Translation of university degree
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:08
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Sep 29, 2017

Hello everyone

I translated a university degree certificate that gave the degree as "Baccalaureus Computationis" in the source text. Usually I just retain all Latin bits when translating such certificates into English. However, the client wants the degree translated.

Now the question is: do I give the translation of the Latin (i.e. "Bachelor of Computation"), or do I give the phrase that is usually used for this type of qualification in English (i.e. "Bachelor of Accountancy")?

My main concern is that although the odds of this particular university having had both a bachelor of "of computation" and a bachelor "of accountancy" in the same year is rather slim, "rather slim" is not the same as "100% sure".

Your thoughts? Also, when replying, tell me if you regularly do this sort of translation.

Samuel


 

Andreas Hild  Identity Verified
German to English
+ ...
Historical document? Sep 29, 2017

Is this a historical document or actually someone's certificate who intends to use it in the 21st century?

 

Andrzej Mierzejewski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:08
Polish to English
+ ...
Bachelor of Accountancy? Sep 29, 2017

Hi, Samuel,

Have a look at this: "Meanwhile, South Africa offers undergraduate accounting degrees titled Bachelor of Accounting Science (BAccSci) and Baccalaureus Computationis (BCompt)." https://www.topuniversities.com/courses/accounting-finance/guide Based on this sentence, I understand that your client's profession is accountancy, yet, s/he should know the difference (if any) between the two titles. If s/he is not an accountant, ask for a detailed and precise explanation to allow for a correct translation.

Nevertheless, I always keep the original title as it is. The title translation follows in parentheses, e.g.: Baccalaureus Computationis (Bachelor of Accountancy).

HTH


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:08
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Always a problem Sep 29, 2017

I occasionally translate CVs and university degree certificates from Italian into English. There's always difficulty when courses in one country have no exact equivalent in the other, or (in the EU) when credits in one country do not have the same value in another.

Personally I always stick rigidly to translating what I see on the page in front of me, even if a degree in a particular subject has no exact equivalent in my target language.

To do otherwise would be to wander dangerously into a terrain of second-guessing equivalence between the actual content and legal value of a degree in one country and its approximate, or notional counterpart in another.

IMHO it's advisable to just translate what you see. It's reasonable to leave the end user of the translation to ask questions about what an unknown degree means. The translator should not abrogate to themselves the work of explaining things - and they have a fair chance of being wrong.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:08
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Replies Sep 29, 2017

andyhd wrote:
Is this a historical document or...


The degree was attained in the 1990s.

Andrzej Mierzejewski wrote:
[If] your client's profession is accountancy, s/he should know the difference (if any) between the two titles. If s/he is not an accountant, ask for a detailed and precise explanation to allow for a correct translation.


The certificate wasn't issued to the client. It was issued to the client's client's client's client.

Tom in London wrote:
It's reasonable to leave the end user of the translation to ask questions about what an unknown degree means.


In the case of a degree certificate, I don't think that it is. A degree certificate is often used by parties who do not have access to the original recipient of the degree, or easy access to the issuer of the degree, and so they have no-one whom they can just "ask" what something means.

The translator should not abrogate to themselves the work of explaining things - and they have a fair chance of being wrong.


That is true.

Would you say, then, that when translating a degree certificate, anything that is not specifically in the main source language should be carried over into the target document?


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:08
Member (2008)
Italian to English
General principle Sep 29, 2017

Samuel Murray wrote:

Would you say, then, that when translating a degree certificate, anything that is not specifically in the main source language should be carried over into the target document?


As a general principle, whatever you're translating should be exactly what you see in front of you. You should not ever put anything into a translation that is not in the source text **no matter what you think of it**



[Edited at 2017-09-29 10:25 GMT]


 

Andreas Hild  Identity Verified
German to English
+ ...
Context? Sep 29, 2017

Tom in London wrote:

As a general principle, whatever you're translating should be exactly what you see in front of you. You should not ever put anything into a translation that is not in the source text **no matter what you think of it**




I am surprised to read this. So you don't consider context of the source and target languages at all?

[Edited at 2017-09-29 11:39 GMT]


 

Andreas Hild  Identity Verified
German to English
+ ...
Current usage Sep 29, 2017

Samuel Murray wrote:

andyhd wrote:
Is this a historical document or...


The degree was attained in the 1990s.



That would make the denotation "Bachelor of Computation" rather meaningless if not confusing.


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:08
French to English
Accepted practice Sep 29, 2017

This subject comes up quite a lot in KudoZ. Some clients do insist on the title/value of a certificate being translated too. The difficulty is that clients are not generally translators. The short answer is that by convention, the original title remains, with perhaps a (literal) translation in brackets. Explanations have no place on the translated certificate itself.

