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Birth/marriage certificates: translate or summarize?
Thread poster: mlconnections

mlconnections
United States
Local time: 15:48
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sep 24, 2007

We get many requests for certificate translations for use in the US legal system. We typically do a word-for-word translation of everything on the page, including seals, as well as have them notarized. One of my translators recommended summarizing the certificates instead.

Any thoughts on which is more common/preferred?

Thanks!


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writeaway  Identity Verified

Local time: 22:48
Partial member (2003)
French to English
+ ...
No summary if they have to be notarized Sep 24, 2007

Jill Bishop wrote:

We get many requests for certificate translations for use in the US legal system. We typically do a word-for-word translation of everything on the page, including seals, as well as have them notarized. One of my translators recommended summarizing the certificates instead.

Any thoughts on which is more common/preferred?

Thanks!


If someone just wants an unofficial rough idea of the contents, summarizing is fine. But not for documents that have to be notarized.
My 2 (euro) cents.


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Iza Szczypka  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:48
English to Polish
+ ...
Depends what you mean by summarizing Sep 24, 2007

I am a sworn EN>PL translator in Poland (this means my seal notarizes the translation as well) and do piles of such certificates.
The only summary in Polish BMD certificates that seems acceptable to me is a partial summary of the stamp providing information on the stamp duty related to the issue of such a certificate - it carries no vital information from the personal file transcribed, but includes extensive legal reference for (non-)charging a specific amount of stamp duty.
So I usually do sthg like "Exempt from stamp duty [legal reference given]," saving 10-15 words in this way.
Otherwise it goes word-for-word, as there is nothing really you could reasonably summarize - the name of the registrar?? or mother's maiden name??


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The Misha
Local time: 16:48
Russian to English
+ ...
No summary Sep 24, 2007

I've done virtually thousands of those vital statistics records and always did them word for word - what was legible anyway. Never heard of anyone doing summaries

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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:48
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ways of translating a sworn document / describing the document Sep 24, 2007

In different legal translation courses that I have taken I have been told that there is more than one way to translate a sworn document such as a birth or marriage certificate.

One way is to translate every single last thing on the document, including stamps, and formatted as closely as possible to the original.

Another way, I was told, is to translate the relevant parts such as instead of writing "Mr./Ms./Mrs. John Doe", you would only write "Mr. John Doe". Your formatting needn't be close to the original, just as long as all of the relevant information is given.

The document should be described with lines such as [Upper left: rectangular official state seal] and [Lower right hand corner: illegible signature].

These are not the only ways to do it although they may serve as guidelines.

[Edited at 2007-09-24 14:50]


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:48
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
No summary Sep 24, 2007

I agree with writeaway. The purpose of the translation is to reproduce the original document as closely as possible, so that its authenticity can be verified.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:48
English to Spanish
+ ...
It Depends Entirely on the Destination Sep 24, 2007

Whether you have to translate exactly every single thing on the document or merely do a summary depends on the destination of the document, nothing else.

My practice, unless I know otherwise, is to do a complete, exact translation in every way.

One example of when I knew otherwise was when there was an immigration amnesty in the late '80s in the USA. At that time US Immigration would accept summary translations of birth certificates, etc. and they even provided a simple "fill in the blanks" format for such purpose.

Since this was acceptable to them, I would do a summary translation using their format.

Otherwise not.


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K. Ponnan  Identity Verified
Malaysia
Local time: 04:48
English to Tamil
+ ...
Client's requirement Sep 25, 2007

I think finally it always goes back to what the client wants. In my previous jobs, I had always been asked to translate word by word with the inclusion of every single detail. I made sure that I even got the punctuation right, just to be on the safe side!

Frankly when it comes to certificates, I prefer getting everything down. I agree with Tina and Misha that a summary is not enough. But then always good to find out from the client first before beginning to translate.


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Atena Hensch  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 08:48
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
New Zealand Sep 25, 2007

here in New Zealand, we have the "selective translation" for those documents. They are provided by immigration or other government agancies. We just need to fill the relevent boxes.
cheers
Atena


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 23:48
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
I think it has to be 1:1 Sep 27, 2007

I mean all the words, and inscriptions, and seals translated...This has to be VERY exact as these are formal papers.

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Ginnett Zabala  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:48
English to Spanish
+ ...
Translating for US immigration Sep 27, 2007

In my experience the immigration lawyers I have worked fork with ask for a summary translation. They have a template and only include the relevant information: name, dates... and then it includes a statement certifiyng the translation, stamped by a notary.

I've also done word-by-word translations. Each agency has their own guidelines on what paperwork they want.


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Manuel Aburto M
Nicaragua
Local time: 14:48
English to Spanish
+ ...
You should translate the entire document Sep 27, 2007

MariusV wrote:

I mean all the words, and inscriptions, and seals translated...This has to be VERY exact as these are formal papers.


I fully agree with Marius, since if we skip some terms and phrases, then, to some extent, we are not translating the document appropriately.

Manuel


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