Marcia R. PinheiroReferences
So, Eirlys, give us a bit of background about you and the T & I Industry, please.
Eirlys J. Chessa
Thanks, Marcia. I migrated to Australia from Italy with my family in 1988 and obtained my first NAATI Accreditation in 1990. I started working as an interpreter and translator straight away, first with the New South Wales Health Care Interpreting Service in Newcastle, and later for TIS in Canberra.
I had actually already been translating, interpreting and teaching English in Italy since 1980, mostly for business. In Australia, there was much more need for community interpreters, particularly in health care.
Actually, the first time I interpreted in a hospital was when I was 14, for my English grandmother who was taken ill and ended up in a small Italian hospital in the village where we lived. It was the early seventies and I was more bilingual than my parents. When he finished his examination, the doctor told me I was very professional and that I should consider it as a career when I grew up. I did.
The main difference I noticed between interpreting here and in Italy, is that here, unless one specialized in business and conference interpreting, it did not really pay very well. When I arrived here, the work was mainly low paid community interpreting. However, with TIS and the other Australian government services, in the old days, one was an employee; so even if the pay was a bit low, there was job security, and I did not mind.
After leaving TIS, I worked for the ACT Magistrates Court, and then as a bilingual secretary and official translator for the Italian Embassy for a few years, while also continuing to interpret, mainly for business negotiations. I only really returned to freelance work in 2012, when I signed up with a couple of agencies while at the same time I began studying towards my Masters in Interpreting and Translating at RMIT. I was quite shocked that the pay rates had hardly changed at all since 1990, and that the working conditions were actually worse, because we now had to obtain an ABN, pay our own super, and cover our own travel costs. That's why, also in 2012, I joined Professionals Australia, and was a co-founder of their Interpreters' and Translators' Group, which is now our official Union, and why we're currently fighting. We are currently fighting these working conditions, but that's another story.
I'm also a member of AUSIT, the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators. The AUSIT Code of Ethics is the main Code NAATI expects all Australian interpreters to abide by. That is why it is part of all NAATI tests, and also part of the revalidation process. Australian Sign Language interpreters are tested also on the Code of Ethics written by ASLIA, the association of Australian Sign Language interpreters.
So, yes, I've been interpreting and translating here since 1990. All going well, I complete my Masters this year.
Marcia R. Pinheiro
Yes, I myself have been working as a T & I since at most 1992. I had a hard time trying to learn English at the Catholic school I attended, St. Therese's order, and mum then put me to study at Fisk Schools, coincidentally an English English course. That was wonderful!
I not only created a little family there, with my fellows and teacher, Emilia, but I really learned the language and it was a lot of fun. That was when I started to learn the difference between good and bad teaching, I reckon.
Those were four years of course, when I then got my diploma. After that, I got a PG Dip in T & I, a one year course, and this time I had great professionals from T & I teaching me: One of them was Marialice Spiegel. Already during my PG Dip, I got an assignment from Marcio Bontempo, who was a very famous medical doctor in Brazil, so that I was quite lucky in my career.
I later on would be given a book from John Casti, a best-seller, to translate. I hold more than five contracts with T & I companies at the moment, and one of them is in your list of companies. I also work for the Department of Immigration somehow.
I am trying to start the SPTIA for a while for disagreeing with the ways of AUSIT since at most 2001. It is not really being possible so far for several reasons, but we still hold some online courses, a Facebook page, and a few other items, such as a set of blogs with Blogger.
More recently, I have been consulted by the government in terms of their court procedures involving interpreters and I did not hesitate: As always, I gave my best contribution, as you know. I used my IT skills to refine their proposal in terms of Internet being put available to us at the courts. I buy all the usual concerns with security, so that I suggested ways to make it all be safe for all parts involved, such as temporary download of online resources together with local and temporary storage, perhaps things such as small contracts of temporary storage and use of linguistic databases.
What I want to tell you is that I still find certain things hard to cope with, such as the Template and Selection thing. Have you read that blog post of mine, the one with Blogger that deals with the topic? What is your opinion about it?
Eirlys J. Chessa
Yes, Marcia, I did read your blog post.
