In scientific and academic terms, Language is a complex system of communication of ideas that can function through various channels, including oral, written, and signed. Languages, such as English, French, or Spanish, are an example of these systems and each has their particular set of rules. Language is the code people use to convey and transmit ideas from one person to another. Professionals working in this field are usually well versed and fluent in at least two different languages, meaning that they can take an idea coded in a specific language and convert it to another while retaining the same meaning and intention.
Language professionals are commonly known as Translators, Interpreters, or Linguists. They may work in several different institutions and fields, including academic research, Education, and international relations and businesses.
Most Language professionals work with their native tongue and a second language acquired later in life. Nevertheless, it is common for these professionals to be fluent in a third or even fourth language. Due to the growing population and global influence of their countries and economies, some of the most common languages spoken by professionals in this field are English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Arabic.
It is a common misconception to assume that any bilingual person may be a Translator or Interpreter. Professionals in the field of Languages are academically prepared to understand and accurately interpret a message in one language and retransmit and convey it in another. Language professionals are trained in Linguistics, the scientific study of language, they also possess vast knowledge of grammar, syntax, and semiotics, and understand the processes involved in retaining and conveying the same tone and intention as the original message.
Languages professionals are usually responsible for the following:
- Relaying messages, spoken, written, or otherwise, in a different language than the original while maintaining the same meaning, tone, and intention.
- Creating and updating a glossary or terminology bank with technical and culturally different terms and jargons specific for certain fields.
- Maintaining a sense of style, coherence, and uniformity that goes along with the original message.
- Transferring concepts in the source language to the target language by ensuring that the correspondence selected respects the nuances and meaning.
- Ensuring that the meaning and intonation of a message conveyed stays faithful to the original.
- Doing research previous to an assignment in order to be familiar with the subject matter.
- Being proficient in the use of complex terminology and technical language (e.g. business jargon, legislative terms, technical-scientific vocabulary).
All professionals working in the Languages field usually share the same characteristics, which include, but are not limited to:
- Having a strong grasp of the languages they’re working with, grammar structures, and specialized or technical terminology.
- Displaying impeccable communication and interpersonal skills.
- Displaying high levels of cultural sensibility.
- Having exceptional analytical and investigative skills.
- Being proficient in word-processing programs and Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools.
- Having strong organizational and time management skills, being capable of working under constantly changing priorities.
Professionals in the Languages field usually have an innate talent and aptitude for learning new languages. The ways in which these professionals acquire their second language vary greatly from one case to another. The most common ways are by immersion, living for a certain time in a place or region where another language is spoken, or by learning it in an academic institution. It is common for Language professionals to use a combination of the two; learning the theoretical and grammatical aspects of a language on an academic setting while familiarizing themselves with the culture outside a classroom.
In order to become professionals in this field, aspirants must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages, English, Literature, or Linguistics. This can be done in several recognized colleges and universities. Once they have obtained their degree they may choose to pursue a specialization in Translation or Interpretation if they prefer a more practical job. Aspirants interested in a more academic and research-oriented field of work may choose a master’s or doctoral degree in Linguistics.
The titles of “Certified Translator”, “Certified Interpreter”, and other specializations in the area are issued by the provincial regulatory bodies for these professions. The Canadian Translators, Terminologists, and Interpreters Council (CTTIC) oversees the compliance of uniform standards for professional certifications across Canada, and stands as the organ in charge of administering the exams that confer the right to use these titles.