Why Humour is so Difficult to Translate

Defining Humour

A good but simple definition of humour is something that causes others to laugh or feel amused. However, what could make one person laugh may not make another person laugh. This has to be taken into account when translating humour. The difficulty with the definition of humour is its subjectivity. Many authors at some time or other have tried to seek out a proper definition of humour, while many have simply reached the conclusion that no real definition can be found.

Humour is found in everyday communication and it plays various roles. Sometimes a person wants to stand out from others so says something humorous to attract their attention while often it occurs spontaneously relating to an incident that has just taken place. There are professional comedians who make a living out of humour too. Most of the time humour only takes place in a single language but there are times like in international conferences when a speaker cracks a joke and an interpreter has to somehow accurately translate it so its meaning is preserved and not lost in translation.

Humour rarely stands out on its own and is usually linked to the context where it takes place. It’s often related to a specific culture making it particularly difficult for a translator or interpreter to translate into another language. Even though humour is not uncommon in everyday life, it is, in fact, difficult to translate.

Language professor, Raphaelson-West, stated in one of his journal articlesrecently that he considers there are three general joke categories. These are:

  • linguistic jokes,
  • cultural jokes
  • universal jokes.

On the question of linguistic jokes, comedian Dan Antopolski, had an award-winning joke which was “Hedgehogs – why can’t they just share the hedge?” This is fine in English but trying to translate into any other languages is difficult because hog has two meanings. This is a virtually insurmountable challenge for even the most highly skilled and experienced translator. Cultural jokes are said to be easier to translate.

Humour often isn’t learned but is part of a person’s talent and not everyone finds the same things humorous. Translating humour is very much dependent on how the translator understands the humour. Often a translator can’t accurately translate humour and if he or she is given a translation job which involves translating humour but no equivalent language in the target language can be found the translator will just say the text is untranslatable.

Translating Humour From Other Countries

Today, there are lots of English humorous TV series or movies that appear in other countries after they have been translated. Sometimes subtitles are used while at other times dubbing is used. As humour is part of the culture where it originates from sometimes subtitles don’t express the language spoken as humorous. Even if the translator has a huge amount of knowledge of both languages sometimes humour is too sophisticated for the translator to be able to convey just the right meaning in the translation. Humour is so rooted in the culture that it becomes a part of a culture’s way of life. A thorough, in-depth understanding of the source and target languages, is necessary as well as being able to interchange cultures.

Some kinds of humour like wordplay depend heavily on the linguistic features found in the source language. This means the translation is complicated because many languages differ so much in their semantic and grammatical structures. Finding a suitable translation that ensures the joke is understood is extremely difficult because of the vast differences between languages and cultures. Arabic and English have little in common so translating humour may never be realistically accurate.

Two Possible Solutions to Translating Humour

There are two main methods to help to resolve the difficulties with translating humour. The 1st is using a cultural note. This is commonly found in westernized or subtitled Japanese shows. A cultural note explains what it means when Japanese viewers are the only ones likely to understand the joke. The key problem with a cultural note is that it may potentially distract and even confuse a viewer which could result in ruining the impact of the joke. The 2nd potential solution is finding a very clever translator. There are one or two around who are able to put together a precise meaning in a translation so that the joke can be equally understood and found to be funny in two languages.

It takes a skilled interpreter, translator, or localization specialist to be able to absorb and reproduce humour and its cultural references for an audience that likes being amused. Time after time the conclusion is that the complex nature of a bilingual brain could be the key to navigating these complicated, comical waters. What everyone wants is to be able to share humour beyond the boundaries of language and culture.

The Unspoken Languages of the World

Surely, the term “unspoken language” is a misnomer? How can people speak with each other without speaking? The seeming contradiction lies in the fact that the word “language” means more than just the spoken word. Well before our ancestors ever developed the intellectual capacity through neural development to speak using words and sentences, early humans, the hominids of many different species, presumably communicated in non-verbal ways. Body language is surely a well-recognized way of communicating with each other still today. How about facial signals? Both these ways of using an ‘unspoken language’ must have been far more important in the deep past than they are today? Even now, when a shopkeeper says ‘Have a nice day’ after you have parted with some of your hard earned cash, you can tell whether they mean it or not by their body language and the way they smile at you.

Unspoken Languages of the Animal Kingdom

Many animals use an unspoken language, too. In fact, humans are probably unique in the animal kingdom in their innate ability to communicate verbally. Most other animals use a variety of vocalizations which fall short of being classified as verbal language. Birds use a variety of different calls, some of them surprisingly varied. The thicker the vegetation a species lives in, or the more distant a pair flies apart searching for food, the more elaborate the unspoken avian language used.

