Tips for Getting Your Non-US College Transcript Translated

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If your previous degree, diploma, or transcript is in a language other than English and you are applying to a US university, you will need to provide a translation of your academic credentials. Here are some things to consider as you prepare your translation.

Do I Need A Certified translation?

Your school’s admissions office will typically list the requirements for the transcript translations. One of the more confusing requirements may be that for a certified translation. Remember that in most US states, notaries public cannot certify the accuracy of a translation. Sometimes I get requests for translations “certified by the American Translators Association (ATA).” ATA is a professional association that does not produce or certify individual translations. It does, however, certify translators who have passed a graded exam in a specific language pair. Such a translator is called ATA-certified.

A statement by the translator, confirming the accuracy of the attached translation, will usually suffice for the purposes of certification in the US. As an added layer, the translator may get their signature certified by a notary public in their county. Again, most states’ notaries public cannot vouch for the accuracy of the translation, so they would only notarize the translator’s signature. Ultimately, the educational institution can tell you what translations it accepts.

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What About Degree Equivalence?

Differences in educational systems mean that a transcript from your home country may look different from an American one. Should the translation explain that your 5-year degree is really closed to a master’s degree than a bachelor’s? Should it calculate your grade point average (GPA) if no such information was listed in the original?

Once again, this is something you will need to follow your school’s guidance on. Some universities may require a foreign credential evaluation. Sometimes they recommend some agencies that provide this type of service. In that case, you’ll want to reach out to a credit evaluation agency, which will convert your transcript to something an American institution is familiar with, with your credit hours and GPA listed.

However, this may not be necessary in every case. If all your school requires is a translation, you don’t need to spend extra money on credential evaluation. The translation will reflect the information listed in your document, regardless of whether it typically appears on American transcripts. In all likelihood, you are not the first applicant from your country, so the US university will know that your transcript will look different. If you school does want to see an explanation of the grading scale or your GPA, you may want to go the credential evaluation route.

Can I Get the Transcripts Sent Directly in a Sealed Envelope?

Some US universities request official transcripts to be send directly by the issuing school, which is commonly done in the US. However, universities overseas may not provide that service or are even aware of it. This is something you may need to bring up to the American school.

One option is to include a cover letter with your transcript, explaining that degrees and transcripts in your home country are physical documents granted to the graduate and cannot be sent directly by the issuing institution. Another possibility is to get a credential evaluation and have that evaluation sent by the issuing agency directly to the US university. I have found, both in my experience as a college applicant with international credentials and as a translator of educational documents, that American colleges tend to be flexible with international applicants and reasonable in accommodating foreign academic documents.

My First Published Literary Translation

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My colleagues might have seen this news on LinkedIn: my translation of “Tamara Khristoforovna,” a short story by Margarita Ardasheva from Russia has been published in Tupelo Quarterly.

This whimsical story of a disgruntled teacher with a hidden passion looks at being true to yourself and doing what you love. The Russian story (“Тамара Христофоровна”) first appeared in New Youth.

Tamara Khristoforovna works in Lennon Preparatory High School. She imparts high-quality, lasting knowledge, which consists of telling children that she is their mother-in-math, and they are nothing but back-alley trollops. When Tamara Khristoforovna gets really emotional, she adds that only prostitutes wear black pantyhose. What about socks and stockings of that color? The jury’s still out on that one. It is also unclear how Tamara Khristoforovna knows so much about prostitutes.

Demystifying Russian Names

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If your clients or partners have Russian names, you may be unsure why there are multiple forms of the name or why the middle name is so long. Russian naming conventions may be confusing to people outside the region, and this gets compounded when people bearing these names come to the US. In this post, I will look at some sources of potential misunderstanding arising from the use of names in the Russian language—in but not limited to the country of Russia and by but not limited to ethnic Russians.

A full Russian name consists of three parts:

  1. First or given name (imya)
  2. Patronymic (otchestvo, more on that below)
  3. Last or family name (familiya)

An example would be Yelena Sergeevna Malysheva. On official documents and in formal introductions, these parts may be listed as “last name—first name—patronymic (optional): Malysheva Yelena Sergeevna or Malysheva Yelena.

