Translating as a Profession


English Class fifth and sixth graders had an opportunity to hear about the profession of translating in their respective civic studies classes. Ms. Katriina Kitchens aka. Ms. Kate, who has translated among other things, Behind Closed Doors and Darling, by Jarkko Sipilä, gave very concrete examples to the pupils of some of the challenges that face someone who translates books from one culture to another. She also helped pupils understand the difference between translating and interpreting.

“Ajoin diakonissalaitoksen ohi”  could be translated as “I drove past the deaconess institute.”  However, ‘deaconess institute’ has no reference point in American culture, Ms. Kate pointed out. Deaconess institutes don’t exist there. Therefore the sentence would have no meaning to most American readers.  The translator’s job to find something in its stead that would resemble a deaconess institute in purpose.

Another example that Ms. Kate offered was, “Minun piti poiketa R-kioskiin.” Google translator offers the translation, ” I had to deviate from the R – kiosk.”  There is no reference point for an R-kiosk in America. A small convenience store or stand would be the closest a translator could get to the idea that the author had in mind.  “Minun piti poiketa…” actually means, “I meant to stop by…”  All of this goes to say that artificial intelligence has a long way to go before humans can be replaced as translators!


One comment on “Translating as a Profession

  1. Joanne Morrison says:

    You are important to these children. Thank you. Enjoy your work.

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