Our closest relatives, the great apes, use a great variety of ‘unspoken languages.’ It is not surprising that intensely social apes, closest genetically to humans, such as the chimpanzees and bonobos, have a much more diverse unspoken language of grunts, hoots and cries as well as facial signals than their more unsocial cousins, the orangutans of South East Asia.

Interesting Unspoken Languages Around the World

People have developed fascinating unspoken languages around the world in addition to their more intricate and complex spoken languages. There are many reasons, sometimes hard to understand, just why these have arisen where they have. Here below are some examples of these interesting unspoken languages, still often used today.

The Whistling Silbadors of La Gomera

La Gomera is one of the Spanish Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa. It was settled, as far as we know, originally by people from Morocco, who developed a distinctive culture in each of the rocky, mountainous islands of the Canary group. In La Gomera, there developed a remarkable unspoken language called Silbo Gomero. In Spanish, the word ‘silbar’ means to whistle and that’s what the Gomerans are able to do to communicate at a distance, instead of shouting at each other. The versatility of the Gomeran whistling language is so good that as many as 4,000 whistled ‘words’ are recognized! Silbo Gomero may be in danger of extinction as an unspoken language today because of the use of cell phones and the internet, but the language is part of the curriculum in schools, so maybe it will still continue to be used.

The Hummers of the Amazonian Jungle

Rather similar to the whistlers of La Gomera are the hummers of the Maici River district in the South American Amazon. This unspoken language is used by the Pirahã people, an indigenous Indian population. The humming is not as elaborate as whistling and doesn’t carry so far, but that doesn’t worry the Pirahã. They use it to communicate when out hunting in the jungle. Perhaps they use it so that words don’t frighten their prey, or maybe they just like humming! Many kilometers away in China, there is another humming community, that of the people of Zhejiang.

Summary

Unspoken language predates the use of words and is still used by everyone today, even if it is only facial signals and body language, which are very useful because they give information about intent and emotion.
Here and there around the world, there are still many communities who have developed fascinating unspoken languages for a variety of reasons. From whistles and hums to yodels and drums, unspoken languages are an integral part of what it is to be human.

Cultural Traditions Around the World Giving People a Sense of Identity

What Cultural Traditions Mean

Culture, like language, defines a human population. It fosters a sense of identity in the same way as language does. If you can speak the same language as others, you generally share many of their cultural traditions. Today, many of these distinctive cultural traditions are changing fast, taken over by a more uniform, globalized, consumer-centered culture. Colombians may speak Spanish, Vietnamese may speak Vietnamese and Moroccans Arabic and Berber, but they all recognize MacDonald’s beef burgers and Big Macs! Culture is important for many people because it gives them a sense of identity, but the homogenization of culture that is happening today means that that very sense of identity is gradually disappearing. No-one seems to be sure if that is bad or good.

Interesting Cultural Traditions Around the World

There are literally hundreds of unique cultures around the world. Visitors from one culture are often surprised, amused or even horrified when they first encounter another culture. After a time these impressions fade as people realize that humanity is more or less the same all over the world. It often comes down to cultural translation, which is the ability to understand what cultural oddities actually mean.

Take the French kiss, for example. Many people in Europe kiss on the meeting, but the French have elevated kissing as a greeting to an art form. It takes time to appreciate that there are different ways to kiss, depending on how familiar you are with the person you are greeting. Australians, on the other hand, prefer a firm handshake, Americans a hug or a pat on the back, Maori New Zealanders a hongi (a touching of the nose), while Indians put the palms of their hands together in front of them as a greeting. They all mean more or less the same when they are translated, but the differences can take time to learn, just like language.

Tradition and Translation

Cultural customs around the world may mean the same thing in principle, but they take time to learn. Traditional customs do need to be translated if they are to mean anything to those who don’t share that culture. The importance of cultural translation cannot be underestimated as it is essential if people of different cultures are to get on peacefully and co-operate together.

Culture and tradition are important to take into account when visiting another part of the world, or even within your own borders where people of different cultures rub shoulders. Take the practice of pointing in the western world, for example. In many African cultures, as well as Islamic culture in other parts of the world, it is rude to point with the finger at something, especially another human being. It is fine, however, to use the thumb! In Nicaragua, in a totally unrelated cultural tradition, people use their lips to point at something. It takes practice to learn what to do, but this sort of cultural translation is important to communicate effectively.

