A translator converts a text or audio from the source language to the target language with equivalent meaning. The text can be anything from a novel to business correspondence.
Many translators work as interpreters, too. In India, most translators are absorbed in infotech. Other employers are car manufacturers, banks, airlines, hotels and chambers of commerce
What do they do?
After finishing school, Richa Jayal toyed with the idea of graduating in English literature and becoming a journalist. But once she asked around, she discovered there was more scope in learning a foreign language like Japanese. “They (friends learning languages) said the options are really good,” she recalls.
That got Jayal involved with the pictorial language — requiring her to learn at least three scripts and 2,000 characters to comprehend simple text. “The number of characters increases if you have to read a technical article,” says Anita Khanna, professor of Japanese at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Thanks to the supply-demand mismatch, good Japanese language translators/interpreters are among the better-paid ones compared to those for other languages, say experts.
Jayal did her Bachelor’s in Japanese from JNU in 1998, and with a scholarship from the Japanese government, she did a Master’s level advanced diploma from Kansai International School of Languages, Japan.
Originally from Dehradun, Jayal, 30, now works for Germany-based Duetsche Bank’s Tokyo office from her Noida home — translating equity and economic reports.
Before this, she was with Indian infotech company HCL’s Tokyo office as sales coordinator, interfacing between their team and Japanese clients since 2001. She later moved to HCL’s Japan Business Unit in Noida. From 2006 till January 2009, Jayal worked with Goldman Sachs’ equity research department in Bangalore and its headquarters in New York, doing work similar to what she is involved with now.
So how did a student of language take to the world of finance? “Since Japanese language skills are rare, companies give on-the-job training to familiarise you with the field,” says Jayal.
However, you should be clued in to the topic of the text/audio material. “They take help from dictionaries. There are well-developed field-wise dictionaries. (But) they have to have some idea of the subject,” elaborates Prof. Khanna.
Obviously, as Prof. Khanna says, this requires a lot of effort, but translation can open many doors. “One can branch out into interpretation for demonstrations at ikebana shows, origami workshops, cultural shows, theatre etc,” the professor says.
There is a shortage of qualified translators and interpreters for Japanese, Korean and Chinese, say JNU professors.
European languages have retained their advantage, too. “French has the highest demand,” says N Kamala, professor of French at JNU, “especially in the business process outsourcing sector. German and Spanish have a high demand as well.”
Experts predict a significant growth in the field of translation/ interpretation. Shaswati Mazumdar, professor of German at Delhi University, says, “(Translation) is a developing area, and it’s going to grow widely.”
Bangalore-based Sridhar Sampath, a founding member of the All India Translators’ Association, says, “Translation, not just in foreign languages but also in Indian languages, will grow in the next few years. There’s already a huge demand. The government is looking to get a lot of content translated into Indian languages.”
Source: HT Horizons
. Flair for languages — reading, writing, speaking
. A keen ear for diction
. Eye for detail and accuracy
. Strong ethics as you could be dealing with sensitive documents
. Presence of mind, especially when interpreting
How do I get there?
There are different routes for learning a foreign language. You can take the language as a subject in school, if that is an option. Or, join one of the known institutes. e.g. Alliance Francaise or Max Mueller Bhavan. You could also do a part-time/full-time certificate course available at different universities and then move up to advanced level qualifications. Or, after Class XII, apply for a Bachelor’s in your chosen language and follow it up with a Master’s. JNU professor Anita Khanna suggests that a translator/interpreter should have at least a Master’s level qualification