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When looking for a translator
Thread poster: yolanda Speece
yolanda Speece  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:50
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 2, 2004

When looking for a translator, what are some questions you should ask? What about accreditation? Does a membership to an organization such as ATA mean anything really?

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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:50
Member (2003)
English to German
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Depends on your needs Aug 2, 2004

Hi Yolanda,

I think you first need to clarify for yourself, what you seek in a translator.

I don't think that a certified translator, or one who has memberships with professional associations is necessarily a better translator. But it might show you how serious and established somebody is with his profession.

Price might also be an important criteria when selecting. Some projects just don't allow you to go for the creme de la creme.

Personally, I like when a translator responds to my emails quickly and in a friendly and professional manner. If the translator's email is full of typos, you can almost be sure that his or her work will also be done carelessly.

Hm, these are my first thoughts for now. I hope it helps.

Best regards,
Stefanie


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Tamara Zahran  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:50
English to Arabic
Testing Aug 2, 2004

yolanda Speece wrote:

When looking for a translator, what are some questions you should ask? What about accreditation? Does a membership to an organization such as ATA mean anything really?


Dear Yolanda,

I thought about this a lot and being a translator myself might make my judgement a little bit biased. I have worked as a translator for about 14 years, 4 of which as a full time translator in legal accredited translation offices. I don't yet have a degree in translation, and I'm not accredited, but no client has ever complained about the quality of my work, on the contrary, they always come back. I think that chosing a good translator should be based on a test of his/her language capabilities, and if you have a specific project that you want to assign it to a translator, it's better if you send him/her a sample of the project. I don't think memberships in organizations or accreditation make good translators, you need those translators when you are doing legal documents that need to be done by sworn translators, but otherwise, testing is the most effective way for chosing a translator.


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Tamara Zahran  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:50
English to Arabic
Agree and Disagree Aug 2, 2004

sundari wrote:

Hi Yolanda,

I think you first need to clarify for yourself, what you seek in a translator.

I don't think that a certified translator, or one who has memberships with professional associations is necessarily a better translator. But it might show you how serious and established somebody is with his profession.

Price might also be an important criteria when selecting. Some projects just don't allow you to go for the creme de la creme.

Personally, I like when a translator responds to my emails quickly and in a friendly and professional manner. If the translator's email is full of typos, you can almost be sure that his or her work will also be done carelessly.

Hm, these are my first thoughts for now. I hope it helps.

Best regards,
Stefanie


Hello Sundari,

I agree with you in everything except regarding certification and memberships being a measurement of seriousness and establishment. This is not necessarily the case, I know some certified translators who think their accreditation is good enough to get them jobs, and they just don't make any effort to do their jobs properly, thus make mistakes, and when you discuss it with them they have their defences ready "I'm a certified translator, and this is the professional way of doing it". If you're not a translator yourself you wouldn't be able to answer that.


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:50
Member (2001)
English to Italian
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Moving this thread Aug 2, 2004

I'm moving this thread to the Jobs System forum.

Gianfranco


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yolanda Speece  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:50
English to Spanish
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TOPIC STARTER
Sworn in Aug 2, 2004

What do you mean by:

"you need those translators when you are doing legal documents that need to be done by sworn translators"

What is a sworn translator?


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yolanda Speece  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:50
English to Spanish
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TOPIC STARTER
I have seen this happen Aug 2, 2004

Some translators feel that because they are accredited they cannot be wrong.

I have heard translators who are accredited say:
"I'm a certified translator. How dare you question my way of doing it" even though they are wrong and in some cases translate ineffectively.

Is there a government regulated agency that certifies translators in the US?


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:50
English to Spanish
+ ...
Certification Aug 2, 2004

Is there a government regulated agency that certifies translators in the US?

There is none I know of, and there is no such thing as a "sworn translator" in the US.

However, my own certification as a U.S. Federal Court INTEPRETER (I never intepret in court) plus my long experience in translating documents gets me a lot of work in that area. I just got another call today. It looks like a very good job, and for the kind of work involved it's a requirement.

I would strongly recommend pursuing U.S. Federal Court Interpreter certification even for those who do not plan to interpret in court. It represents very strong "credentials" in a country that few to offer.


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Tamara Zahran  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:50
English to Arabic
Sworn translators Aug 3, 2004

yolanda Speece wrote:


What is a sworn translator?


A sworn translator in our world, is the translator who who is certified as a translator and can go to the court when it's required to swear that he/she had translated the so and so document to the best of his knowledge and in a proper way.

One of the funny things that happen here, is that a translator like myself, who is not certified or accredited, can work in a legal translation office, and can do the above procedures on behalf of the office he or she is working in.


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Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:50
German to English
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To certify or not to certify? That is the question;-) Aug 3, 2004

When I started out, I considered joining the BDÜ or becoming certified, but I decided not to because it really p***** me off that people would judge you just based on that - I want people to judge me for my capabilities, not for my memberships and the jobs I do don't require certification anyway.

I also heard that BDÜ only admit members who have studied strictly translation - As I studied European Studies and Modern Languages (French and German) I figured they might not admit me, but I don't think this makes me any better or worse than any other translator.

