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IoL Charter/Independent Linguists' Forum
Thread poster: Richard Benham

Richard Benham  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:07
German to English
+ ...
May 17, 2005

As many UK-based ProZacs may know, the Institute of Linguists is seeking "chartered" status, and has (as yet vague) plans to institute the designation "Chartered Linguist". In many ways, this sounds like a good idea, but there are those who think that the IoL is going off half-cocked.

It appears that the proposed post-charter bye-laws, for example, will give the council "absolute discretion" in admitting members, rather than defining the qualifications for membership as is currently done. And there is no official indication at all of the proposed criteria for "Chartered Linguist" status.

Anyway, some concerned linguists have set up an "Independent Linguists' Discussion Forum" at linguists.bravehost.com, mainly with to discuss the charter proposal, which is currently before the Privy Council. Submissions from the public must be in by 31 May.

[Edited at 2005-05-17 15:14]


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sandra lewis
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:07
English to French
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Marketing techniques May 17, 2005

It seems to me the IOL has identified a lucrative gap in the market and is taking full advantage. It offers qualifications but not the relevant courses that lead to them, maximising profit with a minimum of resources. Even more worrying, it seeks to invade markets overseas where other language partners do not have a strong presence. I would be seriously worried...

Sandra


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:07
French to English
The professionalisation issue May 18, 2005

Hmmm, interesting.
There's been lots of discussion on here about professionalism, often in the context of rates etc.
Generally, and speaking as someone trying to make a full-time living at this lark, I'm in favour of profesionalisation. Why shouldn't we apsire to the status, as perceived by clients and public alike, but in particular clients, of accountants and architects and suchlike? The way I see it, there's little point moaning about being under-appreciated by clients, and then moaning about steps being taken to rectify the situation.

I have to say that judging from the quality of some of posts I saw against the proposal, I can see why those people are worried. The proposals may all be a bit woolly (I confess I didn't have time to delve into the details) but as as principle, I'm in favour.


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Richard Benham  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:07
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Charlie! May 18, 2005

Charlie Bavington wrote:

e way I see it, there's little point moaning about being under-appreciated by clients, and then moaning about steps being taken to rectify the situation.

[...] The proposals may all be a bit woolly (I confess I didn't have time to delve into the details) but as as principle, I'm in favour.[/quote]

Hello Charlie, and thanks for your contribution, as well as for the time you took to look at the forum site.

I am in favour in principle, too, but, as always, "the devil is in the detail", or, in this case, lack of detail. What appears to be going on here is that the IoL is trying to get the right to decide who is and isn't a qualified translator, while at the same time freeing itself of whatever accountability it has under the present bye-laws. On top of this, it wants to get this right without first telling anyone the criteria it will use. I would have thought that increased power and "official" status (in the form of a royal charter) would require more transparency and accountability, not less.


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Antonella Andreella  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:07
German to Italian
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Italy May 18, 2005

HI,

that's what we're trying to do in Italy. Have a look at this Italian website where more than 1,000 colleagues already signed.

www.altrinit.org

Regards,
Antonella


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Richard Benham  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:07
German to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Italy vs UK (and Australia for comparison). May 18, 2005

Antonella Andreella wrote:

that's what we're trying to do in Italy.
uote]

Hello Antonella.

The Italian proposal looks quite different to me. I don't know Italian, but it looks as though it is proposed to set up an "Ordine" as a new body, under a special act of parliament. (Please correct me if I'm wrong!) In the UK, the IoL, a private organization, is apparently trying to seize control of the function of regulating the translation and interpreting industry, without any of the safeguards that would attach to an offical body in this role.

Here in Australia, the situation is rather odd too. There is no regulation, but there is accreditation, which is not a requirement for practice. The accrediting body, which likes to give the impression that it is a government agency, even using the word "Authority" as part of its name, is actually a non-profit company owned (guaranteed) by the Federal and State governemnts. The motivation for this appears to be that, being a "private company", it is exempt from such inconveniences as the judicial review of administrative decisions and the Freedom of Information Act.

For those who may be wondering what my interest is in the regulation of the translation industry in the UK, I would point out that the majority of my work comes from the EU, and that it is therefore useful for me to be able to say I am qualified in the UK, the major English-speaking member state of the EU. At the moment, I rely on my DipTransIoL qualifications; so I also have an interest in the continuing credibility of the IoL.

[Edited at 2005-05-18 09:48]


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Ford Prefect  Identity Verified
Burkina Faso
Local time: 22:07
German to English
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Controlling access to professions May 18, 2005

The difference between the IoL charter and the Italian proposals is that the Italian proposals tell you explicitly how to qualify for this professional category. IoL does not tell you how to qualify for Chartered Linguist status, and it appears they no longer "officially" tells you how to qualify as an MIL.

So, we can have a discussion about the Italian proposals (like how you qualify for the professional category, by gaining experience translating 500 pages, if you are disbarred from translating unless you are already in the professional category) - whereas IoL have given us very little to have a discussion about.

