The unfortunate incident in Africa where a tourist guide gave a fraudulent interpretation from English to the Kiswahili language of what a white tourist was saying in front of a live recording happened this year in one of the world’s best tourism locations in Tanzania a country in the East of Africa, ‘The Serengeti National Park’!
“You Tanzanians complain a lot about hunger…” is what the unidentified tour guide aid as translation for “Hi, my visit to Tanzania has been beautiful, gorgeous…”
Imagine how many more people whose messages are not only distorted but are may be completely changed to mean something not even related to the source’s message as reported by the BBC.
How fake interpretation harms
First of all with such stories in the media exposing fake interpreters, tourists or would be tourists lose confidence in the industry as a whole and therefore have to sense of security whatsoever. This especially when visiting tourist sites in countries where other languages are spoken and therefore wonder whether the translations and interpretations are real.
This therefore hurts the face of the tourism sectors in such countries where this is experienced as would be tourists opt for other destinations instead or stick to those where languages spoken are the same as the ones they understand.
This means low income for the countries affected which also indirectly affects the people involved; tour guides who may be laid off as a result of fewer tourists to guide, communities surrounding tourist sites lose out on the livelihood that they get from tourists buying merchandise like crafts from them.
The solution for fraudulent interpretation services
It is greatly advisable that a professional translator is hired for any kind of translation work; this could be translation, transcription, subtitling or interpreting.
Such experienced and learned fellows who will most likely give 100% are more likely to be found in translation companies. This is in no way to belittle work done by freelancers, however trust is easily built up when a translator is under a company. Besides, by the time one is hired by a company, then their worth and potential has been recognized.
This therefore calls for the tourism industry worldwide to up their game when it comes to the translation department and hire individuals from reputable translation companies. Another option can be using experienced tour guides who are well known in the tourism circles to carry out perfect interpretation.
Shouldn’t it be mandatory for tour guides everywhere to take a course or two to be more equipped when it comes to interpretation. Ye they may speak the language in question as their mother tongue but still need crush course so to say about translation and tourism.
Unfortunately most of the time especially in the developing countries, where by the loads of tourists flock too due to the untouched traditional historical sites and raw wild life, the tour guides used are usually not very good with languages understood by the tourists.
For example, they are usually not learned and therefore may not have a perfect command in languages like English, French, Portuguese and Spanish to mention a few. This leads to fakes being integrated into the tour guide business and thus causing loss of integrity to their home industries.
In other words professionalism is required and is very important and should be highly considered by the tourism sectors world over for excellence and a feeling of security by the tourists themselves.
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By Angela Kyolaba