Sight Translation and its Pros and Cons
Users of language service agencies are more and more in need of sight translation. Sight translation refers to the process of reading a document or piece of writing in the original language, and translating it out loud in the target language. It is an option for business or other professionals to receive or convey the meaning of certain writings on a short notice. It is mostly, though not exclusively, used in courtrooms, hospitals and conference rooms. Deposition transcripts, agreements and prescription forms are among the documents that are sight translated the most in these situations.
Sight translation is a quicker way of translating, especially when an interpreter is already on site for an assignment. It helps both the client and the professional tremendously, and is incredibly demanding for the interpreter, as it is a combination of both translation and interpretation. When done right, it can potentially be very helpful. But as it is not yet its own profession, not all translators and interpreters are capable of doing this, as both these professions value different aspects of languages.
In situations where sight translation could be valuable (courtrooms, hospitals), accuracy greatly outweighs speed. Since the accuracy of the language also comes from intonation, emotion and gestures, an interpreter who is stripped of these resources might feel a bit lost when it comes to sight translation. Furthermore, they might not be as capable of reading the language as quickly, especially for some of the character based Asian languages, since it uses a completely different writing system than most Western languages. By the same logic, a translator might not be as capable of speaking the language, as translation only deals with proper grammar and accuracy on paper instead of in conversation. A translator might have trouble with the pronunciation of the language.
The amalgamation of these two fields presents a challenge even for translation and interpretation professionals. Both professions require different skill sets, and only by truly mastering the original and target languages can a translator or interpreter combine his/her skills in both these fields well enough to become a good sight translator.
What is your experience in providing sight translation services? Write your comment below.