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Sworn Translator in UK ?
Thread poster: Estelle Demontrond-Box

Estelle Demontrond-Box  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 22:23
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
Sep 11, 2007

Hello to all,

I have just found out that there is no such thing as a "sworn" translator in the uK, though you often find this requirement in job posts and such statement on CVs. So, I am a bit confused!!! Does anybody know more about the subject?

Is it possible to download anywhere a template letter for a translator to certify that he abides by a code of conduct, etc. and that his translation has been done in the best of his/her abilities?

Thank you for your help!


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:23
Member (2004)
German to English
No, doesn't exist Sep 11, 2007

The only time I ever needed to do it I had to write a note certifying that I had done the translation and take it to a notary public who looked at my passport and confirmed that I was who I said I was. He charged over 50 pounds for 1 minute's work.
There is of course nothing to stop you attaching a note on fine letterhead stating "I confirm that I translated this document to the best of my ability" but it has precisely 0 value.
Gillian


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Cristina Cajoto  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:23
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Certified translator by the Institute of Linguistics Sep 11, 2007

Hi Estelle,

I am not sure if this is what you are looking for, but I know that the British Institute of Linguistics holds an annual exam for people that want to get certified as translators by them.

Maybe this could be the UK equivalent for sworn translators? Let's see what others think.

Regards,
Cristina.


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:23
Member
French to English
+ ...
"Official translator" Sep 11, 2007

Just this morning I had an enquiry from someone in the UK who needs a certificate translated by an "official translator" so that he can apply for membership of a well-known UK medical body. Mystified, I checked their website only to find exactly the same phrase: translations of supporting documents must be "made [sic] by an official translator". The (potential) client has said he will now seek clarification from the relevant body - it'll be interesting to see what they think it means.

See also http://www.proz.com/post/408628

[Edited at 2007-09-12 01:22]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 13:23
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Not yet, but watch this space! Sep 11, 2007

The Chartered Institute of Linguists has been working on it for years, and is finally beginning to consider applications and interview people.

http://www.iol.org.uk/

Draft Rules andRegulations here:
http://iol.org.uk/Charter/cls.asp

It demands excellent qualifcations and three referees, and it is an expensive proposition, so the UK will hardly be crawling with Chartered Linguists, as they are to be called. But now at least the option will soon be open.



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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:23
Member (2004)
German to English
Chartered linguists Sep 11, 2007

I just checked this out. It's expensive and time-consuming to become a charter linguist. But - and this is the key issue - what is the point??? What is it trying to achieve? In terms of being recognised as official, the Diploma in Translation gives an indication that you are qualified to do the job, as does membership of the CIoL or ITI. I don'T understand the purpose of paying GBP 350 and more each year. Who is going to ask for this status?
Gillian


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Spencer Allman
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:23
Finnish to English
Higher rates Sep 11, 2007

I agree with Gillian entirely. If this is to be forced on us in the UK then customers will have to expect to be charged far higher rates - as per the £50 per minute solicitor referred to.

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Beatriz Galiano
Argentina
Local time: 08:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
Interesting. Sep 11, 2007

http://www.iol.org.uk/

Draft Rules andRegulations here:
http://iol.org.uk/Charter/cls.asp


Thanks for the information Christine.


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:23
Member
French to English
+ ...
Chartered Linguists Sep 11, 2007

Gillian Noameshie wrote:

I just checked this out. It's expensive and time-consuming to become a charter linguist. But - and this is the key issue - what is the point??? What is it trying to achieve? In terms of being recognised as official, the Diploma in Translation gives an indication that you are qualified to do the job, as does membership of the CIoL or ITI. I don'T understand the purpose of paying GBP 350 and more each year. Who is going to ask for this status?
Gillian


Couldn't agree more. The cynic in me suspects that the purpose of it is to rake in more money for the CIoL, and that they will push this status as much as possible within the UK market to persuade potential clients out there that they really ought to be looking for a Chartered Linguist. I certainly don't see how it will create a single, coherent "system" here since as you say, there are already the DipTrans and CIoL/ITI membership - not that those are compulsory for freelancers, of course. If clients start asking for proof of chartered status, and if Chartered Linguists are flagged up as such in the CIoL's directory, people who already have the DipTrans will probably end up thinking "well, now that I'm part of the way there, I might as well go the whole hog if I want to keep getting work" - and perhaps this is what they're hoping freelancers will do - but doesn't the CIoL realise that many clients of UK-based translators are actually in other countries, and therefore probably won't know or care about this status?

And as Spencer points out, there is also the impact on rates to consider. Will Chartered Linguists be able to command higher rates to compensate them for the extra expense and effort? I wonder...

[Edited at 2007-09-11 20:31]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 13:23
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The expense is a blow, I admit... Sep 11, 2007

But living in Denmark and being unable to slip through the needle's eye to be accepted as a Danish State Authorised Translator (because I did not do the prescribed MA designed for Danes), I am seriously considering it.

Clients outside the UK do know that other countries have 'sworn' translators, and insist on stamped or certified translations on certain occasions, especially where legal documents are concerned.

At present I can get a Danish colleague to certify my work if necessary - they have to be able to understand both texts, but need not necessarily translate it themselves.

But somehow in clients' eyes I am slightly second rate, because I am not State Authorised, and cannot stamp my work myself, although I do proof read work for Danish colleagues before they stamp it!

It is not a big problem for me, because most of the work I do does not need to be 'stamped' or certified. But I might do more work of that kind if I could stamp it myself. Clients accept and pay the stamp duty, which is quite high, when necessary.

