Fra hjelper til profesjonsutøver - profesjonalisering av tolkeyrket i Norge
From assistant to professional – the professionalization of interpretation in Norway
The title “interpreter” is not a professional title in Norway; Norwegian legislation only applies to “sworn interpreters” authorized by the Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDi). The interpreter authorization scheme is one of the steps that have been taken to guarantee the quality of the interpreters and their services. Another step has been the creation of the National Register of Interpreters, which provides the public with access to qualified interpreters. However, the register is not flawless and may exclude well-qualified interpreters. The register has five qualification categories with different sets of requirements; the only problem is that the interpreter’s access to the different courses that enables the interpreter to enter the register is limited. This problem could be remedied easily by means of the official exams for the grant of the title ”sworn interpreter”, but regretfully the exams, as well as the necessary courses to advance from category to category in the register, are not available in all language combinations or on a frequent basis. The distinction between an “interpreter” and a “sworn interpreter” may not be the quality, as much as the professional title and having access to education. In this context, the importance of licensing or professionalization linked to the phenomenon of trust becomes evident. The foreign and native speaker have to communicate through an interpreter, they need to trust the interpreter in order to get their message through, but why anyone should do that without a guarantee that the interpreter is qualified is another question. Mainly non-professional interpreters perform interpretation in the public sector and several studies show that the interpreters lack linguistic and professional skills to do their job satisfactory. This problem should not be ignored, but rather properly addressed by establishing a professional graduate degree to ensure the quality of the interpreter and consolidate the status of the interpreter as a professional in the public sector in Norway. However, this is only one side of the problem, it is also necessary to promote and ensure the use of qualified labour in the public sector.
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