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In-Depth Jobs


volume-44, 2 - 8 February, 2019

Translation as a Career and its Scope

Dr. Bharat Singh Negi & Prabha Negi

Translation is an activity that aims at conveying meaning or meanings of a given linguistic discourse from one language to another. Translation can be defined in terms of sameness of meaning across languages. According to some researchers, there can be no absolute correspondence between languages and hence no fully exact translations. Translation at some level is always possible, however, there are times when interlocutors are aware that they do not mean the same by particular phrases. Meaning is formed on each occasion of linguistic interaction and is therefore unique and not replicable. Therefore, a translation can never 'mean' the same as the source text. But this does not matter, because practice ensures that translators 'get away with' translating  well sufficiently often. The word 'translate' comes from the Latin 'translation' where 'trans' means across and 'latus' means carrying; the word thus means the carrying across of meaning from one language to the other. The various Indian language words for translation do not convey this meaning. Anuvad (speak after), bhashantar (linguistic transference), tarjuma (reproduction), roopantar (change of form),  vivartanam (change), mozhimattam (change of script)-what P. Lal, one of India's well-known translators, has described as 'transcreation'. This is a process whereby the translation, rather than a docile transference of meaning from one linguistic system to the other, becomes a retelling by the translator in another language. So this implies that our basic concept of translation was different, and we need to explore if this is because classical Indian critical theories conceptualized it differently.

Translation is the communication of the meaning  of a source language text by means of an equivalent target language text. The English language draws a terminological distinction (not all languages do) between translating (a written text) and interpreting (oral or sign-language communication between users of different languages); under this distinction, translation can begin only after the appearance of writing within a language community. A translator always risks inadvertently introducing source-language words grammar, or syntax into the target-language rendering. On the other hand, such "spill-overs" have sometimes imported useful source-language calques and loanwords that have enriched target languages. Translators, including early translators of sacred texts, have helped shape the very languages into which they have translated.

History  of translation in India

India is a multi-lingual country and has always been so. There are actually two distinct language families in India-the Indo-Aryan and the Dravidian. The most ancient of the Dravidian languages is Tamil, the others being Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam which evolved later than Tamil. The major Indian languages of today derive from either of the two groups, and sometimes two Indian languages might not have many linguistic traits in common. For instance, translation from Hindi to Malayalam means that translation is between two languages that are radically different although they belong to the same region called India. But despite this diversity, we can safely state that Indian languages own a shared sensibility, partly derived from the common heritage of Sanskrit and from ancient theories of literature and language.

As India passed into the medieval period, the influence of Sanskrit declined. The various invasions during this period also brought with them different cultural and linguistic influences. Persian became the dominant language because it was the language of the court; it was also considered to be the elite language of scholarship under the Mughal rulers. The Mughal courts had scholars who were also translators. Baburnama, the autobiography of Babur was originally written in a language called Chagatay but was translated into Persian by Humayun's minister Bairam Khan. Akbar commissioned translations of Sanskrit works into Persian. The Mahabharata was translated into Persian during Akbar's time. His great-grandson Dara Shukoh translated the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-gita into Persian.

Indian theories of aesthetics and translation

The influence of Indian critical theory also impacted other aspects of translation. Equivalence as we understand

the concept today, as in achieving the same meaning in the target language as in the source language, thus was not a major concern as far as Indian translators were concerned. But there was a different sort of equivalence that translators hoped to achieve, which was in matters of the emotional impact of the text and other matters of style, like rasa, and dhvani.  The need for translation has existed since time immemorial and translating important literary works from one language into others has contributed significantly to the development of world culture. Ideas and forms of one culture have constantly moved and got assimilated into other cultures through the works of translators. The history of translation is related to the history of the often invisible cross cultural interactions of the world. Ideas and concepts from the East notably India, China and Iraq have influenced the Western culture since as early as sixth century B.C. when trade ties were first established between India and the Mediterranean countries. Translators have enabled Holy Scriptures like the Bible written in esoteric languages like Latin to be understood by ordinary people by translating them into more common languages without depending on a few elite priests or the members of clergy to explain what they contained.

Role of translator in Global Era

21st century has brought changes as well as challenges for the language industry. With people moving abroad and willing to learn different languages, it has opened new doors for translation industry. Translation and interpretation services has become the fastest growing industry in the United States related to job growth. This 21st century has also brought in numerous machine translation apps that does the job. Due to its limitations, companies prefer human translators. This has increased the demand for professional translators even more than before. Globalization has turned out to be the new era for translation industry. This new era has brought opportunities for every industry.  Product industry has seen products being manufactured with lower costs and superior quality. Similarly, translators too have developed competitions around the world especially from low cost countries. Now, there is no more language barrier due to the globalization. Thus, it has resulted in more interactions with people around the world. This cross cultural interactions has increased the demand for more translators and interpreters.

Globalization has increased interactions among people around the world. This has impacted the vocabulary for certain languages. Words have been borrowed from different languages and have been adopted. This foreignising of a language has made work little easier for translation companies. Due to globalization there is more work as there are no country barriers. People from abroad come over and get translation done by Indian companies. This has given more work for companies in India.

There are different dimensions to globalization in terms of translation industry. English was initially restricted to certain countries. Due to globalization, English has benefited the most along with many other languages. Literature has found a wider audience in languages that have been heard of. Writers and readers have got immense opportunity to explore and share. Translation industry will get to touch areas of literature as well. Due to trade barriers small enterprises are  pressurized to become global. This has led to increase in advertisements. Translation industry plays a huge role in making them global. They make the companies appear same in different countries keeping in mind the culture and language differences. These global companies are forced to seek the help of translation companies and is becoming the core business of such companies.

