INTERPRETATION ETHICS

10/03/2022

Interpretation is a demanding profession, not only because of the skills required to convey a conversation between multiple parties and languages, but also due to the fact that there is a specific code of ethics to which all professional interpreters should comply. This is not only at the professional level, but also at the industry level.

Some major rules

⦁ The interpreter must not allow his or her personal opinions to affect the interpretation. The interpreter must not express his or her personal opinions at any time during the interpretation.

⦁ The interpreter is not responsible for the content of the message being interpreted. The interpreter is simply using his or her knowledge and skill to facilitate communication between the parties. It is not up to the interpreter to assess the veracity, moral or accuracy of the message. The interpreter is not responsible for the truth of what is being said; the interpreter is only responsible for the correct interpretation of what is being said.

⦁ The interpreter must never take part in the conversation that is being facilitated by him/her. The interpreter must not volunteer or be expected to volunteer cultural information in the conversation. The interpreter’s cultural knowledge is simply a tool he or she can draw on in the delivery of the message. The interpreter must not offer explanations or justify the communicating parties’ statements and reactions on the basis of cultural knowledge or other, similar knowledge. Also, the interpreter must never give advice to any of the parties of the conversation.

⦁ The interpreter must not accept assignments concerning matters where the interpreter is biased or partial. The interpreter must always notify the interpretation service provider or the parties if he or she has a vested interest in the case, or if the interpreter’s family ties to, friendships with, acquaintance of, financial dependence of or similar relations to the parties of a case could raise doubts concerning his or her impartiality.

Things to remember if you are an interpreter

⦁ Introduce yourself
⦁ Present the code of conduct for interpretation in the client’s language

Keep in mind that

⦁ The interpreter is impartial
⦁ The interpreter must interpret everything that is said
⦁ The interpreter must inform the parties of his or her duty of confidentiality

Code of conduct for interpreters

⦁ Be calm
⦁ Be impartial
⦁ Stay alert and focused
⦁ Pay close attention, so that the communicating partners do not have to repeat themselves
⦁ Never get involved in the conversation
⦁ Never “get to know” the client

In general, every professional is beholden to a “boilerplate” set of ethics. A Code of Interpretation Ethics helps protect both the client and the interpreter. Clients prefer working with a professional translation/interpretation services provider that upholds a similar roster of ethical guidelines, therefore, making sure you behave accordingly is a must in the profession. If you are interested in becoming a professional interpreter who possesses a strict code of ethics, register for Translating and Interpreting courses at the Journalism Foreign Language Center to receive instructions from expert interpreters.

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