Saturday, 10 May 2014


We came across an interesting website, Certify x Notarize, recently.

We did get a couple of queries on the topic in the last twelve months regarding this.

As much as we have to agree that it does not sound right saying that a translator has certified their own work, we are used to see the term around to mean that the translator is asserting that they do believe that that is a faithful translation of the text they had access to.

It does look like the translator is giving more importance to what they are doing when they write those words. It is as if they are taking more responsibility for the results when they do this.

If we imagine a court situation here, then the judge could turn to them and say: You said that this was a faithful translation of the text you had access to and now... . 

It does sound as if they could not do that before those words were printed or something, as weird as it may seem.

One of the academic recommendations for translation work however is that the translator always have a second a hand with them, that is, that they always have a second translator to double check everything before they hand in the result of their work to the client.

A perfect translation company would then have two hands signing every document they create in another language.

The market prices in Australia do not allow translators to do that, and that is for sure.

This is also not a common practice, despite being part of the theory that we learn.

Notarizing a document that is a translated version of another document to prove that who signed it is the translator sounds a bit odd because, in principle, only the translator would have that particular stamp, for instance, if we think of Australia.

If the concern with the identity of the person who translates a document in Australia were this huge however, the translator could show the card provided by NAATI to the client, for instance, since that comes with a picture, and then their driver's license or something like that, so that it does not look like we would need a notary or a judge of peace to do that.

These are very interesting points however, these points made by Andrea Turnquist on the commercial website we here mention.

Translators are amongst the most serious classes of professionals on earth and work very hard.

We could say that most of them starve, given the prices charged and the conditions of work (they work as contractors most of the time).

We would think that the ethical organs would be eager to consider any complaint in what regards accuracy, and therefore the client who experiences problems would not find it hard to get justice.

They can also prosecute the translator in a court of law if the impact of their mistakes is unbearable.

It does look like things are usually against the translator, so that we should not need to oppress the class any further.

If we had a minimum price however, as we theoretically have in Brazil, for instance, and this minimum price were reasonable, say it considered the lowest salaries in Australia in terms of law (recent law), we perhaps could demand that they had a second hand with them at all times, but we should not do that otherwise.

We could also have translators offering their services for their usual price when they do the translation without a second hand and for a higher price when there is a second hand involved, so that this commercial company is actually inspiring us in those regards.

We could now start a parallel business of certifications and charge fees to basically endorse the work of others.

On the other hand, there might be a high risk involved in all this.

In principle, we all would have been accredited by NAATI in Australia, for instance.

NAATI should then control our qualifications and make sure that we are adequately prepared to handle the work in the area. They now have come up with the processes of revalidation, and they seem to be really strict.

It is a bit unethical then proposing that our fellows validate our performance in practice.

What we see here is a suggestion: That we have three people signing a translated version of any document that be considered official. 

Instead of having only the translator signing the final document, we would now have the translator, the peer, and the JP or the notary.

In Australia, we actually would have three people and at least one institution, NAATI, signing under this final document (their stamp).

It is not that this is not feasible and we have prejudice against visually polluted documents, but it is actually a bit unreasonable from every perspective that anyone validates the work of someone who is officially accredited by the government to do this sort of work.

We would expect that people complain if they find something that implies breach of ethics in the material they get and we do seem to have enough paths for complaints of this nature, even though we do not seem to have many paths for the professional to defend themselves.


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