IF LINGUISTICS IS YOUR STRENGTH AND YOU CAN EFFORTLESSLY ENGAGE IN MULTIPLE LANGUAGES, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER A CAREER IN INTERPRETATION SAYS MITHILA MEHTA.
In this multicultural yet globalised world, the need for interpreters is ever rising. As businesses expand rapidly into new markets, international organisations must deal with local languages. Despite the increasing importance of English as a common linguistic currency, plurality is still the basic essence. As communication remains the basis of all global interactions, interpreters are heavily in demand. However, although the words ‘interpretation’ and ‘translation’ are used interchangeably, they differ in practice. “Interpretation differs from translation in a number of ways. Firstly, interpretation takes into account the nonverbal aspects of communication as well to generate a more holistic meaning. Translation, on the other hand, is more about literal accuracy. Further, the process of interpretation is usually faster and oral, while translation deals with written material, and the linguist has the time to access to resources like lexicons,” says interpreter Rashmi Ghosh, who has been practicing for over two decades and specialises in Greek and German.
There is a new-found understanding that communication goes beyond words. This stress on nonverbal communication through gestures, intonation, sentence construction and verbal connotations is reflected in the practice of interpreters. “Every culture and language has its own subtleties. The interpreter must be able to identify these and adequately convey them as well. For example, the Japanese rely heavily on non-verbal cues. For example, frowning during a conversation is seen as a sign of disagreement, while staring into someone’s eyes while speaking is considered rude,” explains Ghosh. Additionally, there is also a context provided by culture that the interpreter must understand. Often, common vocabulary, popular idioms and proverbs are fashioned from cultural elements. For this, a deep knowledge of the values, social structures, arts and historic background of the culture is necessary.
Globalisation and multilateral dependency has fuelled the rise of a career in interpretation. Multinational corporations, with operations in linguistically diverse markets, heavily rely on interpreter services. With the growing economic prominence of China, learning Mandarin seems like a logical choice for prospective interpreters. “Keeping in view the surging volume of trade, investment and economic cooperation between two countries, learning Mandarin has emerged as a good option. We have been conducting Mandarin classes at several levels since 2004. We also give our students exposure to the culture and etiquettes,” informs Jenny Zeliang, Additional Director and Language Head, India China Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
For those looking for a career beyond business organisations, the options are plenty. International organisations — the best known being the United Nations and the European Union. Smaller international organisations can
offer tremendous learning opportunities for beginners. Those with a degree in international relations have an added advantage.
Judicial/ legal interpreting is an option for those who are well versed with court procedure and legal terminology. In fact, the right to a competent interpreter (for those who do not understand the language in which proceedings are being conducted) is considered a fundamental rule of justice. Medical interpreting is a booming career, especially given the growth of medical tourism. The global media engages interpreters as well, especially during press conferences and televised interviews. The travel/ tourism and hospitality sectors offer tremendous opportunities for the linguistically gifted.
For those truly looking to carve a niche in this field, combining knowledge of languages with mastery in another subject area is a good strategy. “I have completed my graduation in economics and have studied German for four years. I specialise in the interpretation of economic matter,” explains Manali Vaidya, who graduated as a BA (Economics) graduate from Ruia College. German is a top pick for those dealing in engineering, Spanish for those in textiles or pharmaceuticals, while Japanese is the language for technology-driven industries.
Excellent linguistic and spoken skills are of course mandatory, with complete mastery over the source and target languages. The ability to understand subtleties, cultural etiquette and non verbal cues is a must. An interpreter must be able to think on his/ her feet and strive for accuracy at all times. Commitment is important, as linguistic mastery comes only with time and experience. Additionally, it is important to be passionate about the languages you specialise in. “Don’t limit yourself to a superficial, functional understanding of your chosen languages. Delve deeper, into the heart of the language,” advises Ghosh.
Interpretation is a well-paying career option. “Languagerelated services are a booming industry. A well-qualified interpreter can earn as much as Rs 40,000 a month for his/ her services,” say Vidya and Dinesh Govindani of Academia De Español. For beginners, the remuneration begins at approximately Rs 20,000 and increases with experience in the field. Those with specialised niches can earn even more. Work in this field may be assignment-based on a fixed timeline. Freelancing is hence common.
Original article here: education times