her work and must recognize and acknowledge translation mistakes and try to rectify them even when the translation has been completed, in order to avoid potential liability and risk issues.
- The translator must seek professional development courses to maintain, improve and expand translation skills and general knowledge through self-teaching, formal and informal continuing education.
- Must acquire the proper terminology and enhance his/her knowledge by creating and updating terminology files.
- Must seek evaluative feedback and practice self-evaluation concerning performance.
Respect for all parties
The translator must show respect for all parties involved in the translation assignment, including respect for self, the agency and to its clients.
The translator must respect copyrights and intellectual property. Translated documents remain the client’s exclusive property.
A pursuit of Professional Development
Languages are constantly evolving, and new terminology comes to light in every field all the time. A translator needs to be aware of these changes to interpret and translate effectively.
Ethics in translation industry are important to uphold and it is vital to your reputation that you provide your clients, customers or patients with a value only professionals can provide.
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