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Sociology

Responsibilities and Resources in Effective Translation and Interpretation

The project

New tools and developments in the field of translation and transliteration have altered the way in which the task of interpretation and translation is conducted. Equally significant consideration is needed to ensure strict ethical guidelines in the process of representing clients. In collaboration with Stoke City Council interpretation and translation unit, this project will disseminate best practice in this field in the midlands and north west regions, with a view to developing a training package for delivery nationally.

Background

In the last ten years there has been a rapid development in technologies relating to translation and interpretation, which can aid professionals engaged in these practices. In addition, a number of developments in the pedagogy of interpretation have been developed in the UK context to deal with the technical aspects of engagement with institutions of the state, such as Health and Social services as well as legal agencies. This technology has been both enabling as well as open to abuse. The ethical dimensions of the process of research have not been sufficiently well developed. There has been a misuse of technologies such as google translate and under-utilisation of technical and special dictionaries which can aid in this process. The aim of this project is therefore to enhance the provision of interpretation and translation services by providing access to the latest technological tools combined with a rigorous ethical standard for practitioners. It is the dissemination of best practice in this arena that is at the heart of the project.

These new approaches have not been sufficiently disseminated amongst the providers of interpretation and translation services, nor amongst practitioners. Stoke City Council translation and interpretation unit currently employs 120 freelance interpreters and translators covering 50 languages. It provides services to NHS, mental health, the Police and many other agencies in the region and beyond. It has identified a knowledge gap amongst its staff in terms of the new developments in translation and interpretation and in the general provision in this arena.

Visit Stoke City Council's translation and interpretation webpage

Collaboration

Though not directly linked this project does deploy the same model, of close collaboration with a local authority, as the previously awarded ESRC IAA Project, ‘Unseen and Unknown: Addressing the Social, Economic and Cultural Needs of Kashmiris in Rochdale Borough’. However, the substantive research areas are different, though where synergies become possible (in promoting the national seminar for example), these will provide overlap between projects.

Research

Since 2002, Dr Kalra has been involved in research that involves computational approaches to language problems. This has been funded by the EU and the Asia Information Society Fund and in collaboration initially with Preston College and now with Panjabi University, India (details below). This research has focused on technical solutions to the issue of transliteration and translation in the main South Asian languages: Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Sindhi, Bengali as they are used in South Asia. It is these languages that are most represented in the UK translation and interpretation services needs and thus can provide the basis for the issues raised by newer communities with Arabic and Eastern European language needs. Publications from this project: T. S. Saini, G. S. Lehal and V. S. Kalra, (2011)Urdu to Hindi and Reverse Transliteration System International Conference, ICISIL 2011, Patiala, India, 2011. Proceedings and T. S. Saini, G. S. Lehal and V. S. Kalra, (2008) “Shahmukhi to Gurmukhi Transliteration System”, Coling 2008: Companion volume: Posters and Demonstrations, Manchester, UK, pp. 177-180.

This will also find synergy with the Multilingual Manchester Project based in the Faculty of Humanities, especially the research done on language in the policy context.

Providing training to our translation and interpreting staff will allow us to meet customer services and communications. This approach contributes to the council’s priorities as set out in the Mandate for Change:

  • Develop an effective and confident council
  • Work with people to promote independence and healthy lives

It also contributes to all five strands of the customer service strategy:

  • Offer consistency of service for customer access points
  • Provide customer service excellence via highly-trained front line staff, who are specialists in delivering customer service across multiple service areas

Working with the University will also give the council the opportunity to become a beacon of excellence in this area and to provide training for other services.

Outcome

In the medium term it is hoped that the project will generate training contracts with other providers. This will require an ongoing relationship with the University in terms of delivery. It is hoped in the long term that some form of certification can be developed for translators and interpreters, thus increasing their skill base.

The project will run for eighteen months. The first four months will be required to establish the contractual arrangements between the partners and for recruitment of personnel. The development of training materials and their publication will be the next stage, as well as the arrangement of the local courses in Stoke. The training will be delivered over an eight-month period and will culminate in a national seminar for all of the Heads of translation and interpretation units operating in the public sector as well as major private sector deliverers of this service. This final seminar will consist of a public event in which the team will showcase the training product, as well as involving the leader of Stoke City Council and from the Home Office, Central Interpreters Unit. This will be a promotion for the need for translation and interpretation and for its professionalization.