TRANSLATION ETHICS
More Than You See in the Codes
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
What is translation?
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
ETHICS
• Qualifications
• Confidentiality (consultation, use of
information)
• Payment & references
• Nonsolicitation
• Continuing education
• Conflict of interest
• General moral behavior
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
ETHICS
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Subcontracting
Deadlines
Objectivity
Responsibilities to other translators
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Encouraging & assisting beginners
Refraining from unfair competition
Respect & support fellow professionals
Not working for substandard fees
• Disciplinary procedures
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
CODES
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Professional organizations
Government organizations
Some companies & agencies
Scholars of Translation Studies
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
CODES
• ATA Code of Ethics
– http://www.atanet.org/aboutus/code_of_profession
al_conduct.php
• Institute of Linguists Code of Professional
Conduct
– http://www.iol.org.uk/Charter/CLS/CodeofProfCon
ductCouncil17Nov07.pdf
• ATIA Code of Ethics
– http://www.atia.ab.ca/ethics.htm
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
CODES
• AUSIT Code of Ethics
– http://server.dreamfusion.net/ausit2/pics/ethics.pdf
• FIT The Translator’s Charter
– http://www.fit-ift.org/en/charter.php
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
CODES
• United Nations Recommendation on the
Legal Protection of Translators and
Translations and the Practical Means To
Improve the Status of Translators
– http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.phpURL_ID=13089&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SE
CTION=201.html
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
What do codes say about
linguistic competence?
• Generally into A language
• Educated native speaker mastery of TL
(ATA)
• Advanced & idiomatic command of
languages concerned (IoL)
• Sound knowledge of SL, mastery of TL
(FIT)
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Translation in the Codes
• Translators shall not alter, make
additions to, or omit anything from their
assigned work (AUSIT)
• Translate the original message faithfully,
to satisfy the needs of the end user(s)
(ATA)
• Render a faithful translation of the
source text (meaning & register) (IoL)
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Translation in the Codes
• Provide translation of high quality both
linguistically and stylistically
• Guarantee that translation is a faithful
rendering of the original (UN)
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Translation in the Codes
• Refuse to give text an interpretation of which
he/she does not approve
• Translation to be faithful and render exactly
the idea and form of the original
• Faithful translation should not be confused
with a literal translation, cultural adaptation
may be needed
(FIT)
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
In Summary
• Faithful
– Meaning, register, and form
• But not literal
– Culturally appropriate
– High quality linguistically/stylistically
• Satisfy needs of end users
– But not to extent of reinterpreting
– And no alterations, additions, or omissions
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
So what’s a translator to do?
• Skopos theory
– Drop the idea of “fidelity”
– Intended purpose of the target text
determines translation methods/strategies
– Goal is functionally appropriate target text
– Gives the translator more freedom of
action
–Diane
Provides
framework for educating clients
Howard CHICATA May 2009
Choices on a Continuum
Literal
Semantic
Documentary
Free
Dynamic
Instrumental
<————————————————>
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
HOWEVER
• Skopos theory depends on the
translator receiving translation
instructions with clear statement of
purpose
• Assumes that translator is viewed as an
independent expert
• May lead to ethically problematic
situations
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Subtitles for 2002
Documentary Jenin, Jenin
Original: “What can I say, by God, by God,
our home is no longer a home.”
Translation: “What can I say? Not even
Vietnam was as bad as this.”
Translation and Conflict: A Narrative Account
Mona Baker, 2006: 99-100
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Rules for the Rest of the Time
• Always work to create trust
• Bad translation is unethical translation
• Keep your source language grammar to
yourself
• Know the linguistic resources available
in your languages
• Be aware of various translation
strategies
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Create and Maintain Trust
• Cultivate a sense of loyalty to all parties
– This includes readers
• Be aware that people are depending on
you
– Because they really are dependent
• Think of yourself as a professional
– Remember, it always matters
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Bad Translation is Unethical
Translation
• “The nearest we get to non-text in
actual life … is probably in the speech
of young children and in bad
translations.” (Halliday & Hasan)
• “But that’s what it says” is not a defense
• Not justifiable as fidelity to source text
• If a machine can do it, no one needs
you
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Keep Your Source Grammar
to Yourself
• Resist pull of source language
• Does the text need to sound like a
translation?
• Analyze the source text for text type and
register
• Maintain type and register unless
instructed otherwise
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Know the Linguistic
Resources Available
• How text types are structured
– Infinitive to imperative, degree of formality,
etc.
• Collocations
– Restrictions on how words can be used
together (e.g., verb + preposition patterns)
– Text flow, marked and unmarked text
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Know the Linguistic
Resources Available
• Cohesion elements
– Usually fairly explicit in English
– Implicit in topic-prominent languages
– Gender, grammatical elements
• Tolerance for repetition
• Punctuation and sentence length
• Sentence structure
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Understand Translation
Strategies
• Literal translation
– Why not, when it works
• Transposition (changing the word class)
– Languages like different parts of speech
• Modulation (different phrases to convey the
same idea)
– La vache qui rit
– The cow that laughs cheese??
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Understand Translation
Strategies
• Reformulation
– Idioms, advertising slogans
• Compensation
Strategies from Fawcett, Translation and
Language: Linguistic Theories Explained
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Back to the Codes
• Ideal appears to be Nothing Added
Nothing Subtracted (NANS) translation
• Easier said than done
• Make relevance a guiding principle
My cousin invited me to dinner.
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
NANS Plus
Nothing important to the task at hand
added or subtracted
No unnecessary elements of the source
language included
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Linguistic Knowledge
Know working languages in a translationappropriate way.
Ability to analyze source language for
grammatical, syntactical, and contextual
elements and transfer these appropriately
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Further Reading
Baker, Mona. In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation. Routledge. 1992.
Chesterman, Andrew. Memes of Translation. Benjamins. 1997.
Chesterman, Andrew and Emma Wagner. Can Theory Help Translators? St.
Jerome. 2002.
Fawcett, Peter. Translation and Language: Linguistic Theories Explained. St.
Jerome. 1997.
Gouadec, Daniel. Translation as a Profession. Benjamins. 2007.
Nord, Christiane. Translating as a Purposeful Activity: Functionalist
Approaches Explained. St. Jerome. 1997
Pym, Anthony, ed. The Return to Ethics. Special issue of The Translator (Vol. 7,
No. 2, 2001.)
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
Thank You
Diane Howard CHICATA May 2009
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TRANSLATION ETHICS