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Translation certification demanded after the fact
Thread poster: gad
gad
United States
Local time: 05:58
Member
French to English
Dec 20, 2007

I am faced with a very strange situation. I did a translation through an agency, and now after the fact the end client is insisting that I submit a quite detailed certification page, to include my name, qualification, educational background, years of experience translating that type of document, and it must be under penalty of perjury.

This is what they want:

Translator's Declaration



I, [name], declare under penalty of perjury that I understand the [source] language and the [target] language; that I hold accreditation from [translator's organization] for translation from [source] to [target]; that I have [#] years experience as a translator of technical documents; that I am a native speaker of both [source] and [target]; that my education regarding translating from [source] to [target] includes __; that to the best of my knowledge and belief, the statements in the [target] language in the attached translation [document] , consisting of [#] pages, have the same meanings as the statements in the [source] language in the original document, a copy of which I have examined ; and that I have knowledge of the facts contained herein and if called upon to testify could competently testify thereto.

Signature


I am not confortable with this since I did not agree to this up front.

Thoughts?




[Edited at 2007-12-20 22:01]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Uncomfortable Dec 20, 2007

Are you uncomfortable because:

1.- If you refuse, they may not pay you, or

2.- You actually have no formal accreditation, or

3.- Both 1 and 2 above.

If it is after the fact, I would say the request is improper at this stage. However, you might have fears that No. 1 could come into play.


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shfranke  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:58
English to Arabic
+ ...
That demand is a BS requirement Dec 20, 2007

Greetings.

FWIW, as described, that is a very anxious customer/end user, and such a demand is irrelevant, specially if it is being demanded **after the fact.**

May I mention that one might be curiousabout why (and how) that customer/end user is contacting you directly about such a certfication, since you produced and delivered that translation entirely under the auspices of a for-fee language services agency, as mentioned.

HTH.

Regards,

Stephen H. Franke
English - Arabic, Kurdish, and Persian
San Pedro, California
(Late of Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)

[Edited at 2007-12-20 20:26]


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:58
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
More than standard Dec 20, 2007

I agree that the agency should have mentioned this from the beginning. Even from their own point of view, they should have assured themselves that they had the right translator for the job.

This declaration contains more than the standard declaration that I attach to certified documents. Mine simply states that I am a member of my organization, that I am qualified to translate from the source language into the target language, and that I declare the attached translation to be an accurate translation of the original document.

I see in your profile that you have translation credentials and are a member of several organizations. In that case, I don't see a serious problem with the declaration, except for "under penalty of perjury". I suspect it's just a standard phrase but that is something I would want to delete.


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rchan
Local time: 10:58
Chinese to English
+ ...
after the fact requests are not uncommon Dec 20, 2007

I have been in several situations where I was required to provide a statement of qualification after the fact.

I don't think it is very professional to do it after the fact, but I understand why: it is for liability reasons. Also, in the case of your statement, you may in fact be called upon to testify. (I have had that happen to me!)

I remember doing one as a witness statement for the police and court WAY after the fact (and that was only for interpretation!). Another one was for a lawyer to say that I was qualified to do the interpretation and sight translation.

My way of handling it is to modify any wording to fit the facts. In other words, don't get forced into signing something (say, with set wording) that is not completely true.

They cannot really fault you for not having qualifications they didn't ask you to present before you did the translation. However, they do need to show to whatever authorities and parties that they have acted professionally in hiring you. Therefore, the description of what qualifications you have is probably more important than having any particular qualification. It is a declaration of what you are qualified to do, based on whoever assessed you.

For example, there was a time before I took the qualification exams that I could (only) say I had been assessed and qualified internally by my agency. For the purposes of the statement, I think that would be enough. Indeed , I could only say that much.

I don't see any reason why you should hesitate, no matter what accreditation you have or don't have. Just write what is true about your situation.

Hope this might help you.