Summary:- There is a need for cross-cultural translation

In a way, it is a bit of a contradiction that there is a surge in the demand for language translators at present, but not for cultural translators. The world is globalizing fast and there is recognition everywhere that language translation is essential for communication in the modern world. However, there is a significant lag in the recognition that there is also a need for cross-cultural translation. One wonders just how much violence, unease, and war might not have happened over the centuries had cultural translators existed to teach all of us world citizens what other people were trying to say with their actions.

How Do Babies Learn a Language Well Enough to Speak It?

It often seems galling to those of us adults who are struggling to learn a new language to acknowledge just how easily human babies learn a language well enough to speak it. They don’t go to school to learn how to speak. They don’t read books or use Google. They don’t go to evening classes or have private tutors. How do they do it?

Researchers have known for a long time that human babies are instinctively wired to learn to communicate using the language of those around them as they grow up. That means all babies, everywhere around the world. In fact, babies not only learn to speak easily but their method of learning how to speak and communicate verbally also cannot be replicated when you are older. That’s a pity because it means that when you are an adult, it can be much more of a struggle to learn a new language, partly because of the language that you have grown up with acts as a confusing impediment.

A Baby’s Language Learning Timeline

Much of a baby’s language learning unbelievably occurs before they reach five years old. Of course, there is no exact chronology involved. Every baby is unique and follows an independent trajectory when it comes to learning a language and there are a lot of extrinsic factors that come into play, helping or hindering that process.

Before Birth

A baby’s ability to learn a language is dependent on how its brain is designed and also how it develops after birth, as well as how the baby interacts with its external human environment. Even before birth, it is believed that a fetus is already aware of the human sounds made close to where it basks inside its mother’s womb. There is evidence that fetuses actually tune in to human voices and are able to recognize and prefer the sound of their own mother’s voice.

After birth, the first methods of communication used by the baby until it can start to verbalize involve body language and vocalization in the form of bubbles, babbles, squeals, cries, and screams. Babies are acutely interested in human faces and watch and listen carefully when people around them speak, especially when they speak to them.

The First-Year

In the first year of a baby’s life, the baby starts to make unique vocalizations expressing their feelings of pleasure, fear, hunger, and discomfort. They start to use vowel-like sounds and experiment with combinations of noises as well as listening intently when people around them interact with them. At this stage, babies all around the world appear to share the same characteristics, presaging the learning of the language which the baby first experiences.

As a baby grows, it starts to experiment with single words, then combinations of two words together then short sentences of three or more, none of which may not make much sense, to begin with.

The Second-Year

A crucial stage of a baby’s language development occurs after the first year when it now already recognizes words like ‘mama’ and ‘dada,’ its own name and is experimenting vigorously, and often loudly, with combinations of vowels and consonants that start to sound more like the native language they are hearing all around them.

At this stage, they already understand and recognize other words used, even if they can’t vocalize them themselves. It is recognized that in early baby language learning the comprehensive stage, i.e. the ability to recognize words, comes before the expressive stage when these words are actually used in a meaningful way by the baby itself.

By the baby’s second year, there has been tremendous growth in language learning, although there is considerable variation between individual babies, which is partly due to genetics and partly due to the way they have been brought up and the richness of human interaction they have experienced. At 24 months from birth, most babies will be able to recognize many words representing familiar objects, as well as commands like ‘no,’ ‘up’ and ‘down.’ They will also be able to use at least 50 words themselves, although many of their utterances may be incomprehensible to older people.

The Third-Year

By three years old, most of what the infant is saying makes sense. It will be able to speak in short sentences, enjoy using multi-syllable words, ask short questions, and crucially learn 9 or 10 new words a day. That growth in vocabulary continues during childhood and early adolescence. At the end of this phase of development, the infant will have acquired a vocabulary of around 400 words or more and be able to create sentences of their own rather than just repeat words and word combinations they have heard.

The Fourth-Year

By the end of the fourth year, children will have developed a working vocabulary of around 1,000 words or more, understand most of what they hear, express themselves sufficiently to make their needs and want to be heard, ask simple questions and construct simple sentences. Differences between one child’s speed of language acquisition and another’s are obvious, even within a single family.

The Fifth-Year

By five years old, when in many countries children first go to primary school, they have acquired a working vocabulary of 2,500 words or more, can use verbs correctly, understand and use past and future tenses, understand and use prepositions, are able to carry on a conversation and ask innumerable questions.

