A translator was given a professional profile to translate but was instructed to slant some of the sentences to make the person sound unethical and untrustworthy.
An interpreter was working a meeting in which a person made disparaging asides to his partner about the other people in the discussion. The interpreter stopped and explained that she would translate every word spoken in the room.
A team of translators was given a video game to translate. They reviewed both the images showing violence against women and the vocabulary used and decided they could not, in good conscience, work on the project.
In many fields, the only ethics are those shared by any honest business person. The professional linguist, however, additionally accepts as both a professional and ethical duty the following:
- To faithfully move the meaning of the source document to the target language
- Add nothing; subtract nothing (a principle known as NANS)
- Do not alter the original meaning to fit the linguist's own beliefs
- To produce elegant final texts with appropriate semantics and grammar
- Use the target language's word order and grammar to mimic the effect of the source language
- To consider the final reader
- Replace source idioms with understandable target idioms
- Maintain the register of the source language through proper choice of synonyms, sentence length, and word order
- Produce a text that is appropriate for the reader's needs
- To maintain confidentiality and take no profit from information gained during the course of an assignment.
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Ethics in translation