10 Questions About Translation and Me
1. How did you become a translator?
I have always been interested in English language and I was lucky to start early compared to many people. My father enrolled me in a private school where I was taught English language since kindergarten. So I started my first English language lesson when I was three years old. I still remember the book that we learned stories in English one of which was about God and none of the kids in my class was Christian. Anyway, given that I started early, I learned more than the other kids who went to public school where they were offered English language classes only when they got to year 6 which I think was not early enough. Kids learn faster during their first five years, dont they?
By the time I was in senior high school at one of the best high schools of Bangkok, I had no hesitation in choosing to do English-French which of course was disagreed by my father. That didnt stop me and with my career in translation so far, it proves that I made the right choice. After that, I got my bachelor degree with a major in English and then I went on to graduate a master degree in translation from a university that is ranked no. 1 in Thailand. With all the knowledge in the field, I decided I would be a translator and here I am.
2. Who do you owe your success to today?
I owe it to my father. While I was in my senior high school, our family was not doing well in terms of finance. My father was knee deep in debt. Yet, when I passed a test and was awarded a partial scholarship from AFS, my father did not prevent me from the opportunity but sold a piece of land to get money for my expenses. I had a great year on that exchange programme in Australia in 1996 and it was that year that enabled me to significantly improve my English language skills. I mean I was already good at grammar, reading and writing in English before I joined the programme, however, I could not speak the language because I spoke Thai everyday and still do. The speaking skills I learned when I lived in Australia helped me get a good job which led to a good income. I have been doing well because of my fathers decision to support me that day.
3. What was the most disappointing thing that happened in your profession?
I was cheated by a publisher in 2004. At the time, I was assigned to translate a fantasy book with a story involving magic, spells, creatures etc. I had never done any book translation before and also I needed money to pay my home mortgage, I took the assignment. I signed a contract with the publisher, did my job, sent it in on time. The problem was I got a cheque that bounced. When I went to talk to them, they kept giving me excuses. I was not experienced enough at the time to seek legal aid anywhere. I could have reported this to the police and they would be charged with committing a criminal offence relating to the use of cheque. It is too late now to do anything about it as I think the publisher already liquidated. Well, I learned my lesson.
4. What will you not do regarding translation?
I will not do anything immoral or against my belief like a manual for a crime (that kind of book actually exists!), books or articles that seem to deviate from a proven fact. Sometimes I do not take certain translation assignments, not because of the genre or theme of the source text, but because of the employer. If an employer is demanding without justified reason for his demands, and if I am not sure if I will be paid, I will refuse the job.
The type of translation that I prefer not to do is a book. I am not saying that document translations are more important than book translations. Document translations are pretty straightforward and they need precise reference, whereas in book translations, you can play on words at the expense of meaning which I am not good at (not at this point but I may if I do book translation long enough). Another factor is money. I admit that I earn a decent extra income from translation of documents especially legal documents. From my last assignment relating to human trafficking in Australia, I earned an extra income equal to 65% of my monthly salary from my full-time job and it took me only a week to finish that assignment. So when this is compared with book translations, I would definitely go for document translations.
In addition, I will not lower my quality just to earn a fast income. From time to time, I am requested to do translation for a lower charge. Most of the time I refuse to take the job. The reason is because I have a proper degree and I have had years of experience so my quality is far superior to a new graduate or someone with limited translation experience. This is the same as when you pay more to see a highly-experience doctor because you are confident you will get a proper treatment for your illness.
5. Do you think it is necessary for translators to have a proper education in translation in order to become a translator?
I believe in education and that was why I took a master degree in translation in order to become a translator. I learned several theories from the study which I could apply to my work. I feel better to have some justification about my work rather than doing translation according to the way I feel. I am more of the type that needs reason to do something.
I admit that some of those translation theories of Newmark, Seleskovitch etc. were complex and as a Thai student, the textbooks in English language discouraged me from the study. English is not my native language but I had to read (skimmed actually as I did not really have a lot of time to study) 100-300 pages of several textbooks that were written in English for two years. However, the discussion and training I had during the study is very practical with my work now. I know how to defend my translation (by citing a reliable reference), how to plan a translation project and I am now confident with being a translator because of the proper education in translation that I had.
For anyone who does not have a proper education in translation, he will not be accredited as a translator in certain countries but he can still do a good job in translation if he continues with professional development.
