The Association of Translators and Interpreters of Florida (ATIF), together with the Spanish Language Division (SPD) of the American Translators Association (ATA) and the Miami Dade College Eduardo J. Padron Campus (MDCEPC)*, will present Spring Into Action 2020, an international conference in Miami, Florida.**
In an effort to share more information about some of our presenters and organizers, we will be publishing a series of interviews. Below is our conversation with Ricardo Bardo-Portilla, Director of the Translation & Interpretation Studies Program at Miami Dade College in Florida.
You have worked as a state and federally-certified court interpreter and as a translator and instructor for many years. What is currently the most demanded interpreting service: simultaneous, consecutive, whisper, sight translation, over-the-phone or travel? Why?
Well, it depends on the setting in which you are interpreting. In court, for example, you would usually interpret in the consecutive and simultaneous mode, mostly. In the medical setting, on the other hand, consecutive interpretation is generally used, though there is also a great deal of sight translation as well, when interpreters need to sight translate documents that patients need to sign or to be informed of. In the case of international conferences, for example, simultaneous interpretation is used, though there are times in which consecutive interpretation is also requested, and in telephonic interpretation, interpreters would use the consecutive mode.
Written translation is key to facilitating clear and intercultural communication between people, organizations, corporations and countries. What are the main skills a good translator should have?
Professional translators should have, first, a methodology, and by that, I mean, what are the steps you follow to complete a translation project. Among those, I would say, number one is: who is your audience, who will read your translation? Once you are aware of it, then you can accommodate your strategy. It is also important how to do research on the topic of the translation project; if it is something completely new to you, you need to know how things work in order to translate about them. Translators need to know how to identify and locate background texts; these are texts that are written in the source language, but they will give you valuable information about the content you are translating about. The use of parallel texts is also extremely important, and these are texts on the same topic, about the same content, but originally written in the target language. Translators should be very careful because sometimes they will find texts that are translations, and not texts that were originally written in the target language. Parallel texts are sometimes more important than bilingual dictionaries; they will provide the target language terminology you need in the context in which you need that terminology. Another important skill is how to locate the best terminology resources out there, either online or in printed dictionaries and glossaries. The use of computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools is another skill that will improve the productivity of the translator and will open more opportunities and more possibilities to find jobs. Many translation agencies nowadays require translators to use computer-assisted translation tools; if you as a translator don’t know how to use CAT tools, your possibilities of finding jobs are significantly reduced and, of course, we cannot forget the 800-pound gorilla in the room—machine translation or automatic translation. The translation market is moving more and more towards the use of machine translation post editing services. We have to remember that machine translation today is not the same as it was, say, five or ten years ago; with the implementation of neural machine translation algorithms, we have seen a significant improvement in the accuracy of translations done by computers.
“If you as a translator don’t know how to use CAT tools, your possibilities of finding jobs are significantly reduced and, of course, we cannot forget the 800-pound gorilla in the room—machine translation or automatic translation.”
During your T&I teaching experience throughout the years, what are the major differences you have seen between teaching students today and 10 years ago? What are some reasons for these differences?
I think the major difference is the use of technology. Now students have to develop not only translation and interpretation skills, but also computer competencies. Technology has had a significant impact in translation and interpretation, as in any other walk of life. Today you must know how to work with computer-assisted translation tools and you must learn how to locate important information online. In the case of interpreting, more and more technologies are being developed that will change the industry; for example, there are applications for notetaking, remote conference interpreting, transcriptions, and voice recognition, among others. Fledgling interpreter and translator must know how to incorporate these technologies if they want to find jobs in today’s marketplace.
As one of the faculty members of the Miami Dade College Eduardo J. Padron Campus (MDCEPC), the host venue of the Spring into Action 2020 conference organization, together with the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Florida (ATIF) and the Spanish Language Division (SPD) of the American Translators Association (ATA), do you think it is important to co-organize events with professional associations?
Miami Dade College Eduardo J. Padron Campus (MDCEPC) and the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Florida (ATIF) signed a memorandum of understanding some years ago by which Miami Dade College would provide its facilities to ATIF, and in return, MDC Translation and Interpretation students could attend workshops and seminars organized by ATIF. It has been a success so far. Students can have the possibility of getting some extra training and education and they are also exposed, in a way, to the real world in translation and interpretation before they step into the marketplace. For members of professional associations, by attending these workshops in a higher learning institution, they can learn what academic courses are offered in T&I for them to continue honing their skills, so it’s a win/win situation.
Every year, many students begin and/or finish their T&I careers. Do you believe attending international events such as Spring into Action would help them grow professionally? Why would you say Spring into Action stands out?
There is no doubt that conferences like Spring into Action will allow students to grow professionally. They will be exposed to new trends in the industry, as well as to new possibilities to continue improving their trade. The Conference will provide knowledge, training, and, in a way, it will help them to determine what route they would like to take in the future to continue growing. But Spring into Action is also extremely important for seasoned translators, interpreters and trainers. I had the possibility of attending the Conference in Miami two years ago, and the lectures and resources that were made available to us had an impact not only on my work as a translator, but also on my practice as a trainer.
Gloria Cabrejos is the Editor of Intercambios, the newsletter of the Spanish Language Division (SPD) of the ATA. She has been a translator and proofreader since 1997 in technical fields, including human resources, oil & gas, construction, mining, community relations, and the environment. Gloria is the Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Peruvian Association of Professional Translators (ATPP). Gloria is also a translation, literature, and language writer. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*DISCLAIMER: Miami Dade College Eduardo J. Padron Campus (MDCEPC) is providing space at the Miami Dade College Eduardo J. Padron Campus (MDCEPC) as a professional courtesy to the American Translators Association (ATA)’s Spanish Language Division (SPD) and the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Florida (ATIF) for the event “Spring into Action 2020” to be held March 20-22, 2020. MDCEPC is not responsible for the content, statements, or opinions expressed in the event, and is hereby held harmless from any and all liability arising from said event.**Date to be determined