Conclusion

Babies are instinctively designed by nature to learn the language that they are exposed to from before birth. They do so in a way that is quite different from the way that older people learn a new language. The way that babies learn a language seems to be universal but can be influenced by the human environment in which they grow up in. This can help to speed up or slow down their natural language acquisition.

By the age of 5, little humans, for all practical purposes, have learned all the basic components of their native language.

What Sort of Influence Does Culture Have on TV Commercials?

Some people might think that TV programmes and the commercials that almost universally fund them are on the road to extinction, replaced by online entertainment, news and information reporting, and advertising. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case. TV viewing is, if anything, even more, important than ever before. That means that advertising in the form of TV commercials remains a vital business decision, one that can potentially get products and services into millions of homes every day.

As evidence for the continuing importance of TV and TV commercials is the statistics for the number of hours that ordinary people watch TV. For example, in the U.S., where access to the internet and the ownership of multiple internet accessible devices is near universal, the average number of hours of TV watched is astounding. 12 to 17-year-olds are the least interested in TV, yet still, watch an average of nearly 21 hours of TV every week. The older the cohort of viewers, the more TV is consumed. 65-year-olds and upwards, i.e. the retired population, for the most part, watch well over 50 hours on average every week.

It must be remembered that for every hour of TV watching unless there are specifically non-commercial channels available (e.g. Britain’s BBC and its Australian counterpart, the ABC), at least 20% of that TV viewing consists of watching TV commercials, even if it is rather reluctantly. The message of desirable purchase and consumption is drummed into billions of peoples’ heads around the world every single day.

There are two other observations to be made here before delving into the effect of culture on commercials and vice versa. First, commercials are out to persuade viewers to part with their money and buy whatever is being advertised. The statistics quoted, if repeated elsewhere apart from the U.S. reveal that those who have the most disposable income, i.e. the oldest, watch TV and therefore commercials the most. Secondly, TV commercials reach millions of people simultaneously, whereas internet-based advertising is by its very nature more limited in scope and targeted. Businesses that have the money budgeted for advertising are more likely to spend big on TV advertising than internet advertising simply because they have a much bigger audience.

How Culture Affects the Design of Commercials

Businesses advertise for one main reason: to persuade as many people as possible to buy their products and services. Commercials are all about maximizing profit. To do so they must target who the businesses think they can sell the most to. They must use the language and cultural nuances of their target audience to the utmost or risk viewers tuning out.

All advertising is a risky business. It’s hard to tell in advance whether a particular commercial will be effective. There are some very simple reasons why culture affects the design and presentation of any one TV commercial. For a start, commercials tend to focus on those they think have the most money to spend. In many countries with diverse ethnic groups, there is often a big disparity in wealth between one ethnic group and another. This isn’t lost on TV commercial designers who don’t tend to waste time using the poorer ethnic groups in their advertising. They use the language and ethnicity of the wealthier population.

TV commercials, like any commercial advertising, are all about maximizing the return of profit to the businesses that pay advertising agencies to make the commercials for them. A lot of time and money on research into what makes people part with their cash is spent by these agencies. They tilt their commercials to emphasize the aspects of human nature that people aspire to. For example, in Australia, where 30% of the adult population is obese, it is highly unlikely that obese people will feature in any TV commercial, even if this is representative of the population as a whole! TV commercials consistently use subjects in their advertising who are younger, more attractive, healthier, wealthier, more athletic and seemingly happier than the general population of viewers. Presumably, this is because their research has shown them that if older, less attractive, unfit, sad, poor and sluggish people were featured in their adverts they wouldn’t be so popular!

Culture can also have positive influences over advertising. It is not permitted these days in most western countries to advertise the smoking of tobacco products on TV, largely because the damaging health effects of smoking have finally filtered their way through society so that there is little controversy about it. Contrast that with the 1970s when it was common to see adverts featuring young, beautiful, healthy, seemingly fit people smoking like chimneys on TV commercials!

In this regard, commercials tend to lag behind the changes in a society’s norms and cultural understanding. One of the biggest disconnects between a changing culture and the attitude of commercial advertising is in society’s growing awareness and response to climate change. It is generally now recognized by all but a few diehards that the use of fossil fuels in the amounts that the world has got used to is foolhardy. Yet there is no sign that TV commercials showing appealingly shiny, fast cars and chunky SUVs are going on the same road to oblivion as adverts for cigarettes and smoking!

Conclusion

TV advertising is still a very important way that businesses, especially the major brands, can reach millions of potential consumers. TV commercials are not going to die away soon and seem to be running nicely alongside the use of the internet, rather than be in competition with it.