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rchan
Local time: 10:58
Chinese to English
+ ...
"under penalty of perjury" Dec 20, 2007

Tina Vonhof wrote:

In that case, I don't see a serious problem with the declaration, except for "under penalty of perjury". I suspect it's just a standard phrase but that is something I would want to delete.




The problem is, the whole point of the declaration is that it must be under penalty of perjury. As I mentioned, you could literally be called upon to testify, so I don't see this declaration as a mere formality. True, it is very unlikely that you would be called to testify. But if you are, then you see the importance of the declaration.

It is not hard to imagine, say, a defense lawyer wanting to cause trouble by calling all possible witnesses to trial. That's what happened to me!

The solution is not to delete "under penalty of perjury". rather, make sure the statement only contains absolutely true statements. Whether you are highly qualified or less qualified is not the main issue here.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:58
English to German
+ ...
Interesting. Dec 20, 2007

gad wrote:

that I am a native speaker of both [source] and [target]




Very interesting indeed.


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gad
United States
Local time: 05:58
Member
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the replies Dec 20, 2007

Nicole, I found that part quite odd. Why would they assume that I would be a native speaker of both languages?

Henry, neither of those was my concern. My concern was the part about "under penalty of perjury", and about being called as an expert to testify. Something like that should have been stated up front, in my opinion.

Tina, that is my feeling as well - I have a standard certification page that is valid for the courts for which I have provided translations in the past. But this detailed declaration caught me off guard.

In the meantime, I revised their proposed wording to fit my background, etc., and I removed the part of "under penalty of perjury" and the last part beginning with "and that I have knowledge of...". The client accepted that so I went ahead with it.

But I just think that the end client should not assume that they have the right to demand afterwards that someone comply with this. Perhaps they are not aware that their wording goes quite a bit beyond the norm - at least the norm that I am used to.


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:58
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
My thoughts Dec 21, 2007

gad wrote:

I am faced with a very strange situation. I did a translation through an agency, and now after the fact the end client is insisting that I submit a quite detailed certification page, to include my name, qualification, educational background, years of experience translating that type of document, and it must be under penalty of perjury.

This is what they want:

Translator's Declaration



I, [name], declare under penalty of perjury that I understand the [source] language and the [target] language; that I hold accreditation from [translator's organization] for translation from [source] to [target]; that I have [#] years experience as a translator of technical documents; that I am a native speaker of both [source] and [target]; that my education regarding translating from [source] to [target] includes __; that to the best of my knowledge and belief, the statements in the [target] language in the attached translation [document] , consisting of [#] pages, have the same meanings as the statements in the [source] language in the original document, a copy of which I have examined ; and that I have knowledge of the facts contained herein and if called upon to testify could competently testify thereto.

Signature


I am not confortable with this since I did not agree to this up front.

Thoughts?




[Edited at 2007-12-20 22:01]


In this statement, you're supposed to state that you're a native speaker of both the source and target languages. Wouldn't it stand to reason that you understand them both?

I don't really see the problem with "under penalty of perjury". The big issue with perjury is not whether the statement itself is true but whether you have a good-faith belief that it's true. If, after you have stated that you believe a statement is not true, you are asked to sign under penalty of perjury that it is, this is probably in the category of suborning perjury, an illegal act. (But I'm not an attorney.)

If the end-client had this requirement, they should have informed the agency which should then have informed you.

End clients have the right to demand anything they care to. Whether you comply with their demands is a different issue. In this case, if the statements aren't accurate (and you indicate that you are not a native speaker of both languages, so at least one part is inaccurate), you can and should refuse to sign them.


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gad
United States
Local time: 05:58
Member
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
The end client requested this through the agency Dec 21, 2007

Stephen, I just noticed your post, and no the end client did not request this to me directly. This transpired through the intermediary of the agency.

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sokolniki  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:58
English to Russian
+ ...
What's the big deal? Dec 21, 2007

I do this kind of certification, in a shorter version and without "perjury" clause but containing my full name, address and phone number, each time I make those translations of birth/marriage/divorce certificates for my direct clients to be submitted to the US immigration authorities.

