Translating out of your native tongue in translator training- benefits?
Thread poster: Marie Safarovic

Marie Safarovic
Russian Federation
Local time: 04:54
Russian to German
+ ...
Feb 27, 2012

Hello everyone,

I am still having a hard time choosing the right course for me and find myself pondering about the practice of translating out of one's mother tongue.

Now the question isn't whether you should or should not do it- the question is why does it form part of most translation and interpreting degrees' programmes if it will be irrelevant for your career?

I know, translation and interpreting are two different disciplines- but I am interested in both. And personally, I agree with the mother tongue- principle, because why should I translate into language X if there are native speakers who could do it better than me?

But it appears that most interpreting programmes ask for a B language and some of the translation programmes have students translating between AB exclusively.

The way I understand this -and I hope you will correct me there if I'm wrong- is that for some types of interpreting, especially for community interpreting- it will be necessary to offer a B language. That could be for situations when you accompany one client and need to help them in all communicative situations- otherwise he would have to employ two interpreters.

For translating I don't see the point at all. Maybe it makes sense for rare language combinations where there simply aren't enough native speakers to work into that language. But then again, pretty much all courses offer the same four or five languages, for which we have enough native speakers.

Shouldn't you focus on something you'll really need for your career, as in practise exclusivley to translate (interpret) into your mother tongue? Or am I missing the point and this is all about language practice?

What are your thoughts?

I'm asking not only out of interest but also because I hope it will help me make a decision. I could train with AB only and this would be a course that combines translation with interpreting. It could be good to focus on learning the techniques and starting with my strongest language pair. Alternatively, I could do ABCC, but then I could only do Translation or Interpreting- I realise I cannot have it all and probably won't need it all, but I just cannot make up my mind and therefore

I look forward to reading your input



neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
All grist to the mill Feb 27, 2012

I can't really offer my opinion from an interpreter's point of view, but as a translator and on the basis of my own education, I can say that whereas when studying I disliked inverse translation, mainly because I wasn't as good at it and found it more difficult than translating into English, now, years later, in hindsight I value the experience, and I believe that translating both into and out of one's own native language is crucial, even if only to further our understanding of language/s in general and its/their interactions and nuance.


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:54
Chinese to English
I enjoy it and do it a lot, and interpret A-B Feb 28, 2012

In interpreting, it really depends on your language combination and place of work. In Europe the A


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:54
Chinese to English
cont Feb 28, 2012

ACCC combination is common, and it's demanded by the EU, but not so much in other parts of the world.

I interpret A-B and enjoy it a lot; and I translate A to B as a favour to some clients and for fun. You have to be careful that translationese doesn't infect your B language, but if you've got a fairly mature grasp of the language, translation can be a great exercise. I get insights into what I can do in my normal Chinese-English direction by looking at what happens when I do English-Chinese.

[Edited at 2012-02-28 09:15 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-02-28 10:13 GMT]


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Translating out of your native tongue in translator training- benefits?

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