Culture is probably one of the biggest influences on exactly what is shown on commercials. Businesses are out to get people to spend their money on their products and services and will use every trick in the book to get their message across. They have discovered very early on that successful adverts are those that give their viewers the illusion that they may be younger, wealthier, healthier and more attractive if they purchase the products they are seeing advertised. It may be an illusion but it is a reflection of what the general population wishes it was, rather than what it really is.

Some Tips to Make Language Learning Easy

If you are an English language speaker and really want to learn another language, it can be frustrating hearing all those Europeans and others who seem to be able to speak English, and often one or more other languages, so fluently, when you stumble over the simplest conversations.

We have probably all had the experience of trying out our newly learned new language expressions on a native speaker and finding they switch to our language because it is so much easier to communicate.

But if they can do it, so surely we can, too! In fact, the fact that as children we pick up language learning without any formal training should indicate that just about every human being has the innate ability to learn a language.

Can children teach us anything about learning a new language?

The fact that children learn languages easily doesn’t always help us, as they have unique advantages over older learners. For a start, they don’t have any other language they know (apart from body language) to confuse them. One of the problems that can be frustrating when an adult learns another language is that the syntax of their native language is often so different from the new language that it confuses them.

The incentive is a key Ingredient in Learning another Language

The key ingredient in learning another language is an incentive. Children have a huge incentive to learn the language of meaningful people around them. So do those whose native language is spoken by hardly anyone! Scandinavians and the Dutch, for example, learn English very quickly; otherwise, like children, they would be unintelligible to anyone else other than their own countrymen.

We can turn that around to help us learn another language more easily. Immersion in the language we want to learn is one of the best methods. Immersion can take many forms:

Make friends with those who speak another language. Even if you only mix some of the words and phrases you know, making conversation with friends whose native language is the one you want to learn can be a game changer. Of course, they may try and make it easier to communicate by talking only in your language, but if you make it known that you are trying to make an effort to learn their language, then you should get along just fine.

Read books, papers, websites, and magazines and watch the news or films that don’t have subtitles in the language you want to learn. If you do this with things you enjoy then you will find you are picking up useful vocabulary and even grammar more easily. For example, if you like sport, make an effort to read, watch and listen to the sport in the language of your choice.

Visit the Country where the Language is Spoken

This is the most expensive way to learn another language, but potentially the most fun and the most productive. Now, here is a word of warning. If the main purpose of your visit is to learn a language and not just go on holiday, then you are best going alone. If you visit another country with someone else you inevitably spend much more time talking in your own language and not in the language of the country you are visiting.

Another way of maximizing your learning experience is to find a way of ensuring you are forced to communicate in the language of the country you are visiting. An easy way to do that is to volunteer with a group or organization of your choice. This way, you will find that you are made welcome and you will certainly have an incentive (remember the key ingredient!) to learn as fast as possible.

Conclusion

Some people have a natural advantage over others when learning a new language. The younger you are, the quicker you will learn any language. The more incentive you have to learn another language, the faster you will pick it up. The key to learning another language then without reverting to becoming a child all over again (!) is to find an incentive that suits you and your pocket. Reading, watching and listening to foreign language media can be useful. Making friends and visiting other countries, preferably on your own and integrating with those that are there, are all tried and true methods of making language learning easy.

German Immigrants in Australia & their Influence on it’s Culture

It might seem strange to think that there is a noticeable German influence in Australia, but in fact, there has been a significant German presence in the island continent since the early days of European colonization in the nineteenth century.

Waves of German immigration into Australia have paralleled historical events in the German-speaking parts of Europe. German immigrants to Australia have brought with them their language and many aspects of their culture, which over the years has become modified and merged into the broader Australian way of life.

Why did Germans Come to Australia?

The largest German waves of immigration into Australia took place in the middle to the late nineteenth century and again before the middle of the twentieth. Many came because of religious persecution at home or because of a thirst for exploration or a desire for economic improvement. Many of the first Germans in Australia settled in Melbourne and then expanded across Victoria and into South Australia, where they still remain as a significant cultural and linguistic presence in the Barossa Valley.

Before and after the Second World War German Jews fled their homeland, as they did to many other parts of the world, escaping persecution. Migration from Germany to Australia of course stopped during the first and second world wars, and many Australians of German origin were interned during the Second World War, but as soon as the war ended a new wave of migrants arrived, the numbers gradually dropping as Germany itself recovered and developed into an economic powerhouse of its own.

