AzTC Scientific Board Holds Next Meeting

Chaired by the Director of the Translation Centre under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Azerbaijan Republic (AzTC), Afag Masud, the Scientific Board held its regular meeting on 7 May 2015. The meeting was attended by members of the Board, consisting of Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Hungary Vilayat Guliyev, Rector of the Azerbaijan University of Languages Samad Seyidov, Rector of Khazar University Hamlet Isakhanli, Rector of the Azerbaijan Tourism University Jafar Jafarov, Deputy-Director of the Manuscripts Institute Pasha Alioglu, Head of the High Education Department of the State Commission on the Students Admission Natiq Aliyev, Professor Vilayat Hajiyev and others.

The Board held a discussion on the topic "Improving the teaching of translation at higher educational institutions across the country", covering the problems facing in the sphere of translation, further education of talented students of the translation faculties abroad, re-organization of the teaching of translation in accordance with international standards, establishment of educational institutions for synchronous translation teaching and teaching a second foreign language, involvement of appropriate academic staff in the qualification raising trainings abroad, the necessity of written and oral teaching of branches of a science, such as the Azerbaijani language and literature, and the importance of licensing translators by a relevant body.

Afag Masud,  Director of the AzTC expressed her view-points on the topic. " According to the Regulation of the Centre, it is an executive body which controls over the development and regulation of the language and translation, oversees the standard of translation in the republic and improves its quality. However, the main duty of the Centre is managing the translation work from the education level and bringing up professional translators. Presently AzTC is working on designing the database of active translators - registry in the country and abroad.  However, the scenery is not heart-warming. Hundreds of translators passed the proper testing, but to say openly, very few number of translators were included in the list. To my great regret, I should say that among the listed translators there are teachers who work at higher education institutions and teach the bases of translation. The outcomes of revisions of websites of state bodies, their correspondence on international level, say the least, are not welcoming. There are numerous grammar, orthographic mistakes, language and style errors in Azerbaijani texts and translated ones. The texts in general are designed incorrectly in native language, the language norms are not observed, expression and content errors impede to understand the essence of the texts. These errors are clearly seen in translation works. While analysing the roots and reasons of the existing problem, it was discovered that they had started from education level and because professional training norms and requirements hadn't been built in language and translation faculties.  Talented and skilled students in the field of translation leave their education incomplete and after 2nd or 3rd years of education move abroad in search of perfect education. And in most cases they don't come back to the country.

It affects the language and translation industry, and it is a dangerous tendency that creates obstacles for strengthening this field of activity. In order to find out reasons for the flow of translators/interpreters from the country, AzTC made analyses of the process of education system in translation faculties at higher education institutions and found out gaps. Some students are indifferent to the profession of a translator and they only study to have a diploma. In spite of the fact that translation practice starts from the first year of education and lasts until the last year, according to international standards students with translation profession receive diploma in magister level. In Azerbaijan, translation is replaced by teaching a language. Translation is not only the knowledge of a language; it is such a field of activity, which demands specific knowledge, terminological database, skill on using language and expressions. It is a very sensitive profession", said A. Masud. "Another trouble is the professors and teachers' staff level which is too low. This problem should find its solution. Teachers should pass testing, should be sent for postgraduate courses. In the teaching of translation, there is no synchronic stage in translation profession; and inactivity of this field of translation is the next miserable scenery in this sphere of education. Today our country is the space for holding international conferences, symposiums and sport competitions, and we are in need of mobile, skilled, professional synchronic translators. The variety of taught languages is also on the agenda. The Swedish language is of great importance today. Another gap is that the students of the translation faculty are not perfect in Azerbaijani grammar and literature.  If a translator doesn't know well his/her mother tongue, it casts a shadow on his/her professionalism. Therefore, very serious reforms should be made in this aspect; perfect trainings on Azerbaijani language and literature should be provided at higher education institutions. One more trouble: absence of manuals, fundamental literature is among the insufficiencies found in the teaching of translation. Such kind of books can rarely be found in the list of books presented to the Centre according to the conducted inquiry", added A. Masud.

Members of the Board underlined the reasons preventing the improving the teaching of translation and gave their proposals. Urgent reforms are needed in the system of education as a whole. The improving the teaching of translation as a profession is possible only through full reorganization of teaching process. Bringing up professional translators starts with good practice. Today's practice didn't prove its value. Students of the translation faculty should have magister degree and only then should be provided with a certificate or licence to conduct translation activities. In education system of Azerbaijan the translation skills are formed during the bachelor degree. Reforms are needed in the system of magister degree, because presently in magister level we are dealing with generalization of the profession, but not with its extension. The notion of specialization should be changed. Admission to higher education institutions and specialization are different processes, as in America, for example. Sometimes students choose profession in the third year of education. Teaching supplies, curriculum should be worked on, renewed. In most countries to get the magister degree takes a year, but the Azerbaijan universities are not able to fulfil their pledge with teaching program within two years. Because within these years we don't teach students profession, the universities simply implement standards.  Synchronic translation is completely different field of education. Equipment could be purchased, circumstances could be created, but for synchronic translation the translator should be trained. As for  the synchronic translation, it is such a field of training that requires special investment.   

One more problem is related to teaching supplies. It is inevitable to have appropriate literature on translation and on the profession of a translator; selection of manuals, fundamental works used in international education system, their translation into Azerbaijani, designing original textbooks for training the profession of translator are the demand of the time. 

Translating demands a special talent. A person can have perfect French, but it doesn't mean that he/she can nicely translate Hugo; a person can have perfect English, but it doesn't mean that he/she can nicely translate Shakespeare. A translator should have a feeling of word understanding; she/he should have literary talent. Otherwise, it is impossible to become a good translator.

Another problem of translating industry is shortage in teachers. Most of the teaching staff are not professional translators. They graduate from the translating faculty but never practise as translators. There is such a conundrum: the teacher is not a professional translator, but teaches translation.

It is possible to establish groups of talents and translators through certain translation contests or testing.