I am not going to summarise the arguments for or against the charter as the objections have been put much more eloquently by several people on the other forum (see the link in Richard's first post). Personally, I think there are some valid criticisms for IoL to address.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:07
German to English
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IoL Charter/Independent Linguists' Forum May 18, 2005

Richard,

Richard Benham wrote:

In the UK, the IoL, a private organization, is apparently trying to seize control of the function of regulating the translation and interpreting industry, without any of the safeguards that would attach to an offical body in this role.


This is incorrect on two counts.

Firstly, the translation and interpreting industry as such is not going to be regulated in the UK, regardless of whether the IoL considers that desirable or not. The industry as a whole is at present unregulated and unregulatable, and the trend within the EU as a whole is in any case towards deregulation. Chartership will create a hallmark which customers, including the courts and state bodies, are at liberty to seek when selecting translators, but it will not create legal obstacles preventing non-chartered translators from selling their services per se.

Secondly, the whole point of chartership is that it places the chartered body under government control. This is something that some opponents of chartership seem incapable of understanding. The IoL has not defined the criteria for individual chartership because it does not have the prerogative to do so unilaterally. The conditions must be formulated in consultation with the relevant government department.

Marc


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Richard Benham  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:07
German to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Thanks James. May 18, 2005

James Visanji wrote:

The difference between the IoL charter and the Italian proposals is that the Italian proposals tell you explicitly how to qualify for this professional category.
uote]

Hi there James. Thanks for your comments. I think it is also important to understand that the Italian proposal is a proposed law. This means that it will have some kind of official status, and that abuses, such as people being refused admission arbitrarily, will (at least in principle) be able to be pursued through the courts. The IoL proposal, however, tries to put absolute discretion in the hands of the council of a private organization. Quite apart from the failure, which you rightly point out, to specify the criteria, there will be no requirement for transparency or accountability once, if ever, the criteria are spelled out.


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Richard Benham  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:07
German to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Regulation? May 18, 2005

MarcPrior wrote:


Firstly, the translation and interpreting industry as such is not going to be regulated in the UK, regardless of whether the IoL considers that desirable or not. The industry as a whole is at present unregulated and unregulatable [sic], and the trend within the EU as a whole is in any case towards deregulation. Chartership will create a hallmark which customers, including the courts and state bodies, are at liberty to seek when selecting translators, but it will not create legal obstacles preventing non-chartered translators from selling their services per se.


Hello Marc. Technically, you are right. But the experience with other professions has been that it quickly becomes wellnigh impossible to practise without chartered status. In any case, once the existence of chartered status becomes widely known, non-chartered practitioners will be at a severe and increasing competitive disadvantage.

As to your second point, that "the whole point of chartership is that it places the chartered body under government control". Perhaps you could detail your arguments or other reasons for believing this. You say, "The IoL has not defined the criteria for individual chartership because it does not have the prerogative to do so unilaterally." Well this may (or may not) be the case, but it does not explain why the criteria for membership of the IoL have been removed from the proposed new bye-laws.

I should add of course that, while criteria for both these matters, IoL membership and Chartered Linguist status, may not be subject to unilateral determination by the IoL once a charter is granted, this is all the more reason to include them in the charter proposal.

[Edited at 2005-05-20 06:26]


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Ford Prefect  Identity Verified
Burkina Faso
Local time: 22:07
German to English
+ ...
IoL Charter May 18, 2005

MarcPrior wrote:
Chartership will create a hallmark ... but it will not create legal obstacles preventing non-chartered translators from selling their services per se.


This is clear from the statements put out from IoL, and I agree with this statement.

However, the fact that almost no profession in the UK is really "regulated" doesn't stop de facto regulation becoming the norm. An example: there is no law stopping you from practising medicine (although it is illegal to claim to be a *qualified* doctor if you are not). In practice however you will not be able to get a job as a doctor in the NHS or a reputable private hospital without (1) a medical degree (2) a years house officer training (3) current GMC registration. Nevertheless, every now and again someone slips through the net and gets caught (even in senior consultant positions) without one, or even all of these requirements. So medicine is not technically a "legally regulated" profession, but in practise it is regulated because the government, the GMC, the universities that train doctors, the hospitals that employ them and the doctors themselves all agree as to what the entry requirements should be.

I gave another example of surveyors. Can you practise as a surveyor without being an MRICS? Legally yes you can, but in practise, no-one will employ you unless you are a Chartered Surveyor, or on an appropriate training scheme with an approved company, working under supervision etc. There is absolutely no legal requirement to use only Chartered Surveyors, but no mortgage lender will let you get away with a survey that was not prepared by such an "approved" individual.

So here is the crucial difference between the linguistic professions and others currently "regulated" by grant of a Charter of Incorporation to a private organisation - clear career paths, and properly organised training schemes leading into fully-fledged doctor, surveyor etc status. We have none of this in linguistics, do we? Surely this gap needs to be filled? If it is not filled, why will anyone else ever bother becoming a linguist post-charter? After all, it will be so much easier to become a doctor, if only because it is crystal clear what you have to do to become a doctor.


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