What do you think of a Chinese interpreting between two foreign languages?
Thread poster: JIAXIN ZHENG

JIAXIN ZHENG  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 04:02
English to Chinese
+ ...
Mar 25, 2013

Question: Some people in China claim that they can even interpret between two foreign languages. What do you think of a Chinese interpreting between two foreign languages?
Proposed by: Jacken Zheng (an English-Chinese conference interpreter)
Please share your opinions, and if you like, please send a copy to my email: chiefinterpreter@gmail.com


 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:02
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Well, we all have one mouth... Mar 25, 2013

That's what my mentor used to say.

Specifically, she said, we don't double our rates because we have more than one combination since we only use one pair at any given time.

However, there's no arguing that it gives an interpreter leverage.

That said, it should be possible in China -- though it would take as much effort as elsewhere.

[Edited at 2013-03-25 13:01 GMT]


 

Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:02
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Many interpreters do that. Mar 25, 2013

I've seen quite a few with up to 5 C languages. So there's nothing wrong with having 2 B languages. (NB: as long as you know what you're doing, as people tend to have an inflated perception of their abilities). It is always useful to remember that there are no hard rules and that everyone's background is different.

 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:02
Russian to English
+ ...
Of course it is possible -- why not/ If the people speak both languages at the absolutely top level Mar 25, 2013

Perhaps they have lived in another country for at least twenty years, and went to school there, and also learned another language to a high level.

Not too many really professional interpreters interpret in more than one or two pairs. I personally know only on person who does three pairs, and I know many interpreters in New York. Although I know many languages, and speak all of them, I would only interpret in two language pairs. This is what I do. Interpreting is very different form translation -- you know whatever you know -- you cannot really check anything, or Google. In all consecutive interpreting and most simultaneous, there is no division between target and source languages -- you have to interpret both ways.


 

FarkasAndras  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:02
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Not B Mar 25, 2013

Diana Coada, BA ACIL wrote:

I've seen quite a few with up to 5 C languages. So there's nothing wrong with having 2 B languages. (NB: as long as you know what you're doing, as people tend to have an inflated perception of their abilities). It is always useful to remember that there are no hard rules and that everyone's background is different.


What is proposed here is NOT the same as two B languages. At least not in the usage of terms that I'm familiar with, in which A is the mother tongue (or equivalent), B is an active foreign language and C is a passive foreign language. You do C->A, B->A and A->B but you don't do C->B.
Thus two Bs would mean, e.g., that a Chinese native interpreter with English and French Bs works from Chinese into English and from Chinese into French.
What is proposed here is a Chinese native interpreter who interprets from English into French or vice versa. That would translate into at least an AAC, or, if our interpreter works in both directions between English and French, an AAB or AAA.

As to what I would think about such an interpreter... I would think that this person probably grossly overestimates their proficiency in at least one of their languages, perhaps due to financial pressures. There are people with real AABCCs and AAAs and ABBs out there, but they are very rare. Most people who interpret or translate between two foreign languages should not do so.

Anecdotally, I have come across more than a few Chinese translators/interpreters who overestimate their language skills in this manner. Of course market pressures play a role here - native speakers of English can't possibly cover all the demand in this pair, especially in the lower price ranges.


 

George Hopkins
Local time: 21:02
Swedish to English
Sounds rather like double Dutch... Mar 25, 2013

...but you never know you know. There are all sorts of valid combinations. My two youngest grandchildren speak better French than Swedish.

 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:02
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
This is often done in Central Europe, Mar 25, 2013

and if you can do it well, don't let anyone tell you you shouldn't. Well, obviously, it is done here by Czech, Polish, Slovak... people, and many of us are very good at it. A brilliant translator/interpreter working in a foreign-to-foreign pair will always be better than a bad one working in his or her mother tongue.

 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:02
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oh, okay Mar 25, 2013

FarkasAndras wrote:

You do C->A, B->A and A->B but you don't do C->B.