German Culture in Australia

Australians of original German ancestry still possess a unique culture that is partly of German origin and partly Australian, albeit much reduced compared to the past. Barossa-German was a dialect spoken by Barossa migrants and had its origin in the Brandenburg district of Prussia from where many of the migrants had emigrated from. This particular dialect is rarely heard today in South Australia. A few words may have become part of the Australian lexicon like the word “butcher,” which is a small 200ml glass of beer in an Aussie pub, probably a corruption of the Prussian word “Becher.”

Many German recipes and food specialties made the passage down under with the migrants and their enjoyment has continued through to today. Blutwurst, Leberwurst, Mettwurst, and Weißwurst are all well known as well as sauerkraut and Streuselkuchen.

German Visitors to Australia Today

Today, modern Germany has become an important economic partner of Australia and there are many German businesses that have a significant presence in the country. Over 100,000 Australian students are learning German as a language and a new wave of visitors are on the move in both directions. Young and older Australians regularly visit Germany as part of a wider visit to Europe, some of them staying and making Germany their home. At the same time, thousands of German tourists travel to Australia every year, over 200,000 alone from Germany last year!

Germans are great travelers, partly because the German economy at home is relatively strong and even young Germans have sufficient cash to make long trips away from home as tertiary education is subsidized or provided free by the German government, freeing graduates from the worry of paying back a loan. Many younger Germans stay in Australia on working holiday visas; others come to Australia to study and still, others are just making a short trip to Australia to visit friends, relatives or as tourists.

Conclusion

Germany is an important trading partner with Australia and many Germans these days earmark Australia as a destination for work, study, and travel as well as do business. It is a continuation of a long but not well-known tradition of German Australian connections that has endured since German migrants first made their way down under in the early phases of European colonization. There is a strong Australian German connection in several parts of Southern Australia, especially Victoria and South Australia. The best known German contribution to Australian culture is the wine growing region of the Barossa Valley where German traditions are still kept alive today, especially food and drink.

Preparing Properly for the NAATI Exam is the Best Route to NAATI Accreditation

It is quite possible to survive as a translator or interpreter in Australia or New Zealand without certification or accreditation with a body like NAATI (the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters), but the possibility of lucrative work and career prospects are very limited, even if your grasp of a second language other than your own is quite sound.

A career in translating or interpreting generally requires NAATI accreditation first and then a subsequent application for membership with one of the professional associations, like AUSIT or NZSTI. Respectively, these are the Australian Institute of Translators and Interpreters and the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters.

Professional accreditation and association membership is generally necessary if you intend getting a job as a translator or interpreter with one of the many agencies that provide professional translation or interpreting services. Translation and interpreting work for the government and large corporations also depends on NAATI accreditation.

So, how hard is the NAATI test? The contradiction is that many people who sit the qualifying NAATI exam, particularly the exams for professional translator and professional interpreter actually fail. The pass rate is typically only around 10 to 12%.

Is the NAATI test difficult? The high failure rate in the NAATI test is a measure primarily of a lack of thorough preparation for the exam and unfamiliarity with the style of questions in the exam, rather than any suggestion that the NAATI professional exams are too difficult. It is entirely possible to pass the NAATI exam at the first attempt as long as the hard work of preparation for the exam has been done first of all.

How to pass the NAATI exam at the first go

There is no easy way to pass the NAATI exam at the first go apart from ensuring that you have completed all the course work related to the NAATI exam thoroughly first. Most courses that lead to professional translating and interpreting as a career are available at all major Australian and New Zealand universities. Completing a recognised translating or interpreting course at one of these institutions is the best guarantee of passing the NAATI exam at the first go rather than becoming one of the unfortunate 90 odd percent who have failed to prepare themselves first.

Like many exams, the NAATI exam is designed to ensure that your working knowledge both of your own native language and your second language is good enough to cope with the demands of professional translating and interpreting.

The NAATI course work will certainly help to prepare you for the all important NAATI exam. Most successful would be professional translators and interpreters have not only mastered the complexities of a second language but have understood the particular demands of the profession they are aspiring to become part of.

As far as passing the NAATI exam goes, either for professional translating or interpreting, there are many NAATI exam samples to practice on and it is quite useful to take at least one or more NAATI practice tests. Your success in these practice tests and exams will give you an idea whether it is feasible to take the final NAATI exam itself. NAATI accreditation is not cheap, so it does not make sense financially to sit the exam without making sure you have a good chance of passing it.