6. Did you make a lot of mistakes in your work?
Honestly, who would admit that they made a mistake in their work? Well I did but not major ones when we talk about the translation itself. These mistakes are some slight deviation in meaning, incoherence in the target text, using transliteration of English terms when a coined word should be used etc. But if we talk about mistakes in relation to being a translator, I made a mistake when I started as a translator. Back then, I tended to find mistakes made by other translators with a thought that I could do a better job than those people. As I have done more assignments, I learn that we all make mistakes. To err is human.
7. What do you want to tell those out there that think that translation is not a profession?
During an interview for admission to a master degree in business administration at a Thai university, the Australian professor was interested when I explained that I had a degree in translation, however, the Thai professor who was also interviewing me said to me that I didnt know you needed a degree in order to be a translator. I could have said to him that the no. 1 university in Thailand (on top of that university where I was having an interview) would not have approved to open this master degree if they did not see the importance of the translation curriculum.
When I was doing a second master degree in business administration, the professor in finance said that I didnt know that you needed a licence to be a translator. when I told him that I had a translation licence from Australia. He was probably comparing translation with securities advisor job or accounting. I dont blame him though because there is no authority approved by the Thai government to set a standard and issue a licence for Thai translators. The only authority known so far is the Court of Justice (COJ) and this authority issues a licence to translators in order to serve them (if needed) in the future. So basically, COJ licence comes with obligations.
8. Will you set up your own translation company some time?
I am not sure really. I asked myself this question many times. I searched for what needed to be done in order to set up a company and what administration process would be needed in relation to translation business. If I chose to do it, I am sure I could run a company since I have had work experience working in a few companies and also I have a business degree. But as you see, I have not set up a company yet. It is because I love to translate. I care about my reputation more than money. I do not want money that comes with customers curse. I could hire translators to translate while I would edit their work. Still that would be too much for me since I am not an expert in every subject. Running a company does not need someone who can translate. It needs a bright person who can manage to make a profit to keep the business going.
9. What about interpretation?
What about it? Will I do it? I have been thinking about it already. My choice to study something usually comes from my background. I chose to do French language in high school because I was doing English language already and that helped me learn faster. So regarding interpretation, given that I know how the brain works in translation, I can do interpretation too. I will need training though because an important factor in interpretation is time. Speaking is important and I will need that training.
10. What would you like to see in the translation industry in Thailand?
Is it the right term to use translation industry? I am not sure at this point whether translation is recognized as an important profession in Thai business. People often think that they can communicate well in English so why do we need translators. In my opinion, this profession will not die as long as the Thai language remains our official language. And with recent social effort to promote Thai culture and Thainess, Thai language is also promoted, for example, there are more articles in magazines regarding the accurate use of Thai language, Thai language grammar, mistakes in Thai language in daily usage etc. This will keep Thai language alive for our kids and grandchildren.
What I would like to see in the translation industry in Thailand is standardization. For example, National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpretators (NAATI) are authorised by the Australian government to assess all translators who want to practice in Australia. Looking at Thailand, right now, each university that offers a translation degree has its own curriculum based on whatever school i.e. Chulalongkorns curriculum is based on the widely accepted French theory, however, there is no authority that acts as a national accreditation authority for those degrees. This means the same degree from a different university does not necessarily result in the same quality of translator. I think having such an accreditation authority will help bring up the standard of the translation industry in Thailand.
Another thing that I would like to see is more seminars and training in document translations. It may sound like a bias but I am not against book translations. Most of the meetings organized by the Translators and Interpreters Association of Thailand (TIAT) focused on novel translations and I was glad to see such an emphasis on our culture and language. At the same time, I was concerned about those who have chosen to do document translations since they would not get anything directly related to their field out of those meetings.
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Sawaddee ka. My name is Nat. I am a certified translator. I have been in the translation industry since 2004.
I graduated a master degree in English-Thai translation from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.
I have the following accreditation:
- NAATI Accreditation for EN < > TH translation (Australia)
- Court Expert Registration for EN < > TH translation (Thailand)
- Member (MCIL), Chartered Institute of Linguists (U.K.)
See details about my services here http://www.nctranslation.net
For a quick quote, email your document to firstname.lastname@example.org.
รับแปลเอกสารวีซ่าออสเตรเลียพร้อมประทับตรา NAATI ปรึกษาฟรีที่ email@example.com หรือ Line: Natchaon.NAATI
See below my locations:
- Melbourne: Now - 22 Dec 2017
(Last update: 03 Jul 2017)
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Thai English translation, English Thai Translation, แปลอังกฤษเป็นไทย, แปลไทยเป็นอังกฤษ
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