Convention has it that the original title should remain on the translated version of the certificate. The key argument is that translators are not qualified to assess any equivalent value of a qualification. That is the role of equivalence commissions. That is the long and the short of it.

Example.
For example, a "baccalauréat" is the French term used in France for the set of exams taken around the age of 18 or so, when leaving school. In France, holding a "baccalauréat" entitles you to gain university entrance. That is an important right.
In Switzerland, a "baccalauréat (universitaire)" is the qualification awarded at the end of three years of university study (similar in terms of years of study to a French "licence" and to a UK "bachelor's degree").

Why.
Spelling it out, the problem is as follows. If the original term does not appear on the translation, if a mistake is made, or if the translated version is misunderstood, an individual could find themselves presenting a certificate which appears to confirm a level of qualification that is inaccurate.
Qualifications give/deny access to further study and/or to certain professions. I would not like to be the translator considered at fault for having enabled an individual to access further study, a profession or a job to which he was not entitled. Nor would I like to be the one considered at fault for an individual having been denied access, etc.
In practice, educational institutions are aware of this, and have equivalence commissions. The risk is perhaps greater when applying for jobs. Do not forget that some unscrupulous individuals deliberately use situations like this to their advantage. Let it remain their problem, not yours.


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 15:08
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
I agree with andyhd Sep 29, 2017

I agree that 'computation' is meaningless in English. You are not serving the client by saying that. I would suggest that you do some more research, find some course descriptions etc., to get a good idea of what is involved in those two degrees. My guess is that the former is, as the name says, a scientific degree and the latter is a professional degree.

If you leave only the Latin, then the question is: are you really fulfilling your role as translator? I suggest that you leave the Latin as is but give your best translation (in brackets) of what it means in English and not leave the reader to try to figure it out. My two cents worth.

And yes, I have translated a lot of this type of documents.





[Edited at 2017-09-29 15:59 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-09-29 16:03 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-09-29 16:04 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:08
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Silly Sep 29, 2017

andyhd wrote:

So you don't consider context of the source and target languages at all?


I assume that was a rhetorical question.

Considering the context doesn't mean adding your own interpretation, which since you don't actually know what the whole context is, i.e. the wider context to which the source document pertains, is probably going to be incorrect. You're liable to go wandering off into some personal imaginary world that has nothing to do with the words in front of you.

RIght here on the wall I have my Italian degree certificate. It says that I was awarded the Degree of Doctor of Architecture with Honours. There is no such thing, in the UK, as the Degree of Doctor of Architecture. Nevertheless that's what I have. No doubt an over-imaginative translator would say "Doctorate in Architecture" but that would have nothing to do with the degree I hold.

[Edited at 2017-09-29 17:12 GMT]


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:08
French to English
Let's be practical about it. Sep 29, 2017

These soruces may help.

A (random) NZ source: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/opsmanual/42070.htm When you check through for “comp” you will see that in all entries, the Latin title is left in Latin… for an English-speaking target audience. That might help convince your client that you cannot translate it. (Also, pushing this to a (perhaps not such a silly) limit, are you officially registered to translate Latin?)

Perhaps more helpfully, from a practical point of view, here’s how one source handles this qualification: http://www.bhp.com/media-and-insights/news-releases/2015/04/appointment-of-south32-non-executive-directors

Another source, here’s one transcript of the degree in English, where the Latin is retained. This might again help the client to appreciate that even the official transcripts in English retain the Latin. questionhttp://www.thesait.org.za/global_engine/download_custom.asp?fileid=59073a3d-be7f-49dd-b47b-b665ce6f7c68.pdf&filename=UFS%20Academic%20Records.pdf&blnIsPublic=2

A former KudoZ post on the subject: https://www.proz.com/kudoz/afrikaans_to_english/education_pedagogy/2753914-bcompt_graad.html


 

Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 07:08
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Latin? Sep 29, 2017

Hi Samuel, are you are an accredited Latin into English translator? If not, the answer is quite obvious - you will need to keep in Latin. You translate, presumably, from Afrikaans into English, why should you translate something written in another language?

 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Just a moment Sep 30, 2017

Don't all translators learn Latin? I mean, this way I wonder whether we are accredited ABC learners or something? Why should we really 'translate' ideas written in different words?

 

Paweł Hamerski
Poland
Local time: 23:08
English to Polish
+ ...
In Poland it is simple Jan 8

You are 'forbidden' to translate Polish academic titles/degrees but there is (mostly) no such problem the other way round and surely you are not authorized to translate anything (e.g.Latin) you are not authorized to translate - I bypass this requirement by putting the relevant translation part as a note (e.g. the Apostille title which is always/usually in French only).
I am talking about a certified translation of course and simplifying a matter a bit here and there in my description above.


 


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