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The Translators Association of China is planning to introduce a professional qualification system for translators and interpreters, TAC officials revealed yesterday at the World Congress of the Federation Internationale des Traducteurs in Shanghai yesterday.

The qualification will have three levels - assistant translators, translators and senior translators - so that employers can have a clear idea about the candidate's ability and make payments accordingly.

"We wish to have the country's translation industry properly supervised and therefore ensure it grows more healthily with the new system," said Guo Xiaoyong, deputy president of the TAC.

Candidates who wish to acquire the assistant-level or intermediate translator qualification will need to sit a national exam of translation and interpretation ability.

Senior qualification applicants will see their experience and existing translation work count together with a written exam.

The association has held exams for the assistant and intermediate level of translators since 2003. About 11,000 out of 61,000 applicants had passed the exam.

But it won't be until assessment of the first batch of senior level translators starts before the end of this year that the whole qualification system will be complete, TAC officials said.

For translation service institutes and companies, the association is also working to set up a threshold to streamline management and tighten quality control.

At the moment, no requirements are set for people to pick up a translation job, which gives rise to wide service quality gaps, according to Huang Youyi, the TAC secretary-general, who was re-elected as FIT vice president at the congress.

"People tend to believe that those who understand a foreign language can take up translation job," Huang said.

"But in fact, foreign language literacy is only part of the criteria of a translator."

He added that a good translator needed to be equipped with deep understanding of cultural diversity and cross-cultural communication ability. "Otherwise, unqualified translators won't be able to interpret a problem clearly. On the contrary, they turn out to leave listeners with a bunch of questions."

(Shanghai Daily August 6,2008)

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