Language focus | 10.07.2012

Professional translation services 'must interpret the message'

Professional translation services must interpret the message – and not just the words – of the speaker, according to a University of Nottingham team.

Dr Xiaohui Yuan of the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies is among them, and is leading the Translating Cultures in International Mediation project to help identify what is important not just in the spoken word, but also in the body language and non-verbal communication of the speaker.

By doing so, she and her team hope to draw conclusions that professional translation agencies can use in future to ensure their staff are fully trained on what to look for, and how to interpret non-verbal signals in their own translations for delegates at conferences, and other such listeners.

“Mediators must have a good grasp of the cultural differences that are at play, how language is used and the impact on the other party when that language is not their mother tongue,” she suggests.

The different kinds of translation services currently available for live events already help to deal with this concern, with chuchotage (‘whispered interpreting’) one option to deliver an almost-live translation of speech as it happens.

Similarly, simultaneous interpreting allows the speaker to continue uninterrupted, and closely follows the individual’s own message, making it easier for spectators to interpret their body language as well as their translated words.

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