Authenticity is a quality that any product or service requires for relevance in today’s market, and with good cause. Consumers are constantly on the lookout for products saying one thing, but are actually another. The online world is filled with services and products inseparable from fakes, and so we look for ratings and reviews to steady our hand as we click on the ‘buy’ button.
The Economist recently considered how authenticity has become the preeminent quality that brands wish to present to their customers. Profitability, it seems, is ever less dependent upon the bells and whistles, and more upon whether we think those bells and whistles actually ding and sing. In the translating and interpreting industry, there has been a call for increased certification. ATA has stringent testing to be ‘ATA certified’ (for translators only) in the states. ITI, based in the UK, offers multiple layers of certification, or ‘membership grades’, ranging from ‘Student’ to ‘Fellow’ membership.
Speaking about communication in the workplace, Cheryl Sandberg claims that ‘Authenticity in communication’ involves asking a question: ‘How do you…make decisions when no one is saying the truth” (being polite to one another instead of saying the hard truth)? For her, authenticity is designing situations so that you take responsibility for more than your specific role. For many of us, we would recognize this as a quality of an effective leader.
For the language interpreter, though, authenticity deals with ‘authenticity in communication’ on the meta-level. If people are constantly speaking around the truth – using twists and turns in how they talk – to get their point across without being harshly direct, how does an interpreter go about not only communicating the ‘what is said’, but also the ‘what is meant’?
For Intran Solutions, we take this to mean that interpreting involves always staying true to the information in what’s said, but repackaging this message along with the intended politeness (or harshness!) into a single thing that the person you are speaking to hears. Sound tricky? Sure it is. That’s why it’s so important for those of us who need interpreters to trust the authenticity of their interpreter, so that the person they are speaking to can trust the authenticity of what they are hearing. Without authenticity, communication between languages is really no better than buying the cheapest pair of shoes you can find online and hoping that you get what you paid for.