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Inttranews Special Report - Cihat Salman

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Uniquely positioned between East and West, Turkey has always played a strategic role. Now that the EC has accepted to start negotiations for the country to join the European Union, the Turkish interpreting and translation market is of even greater interest. Inttranews set out to find out more, by interviewing Cihat Salman, Inttranet Regional Administrator for Turkey and Managing Director of Mirora Translations and Consultancy Ltd. in Istanbul

Inttranews : Can you briefly describe your own personal career?
After working as a banker for many years most of which I spent abroad, I and Mete Özel, my colleague from Istanbul University, decided to realize our dream of setting up our own company, Ozel Egitim Danismanl?k Ltd., or Sti as it's known in the local market and Mirora (our registered brand name) in the international market. I had worked as a translator on and off until our company was established, but today administrative work prevents me from doing the job (translation) I've always enjoyed.

Inttranews : When did your company start up operations?
We started in 1997

Inttranews : What are the main difficulties you have to face, and how do you overcome them?
The main difficulty in Turkish translations is to find the right freelancers since we do not have a fully active translators association in Turkey which would test and rate the quality and ability of translators. In addition to our 16 in-house staff, we have a sound base of freelancers now, but it took us many years to build it and we had to overcome many difficulties to achieve this portfolio of qualified translators.

Inttranews : What percentage of your business is with EC countries?
We started our international marketing activities in the second half of 2003, and the volume with EC countries has already reached 20% of our business, and it's still rising.

Inttranews : Have you noted any change in recent years in that percentage?
We certainly have. Turkey's full dedication to join the union, and the developments over the last year seem to have accelerated the demand for Turkish translations in Europe. We believe that when Turkish is accepted as an official European language this demand will be even higher.

Inttranews : What, in your opinion, will be the main changes in the interpreting and translation market in Turkey if the country joins the EC?
As a member of EU, Turkey will be more attractive for European and international investors with its relatively cheaper and well-educated labour force, good economic and technological know-how, and its good relations in the Middle and Near East. This should definitely increase the need for qualified Turkish translators as increasing social, cultural, and trade relations between Turkey and EU will create a demanding market.

Inttranews : What are the main languages in which you work?
Almost all the languages. We have the capacity of handling large multilingual projects, and we already handle such projects for many leading brands in the local market for their international marketing and sales activities.

Inttranews : In other countries in Europe, interpreting and translation is mainly a woman's job. Is this the case in Turkey as well?
Not at all. Although the nature of the job creates an opportunity for those who prefer to work from home, and this definition seems to suit women better than it suits men, it's not the case in Turkey.

Inttranews : Were there any restrictions imposed in the past on translation into Kurdish or other minority languages, and if so, has the situation now changed?
In fact, as everyone knows Turkish is the official language of Turkey and there are many dialects and local languages including Kurdish, and until the early 80's when there was no Kurdish problem Kurdish had been spoken freely with no legal restrictions or bans. Then the Kurdish problem began to appear and not only translation but even speaking Kurdish in public was banned. Things have changed now and the country's dedication to join the EU certainly had a very positive impact on its efforts for a free and fully democratic society. Kurdish is now spoken freely with no restrictions whatsoever. As an interesting point, many other local and minority languages spoken in Turkey have always enjoyed "the freedom of expression".

Inttranews : Certification of interpreters and translators (ISO, legal, medical etc.) is increasing in importance in Europe. Is this the case in Turkey?
Not yet, but it certainly will be an important issue in Turkey as well in the years to come.

Inttranews : As someone who has experience of other countries, what makes the language market in Turkey so unique?
Actually, Turkish is quite extraordinary to the extent that it belongs to the same language family as Japanese; it's enriched with many localized Persian and Arabic words, and it uses the same alphabet with languages of Latin and German origin but with some different characters. This is why the language market in Turkey is unique and this is why it's difficult to find the right translation partner as end-users of Turkish texts need support in DTP as well which is not a service properly provided by many translation agencies.

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?
As the members of translation industry, we must improve our relations with the universities to encourage them to change their curriculum in a way to meet the needs of the language market, and we must find a way to test and rate the translators.

Inttranews : If there was one thing you could change in your market, what would it be?
Quality expectation of the end user. We Turks are a bit weird! When we buy a new product we don't read its instruction manual. We simply start using it right away and usually do something wrong. And only then do we refer to the manual to figure out why some strange smoke is coming out of it, but find nothing because the translator did not take it seriously and probably thought "no one will read the manual anyway!"

Inttranews : Is there any way in which the international translation community can be of use to you?
Our industry is technology-dependent, and we use lots of software products such as Trados, Adobe products, Project Management tools, and word count software the prices of which are unfortunately too high for even the agencies. The international translation community should stand together to have a better negotiation ground and get better prices for said software products


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