I didn't read it that carefully. I agree.


 

Randy Stoughton
United States
English to Chinese
True true Mar 25, 2013

Jacken Zheng wrote:


Question: Some people in China claim that they can even interpret between two foreign languages. What do you think of a Chinese interpreting between two foreign languages?
Proposed by: Jacken Zheng (an English-Chinese conference interpreter)
Please share your opinions, and if you like, please send a copy to my email: chiefinterpreter@gmail.com


Well the job is interpreting i think if anybody can interpret between more than just a one way interpretation, then great. The more language you can understand is great. It's great if anybody can. I can translate, Greek to English. English to Greek. and Mandarin Simplified Chinese to English, Ancient Greek and Mondern Greek


 

Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:02
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Yes, that's how I understood it. Mar 25, 2013

FarkasAndras wrote:
What is proposed here is a Chinese native interpreter who interprets from English into French or vice versa.


And I still see them as B languages, as in ''active/the one you can interpret into'' but not A ''mother tongue'' languages.

The official definitions of an interpreter’s working languages as provided by AIIC:

''B: A language other than the interpreter’s native language, of which she has a perfect command and into which she works from one or more of her other languages.''


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 04:02
Chinese to English
I don't know any single Bs Mar 25, 2013

Diana Coada, BA ACIL wrote:

The official definitions of an interpreter’s working languages as provided by AIIC:

''B: A language other than the interpreter’s native language, of which she has a perfect command and into which she works from one or more of her other languages.''


If an interpreter really has two Bs - which is exceedingly rare - then sure, interpreting between them would be an option. Absolutely exhausting, but possible in theory.

The thing is, in China, there are very very very very few (if any) interpreters with even a single B. I've never met anyone who comes even close to having English as a real B in this country (full disclosure: my Chinese isn't anywhere near a real B either).

So the chances of finding someone with two Bs? I don't really believe it. But the demand is there, and people will supply that demand, with whatever abilities they have. All we can really do is wish them the best of luck!


 

FarkasAndras  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:02
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Different approaches Mar 25, 2013

Diana Coada, BA ACIL wrote:

FarkasAndras wrote:
What is proposed here is a Chinese native interpreter who interprets from English into French or vice versa.


And I still see them as B languages, as in ''active/the one you can interpret into'' but not A ''mother tongue'' languages.

The official definitions of an interpreter’s working languages as provided by AIIC:

''B: A language other than the interpreter’s native language, of which she has a perfect command and into which she works from one or more of her other languages.''



That's interesting. The A-B-C distribution I described above is the way the interpreting services of EU institutions operate. It appears that AIIC and SCIC/INTE have a slightly different approach here, although whoever wrote that snippet at AIIC may not have given this too much thought. Anyway, I have to say I prefer the SCIC/INTE approach.
As an example, I myself have a Hungarian A, English B and Spanish C. I'm confident in my ability to work from Hungarian into English and from Spanish into Hungarian, but I wouldn't want to work from Spanish into English. I think that applies to most people: it shouldn't be automatically assumed that an interpreter can work into their B from whatever passive language they have. (If I wanted to do that in the EU realm, I would have to ask SCIC/INTE to upgrade my English to an A, and they would of course refuse.)

[Edited at 2013-03-25 17:05 GMT]


 

JIAXIN ZHENG  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 04:02
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
good discussion Mar 26, 2013

The reason I put this for discussion is that I personally do not believe a Chinese living in China can do B to C or C to C interpreting well.
English-Chinese conference interpreters account for the largest market share in China. There are a very limited number of qualified English-Chinese interpreters though thousands of people are learning interpreting. For other language combinations, there are much less.
When we talk about conference interpreters, they are different from bi-lingual speakers.
Some people think a Chinese will surely do well in English to Chinese translation/interpreting. But it is not. When I train interpreters, I find they cannot speak Chinese well even they can understand the meaning of English. They still need to spend more time in improving their mother language.


 


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