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What being 'certified' means
Thread poster: hilaryemma
hilaryemma
English to French
May 20, 2004

I just passed my MA in Technical and Specialised Translation in the UK and moved over to the States. I'm trying slowly to get some freelance work, and am now a member of the Colorado Translators' Association.
Yesterday I received a call enquiring about rates and asking if I was 'certified' (I assume for an official document because the caller wanted to know if I had a stamp).
What does this mean and how do I go about approaching this in the future?

Hilary


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 17:37
German to English
What being 'certified' means May 20, 2004

Hi Hilary,
As far as I know, in the US even someone with a degree in translation has to pass the ATA certification exam (or equivalent) to be considered a certified translator.

http://www.atanet.org/bin/view.pl/12283.html

Best wishes, Kim


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Carley Hydusik  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:37
Russian to English
+ ...
"Certified" is problematic May 20, 2004

This is a question for Kim:

I have an MA in Translation and Interpretation and I am ATA certified, but in the US there is no stamp system as far as I know. I once did a "certified" translation in the US by taking the original and the translated text, along with my degree, ATA certification certificate, and a statement of good faith to a notary, who then vouched for me being who I say I am. Now I live in Switzerland, and doing the same requires going to TWO notaries plus a whole lot more time and money. It is not worth it at all. I have not yet attempted to get a Swiss stamp, though I think those do exist. What do you do if you are doing a translation for the US or Canada, but you live outside the US and Canada? Do you have US notaries in Mexico? (The Consulate here will NOT do it under any circumstances...)

Best wishes,
Carley


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Gerard Michael Burns
Paraguay
Local time: 20:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
The ATA certification is also NOT official May 20, 2004

Kim Metzger wrote:
Hi Hilary,
As far as I know, in the US even someone with a degree in translation has to pass the ATA certification exam (or equivalent) to be considered a certified translator.

Best wishes, Kim

-------------------------------------------
Hi Kim,

I'm afraid your post gives the false impression that the ATA is an "official" organization of some kind. It is not.
Legally, it has the same powers of certification as the Kiwanis, the Lion's Club, or a Clown College, which is to say -none.
HOWEVER, as far as I know, the test is legitimate, and has a reputation for difficulty. The organization seems to have acquired some prestige in the U.S., and many potential clients may judge only by the name, and believe that ATA certification is "official".

Legally valid certification in the U.S., as far as I know, is limited to certain court systems and the State Department test, although certification in those cases is only valid within the specific institution which gives the test.

Being the cynic I am, of course, I also wonder if the recent addition of continuing education requirements to retain certification, might not be more for the benefit of certain educational institutions than anything else.

Michael Burns


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 17:37
German to English
Certified translations May 20, 2004

Sorry about the confusion! I agree with Carley and Gerard. I wasn't really addressing the question of what constitutes a "certified translation" but just the issue of what a certified translator is. There have been lots of discussions of certified translations in these forums. Here are two threads that might help.

http://www.proz.com/post/109337#109337

http://www.proz.com/post/139977#139977


[Edited at 2004-05-20 17:59]


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 17:37
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
In U.S., not the translator, but the document is subject to certification. May 20, 2004

From www.notisnet.org/cliented/certification.doc (this link might not work any more):

"What is a Certified Translation?

In the United States a certified translation consists of the following three parts:
1) The source-language (original) text
2) The target-language (translated) text
3) A statement signed by the translator or translation company representative, with his or her signature notarized by a Notary Public, attesting that the translator or translation company representative believes the target-language text to be an accurate and complete translation of the source-language text. Sometimes this statement bears the title “Certificate of Accuracy” or “Statement that Two Documents Have the Same Meaning.” Some translators will attach a Curriculum Vitae to the notarized statement.

Please note that any translator and any translation company representatives, regardless of credentials, may “certify” a translation in this way. A translator does not need to be “certified” in order to provide a “certified translation.” It is also important to realize that the Notary Public seal assures only that the signature is that of the person who presented him or herself to the notary. The Notary Public is not attesting to the accuracy of the translation.

What is a certified translator?