NAATI Course fees

NAATI sets a variety of fees depending on whether you intend to become an accredited translator or interpreter and at what level you intend to aim at. There are introductory and more advanced levels, each of z=which have their own exams and fee structure.

In general, the higher the accreditation, the higher is the fee. For example, the fee for the Certified Conference Interpreter, Certified Specialist Interpreter and Certified Interpreter exams are currently 880 Australian dollars each, while the Certified Provisional Interpreter fee is 550 dollars. For translators, the exam fee for the Certified Advanced Translator level is 770 dollars, while the Certified Translator exam fee is 550 dollars.

NAATI does not actually run courses. These are provided by colleges and universities in selected cities. Courses are designed to lead to translation or interpreting exams set by NAATI. The course structure and fees for these courses can be determined by looking at the individual university or college websites. The fees tend to be similar but not necessarily exactly the same. Note that the course fees themselves are not necessarily the most expensive part of studying to be a translator or interpreter and often it is the accommodation and other expenses which determine just how much it costs to become a professional certified translator or interpreter. That means that the NAATI course fees in Perth, the NAATI course fees in Adelaide and the NAATI course fees in Melbourne all seem to be similar, the expense of staying in these cities can be quite different.

What is a Certified Healthcare Interpreter and Why Is It Required For Hospitals?

Hospital interpreters have increased in numbers over the years due to more and more people ending up in countries who are not completely fluent in the host country’s language. The main aim of a healthcare interpreter is to provide an interpretation service in his or her pair of languages to those who need to access medical services but their competence in English, for example, is not good enough to understand in order to be able to competently provide the medical services that are required.

The medical professionals that a patient may need to communicate with effectively include:

  • doctors,
  • nurses,
  • other hospital staff.

Who provides a healthcare interpreter is decided by the medical facility that needs them. Increasingly local and federal governments are providing funding for a healthcare interpreter to be made available as required. They don’t always have to be physically present in the hospital, as sometimes video conferencing can be set up to provide the interpretation. Phone calls can be used as well.

Proficiency of a Healthcare Interpreter

It’s typically quite normal for a hospital interpreter to be fluent in two languages. In some cases, a healthcare interpreter may have studied healthcare terminology in both languages so they can deliver the best job possible for patients who have limited competency in English. It’s possible to become a certified healthcare interpreter by following a medical interpreter programme. This gives the healthcare interpreter the responsibility of being able to certify their healthcare interpretations. This is sometimes required when the medical document being interpreted and explained to the patient is an informed consent form. This needs to be accurate otherwise it may provide wrong information to the patient that could cause unnecessary stress.

When a healthcare interpreter attends a medical interpreter programme s/he will be taught that it’s important to be aware of the cultural differences that exist between people. They will also be taught how important it is to keep all information about the patients they interpret for confidential. Most hospitals publish their policies on patient confidentiality.

Qualities of a Healthcare Interpreter

A healthcare interpreter needs to be all of the following:

  • punctual,
  • communicative,
  • reliable,
  • sensitive to the multicultural environment.

The healthcare interpreter who focuses on maintaining good interpersonal relationships is likely to be successful and will excel as a healthcare interpreter. Apart from these skills he or she needs to have a high level of understanding and be able to understand complex information that is used in the medical setting. This also includes conforming to any written guidelines and hospital policies with regard to the healthcare setting.

Medical Interpreter Programme

Interpreters possess a high level of skills ranging and are often qualified up to degree level. There are some schools that offer medical interpreter certificate programmes. These programmes can be studied either at a college campus or online whatever is preferred.

What is a Certified Healthcare Interpreter Programme?

There are a few states in the U.S. which require a healthcare interpreter to be certified. In order to become certified, there are a number of certification programs available if a healthcare interpreter has completed no less than 40 hours of training to become a healthcare interpreter. To become certified it’s necessary to pass the oral component of the certification process. In the U.S., the National Board for Certification of Medical Interpreters offers a credential called Certified Medical Interpreter. To qualify for this, each healthcare interpreter needs to have successfully undertaken and completed a medical interpreter program, have passed an examination prove proficiency in no less than two languages.

Gain Experience to Enhance your Career as a Healthcare Interpreter

It might be difficult to get your first job as a healthcare interpreter unless you have accumulated some useful experience in the field. If you are determined to make a career of being a healthcare interpreter you can build up your profile by volunteering your services through organizations that regularly communicate with people who have limited proficiency in English. This includes organizations like the Red Cross which depends on volunteers in order to provide its interpreting services. Once you have built up your experience you will be ready to take the examination that qualifies you to be a certified medical interpreter.