As globalization is increasing, need for translation services is also growing. It is expected that globalization is going to affect the translation industry in a more profound manner compared to other industries. Translating industry will be seeing a boom in the recent years. The success of the translation industry is ever growing, and will remain so as it continues to help bridge the communication gaps between clients and business worldwide. Immense opportunities will develop, new clientele base will be set, new languages will be added to the list and much more this industry will experience.

Different Types Of translation:

Translation is a field that is seeing a lot of activity nowadays, thanks to the increasing globalization of businesses. International travel has also increased significantly - for both business and leisure. This means there is, at any given time, a large number of people in a country that don't necessarily speak the local language well. Of course, this augurs well for the translation industry. There are many types of translation that may be required, and each one is unique, with its own process and specific requirements. If you have a business with international operations, it would be beneficial to partner up with an experienced professional, or a translation services company, who is capable of understanding your specific requirements and accommodating them.  On your part, it is important that you have a meeting with your service providers to apprise them of your exact needs - the more info you can give them about your business and your target market, the easier it will be for them to provide you with the best service possible. If you can, do try to specify important terms or jargon used in your industry, and a style guide; also provide some training sessions to familiarize them with the products or services you offer.

Translations can be broadly classified into Business related, and Non- Business related. However, some kind of overlap is in both categories. So let us examine the most common types of translations that are performed.

Literary Translation

The name is self-explanatory - literary translation refers to the translation of literary works like stories, novels, poems, and plays. It is often considered the highest form of translation because a literary translation is so much more than the mere conveying of the meaning and context of the document in the source language into the target language. It involves incorporating the appropriate cultural nuances, translating humour, feelings, emotions, and other subtle elements of a particular work. Many litterateurs believe that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to translate works of literature - especially poetry. Some examples of situations that could be very difficult are - rhyming words, puns, idioms, anagrams, and so on. Often, there are no appropriate translations in the target language, and the nuance is lost.

Commercial Translation

This is one of the most complex translations, and involves birth certificates and marriage certificate translations, translating contracts, agree-ments, treaties, memorandums, wills, and so on. A good translator needs to understand the various underlying contexts of the documents and that of the two regions or countries for which the documents are intended - the socio-cultural aspects, and the politico-legal aspects as well. They would then need to translate it in a manner that the target audience easily grasps the text. Even if you are familiar with the cultures and other aspects and are highly skilled at translation, you may need to consult legal professionals so as to ensure that your translation is completely error-free.

Technical Translation

Any technical content that needs to be translated - user guides, manuals, online help text, instruction booklets, training materials and videos, marketing materials for technical fields like manufacturing, science or engineering - all of this comes in the ambit of technical translation. Formatting is an important aspect where the translation of technical content is concerned, as desktop publishing or DTP is required for it. Often the screenshots and even graphics have to be edited to make it suitable for the target language/s.

Judicial Translation

This type of translation is different from legal translation; the latter is about translating legal documents - which could be very old too. But when we talk about judicial translation, we basically refer to the activity of translating court documents like depositions, minutes of meetings, expert testimonies, witness testimonies, judgments, letters rogatory, interviews and more - basically, activities related to cases.

Administrative Translation

In the realm of translation, administrative refers to the translation of management texts we often see being used in organizations - whether huge corporations or regional businesses. Though pretty similar to commercial translations, it is not exactly the same. While administrative translation can be called a subset of commercial translation, all commercial translation is not necessarily administrative.

Medical Translation

Any medical content that is patient related, like labels, packaging, instructions, or software, and content that is product related, like research papers, clinical trial paperwork, quality management certificates and the like, usually needs translation. It is absolutely imperative that the translation service providers are experienced, have the requisite knowledge, and are in-country professionals. Translation of medical documents can also be very tricky as the requirements of translation can differ from country to country; a translator or company specialized in medical documents would be your best bet, as they would be familiar with the intricacies of all the different requirements.

Website Translation

We are of course talking about website copy, subtitles for videos on your web pages, and any documents you have there. Here you will also need to change things like currencies, address formats and layouts, so as to appeal to the different local audiences. You need to think about the languages you want your website to be translated into and localize only those pages which will apply to the target audience. Using a web-site-translation management system to automate and ease the process if you have frequent updates to your website copy.

Knowledge Translation:

The National Translation Mission, a brain-child of the National Knowledge Commission  intends to translate textbooks and classical works in areas like  sociology, history, geography, geology, medicine, chemistry, physics, mathematics, linguistics and  political science into the Indian languages in order to raise the standard of education done in mother tongues  and to render accessible current and cutting-edge knowledge so far available only in English to the rural poor and the backward sections of the society. The Commission is looking for competent translators from English into all the Indian languages and there is evident scarcity in the area.

Media Translation

The print, electronic, visual and auditory media- newspapers, magazines, radio, television, cinema etc- need plenty of translators from one language into another. Many media houses publish papers and journals or run television channels in several languages at the same time and they need quick yet communicative translations of news, serials, film scripts and programmes. Dubbing and subtitling are other areas

Script Translation

Many popular movies and TV shows that come out of Hollywood are dubbed into several languages and released worldwide; sometimes the films are from foreign languages and dubbed into English and other European languages - like the Telugu language blockbuster from India, Baahubali, which was released in Chinese and German, among other languages. The Harry Potter series was also released into dozens of languages. But for these releases to happen, the scripts have to be translated first- and the dialogues. You can say this is a type of literary translation, but it's not exactly the same. It can be very dicey, as translating punchlines, jokes or catchy phrases into another language to make the same impact is very difficult. With more movies being released in multiple languages nowadays, this type of translation is very much in demand today.

(To be continued)