In contrast to many other countries, in the United States there is no federal or state licensing or certification for translators. There are some credentials available to translators working in some language pairs in this country, but they do not carry the same weight--in the market place or in the translation community--as federal licensing or certification in other countries.

The American Translators Association offers translator “accreditation” in some language pairs. ATA accredited translators are required to specify the language pairs and directions in which they are accredited. For example, a translator accredited in German to English is not necessarily accredited in English to German.

The Department of Social & Health Services in Washington State screens translators in several languages to translate DSHS materials. Translators who have passed this screening in a specific language pair may call themselves “DSHS Certified Translators.”

The Translators and Interpreters Guild, a national organization of independent professional language translators and interpreters, announced in September 2000 that it will be offering TTIG Certification for translators.

Please note that there are many languages for which there is no type of certification or screening available in this country. There are many excellent, experienced translators who are not accredited or certified.

In the United States it is not necessary to be certified or licensed in order to provide a certified translation for official use."

As your potential client's query shows, there is great confusion between this kind of certification and the certification of translators by the ATA. It is the first kind; certification of a document, that is meant when a person is required to present a certified translation for some bureaucratic process.

When your caller asked about a "stamp," it was likely the notary's stamp that he or she was thinking of.

[Edited at 2004-05-20 18:24]


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hilaryemma
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Helpful, thank you May 20, 2004

Thank you everyone for this information - it really clears things up. I had a feeling that the caller didn't really know what he was asking anyway; he was trying to make the point that the translation needed to be 'official' or certified in some way.

Thanks.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 17:37
German to English
Certification May 20, 2004

GoodWords wrote:

The American Translators Association offers translator “accreditation” in some language pairs. ATA accredited translators are required to specify the language pairs and directions in which they are accredited. For example, a translator accredited in German to English is not necessarily accredited in English to German.

[Edited at 2004-05-20 18:24]


Great info, Goodwords, but one correction. As of January of this year, the ATA offers certification. Their thinking was that accreditation is for organizations and certification is for individuals.

Best wishes, Kim

[Edited at 2004-05-20 18:54]


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Sol  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
Some universities give certificates May 20, 2004

That is how I got mine. The diploma specifies CERTIFICATE on it, and the language pair (Spanish to English in my case, they don't go the other way around). I obtained it after completing a 20 credit hour (4 semester) concentration as part of my bachelor degree, but I believe you can get it later as well. The university I attended is the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The series included courses in theory and history of translation, professional ethics, techniques, etc.

We were taught there that IN NORTH CAROLINA to make a translation official, you need to include a statement to the effects that you certify that the translation is an accurate copy of the original and that you are qualified to translate from such to such language. Then you sign the statement in front of a notary public who notarizes it. I add the statement directly to the translation, you may even use a rubber stamp if you wish. I knew a translator who notarized her own translations, so I guess that should be OK. The same process applies, as far as I know, to Florida and Ohio, I have no direct knowledge about other states, but it might very well vary. So you need to ask about your specific state, the association you mentioned should be a good source of information.


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 17:37
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Two different meanings for "certification" May 21, 2004

Kim Metzger wrote:

Great info, Goodwords, but one correction. As of January of this year, the ATA offers certification. Their thinking was that accreditation is for organizations and certification is for individuals.

Best wishes, Kim


Quite right, (the information on the website I quoted predates the change), as a belated look at the ATA website confirms. Unfortunately it only adds more confusion to the difference between a certified translator and a certified translation.


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:07
English to Tamil
+ ...
Are we to have ourselves "certified"? May 21, 2004

In the sense of having one "certified" by two independent physicians, putting one into a State run institution and throwing the key away! I am not exagerating. In a typical Perry Mason novel, the term "certification" brings forth the word association "mental asylum".

Indeed, the discussions about the certification and seals go to ridiculous lengths. Personally I had my translation certified on two occasions by a notary public. It consisted in my stating in unmistakable terms that I believe the translation to be accurate and faithful to original to the extent of my knowledge and belief. It was a patent translation. The patent attorney had this typed this in a non-judicial paper, made me sign it and affix my rubber stamp unedr the signature. Afterwards, he sent it to a notary public, who certified that it was signed by the translator in his presence (it was not) and pocketed the fees. Everybody was happy. I felt an idiot.

