The questions below were sent to our company by the Strait Times in October 2013 to help them understand how players in the translation industry here in Singapore feel about the Translation certification examination to certify translators academically by SIM (Singapore Institute of Management). The candid replies from our CEO provided us with a totally different view and perspective from the proponents.
- How would this new one-time certification exam benefit the translation industry? Would it help translators and translation agencies pick better candidates for the job? Have you met incompetent translators?
The problem is not with the lack of competent translators. It is with the way people see translation. Living in a largely bilingual society, translation somehow has not been given the right kind of respect it deserves. Many organisation think of it only as an after-thought. A good to have but not really necessary. I have been told by clients that their “wives”, “father” or even “grandfather” can do the translation. If you can read in between the lines, they are basically telling you that it’s not worth that much. Translation’s been treated like a commodity. Unfortunately, a not-so-sort-after one and traded like nuts and bolts, as one industry senior aptly put.So even if there is a one-time certification exam, it will not help benefit the industry.Freelancers/Individuals get certified. Increase their prices. Put pressure on company to increase their selling price to their clients.
Most companies, due to certain restriction, may prefer to deal with translation companies. But because of the buyers’ perception of translation, would only be willing to pay a certain price. Thus the vicious cycle begins.
As far as I am concern, having being in this industry for almost 20 years, qualification does not maketh a good translator.
I have met many fantastic translators without any formal translation training. And yes, I have met even more incompetent translators from the “qualified” pool.
Translation must be done with passion and commitment. Now, even more so.