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The federal government employs 1, public affairs specialists of which 35 work overseas. The Department of Justice is the largest employer with on board. The large majority of translations are done manually, although some machine translations are done.
In these, the unedited foreign language texts are run through a computer which "translates" and transliterates words and phrases into English.
This type of translation can be used with scientific and technical material where the output need only indicate the fundamental content of a document. The translator edits the machine output to revise syntax and grammar, to translate transliterated words and phrases, and to substitute technical terms when the machine glossaries fail to provide English terms which match the foreign terms used.
There are two basic types of interpretation employed in Government -- simultaneous and consecutive. In simultaneous interpretation, the interpreter interprets material at the same time it is being spoken. Actually, there may be a few seconds' interval between the spoken word and the interpretation, but for all practical purposes, the interpretation is being performed simultaneously with the spoken text.
This technique is made possible by the use of electronic equipment which allows the transmission of the simultaneous speeches.
Conference interpreters often work in a glass-enclosed booth from which they can see the speaker. They listen through earphones to what is being said, while interpreting into a microphone. Consecutive interpreting is the interpreting technique in which the interpreter listens to statements of varying length in one language, and at the conclusion of a statement, translates it orally into another language.
Consecutive interpreting is more time-consuming than simultaneous because the speaker must wait for the interpretation before proceeding.
In some instances, the interpreter writes ideographic symbols that serve as an aid in consecutive interpreting, as well as in preparing accurate memoranda of conversation.
Differences between translating and interpreting duties are chiefly related to the different circumstances under which translators and interpreters perform their work, i.
They must express these ideas in the other language instantly, accurately, and completely; in appropriate style; and with the intent of the original speaker. In simultaneous interpretation, this must be done while the original speaker is speaking; in consecutive, as soon as the speaker finishes a passage, which may be of any length.
This means that the interpreter must have immediate recall and must make split second decisions about words and concepts with sole responsibility for them. The translator, on the other hand, must translate the written word accurately and in the same spirit and style as it appears in the original text.
Translated documents may be subjected to close scrutiny immediately after they are translated, or many years thereafter, since a large number of them become part of the record. The work requires a great deal of research to insure accuracy of nuances, subject-matter detail, and to retain fluency.
In general, however, both translator and interpreter positions require accuracy, fluency, subject-matter knowledge, and a breadth of language knowledge.
The language specialist's work is complicated because 1 a phenomenon may exist in one language, but there may be no word-for-word equivalent for it in the other language, and 2 cultural differences that make ideas easily expressed in one language make them difficult to comprehend in the other language.
In treating the content of a message, the language specialist must determine if the cultural flavor of a message should be retained or if it should be translated in the cultural setting of the intended audience.
The title Language Specialist is used for positions which involve both translating and interpreting duties to a degree that neither is considered to represent the paramount requirement. For complete information on this occupation review OPM's qualification standard for this position.
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