Conclusion

Overall, a healthcare interpreter is vital for the normal running of a hospital, but it’s important that a healthcare interpreter program has been completed so that the healthcare interpreter has the knowledge to become fully certified.

Is it Worthwhile Learning Vietnamese?

Choosing a foreign language and then trying to learn a foreign language at the best of times can sometimes be a challenge but on occasions it’s worth putting yourself out and setting a day or a week or so to try to learn a foreign language, especially if you have been offered a job in a country that doesn’t speak your language as well as you do.

If your first language is English and you have been offered a job in Vietnam, for example, which involves working for an English speaking company, it’s still worth learning Vietnamese as it gives you more of a window onto Vietnam, which allows you to better integrate with Vietnamese people which may be good for your job. Many people go to Vietnam to teach English but this isn’t an excuse not to learn Vietnamese because it is itself a valuable tool for communication.

Is Vietnamese difficult to learn?

Learning Vietnamese can be a challenge because Vietnamese has six tones which make it hard for English speakers. This means even if the smallest mistake is made when speaking, the speaker won’t be understood. These sorts of hurdles have to be solved otherwise there are lost opportunities when overseas businesses invest in Vietnam’s business sector. The Vietnamese have to be more patient when listening to those who are struggling to learn the Vietnamese language while the new learner has to work harder at becoming more competent in Vietnamese. It’s certainly not an easy challenge but the rewards will come from the Vietnamese people who really appreciate people who try to learn their less than widespread language.

Inability to speak your host country’s language is your loss

Many English teachers In Vietnam spend most of their day speaking English because that’s what their role is. Even managers of English owned businesses in Vietnam address their staff in English. In some situations workers and temporary residents in Vietnam don’t necessarily need to speak or learn Vietnamese at all. As long as they don’t stray too far from the environment they feel comfortable in especially in relation to language. The question you have to ask yourself is it worth going to live and work in a country where you aren’t prepared to immerse yourself in the culture? You lose so much by not learning your host’s country language as language is the basis of culture and enables the speaker to learn more about the life of the people who speak it.

The Vietnamese involvement in you learning their language

The Vietnamese people often don’t even recognise when non-native Vietnamese are trying to speak their language because of the difficulty non native speakers have in pronouncing the language. They give little time to those who are trying to speak the language but aren’t getting it quite right. They have even been known to mock foreigners who try to speak Vietnamese but don’t get it quite right first time. Sometimes this means many people stick to English rather than trying to speak Vietnamese. Mispronunciation in Vietnamese simply isn’t acceptable and many people just give up learning the language. But being persistent will eventually reap rewards. It’s just a case of learning words and phrases that are most useful in the environment that the learner is likely to spend most of his or her time while in Vietnam. Spending more time practicing Vietnamese with Vietnamese people after attending classes will accelerate the learning of the language and not the other way round. Classes in Vietnamese are only one route to competency in the language but they don’t necessarily give the learners the confidence to speak the language with ease.

There is no easy way to learn any language

For many, the Vietnamese language is actually quite easy to read, but the pronunciation is the stumbling block, stifling the language learner’s journey to competency. It’s not surprising because when finding out how many languages are spoken in Vietnam the answer is there are many local languages that have brought about the evolution of the Vietnamese language, resulting in a common language that’s widely spoken across the country which isn’t necessarily easy to learn.

There are teaching methods used to help the learner pronounce Vietnamese and if the stages are followed the route to competency will be shorter. With so many people from overseas wanting to move to Vietnam permanently it’s a crucial time for language schools in Vietnam to recruit these eager learners and devise a course that focuses on solving some of the difficulties they have with pronunciation and other aspects of Vietnamese so they can genuinely become a part of this ever popular destination.

Conclusion

When answering the question “is Vietnamese difficult to learn?” research has indicated that Vietnamese is a difficult language to learn and it’s not so much the vocabulary that creates the obstacle but the pronunciation and the wide variety of accents encountered in the country. Some people recommend learning the Hanoian accent because it is the most widespread across the country and at least the learner will be more likely to be understood.
The worst thing to do when living and working in Vietnam is to ditch learning the language altogether and just speak ones native language which would most likely only extend to a small group. The world is a multilingual and multicultural place and there is no room for people to ignore languages just because they are hard to learn. Once a learner becomes more fluent he or she will reap the benefits of being able to access a multicultural environment which is more comfortable and makes the wider community more accepting.