I found it very interesting, because you are not the first translator that expresses concern about the practice of providing extract translation templates on company letterheads.
Even though it is quite normal for companies to ask you to print your translation on their letterhead, in this case the request did not seem quite right. I haven't seen the documents, but usually each document has to have a separate certification, you can't put three documents into one template as if they were the same one.
When we sign and stamp a translation with our NAATI stamps, we certify that it is a true and accurate translation, whether it is a full translation or an extract, so that we have to be careful with what sort of jobs we accept. Because we can be liable, it's also good to add a disclaimer, that we are not authorized to certify that the original document is authentic.
Templates are usually documents that provide spaces (or fields) only for the essential information required by various government departments and agencies. The "selection" part of the process is when we extract, or select, which information to place in the template. Templates usually also feature a section where we can add our translator's notes or other relevant information contained in the original document that does not fit the template fields.
Once completed with the translated details extracted from the original document, the template is known as an "extract translation", and can be certified as such.
The first time I saw templates being used for translations was back in 1988, when my husband and I had to have our Italian driver's licences and birth certificates translated in order to obtain NSW drivers' licences. If I remember correctly, the extract translations were prepared by the Translation Unit of what was then known as the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. Most modern templates are still based on those or on the ones provided by AUSIT. They are essentially templates for extract translations, mostly for basic certificates, educational qualifications and drivers' licences.
For everything else, especially documents consisting of several pages, we should always provide a full translation.
Finally, thinking of costs from the translator's point of view, what members of the public and even agencies often do not realize is that there is just as much effort involved in researching, extracting and transferring information for an extract translation as there is for a full translation. Also, in order to prepare a scanned (PDF) version of a translation, we still have to print it, stamp it with our NAATI stamp and sign it in blue or red ink, so no time saved there, and no real excuse for charging, or paying, a lesser amount.
Does that answer your question?
Marcia R. Pinheiro
It certainly does, Eirlys. As always, I find your answers very complete and eloquent. Thanks for that.
On the other hand, I am thinking about how to conciliate the private with the ethical interests, so that we could perhaps suggest something here, through this so useful vehicle. Could you start formulating, please?
Eirlys J. Chessa
You are welcome, Marcia.
It was a pleasure to take part in this initiative.
I really like your idea of using this vehicle to discuss various ethical scenarios and dilemmas that we practitioners face, especially when trying to conciliate with private interests, so I'll see what I can come up with.
The main issue is when cost cutting measures directly or indirectly cause breaches of the Code of Ethics or put one or more parties at risk.
One that comes immediately to mind, is businesses (or even local and federal government departments) thinking they are saving money by using Google Translate to translate their web pages or worse - instruction leaflets for patients or consumers.
Marcia R. Pinheiro
You are very right about Google Translate and things like that injuring the industry tremendously, Eirlys. We do have to put more thinking on that.
Coming back to the main topic, however, your lines made me think that it is possible to have alternative solutions.
One of them is what you once inspired me to think of with your experience and writing: Always oblige the company to provide certified copies (certified by the translator) of the originals they have used in their Template and Selection or Extract Translation procedures to the client. The translator could then mark the parts of the original document that they have used with colored pen and assign each one of those parts a code. In the final document, the modified template, those codes would appear in the notes reflecting the order in which they were used.
As for the certified and marked copies, we could also assign codes to each one of them and then indicate, in that space for notes, that those are the codes we have put on the source-documents, so that we have a better chance of working inside of the desired standards. All these documents should be provided to the client in a closed and sealed package, stamped and signed by the translator, and NAATI would also have special stamps in this case, stamps where we would read Extract Translation, so that it would all be as clear as possible. NAATI could then publish the guidelines for Extract Translation Procedures on their website.
As you said, Eirlys, AUSIT does bring something on the topic: Items 2 and 4 of the AUSIT's Best Practices 2014 Guide. I think that we could be refining these guidelines based on what we discussed here today.
Eirlys, you are an asset for the T & I Industry, so please never stop contributing and letting us all learn about your opinions. Thanks a lot for enriching this article today.