Should You Get a Chinese Interpreter Certification,
Or a Chinese Translator Certification?
Chinese is currently the most spoken language in the world in terms of native speakers. In the United States alone, it is the third most spoken language after Spanish – demonstrating just how dominant it is in global society today. The need for individuals with a Chinese interpreter certification (not to be confused with a Chinese translator certification) is growing as the Chinese speaking population continues to increase in the U.S. – allowing individuals who may not speak a proficient level of English to still receive the services they are entitled to.
Therefore, getting a Chinese interpreter certification could be beneficial in terms of job availability; however, one must remember that the Chinese language can take many forms, and a person holding a Chinese interpreter certification may not necessarily be able to speak on behalf of all Chinese speakers. The easiest differences to point out are those between Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese. As a Chinese interpreter, one needs to be aware of the specific Chinese he or she speaks, to be sure that an accurate dialogue can be conveyed.
A Chinese Interpreter Certification or a Chinese Translator Certification?
Interpreters and translators do in theory have similar jobs; however, in practice they are much different and should not be confused with one another. A person holding a Chinese interpreter certification is an individual who has been certified through testing of some sort, to be adept at providing oral translation of dialogue between multiple parties.
On the other hand, a person with a Chinese translator certification would be in reference to an individual who has passed the American Translators Association (ATA) certification test, who conveys written text between multiple languages. Note that not all translators are certified, and they don’t have to be in order to provide services.
So what’s the main difference? An individual with a Chinese interpreter certification is certified to provide spoken translation, and an individual with a Chinese translator certification is certified to provide written translation.
If you are looking to provide spoken services for Chinese speaking individuals, you are looking to get a Chinese interpreter certification, but as mentioned earlier there are large differences between Mandarin and Cantonese (among other Chinese dialects) that a Chinese interpreter must be aware of.
Mandarin Chinese versus Cantonese Chinese
Mandarin and Cantonese are both Chinese languages belonging to the Sinitic family. Mandarin Chinese is spoken generally in Northern China and some provinces in the South west. It is widely spoken in Beijing, the capital of China. Mandarin consists of four tones and a neutral tone. Much of mainland Mandarin speakers use simplified Chinese characters; however, there are Mandarin speakers outside of mainland China who continue to use the traditional Chinese characters.
Cantonese is generally spoken in southern China, such as in Hong Kong. Unlike Mandarin, it has 9 tones that can be broken into open and checked syllables. Cantonese has generally kept the traditional characters for written usage; however, it also has characters that are entirely different from Mandarin such as those included in the Hong Kong Supplementary Character Set.
Mandarin is the most widespread form of Chinese, being the language most often used in business and government; however, it is considered difficult to learn in terms of its grammatical structure.
Should I Get a Mandarin or Cantonese Interpreter Certification?
The choice is individual, and depends on which language you are more comfortable speaking, though it is generally advised to pursue an interpreting career with your native language. Regardless on which Chinese interpreter certification you choose to pursue, Interpreter Training Programs has qualified instructors for both Mandarin and Cantonese. Our instructors are specialized in a variety of fields within the Medical, Legal and Community & Business industries, and they also have experience as professional interpreters, allowing them to teach using real world examples and practice.
Not sure which program is the best fit for you? Contact our support team today, or check out our interpreter training program pages to get more information.
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