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KATIGSUINIQ. A compilation and review of Environmental Contaminants Terminology in Inuktitut Jamal Shirley Nunavut Research Institute Presentation to the Northern Contaminants Program Results Workshop, Sept. 27, 2005. Presentation Overview. Rationale Objectives Project Activities Findings

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A compilation and review of Environmental Contaminants Terminology in Inuktitut

Jamal Shirley

Nunavut Research Institute

Presentation to the Northern Contaminants Program Results Workshop, Sept. 27, 2005

presentation overview
Presentation Overview
  • Rationale
  • Objectives
  • Project Activities
  • Findings
  • Lessons Learned and Next Steps
why we undertook the project
Why we undertook the project
  • Interpreter/translators (ITs) are vital communication enables in Inuit regions
    • ITs have provided hundreds of pages of translation, hours of interpretation to NCP
    • Inuktitut is the mother tongue & princpile language used at home for for 70% of Nunavut residents
    • 14% of Nunavut’s residents do not speak either or Canada’s two official languages (2001 Census, Stats Can)
  • Roles played by ITs in the NCP are poorly understood
    • ITs omitted from CACAR II list of key communicators
    • No review of language and translation
  • Contaminants terms and concepts are extremely difficult to translate
    • Lack of equivalencies in Inuktitut
    • Inconsistencies and Error in existing translations
  • Need to examine how terms and concepts are translated, what makes translation so difficult, how it can be improved
project objectives
Project Objectives
  • Improve our basic understanding of how contaminants information is interpreted/translated to Inuktitut,
  • Compile and review Inuktitut terminology related to environmental contaminants to identify sources of translation error
  • Identify potential measures to improve the accuracy and precision of translation and interpretation efforts in the context of NCP
project activities
Project Activities
  • Inuktitut terminology was compiled from various sources (150 terms identified)
  • Language specialists reviewed accuracy and precision of three contaminants glossaries
    • Terms and definitions were back translated to English to identify mistakes
    • A reference glossary with corrected terms and definitions was developed
  • Discussions with ITs, NAC members, researchers identified options for improving the translation process

How does translation

Three distinct methods to interpret/tyranslate contaminants information to Inuktitut:

  • Expand/alter the meaning of existing Inuktitut words
    • Sururnaqtuq (standard term used for chemical contaminants)
  • Creation of new Inuktitut words to describe some feature of items or concepts
    • “qupiruijaut” (things meant to kill bugs)
    • Inuktitut relies extensively on word building
  • English words are borrowed and their pronunciation (“PISIPI”) - (requires good definitions)

Potential Sources of error in translation and Interpretation

Understanding of relevant technical vocabulary

Use of incorrect Inuktitut words

Misunderstanding of English word meanings

Linguistic factors (rules for way words and sentences are constructed)

Word for word translations impossible

Literal interpretations (half life..partly human) cause confusion

ITs personal perceptions

Radionuclides…. “burning things that move around”

Cadmium… “bad metal that is heavy”

Computer glitches

Syllabic font conversion creates typos

Definitions/explanations translate more accurately and consistently than terms (less need for “guess-work”)

Interpretation is not an exact science – choosing and crafting words requires good judgment, subjectivity on part of ITs

lessons learned and advice
Lessons Learned and Advice
  • Key translations should be reviewed for quality
    • Back-translate
  • Use simple, straightforward English with complete sentences
  • avoid using puns, idiomatic expressions (“throw the baby out with the bathwater” )
  • Minimize use of metaphors, and acronyms
  • provide explanatory definitions for technical terms
  • Avoid converting syllabic fonts of your translated document
  • Request an interpreter who is locally respected, and familiar with relevant technical terminology
  • Meet with Interpreters in advance to review the presentation, answer questions, and to clarify the format for interpretation (simultaneous, or intermittent)
    • Provide written text, copies of presentation slides
    • Review key messages, explain technical terms
  • Speak slowly, clearly, and directly in the microphone (pause every couple of sentences to let the interpreter catch up)
  • Watch for signals from the Interpreter
  • Budget for two interpreters for presentations longer than half an hour
    • simultaneous interpreters cannot interpret for more than 30min at a time accurately, and its unfair to expect them to do so
  • Use ITs with recognized qualifications (e.g. certified by the Nunavut Interpreter-translator society)
  • Use an IT who speaks the local dialect
moving forward
Moving forward…
  • Need to understand the process of interpretation (how are meanings relayed across languages?) sources of error, and how they can be improved
  • Professional development for Its
    • Build IT proficiency in technical vocabulary
  • A forum for collective discussion among Inuktitut experts and scientists leading to the development of standardized Inuktitut contaminants terminology (with appropriate provision for dialect differences)