There is a variety of translation services today, services closely related to translation like localization, transcription, transcreation, and proofreading, as well as translation services for different purposes. Since almost seven thousand languages are spoken around the world, imagine how much workflow there is on daily basis when all the services, purposes, translation-related services, language pairs and directions and many more are taken into account.
However, not all the languages spoken in the world have the official language status and therefore, are usually not applicable to the public and governmental area of use. In fact, although many of them can have an enough number of speakers, it has not been recognized as the language those speakers can address and receive responses from institutions. For example, such is the situation with a culturally prolific land like Indian subcontinent. With who-knows-how-many spoken languages there, only twenty-three languages, including English, Marathi, Odia, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and more, are officially recognized. On the other hand, some languages, although they are spoken by relatively small, distinct ethnic groups, actually have an official status employed by regional and national governments, in order to communicate with the population in need and conduct public affairs.
To make this fit between the people and the government, and between national institutions of distinct countries, sustainable and efficient in functioning, there must be a link without which all this could not be possible at all. That inevitable and irreplaceable bond are professional translators or even linguistic service providers. They play a key role in making communication and correspondence between ordinary population and governmental body possible.
As they also provide and maintain clear communication and proactive relations between governments, professional translators are crucial elements in international cooperation. Therefore, the burden of their responsibility comes in hand with the great power of theirs.
Even though the translation career is challenging in any branch or field of expertise, it could be said that language experts who choose to dive into the government translation services and develop their careers in such waters, in fact have a greater challenge than any others. As much as any translation of poor quality can induce serious consequences, a clear communication failure between government representatives can have far more serious consequences, thus affecting thousands of lives and conditions.
No matter the government or public sector services are mostly associated with the modern society and international political circumstances, they are not of a recent date and modern society did not hatched the egg which from translation services of this kind were brought to life. In fact, they have always been somewhere around, with lingua franca to ease the communication protocol or without it. Although, there has never been a lingua franca for the whole world to equally use it, and English is probably the closest to take on such a role, a few examples of languages that were predominant in diplomatic circles can deservedly be underlined.
According to certain recorded written traces, the first, or better said, one of the first recorded diplomatic languages is Acadian which was used during the peace treaty held between Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II and King of the Hittites Hattusili III. Later on, through the following centuries, the diplomatic languages extruded each other, so there where once was Acadian, Aramean occupied the place. Then, Greek and Latin took the diplomatic scene, all the way to French and more and more, English, as we may observe this happening before our very eyes.
In modern diplomacy, since diplomats are not in obligation to speak their counterpart’s language, verbal communication between government officials is mostly regulated by interpreters’ mediation, whereas with diplomats written communication can be conducted in one of the three possible manners. The first occurs when each side writes its communications forms like letters, notes and similar, in its own language. For example, both ministries and embassies of a certain country use the official language of their country, regardless of the language of the country where the embassy is. The second is found when each side writes in the language of the other side. Whereas the third happens if the correspondence in each country is conducted in the local language. In some cases, there is even the fourth possibility which includes both sides using a third, mutually agreed, language, which is possible but not frequent.
Regardless of any case applied, a professional public service translator is essential to either enable or facilitate understanding between diplomats.
Government and Public Sector Translation Services
A wide range of disciplines within the public sector ranging from national institutions and agencies to supporting projects within state and local communities, is present. Of course, certain projects further require security clearances and background checks that go beyond the standard non-disclosure legal protections, so again, reliable linguists who best meet the needs of the government and public bodies should and must be assigned.
He or she must have the capability to handle all the government and public sector translation, interpretation, and other linguistic service requirements, in his or her area of public sector expertise.
Depending on the required field and details within, such services can be divided into:
Apart from international correspondence and communication between two nation’s representatives being the first association to this branch of translation services, there are numerous and diverse translation needs requiring multilingual content to be accurate and handled securely at all stages even lower levels than the international.
Since all the government documents have strict compliance regulations and may contain specific legal or administrative terminology, it is an enterprise of high responsibility and demand that any translated content retains a consistent and accurate message exchange.
Hence it is essential that fully educated, trained and experienced professional translators with working knowledge in the government and public sector to properly perform the translation services. In this field, they are allowed to work with government bodies and agencies locally, nationally and internationally in multiple languages across different subject domains, depending on their particular interest for professional development. Having in mind that government and public sector materials are often confidential, security is being prioritized at the required levels, as it should be.
How is a translator for governmental and public services different other language professionals? When is the provided service a good one?
Let’s keep it clear that translators of the government and public domain or sector are professionals who own the knowledge in the required field and they guarantee the translation accuracy and quality. For example, such translation services include translations at the police office when the witness or potential suspect does not speak the domestic language, or in the court of law; it also happens in hospitals or other healthcare centers when a patient and his caregivers need to communicate properly with doctors, surgeons or even nurses in the foreign country. As a matter of fact, even schools may seek translation services from a professional linguist.
The range is immense, so is the offer. But, what makes a difference between a public sector translator or a diplomatic one and a book translator, for example? When it comes to literature, a book translator of this domain requires refinement and sense of imagination and ability to understand the subtle language of the author whose work he is translating to be capable of providing an authentic, but still artistically woven lines. On the other hand, if the book being translated belongs to a certain professional domain like law, geodesy, child upbringing and nurturing, there is still a set of expressions and terminology matching both this and the public sector translation area, with the difference of that a book translator has a slower pace of work and is more stress relieved than the other counterpart who needs to assume a role of an interpreter during governmental or public sector encounters as well.
Aside from an exquisite precision, expression and professional terminology, an expert diplomatic translator will need to take care of the natural flow of the target language. To achieve this, he would have to know how to hit the balance between a precise, faithful translation and a smooth, easy-to-read text. As much as precise and accurate the translation may be, it must not sound robust and artificial.
Not only the linguistic skills are essential, but knowledge of the protocol in general is required, as well as some specific details of the customs and the culture of the guest country and the affairs being discussed.
Knowing all the necessary elements to make a diplomatic encounter, in this case, fruitful and successful, translators should also know when to pay attention and when to dismiss certain elements as merely formulaic. And, to know how to recognize them, extensive familiarity with the two cultures at hand, which is always a must when it comes to language services, is highly required.
So, how to know who you should hire and whether that person is a high quality professional? First of all, But, a government translation services provider should have a solid professional code, ensuring confidentiality. Then, his professional record must be reviewed in order to establish their academic background, professional training and references as a trustworthy record of their skills, knowledge and satisfied clients.