A Hermeneutic Article
As a new comer into Fethiye town, trying to reassert, yet again, my professional reputation has so far been jolly diversified with surprises, pitfalls and disappointment at times.
I suspect and have decided that our standing as interpreters within the community needs to be upgraded, those who require interpreting/translating services needs to be educated as to The Role of Interpreter/Translator”, not?
As far as I am concerned, understanding exactly what an I/T does is a sine qua non for better service and indeed cultural exchange in the case of Fethiye town. I say, contrary to what some believe, interpreting requires much effort and cannot be done by any bilingual.
I/T is an “interlingual” process involving the relay of messages from one language to another. On the surface, the difference between interpreting and translation is that: the interpreter translates orally, a translator interprets written text.
However, the differences in the education, training, skills, and talents utilized in each assignment are miles apart. A Translator must have the key skills of; the ability to understand the source language, to express clearly in writing what is said in the target language and work only into mother tongue, if at all possible .
Whereas, in order to express what is said clearly and concisely in both languages an Interpreter needs to be able to translate in both directions there and then, must be profound and have close familiarity as well as an extensive vocabulary of both languages.
Professionals know very well that that the ordinary person does not understand the difference between translating and interpreting, and often misuses the terms.
Translation/Interpreting scene in Fethiye, not surprisingly, is a micro reflection of what goes on in larger cities in Turkey and indeed, many parts of the world.
Much structured and monitored in Australia, as well as few other Western countries, unfortunately the importance of Interpreting/Translating is not fully recognized in Turkey, much less in Fethiye.
Categorizing the type of work practiced in Fethiye into interpreting informally in everyday life, performed by bi-lingual outsiders or ad hoc interpreters and to interpreting for various state offices, agencies, lawyers and courts involving practitioners with some training in medical, legal, or social services is I feel apropos.
However, interpreting/translating in Fethiye seems to be following the typical pattern of a profession in its infant stage. Characteristics of this stage are lack of standards and ethics for practice, organizational disability among practitioners, which is largely due to freelancing and most importantly, a lack of recognition of the profession among clients and the public at large. Lack of recognition is due to the relatively new influx of foreigners who migrate to Turkey or are part time residents.
Thus, interpreting in Fethiye town is distinguished from other types of interpreting in that the services are purchased by the residents of the community, not international delegates, businessman etc. It seems only normal that the Interpreters are often seen as “Advocates” or “Fixers” who cross the border of traditional neutral role of the interpreter.
Meanwhile, it is very likely that the public simply does not care about the quality of the services. Hence, misunderstanding and amateurs permeate the market. When the clients ar in need of interpreting, they simply call upon anyone who is around and those demanding the lowest fees get the assignment, which incidentally intensifies the competition among interpreters.
A corollary to this is often a vicious circle of unprofessional behavior, which further lowers the stance of the occupation.
In such settings, most of the time interpreting is not seen as a separate occupation worth paying! Therefore it is often performed by employees or relatives or friends as an adjunct to their normal duties and relationships .These ad hoc interpreters do not receive any training at all. As a result, they feel no sense of commitment to the profession and surely, there is almost no understanding of the linguistic issues and dilemmas involved.
Unfortunately Practitioners, who may have entered the profession as outsiders themselves, cannot keep outsiders and market sharks from entering practice. However, clients can and should. Once a consensus and commitment has been established between the Translator and the clients, clients will be able to choose between a professional or an outsider who does other work along the side and easily veers to other business alternatives available such as tax preparation or real estate sales or even pest control, which give them the flexibility to take occasional interpreting assignments that they can channel through to the side business. Because they do not specialize in interpreting, these practitioners do not feel the need to perfect their skills.
Clients on the other hand have no way of determining which interpreters are competent. A Degree or “Notary Certified” overseas document showing that the individual speaks the language is sufficient. Clients think that it is easy to evaluate the quality of the interpreting services they are receiving, although certification or accreditation alone does not guarantee professionalism, and they have no clue on which to base their understanding of interpreting. As such, it seems a distant possibility that role of the interpreter will evoke any sense of awe among clients for many years to come. Of course in time, in the tradition of traduttore traditore such amateur practices will span the gamut from currently prevailing annoyance to downright disputes.
Thus having said my bit about T/I scene once and for all ( compelled to do so mind you!), on another subject sociologically related to Cultural Exchange, a somehow late study has come to my attention the other day. The study is on guess what? It is about LOVE RATS in Turkey! I must admit I have always been mystified about the working mechanism of relationships between foreign woman and Turkish “workers” of resort towns.
At last, a more than scientific study has been carried out by Alper Aslan, a doctoral student in Social Sciences Institute of 9 Eylul University. He concluded that the male personnel, especially the bartenders and animators, working at resort towns and related facilities form relationships with foreign woman much easier than, for example, your ordinary, educated Turk! In his study titled “Turist-Çalışan Cinsel İlişkilerinin Eleştirel Gerçeklikle İncelenmesi / A Critical Realistic Study on Sexual Relationships Between Tourists and Workers “ he states that he worked as bar boy and kitchen hand in two resorts in Marmaris for two seasons and studied “mutually accepted” relationships.
He concluded without generalizing that due to the happy spirits and friendly atmosphere, tourism personnel / tourist intimacy is seen as “Part of the Holiday”, provided it stays within limits. Of course, he suggested, animators have better chance of a sexual relationship with foreign woman.
I wouldn’t be surprised if sometime in the future, developments permit, a smart entrepreneur will organize Love Tours to Turkey. Indeed, is it not an alternative tourism style potential?
On we move to a more important news for immigrants; Those of you who live or is planning to live in Çalış area, look no further, a new Notary Public (7th in Fethiye Town) has began serving clients in Çalış near the Court House.
And finally, although it is way out of my sphere of experience, I was informed that a new Bar, taking its name from Greek Mythology ( otherwise known as Uçan At in Turkish language, Tulpar in Turkish Nomad Mythology, Burak in Islamic Mythology) is going to be opened in Paspatur and they are indeed ambitious. They plan to have live music everyday of the week and are going to organize “events” which will bring famed Jazz, Rock, Blues , Classic etc. musicians to the appreciation of music lovers.
Post script: “May be I am not ready…when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Buddha.