Language mediation is a generic term for the transfer of texts or speech from one language to another. The term covers all activities that relate to linguistic mediation, including translation and interpreting. In this article, however, language mediation refers primarily to mediation, i.e. the free transmission of expression in oral or written form.
When people of different first languages meet, it often takes someone who speaks both languages to mediate between the parties. Language mediators help to overcome language and cultural barriers by summarising information from the text or speech in their own words – either through classic summaries or paraphrasing. In doing so, the language mediators must be able to put themselves in the place of the participants in the conversation and strike the right “tone”.
Meaning of language mediation
Language mediation is used both in professional contexts, such as business negotiations, and in school and private contexts, for example when going abroad. Language mediation enables communication partners to access information relevant to them that would not be accessible or only partially accessible to them due to a lack of foreign language skills. At the same time, language mediators help to better understand cultural backgrounds.
Forms of language mediation
Since language mediation not only includes mediation, but is also a generic term for all forms of linguistic mediation, the multifaceted meaning of language mediation will be discussed here.
Mediation refers to the meaningful rendering of spoken or written text from a source language into a target language. It is used to convey the essence of a statement to an interlocutor in an understandable way.
Paraphrasing is the reproduction of a foreign idea in one’s own words. As an alternative to direct quotation, paraphrasing is therefore also called indirect quotation.
Translation is the written transfer of a text into another language. Computer-assisted tools are often used for this purpose.
Interpreting means the oral transmission of a spoken or written text, either during or immediately after the speech.
Differences: translation and mediation
In order to convey the essential statements of a text, independent summaries are usually provided, taking cultural backgrounds into account. The meaningful transmission of information is the most important feature of mediation – and at the same time the biggest difference to translation. A translation means the literal transfer of a text from one language into the target language – no abridgements are made.
Writing a mediation
In school or in foreign language classes, one task might be to write a mediation/language mediation. This refers to transferring the meaning of a text from one language to another. The mediation should be about a quarter as long as the original text. It consists of an introduction, in which the essential data of the text are stated, and a main part, in which the content is reproduced in abbreviated form.
FAQ: More questions about language mediation
How do language mediation and translation differ?
Language mediation is the generic term for all types of transfer of a text or speech into another language, whereby free transfer in particular is becoming increasingly important. Translation in itself is thus a subtype of language mediation, in which texts are transferred in writing into another language.
Is language mediation the same as mediation?
Language mediation is also called mediation when it is about the meaningful transfer of a contribution into another language. However, the terms are not completely synonymous, as language mediation can also be a generic term for all types of foreign language mediation.
For which situations is a language mediator needed?
A professional language mediator enables communication in many areas, such as business negotiations, working with refugees or interacting with authorities.
What qualifications does a good language mediator have?
In addition to excellent language skills, language mediators must also have knowledge of cultural peculiarities and a high degree of empathy. Furthermore, they should work impartially, transparently and accurately.
What does paraphrasing mean?
In linguistics, paraphrasing means replacing a linguistic expression with another linguistic expression – that is, reproducing a source in one’s own words. Paraphrasing is a means of explanation or clarification.
How do you write a good mediation?
In order to write a good mediation or language mediation, it is important to make sure that the source text has been understood. Once the information is understood and organised, writing of the mediation can begin. The introduction should contain important information about the text, such as the title, author and publication medium. In the main part, the aim is to reproduce the content without judgement and in abbreviated form. A concluding section is only added in exceptional cases.
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