I have read that even in the ATA, a membership just means that a person has enough money to pay the fees. There are sufficient forum postings to suggest the above.

Let me close my posting on a lighter note. It was an Agatha Christy novel. The Belgian detective Hercule poirot was talking on telephone with Mrs. Oliver, a writer of detective stories and a character based on Agatha herself. Poirot wanting to be polite and known for mixing up French and English tells her: "Madam, I hope you are not deranged". "Of course not," replies Mrs. Oliver in an indignant tone". (Most probably it was in the novel "Cat among pigeons".

Regards,
N.Raghavan


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Pamela Brizzola  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 00:37
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
The Italian case May 21, 2004

In Italy the "being certified" issue is not an issue, meaning that you can be "nobody" as far as expertise is concerned and still go to the Court (Clerk's office) with your original + translation + your statement of good faith (called "Verbale di traduzione") and pay the due fees.
The Clerk just puts stamps and chronological number on your statement.
You just need to assume responsibility for what you write in your translation. That's it.
Since no public register exists for translators in Italy, anybody can do the translator for a friend or client. However, you cannot do it for your own documents or those of a family member.
In my case, I've been working in this industry for 10 years and clients trust me anyway, thanks to my backgroud and experience.
But I cannot speak for others!


Nice and easy, as many things here!


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Ruxi
German to Romanian
+ ...
To clear things up... May 21, 2004

There are more important issues for a translator and his work: certification as a translator, authorisation to translate legal documents and registering in different Associations.

1. To be certified as a translator, means that you are admitted to make official translations and your documents can be trusted to be correct. So there is a certified translator and his translations are as a result certified.
Not everybody who knows a language can be translator.
Certification one can obtain either by graduating a Philological Highschool (University), or passing some exams at specialiazed national institutions who issue a certification for some pairs of languages and specific fields.
Now there are different laws in this field. In some country such certification do not exist, or they otherwise obtained.People are allowed to translate official without such certifications.

2. Translators who work in legal field, who do translations of legal documents are authorised by specific Courts or ministries of justice to do this.
I don't know how it works in different countries. In my original country you go with your translator certification (pos.1-above) and you receive for those pairs of language the authorisation.
With document you are able to use a rubber stamp and you put on your translation a mention that you declare your translation is corresponding to the original text. A notar subscribes and registries the document and so you have an authorised notarial translation.It is a little more expensive than a normal translation, but it is required, because legal documents are to be translated very accurate.

As Pamela sais in some countries you are not allowed to translate legal documents for yourself or relatives. Why it is so, I don't understand. Maybe to avoid subiectivity, but still I don't see the sense of it.You are responsible for your translation as being authorised by a justice ministry and it should be valid for yourself and your relative too.

3. In every country there are several Associations for Translators. You pay a fee (or not) and are a member, but this doesn't give you a further right to translate, or a certification. It only recognizes or confirms that you are proofed and known and you gain some rights (finding jobs more easy in that field, participating at some meetings a.s.o).

I do not know all these matters for an interpret, but I assume he has to have the same certifications and authorisations as a translator.

The most important thing and which I would like to know, is wether this certifications are recognized in other countries, t.i internationally recognised.
Here, on Proz there is a list with some national bodies which issue such certifications. Are these official recognized and the other (not yet included) not? Does anyone know?

Well, I hope now we have a complete image of the translator and his work.
AND BESIDES ALL THIS,YOU MUST ALSO BE A PLATINUM MEMBER TOO, to get a translation job!Oh, heaven!

Ruxi


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José Carlos Ribeiro  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
There is such a thing ... in Brazil. Jul 18, 2004

[quote]HilaryCRC wrote:

What does this mean and how do I go about approaching this in the future?

Hilary, and whoever else wants to know about it...
In Brazil, we have what is called a "Tradutor(a) Juramentado(a)" which is a translator that passed an exam, in a State entity, and received a certification stating that translations made by him/her carry "public faith". This means that they are legally accepted as oficial documents.
The minimum rates to be charged are also set (high) by the same State entity.
Regulation (in Portuguese) can be read in: http://www.translate.com.br/DECRETO%204-80.htm

Cheers


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