All Graduates

All Graduates

All Graduates is a privately owned translation and interpreting agency specialising in providing services to government, community and corporations in Australia.

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Government Translation

Multilingual brochures for NAATI - a combination of consultancy on language need and translation for a government accrediting body

Client: The National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters [NAATI]

Background

The National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters [NAATI] is the body that has set basic standards in the Translation & Interpreting field in Australia since 1977. It is owned by the State, Territory and Federal governments, and through a combination of setting tests, approving courses and assessing overseas qualifications it accredits practitioners at various levels according to Translation and Interpreting ability. The largest area of work for translators and interpreters in Australia is enabling various Australian institutions to communicate effectively with the sizeable immigrant population speaking languages other than English.

Although NAATI had done much to publicise the importance of using accredited translators and interpreters to Australian institutions (health, administration, legal areas, etc) it had done relatively little to communicate this message to the respective ethnic communities. Prompted by its Regional Advisory Committee in Victoria, NAATI decided to remedy this situation and produce material which could be used by ethnic media and distributed through the larger non-English speaking communities.

Tasks and challenges

While what eventuated was not a long or necessarily complex translation, two processes made this project more unpredictable.

First, the original text was pored over and changed by a series of committees, with input coming repeatedly when all had apparently been decided upon, as each arm of this very federal institution was moved to comment. This gave some false starts to our patient translators.

Second, the range of languages that should be covered was also discussed by committees. Given finite resources, it was decided originally to produce the brochures in the top 8 languages of need: while some languages can be readily identified as such (Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese) there can be much discussion over other candidate languages. We tried to contribute to these discussions by reference to language statistics (there are good census statistics on language in Australia, as well as other useful surveys) and also raised a number of other considerations, for example:

  • It is not possible to determine need simply by counting numbers of speakers of a language. There are more German speakers in Australia than speakers of Indonesian, and more Dutch speakers than Somali speakers, but the Dutch and Germans are overwhelmingly bilingual in English, other groups not so. Language spoken always needs to be calibrated against level of English ability.
  • Different domains will have different translation needs - for example, languages requested for interpreting in aged care are often different to those required to interpret in education. Recency of arrival and age are crucial factors.
  • Was there a need to target older, larger immigrant communities, many of whom had had long experience of working with interpreters, even if their level of English was low (Italian, Greek, Turkish), or was there more urgency to target newer groups who may be less familiar with the availability of language services?
  • At the same time, a number of suggestions to translate into some of the newest arrival languages (eg Dinka and Nuer, languages of the Sudan) could not be proceeded with because of the uncertainly over numbers of readers, linked to concerns about the literacy levels of people in these languages which were largely oral languages and had only recently begun to evolve writing systems and be standardised. Many speakers of these languages were in fact literate in other languages such as Arabic.
  • And finally, as this was to be a national brochure, the languages had to reflect Australia-wide needs, not those of the initiating Victorian committee alone.

Achievement

Through the processes of consultations and discussions, the number of languages for translation increased, and finally the list of 11 languages included a number of languages of more recent arrivals, as well as some of the largest languages of non-English speakers.

Translations were produced in the following combinations: English into Amharic (a language of Ethiopia), English into Arabic, English into Chinese, English into Dari (a language of Afghanistan), English into Indonesian, English into Khmer (Cambodian), English into Persian (or Farsi, the language of Iran), English into Russian, English into Somali, English into Spanish and English into Vietnamese.

Translations were also produced for covering letters to media and ethnic organisations, and began to be distributed, Meaningful Exchange also advising on the targeting of this material. Here, it was crucial that our agency has been represented on the NAATI Regional Advisory Committees and other advisory bodies, as we see the input that we can make to such bodies in terms of time and expertise will benefit not only ourselves as an agency but the broader field of Translating & Interpreting.

 

For further information about this project:

Contact: Ismail Akinci, CEO
Phone:1300 854 799
International Phone:+61 (3) 9605 3000

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