Saturday, 1 September 2012

Dusting off the Code of Conduct

When I became a Chartered Linguist five years ago I attended a gruelling interview at which, among other searching questions, I was presented with an imaginary* ethical dilemma for a translator and then asked to tell the interviewers what I would do in the circumstances of the scenario I was given.

CLcert2010_2011
I cannot remember the scenario now, and probably wouldn’t divulge it or my answer, even if I could remember. I was given five minutes to think about the dilemma and how I would deal with it. To prepare for the interview I had studied the Chartered Institute of Linguist’s code of conduct. I read it and re-read it, and dissected every clause in my mind. I practiced scenarios and dreamed up ever more unlikely situations in anticipation.
In my own working life I have been presented with few real ethical dilemmas. The majority of the work that comes my way was and continues to be bog standard commercial stuff, raising no problems with my conscience. And my clients are all bona fide businesses, trading correctly.

But dilemmas do happen, and that’s why we have a code of conduct to help us solve them.

Read this example of the kind of thing that we might come across as translators:
Ethical dilemmas from the Translation Times
Or this more recent posting from the same source.

Of course if you are an interpreter, especially working in the public sector or community, you will come across dilemmas on a daily basis: the defendant who asks for legal advice, the client who insists on giving you a gift.
At eCPD webinars we ran a webinar with Sue Leschen, a solicitor and highly qualified public service interpreter (known as community interpreter in the US), on ethical dilemmas faced by public service interpreters. It is still available on demand at this link.

If you belong to a professional association you will have signed up to its code of conduct. So here’s my CPD advice tip for today: Dust off your copy and read it through again. Think about every clause and verify that you really do adhere to the code you signed up to.

And if you don’t yet belong to a professional association, I recommend doing so as soon as you can. See my earlier post on this topic.

*Actually it was probably not so imaginary. I’m sure it had happened to someone, somewhere. And for the interest of accuracy, I am no longer a chartered linguist since I no longer translate a sufficient number of words to satisfy the scrutinising committee, but have since become a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists.