Essay: Three-tiered translation system
In order to provide as objective a translation service or practice as it deemed possible, the IMTFE implemented a translation process that utilized Japanese nationals as interpreters, Japanese Americans as monitors, and U.S. military personnel as language moderators who made the final determination on interpretation whenever a translation was disputed. Takeda (2009) referenced the tribunal’s explanation of the three-tiered translation system.
The official proceedings observed that while it was critical to obtain as accurate a translation from Japanese to English and from English to Japanese as possible, the enormous differences between both languages and cultures essentially rendered literal translation impossible. The proceedings observed that the best that could be hoped for was the approximation of language and intent and that these approximations could be arrived at via different paraphrasing creating the potential for disputed interpretations. Takeda used this example to consider the work of translators today recruited to participate in military exchanges in Afghanistan and Iraq particularly. The researcher observed that the U.S. government had a difficult time recruiting sufficient numbers of Arabic, Pashto, Dari and other Arabic language translators due to the intelligence requirement that translators qualify for and receive top-secret security clearance. He also described how one defense contractor working in Afghanistan also required interpreters to have a U.S. passport and to pass high-level U.S. government security checks. Takeda observed that these strategies “can be viewed as a system to regulate and control interpreters in order to assure their trustworthiness,” (Takeda, 2009, p. 198).
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