What is the difference between a translator and an interpreter?
Translators work with written texts, whereas interpreters work with speech. Translators translate user manuals, conference material, reports, balance sheets, books etc. into another language. Interpreters convey heard information into another language. They interpret conversations between participants at international conferences, for visitors during a factory visit, in hospitals between patient and doctor or during trials between witness and judge.
What is a certified translation and who can make one?
For a certified translation, the translator confirms the correctness and completeness of the translation. Usually, certificates and similar official documents require a certified translation. It can only be done by judicially authorised translators. In the federal state of Saxony these are called publicly appointed and generally sworn translators. With the translator’s stamp, signature and confirmation note, the translation becomes an official document. I have been publicly appointed and generally sworn by the Higher Regional Court of Dresden for the English and Spanish languages.
You can find a list of all sworn translators in Germany in the database for translators and interpreters: justiz-uebersetzer.de (available in English).
How long does a translation take?
That depends on various factors, such as text volume, degree of difficulty and urgency. I can produce approximately 2000 translated words per day. To speed up the translation process you can provide reference material, glossaries, a translation memory, terminology databases, style guides or similar material. Also, a contact person that I can get in touch with in case of questions can be very helpful.
Do you also translate into Spanish and English?
I always translate into my mother tongue – German – and not into my foreign languages. This approach is called the native speaker principle. You will probably also find translators who translate into their non-native languages. Such translators might have been living abroad for many years and thus have achieved a (near) native-speaker level in their foreign language. In these cases it can be advisable to ask for a test translation before assigning the job. Also, I strongly recommend having these translations proofread by a native speaker.
How do I know that a translation is good?
The rule of thumb is: A good translation is not recognisable as a translation. The text is easy to read and corresponds to the orthographical and stylistic conventions of the target language. However, strange formulations and difficulties in understanding are signs of a poor translation. The translator’s way of working can also tell you a lot about the quality of the translation: Does the translator ask questions about the text? Is he or she contactable during the job? Does he or she deliver the translation on time and with correct formatting? Then you have probably hired a translator who focuses on quality and is worth the money.
When is a human translation to be preferred over a machine translation?
For personal use, a machine translation can sometimes work perfectly well. If you would like to understand an online article in German about a topic you are interested in, or if you need help understanding the menu during your holiday abroad, an online translation tool is often sufficient. However, if your texts are for business purposes and even a minimum of linguistic subtlety is required, you should hire a human translator. Marketing texts, image or product brochures, user manuals and safety instructions are all examples of texts you should only have translated by a human translator. The costs for the damage that can be done (financially or to your brand) by an incorrect machine translation will be definitely higher than the price for any human translation.