By Jane M. Von Bergen, Inquirer Staff Writer
Like many other sectors, language services face unique challenges, said Jiri Stejskal, president of CETRA Language Solutions, an Elkins Park company that supplies translators, interpreters, and localization experts to a range of clients. That’s how most interpreters and translators get work.
One issue is machine translation. “It’s not quite there yet,” Stejskal said. He pulled out a screen grab of a Philadelphia government website that used the familiar journalism term “lead story” on its home page. Somehow in Spanish it morphed into a “story about metal,” featuring a photograph of former Mayor Juan F. Calle (John Street).
But a more fundamental and ongoing struggle is to educate employers about the difference between being simply bilingual and truly qualified.
Top interpreters need to hear what is said and speak it in another language simultaneously. That’s the gold standard used at the United Nations and international conferences, and high proficiency can merit a six-figure income.
That level of ability isn’t the same as language skills gained by growing up in a bilingual household. “Knowing how to cook doesn’t make you a chef,” Stejskal said.