The CIoL's point is that the status of the profession will be boosted by chartered status. Translators work with texts written by lawyers, medics, engineers and all kinds of specialists, and depending on their areas of specialisation, translators need to be just as highly qualified (although in a different way) in order to translate responsibly.

Practically everything that goes out of Denmark has to be translated. So the population is perhaps more translation conscious than in the UK. There are still many countries where it is not possible to get by with English, and it is always desirable to understand at least some of the local language.

"Everyone speaks English" - or thinks they do, and it is necessary to distinguish the professionals from the cowboys. If chartered status in the UK did not cost as much, I think a lot of translators would jump at it. I certainly would.

I take the 'continued professional development' aspect for granted. If chartered status is to be worth anything, then candidates must be carefully vetted, and you can't assume that everyone with an MA in languages or whatever is necessarily a good translator.

If you don't feel you are worth it, then you don't need chartered status. Not all translation work is beyond an intelligent sixth former, but I like to know that where real professionals are needed, there is a way of finding out who is qualified to take the job on. Membership of the ITI or CIoL should be enough with the codes of conduct etc., but who knows whether a translator with a 20-year-old Dip. Trans. has kept up with developmments?

There are other questions to consider:
Seriously, spread over a year, how much would you really have to raise your rates? Would you mind clients knowing that your qualifications were just as good as their solicitor's, and you expect your fees to be on the same level? Does it make a difference whether an accountant is chartered or not? Does it matter who translates the accountant's reports for a company's subsidiaries abroad?

If you have an accident abroad (I hope you don't, but it happens) -- and need your medical journal translated for insurance purposes, would it reassure you to know a chartered translator (or state authorised/sworn or whatever) was doing the job?

Freelancers work alone, and I welcome the external checkup that will hopefully keep me up to the mark. So I think I am going to find three referees, pay the fee and travel to London for the interview - or if possible arrange it when I am in the UK anyway.

It costs money, yes. So does the equipment my dentist uses to keep his clinic hygeinic. He goes on courses and specialises in periodontal disease, to which I am prone. I visit him regularly and pay what it costs. I would not want anyone less qualified and less conscientious poking about in my mouth.

There are times when translators need to be just as specialised. And then I would not make do with an intelligent sixth former!

OK, it's been one of my pet issues since I discovered how difficult it is to be state authorised in Denmark if you are not a Dane. I think it is important, even if not for all jobs.

Happy translating anyway!


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It's a matter of liability Sep 11, 2007

Each country has its own procedures regarding translations for official purposes.

I learned from this thread that the UK adopts the same line of reasoning as the USA. Someone translates, and by the same token takes personal responsibility for the accuracy of that translation. A notary public attests to the fact that the person who signed the document is actually the same one identified there (so if anything goes wrong the proper culprit will be punished). These countries assume that if any such translation is inaccurate, and thus causes some loss to someone, their law enforcement system will be able to locate and punish the perpetrator.

In Brazil* and several other countries, AFAIK Spain is among them, any document in a foreign language, to become acceptable for the local authorities, must have been translated by a government-certified translator. This person will have had their translation skills tested by the government, so that anyone hiring their services will have some assurance that they meet certain requirements. Such translator would also be easy to find by law enforcement agents, if eventually needed for the same situation described above.

Some countries will accept any bona fide translation done anywhere. Others (like Brazil and Spain, but not limited to these) will only accept translations by their own respective certified translators. Apparently nobody bothers to check reciprocity in such matters.


* In case anyone is interested, I have compiled general information on how sworn translations function in Brazil at http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/tpicen.html (in English) and http://www.lamensdorf.com/br/tpic.html (in Portuguese).


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:23
Member
French to English
+ ...
Credentials already exist in the UK (even if not "official") Sep 12, 2007

In terms of qualifications and experience, I gather that to become a Chartered Linguist you must hold the DipTrans or a master's degree in translation and be able to provide evidence of a certain volume of work over the qualifying period - but these requirements are very similar to those for MIL status. Yes, the qualifying period is longer, there is a CPD record requirement and you have to provide three rather than two references, but it seems to me that the new status will downgrade the DipTrans and CIoL membership status to some extent, since there will be something further that clients can expect translators to have. If you want to make sure the translator is up to the job, why look for just a MIL or DipTrans holder when you can look for a Chartered Linguist? Or so clients might say to themselves. Yet I don't think many sixth-formers would be able to achieve the existing credentials, since the qualifications and experience required would exclude even the most intelligent of them (plus there's the minimum age requirement...) To earn the new status, in terms of proof of linguistic/translation ability you essentially need the same qualification that you need to become a MIL: the DipTrans or an MA, so I don't see how chartered status will be a significantly greater guarantee of quality than the existing credentials. The only really new requirements seem to focus on professional development, for which provision is already made by both the CIoL and ITI.

So I'm afraid this particular sixth-former has yet to be convinced he is worth it


[Edited at 2007-09-12 08:08]


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Beatriz Galiano
Argentina
Local time: 08:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
EXAMS Sep 12, 2007

English exams are recognized all over the world entering that charter it seems to me is like entering some kind of 'elite' group
it depends on what your goals are and whether you live in the UK or not I guess.


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:23
Member (2004)
German to English
Documents that need certifying Sep 12, 2007

It seems to me that only certain kinds of documents need certifying - certificates for immigration purposes and possibly documents to be used in court cases. Maybe I missed something? I don't do certificates regularly and I don't do legal so I still wonder what the point is. Most of my work is for continental agencies and I can't see this idea catching on with them. Even in the UK, I can't imagine my customers asking for it but of course one day it might become the standard qualification I suppose.
Gillian


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