Inttranews Special Report - Ukraine
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When a country faces a revolution in which linguistic
divisions are a crucial factor, interpreters and
translators play a vital role. This was recently
illustrated in Ukraine, when more than 12,000 foreign
journalists and observers arrived for the December
26 elections, creating high demand for linguists.
To find out more about the problems they face and
how they solve them, Inttranews has interviewed
the Ukrainian Translators' Association ( http://www.uta.org.ua/uta/),
and a freelance translator and interpreter, Irina
Lychak ( www.ukrainian-translations.org).
did you start operations?
Ukrainian Translators Association (UTA):
The Ukrainian Translators Association
(UTA) was founded in March 1999 in response to an
overwhelming demand in the quality of translation
and interpreting services.
Irina Lychak (I.L.): In 1991 as
an in-house translator and switched to full-time
freelancing in 2000.
Inttranews: What are the main
difficulties you have to face, and how do you try
to overcome them?
UTA: In the middle 1990s, both
translators and customers faced a number of difficulties:
low-quality translation/interpreting services, dumping
by unqualified translators, lack of information
resources and technical support. To overcome these
difficulties, translators combined their efforts
and founded their professional organization, the
Ukrainian Translators Association. Since the very
beginning, UTA has clearly set out the strategies
to address these issues i.e. promotion of international
and domestic standards and uniform requirements
for translation/interpreting services and translators?
qualifications; development and implementation of
the voluntary certification system for translators
and translation companies; protection of translators?
rights and interests, training and other activities.
I.L.: The main difficulty I faced
was lack of information on establishing and working
as a freelance translator. Actually, I had to study
corresponding forums on www.proz.com
because it was not possible to find local sources
of information in Ukraine. Currently I am in the
search for efficient marketing possibilities and
techniques. It has been helpful to use Alex Eames's
Tranmail list of translation agencies, which I bought
some time ago and which helped me to market my services
to foreign translation agencies. However, the issue
of attracting local clients remains open to me.
Inttranews: Have you been contacted
in relation to the recent events in Ukraine, and
if so, by people from what countries?
UTA: No. UTA is a non-political
I.L.: I received one request from
my Ukrainian colleague who was looking for an interpreter
to assist a journalist from the U.S. during her
business trip to Donetsk.
Inttranews: What effects have
the recent events in Ukraine had on your work?
UTA: As a number of foreign journalists
and international observers arrive in Ukraine in
connection with the recent events, translators and
interpreters are in high demand. As a rule, foreign
customers are not familiar with the Ukrainian translation
market and find it more reliable to seek UTA's advice
and assistance in finding partners in Ukraine. We
are always pleased to assist everybody in cooperation
with our members and try to find the best solution
reasoning from the customer's needs.
I.L.: There was a sharp decline
in the volume of translation orders I received over
three weeks starting from October 22, the next
day after the second tour of the Elections. However,
when signs of stabilization had shown, the situation
with my workload improved.
Inttranews: In every country
around the world, governments play a major role
in the language industry. In what ways does the
government affect your work?
UTA: As the Ukrainian laws do not
provide for mandatory certification of translators
or translation companies or the system of sworn
translators, the translation market in Ukraine,
probably, is not as much affected by the government
as it may be affected in other countries. However,
the translation industry, as any other business
sector in Ukraine, is affected by the general government
policy towards economy, investment conditions, small
business, fiscal regime, international relations
I.L.: In no way. Probably, because
for the country with economy in transition there
are other sectors vital to its survival that require
immediate governmental attention, regulation, and
Inttranews: In what ways could
the future government improve your working conditions?
UTA: The translation industry,
as any other business sector in Ukraine, may be
affected by unstable economy. So, the government
policy towards stability in economy, small business
support and the active foreign policy will promote
the development of business in Ukraine and of the
translation industry as well.
I.L.: It can favour development
of domestic businesses (small and medium-size, especially).
This, in turn, will stimulate demand and development
of local market of translation and interpreting
services, which, in my opinion, is currently underdeveloped
Inttranews: Is certification
as a translator or interpreter useful in Ukraine?
UTA: UTA certification requirements
are stringent and imply a successfully passed exam
in translation/interpreting (for individual members)
or a certified quality system including ISO 9000
requirements (for collective members), strict observance
of UTA Code of Conduct and international and domestic
translation standards, strong experience, deep knowledge
of subject area, positive customers' references
etc. Only in this case, high quality of translation/interpreting
services may be guaranteed.
I.L.: No, not in Ukraine. I have
only one Ukrainian client, and it doesn't matter
for it, whether I am certified or not. However,
I believe that certification helps to stand out
among Ukrainian translators on the international
market and to enjoy more international client confidence.
Inttranews: What effect has European
enlargement had on your work?
UTA: Certainly, the European enlargement
has had an impact on the whole society and consequently
on translation business. As the market for translation
services continues to expand, the matter of quality,
translation standards and certification is of particular
I.L.: No any effect.
Inttranews: In what ways could
the international translation community help you?
UTA: We use every effort to cooperate
with foreign translators? organizations, study foreign
experience, translation standards and practice,
and share our experience. Undoubtedly, such cooperation
is of mutual benefit.
I.L.: Share its experience and
best practices. As far as I know, the Ukrainian
Translators Association already invites language
experts from abroad to conduct seminars on translation
Inttranews: If there was one
thing you could change in your market, what would
UTA: Unfortunately, not so many
Ukrainian translators/interpreters and translation
companies understand the importance of their certification
in order to promote the best translation standards.
However, UTA makes every effort to promote the best
translation standards and to protect the rights
and interests of translators and interpreters.
I.L.: Rates. Sometimes they are
Inttranews: Is there any other
subject about the language industry in your country
that you feel is of particular importance? If so,
what is it?
UTA: In the context of European
enlargement and globalization, more effective implementation
of international standards in rendering translation
services is of particular importance. In this connection,
the Ukrainian Translators Association actively supports
initiatives in this field and seeks support of the
international translation community.
I.L.: Raising respect to the profession.
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