And BTW, doesn't the agency already have your home address/phone number as well your resume with education, experience, etc.? Don't you think it would readily share it with the end client in case you do not want to do it? To say nothing of Googling you and probably getting anything and everytyhing about you. At the end of the day, the end client is profit with all that margin for the agency, and you are cost..

The only annoying thing is that it was not requested from the very beginning.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 10:58
Dutch to English
+ ...
Maybe ... Dec 22, 2007

The end client has reviewed the job and is concerned - for whatever reason, whether justified or unjustified - that it's not fit for purpose.

Not saying it is the case, before anyone jumps to conclusions and gets excited, just saying it's a possibility.

On the other hand, maybe the client did in fact ask for this from the outset and the agency neglected to ask you until now.

Since you're obviously not comfortable, simply ASK why they/client want(s) it and say that once they respond, you'll take it under consideration and consider whether to give it in its current or amended form (or indeed at all). It didn't form part of your initial brief, but if you're satisfied you did a good job, that will stand up in court, what's the problem to come up with a version of the certificate everyone is happy with? You didn't knowingly deliver substandard work, did you? So, if you can defend your work, if ever needed, certify it in a way you can declare is true and correct.

Paul's comments on perjury are quite accurate. No big deal - under penalty of perjury is tantamount to saying to the best of my knowledge what I state here in this declaration (normally under oath for perjury to come into play) is true and correct and that if I lie I know I'll have committed an offence and will have to face the music.

For example, you're not a native speaker of both English and French, so you can't confirm that as being true and correct - tell them so and find some middle ground.

[Edited at 2007-12-22 16:19]


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:58
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
There is a third possibility Dec 26, 2007

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

The end client has reviewed the job and is concerned - for whatever reason, whether justified or unjustified - that it's not fit for purpose.

Not saying it is the case, before anyone jumps to conclusions and gets excited, just saying it is a possibility.

On the other hand, maybe the client did in fact ask for this from the outset and the agency neglected to ask you until now.


I think the most likely scenario is that the translation was needed for a specific purpose, and simply the client did not know that certified translation was required or that it has to be requested specifically.

People who are not accustomed to commissioning translations usually do not have the slightest idea what it entails, what to ask for and what they are going to get.

In that case the agency should have made sure at the outset that the client learns something about what s/he may expect, and establish the need for certification.

It seems, as the comments on the text prove, the agency is not very particular; they didn't spot the silliness in the text.

[Edited at 2007-12-26 19:14]


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Cathy Flick  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:58
Member (2003)
Russian to English
+ ...
just revise and forget... Dec 26, 2007

I've had to add such things to the end of some translations, although nothing quite so draconian. I wouldn't sign that version of a "certification", either. I would just revise it to suit myself and leave it at that.

I won't travel, so when one client wanted me to be available for a court hearing a thousand miles away -- I just told them they needed to get a different translator. Instead, they quickly decided that a notarized statement would suffice if it became necessary. Sometimes you also can convince them to do otherwise when you point out how many thousands of dollars it will cost them to tie up a translator's time for court (yes, thousands - there may be delays, and you have to turn down other work until it's over). They were worried about the translation being challenged (it was some lab notebook pages, in a patent case), so I suggested getting a second translator with equivalent competence in the field and the source language to certify my translation, to make such a challenge less likely. The second translator sent a notarized statement to them, and they were happy.

The client should have informed you of the certification requirement and sent you a copy of the typical wording before you accepted the job , but they probably were just disorganized. That doesn't mean you do it their way - they just need something for their lawyers, and your own wording should be as good as any. I've had clients send me strange confidentiality and non-competition contracts after I've submitted the job, too - I just revise them, initial the changes, and send it back. If they don't like it, then they don't have to hire me again. But they still need to pay me for my prior work.

Usually an agency will also have the editor certify the translation in the same way. So even if they don't like your revisions of the certification, they can always browbeat the editor into it.... Or if the editor is used to it, no problem.

Peace, Cathy Flick


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