Frankly, I'm quite sick of people's comments on how certification or memberships make a better translator ... It all seems so biased and prejudiced and it's kind of insulting for someone who has neither one nor the other (through choice I might add).

Well that's my 2 cents that's been bugging me for a while now ...

I hope no one took this the wrong way.

All the best,

Sarah


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
many factore intervene - an attempt at a list Aug 3, 2004

Sarah Downing wrote:

....comments on how certification or memberships make a better translator ... It all seems so biased and prejudiced ...


Sarah


Hi Sarah (and others)

I agree that on face value, accreditation etc. is not necessarily important.

However, there are many factors that go to making a good translator, and if one is looking for a translator in this day and age, the choice is generally vast (and quality is not guaranteed, for all the qualifications and memberships that one may have).

Each of these factors represents a building block that creates an overall picture of competence.

If I needed a translator tomorrow, I would look for:

Language competence:
*native speaker of target language
*language training
*evidence of having resided in source language culture (especially important for certain kinds of texts with cultural connotations)

Translation competence:
*translation studies
*experience (the more the better)

Subject area competence:
*evidence of adequate competence in the subject field

Professional/personal:
*membership of translation bodies
*any other evidence of a commitment to the profession
*adequate infrastructures and equipment
*professional approach (responding to emails, etc)

This would serve as a way of shortlisting candadates, a handful of whom I would ask to sample translate about 300 words.

This is the IDEAL profile, but I know some good translators who would not fulfil all these requirements, and the weightings will be different anyway, depending on job-related factors.


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lien
Netherlands
Local time: 13:50
English to French
+ ...
Looking for a translator Aug 3, 2004

yolanda Speece wrote:

When looking for a translator, what are some questions you should ask? What about accreditation? Does a membership to an organization such as ATA mean anything really?


I would first choose a native speaker of the target language, ask for in which field he/she is specialised and have experience of and send a short test (200 words).

You see a translator at the translated texts.


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yolanda Speece  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:50
English to Spanish
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TOPIC STARTER
But does a native speaker always know best Aug 3, 2004

I came across a EN-ES translation that was done by a native speaker, who was "accredited" by one of these organizations, and a lot of the translation was literal. There were also inconsistencies, missing accents and mechanical errors.

People in the medical or legal field are required to pass state boards. I wouldn't want a doctor to diagnose me or an attorney represent me without certification. Even teachers are required to have some sort of certification to teach.

Why isn't there something similar to this designed for translators and interpreters? Isn't it just as important for us to have some certification as these other professions?


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:50
The ATA has published a booklet that addresses exactly such topic... Aug 3, 2004

yolanda Speece wrote:

When looking for a translator, what are some questions you should ask? What about accreditation? Does a membership to an organization such as ATA mean anything really?


Which I believe is more or less thorough and impartial. It can be found at http://www.atanet.org/Getting_it_right.pdf

As for your question: "Why isn't there something similar to this designed for translators and interpreters? Isn't it just as important for us to have some certification as these other professions?"

At present there is no one single entity (certainly not governmental) certifying or licensing translators, but there are a few private organizations that do (some more reputable than others). However, it would be difficult to apply the same standards of, let's say lawyers, to translators, since lawyers are only authorized to practice law in the states and countries where they have passed the bar exam, and it would not be logical for such a "border restriction" to be applied to translators (my services are as good in Taxas, as in California, I believe).

On the other hand, do not forget that even though accredited by their respective bars, there are always bad lawyers, and bad doctors. So having a single authority issuing certifications to translators will not spare us from the bad ones. One still has to be vigilant, just like when you choose a doctor, a layer, a mechanic, even a gardener!


[Edited at 2004-08-03 20:35]


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Ramon Somoza  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:50
Member (2002)
Dutch to Spanish
+ ...
Accreditations & sworn translators Aug 21, 2004

My opinion, for what it's worth:

A sworn translator is usually somebody which has had to pass an exam to be able to make legal translations. I has that exam back in '81 (for German) at the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and it was the most difficult exam I ever made. Though I passed it, I had such a bad time that I did not try to repeat it for my other foreign languages (and German is certainly not the one I know best!).

However, they did not give a certificate or anything (how the hell I am then supposed to demonstrate I'm "sworn"?), they simply recorded the fact in their books together with my signature and when I made a sworn translation my customer had to go to "authenticate" my signature - but that was valid in court.

So, as far as I am concerned, a sworn translator is somebody that must be real good.


Accreditations? Hummm, it depends. I will accept an accreditation from an university, or a good language school (I have that myself). But from a translator's association? My response is that in principle I could not care less. First, because that's mainly a U.S. thing -many countries do not have accreditating associations in the first place. And, second, because I would require to know the standards to which this accreditation is issued. If it is simply because you're a member, then any idiot can call himself accredited translator.

(I met one of those some twenty years ago - his only "translator" merit was that he had studied 6 months English while in the U.S. -apparently working illegally as a waiter- but he WAS member of a known association that should have known better than issuing the accreditations so lightly. Would you believe that he was "chief translator" of an important company? He spoke English almost like the Indians in the Westerns! "Me not understand! Ugh!")

So, unless I am pretty sure that an accrediting association really upholds very high standards, their accreditation (as far as I am concerned) is worth less that the paper on which it has been printed....

[Edited at 2004-08-21 23:06]


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