How to choose the right translator

It has been a very long time since my last post. I’ve been very busy with projects and other things, and unfortunately, didn’t leave me much time to come here and post something. I do apologise for my long absence.

Today, I’m going to talk about choosing the right translator. Well, this has been something I’ve been dealing with for quite some time which I believe it’s bad for translators and clients, I’m referring to choosing the right professional for the service required.

In the last few years, I’ve been contacted many times by clients needing a certified translation from Portuguese to English. Unfortunately, I had to decline all these clients, because my accreditation only allows me to certify translations from English to Portuguese

But isn’t it the same thing you may ask? Well, it is not. For example, in Portugal, where I did my Translation Course, Translation is defined by converting a text from a foreign language into your mother tongue. In the other direction, they call it “retroversão” (retroversion) since it is converting a text from your mother tongue into a foreign language. So, that means that when I did my DipTrans exam at the Chartered Institute of Linguists I could only do it in one direction, and therefore my accreditation both with the Chartered Institute of Linguists and NAATI is in that direction. Some colleagues chose other paths and may have different experiences, but, from what I know, from 10 years in this industry, you need two exams, to get both accreditations.

It makes sense if you think about it. In translation, it is assumed that you convert the text to the language you feel more comfortable with, and that would be your mother tongue. To get to the other direction, you must have a proficient level of the other language, so you can produce a translation of quality. That requires years of using that particular language and, especially, years of contact with the culture of the country, or countries, where it is spoken.

But let’s get back to the point. How do you know you are contacting the right professional for your needs? It’s very simple. Let’s take NAATI as an example and let’s imagine we are looking for a translator to translate a birth certificate from English to Portuguese. You enter NAATI’s website and do the search, you should look for the translators who have the right language pair and direction in their listing (for our case should be English -> Portuguese). In this case, you could easily contact me and I would be very happy to assist you. However, if your birth certificate was in Portuguese and you wanted it translated and certified in English, then you should look for a colleague accredited in the other direction: Portuguese <- English. Some people don’t notice the difference and end up contacting the wrong professional.

Every time I get contacted for a job in the opposite direction, I always help the client explaining them the difference and that’s why I decided to write about it here today. Next time you look for a translator, make sure you get the right one for your needs.

I hope I have helped …

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