Summer internship and translation management training report by Astha Srivastava Japanese translator

17. 09. 22
posted by: Astha Srivastav
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By Astha Srivastava

Like most people my age, I too was searching for something worthwhile to do over my vacations. Something which would help me gain knowledge and skills and would also add to my CV. After talking with my friends I came across this internship by a company called, “Modlingua”. It seemed like something which would help me not only in gaining skills but also in widening my horizons concerning the various methods through which translators and interpreters can make a strong foundation for themselves. As a language student, this is of utmost importance because when one steps out into the real world, a job is not always guaranteed as it may be in some other fields. Being the top of the class, having an extra skill set and various other factors come to play a huge role as one progresses in this field. In a way, translators and interpreters are expected to know of not only their own field but also various things about other fields. If one is to do technical translation, it is of utmost importance that one knows the basics (or learns them) of the subject they are translating. If this does not happen, then there may be misunderstandings as well as wrong translations. In literature, one would need to understand the character as well as other facets such as the culture of a particular time period in a certain area etc. I do think that this makes translators and interpreters indispensable to society.
Modlingua has helped me gain certain perspective on how us language students may be able to sell ourselves. Much as this is not always the ultimate aim of someone learning a language, it is definitely that of others. It is their bread and butter, and therefore, the language aspect is not the only one to be considered in this equation. It also includes, how many other skills you may have, such as computer skills. However, such a person still may lack skills in how to promote their own selves and would be left behind by someone who can do so instead, even if his skills are not on par. This is the reality of today’s world so we must be able to embrace it and progress.
This particular internship had people joining from all parts of the world, from all kinds of job occupations and that was a big thing. It isn’t always possible for people to meet in such a manner. Having such variety assists in getting new view points and methods. One may be better than the other and this can be conveyed and the whole of this (translation and interpretation) society can be improved if such a wide network is formed. So in a way it met a lot of my expectations.
There were various things to read up on. In this first assignment there were topics about team work and such. How one may interpret a wolf pack formation was quite interesting even if they were just conjectures. It showed how the interns thought team work should work. There was also one on ants and how they form various networks to transmit data. It showed how they had formed a sort of internet, called “anternet”, even before we invented it. It showed us that there is a lot more to learn from nature than we think. That one just needs to observe a bit more and one may be able to get insight into the workings of the lives and thoughts of these creatures.
The second assignment was about the role translators and interpreters play in the workings of the world. There are various processes such as globalisation, internationalisation and localisation in which translators are major players. They help in the transfer of information from country to country. This has been going on for a while with trading, colonisation etc. With these processes also came new languages which were then adopted and carried to other countries along with culture, traditions etc. Then there are tangible things such as software and hardware which is taken from one country to another so that others may learn about the latest technology. It has helped the whole world in growing and progressing forward. As other companies have made their bases in foreign lands, they have adapted their methods and thoughts to those of the foreign country so as to connect better with the locals. This has greatly helped in making a better environment for all those involved. In all three of these processes it is highly necessary to have someone who can communicate with the “other” party. And not just communicate but communicate the right thing. This is another reason why language studies should be further promoted so that people get proper training in any language they wish to learn, so that they may later be able to put this skill to use and not make blunders.
The third assignment talks about how the jobs of translators and interpreters have permeated into the very fabric of the peoples’ lives. Look around you. You find Greek tragedies lying on book shelves, or chocolates from another country, or something bigger, like your car. Not everything is produced in one’s own country. These things come from other places and two major tools for letting them into the home country are translators and interpreters. They convert the manuals into a language you can understand. The ingredients in the chocolate bar, the literature from other countries, all of these go through a process of conversion before they reach you. Now, in some cases we may not even care, but in others, it is dangerous if we do not understand what is going on. If a patient were to take certain nutrients prescribed to him by his doctor which he can’t make sense of, the least problematic outcome would be side effects. The same goes for when international conferences are going on and when one is expected to give the right and precise information. It concerns two countries and if a small but vital detail goes wrong, it could cause a huge problem. Then comes the point about how literature affects the people of various countries. Not only literature, but any kind of story, which goes from one country to another. History is written by the victors. If an American were to write a story about taking over the Americas, he wouldn’t show himself as an invader. He wouldn’t show himself as a bad guy displacing the red Indians or natives. It is not just the case with America but with most every country. This seeps through in sitcoms, in cartoons, in comics, in novels. It shows one as superior to another and may even cause the other to think of itself as subservient. It may not even be portrayed in such a way but as translators are only human, they may also be biased and interpret a work in a different way than was intended. In other cases, certain kinds of literature may be censored. This too, helps in gaining knowledge about a country’s state. If certain politically charged books are censored in some countries, they it may point to how the government does not want any political upheaval. Other books about sex may be banned in certain countries because the target country does not openly discuss such topics and would think it wrong to allow the populace to lay their hands on such books. But even in this case, it is the translators who even provide a chance to such people to be able to read books and get ideas, which others may want them not to have. This is important. This is important because gaining knowledge, any bit of knowledge, is important. One needs to know things and then whether one acts upon them or not is something which can be decided upon later.
These are a few things which I pondered upon when I was given my topics, and they were definitely topics which needed to be thought upon. They show a person who loves languages, what all has been, what all can be, and what all will be achieved through language. We are now developing Artificial Intelligence. In linguistics the base is that humans have a higher cognitive ability than animals and hence we also have a better language system. Not just one but many. It is this language which is going to go from us to the AI and then further to who knows what. Language, like people is growing, developing, living. But this does not exclude those which have also died, just like humans. Those are the ones which have given us the languages we have today, and those should be learned and cherished. And also, learned from. One should try to go to the very roots of these languages and find out where we began. Languages, thus, are our roots. They tell us where we started and how and they help us to know more about ourselves. To know how we have grown and how we are still to grow. So I do think it necessary for more people to learn novel languages and know about other cultures so that we all can expand our views and be more accepting.  


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