Full Names Vs Nicknames

The first name listed on a person’s documents will be the “full,” official form: Aleksandr, Yevgeniya, Irina, Natalya, Sergey, Ivan, etc. Unofficially, many “full” names will have at least one established corresponding pet name (think Sam for Samuel). Most speakers of Russian will know the pet equivalent for the full name or can “restore” the full name from hearing the nickname without being told explicitly. Some common pairs are given below:

  • Irina—Ira
  • Yekaterina—Katya
  • Mariya—Masha
  • Anna—Anya
  • Yelena—Lena (or sometimes Alyona)
  • Anastasiya—Nastya
  • Tatyana—Tanya
  • Natalya—Natasha
  • Darya—Dasha
  • Nadezhda—Nadya
  • Mikhail—Misha
  • Sergey—Seryozha
  • Vladimir—Volodya
  • Stanislav—Stas
  • Ivan—Vanya
  • Nikolay—Kolya
  • Aleksey—Alyosha or Lyosha
  • Pavel—Pasha
  • Vyacheslav—Slava
  • both Aleksandr and Aleksandra—Sasha
  • both Yevgeniy and Yevgeniya—Zhenya

In practice, a person normally has their formal name listed on their paperwork, and all their friends, relatives, and superiors will know their pet name and use that. When this person moves to an English-speaking country, however, that correspondence is not so obvious anymore. People have chosen to deal with that in different ways. Some go by their full, “formal” name, including with their friends, as I have done. Others adopt their pet name as their professional or even legal name, like the journalist Masha Gessen or sports writer Slava Malamud. A third group may pick an English name, like Katie instead of Yekaterina (Katya).

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Patronymics

The second part of a typical Russian name is derived from the person’s father’s name and means “son of” or “daughter of.” Examples include Sergeevich (son of Sergey) or Andreevna (daughter of Andrey). If the father is unknown or estranged, a stepfather’s, grandfather’s, or another male figure’s name may be used. There have been cases of people using matronyms (forms derived from the mother’s name), but this practice remains uncommon.

Together, a person’s given name and patronymic serve as a polite way of addressing someone, similar to the English “Mr. Smith” or “Ms. Patel,” e.g. Yelena Andreevna or Nikolay Sergeevich. While some immigrants do retain their patronymic as their middle name, it is not truly equivalent to one in function. While a Rebecca Grace Peterson may choose to go by Grace, a Petr Ivanovich Sokolov wouldn’t normally go by Ivanovich alone (although standalone patronymics may be used as an affectionate nickname among co-workers or in rural areas).

Gendered Last Names

Many Russian last names are originally possessive adjectives derived from names of occupations, cities, animals, people, etc. As such, they have a masculine and feminine form. For example, a man’s last name is Ivanov, but the women in his family will have the last name Ivanova. This correspondence is automatic, so if, upon marrying a man called Ivan Spassky, a woman decided to take that man’s last name, her last name would become Spasskaya, not Spassky. (As far as I know, there is no established practice for non-binary people. Luckily, some last names, like mine, are “unisex” and do not have separate gendered forms.)

Of course, this Russian convention may create some issues in English-speaking countries when you have family members whose last name is a few letters off. For instance, the men of the family could have the surname Grigoryev, while the women might be Grigoryeva. I once witnessed an insurance company reject a claim because the “masculine” form of the name was listed on the paperwork for a patient who had the “feminine” form of that same name. To avoid this, some immigrant families may adopt a single spelling of their surname—usually the “masculine” form—so Anna Osetinskaya may become Anna Osetinsky. However, that’s not usually an option for visitors, students, or temporary workers, who have to keep the legal name listed in their documents.

Now you know why Natalya and Natasha are the same name to Russian ears, why related men and women have “different” last names, and why Russian “middle names” can be so long. I hope this post has helped you demystify some idiosyncrasies around Russian names.

What’s Wrong with Using Child Interpreters?

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Interpreting for your family is almost a rite of passage for bilingual children. While it may be harmless or even helpful for the family in many everyday situations, I would warn against relying on child interpreters in high-stakes situations that may have financial, legal, or medical consequences.

In my previous post I argued that bilingualism (some scholars propose the term “translanguaging” instead) is not sufficient for effective interpreting in these situations. To succeed, an interpreter needs to know how to accurately convey meaning from one language to another, how to handle contentious situations, and how to maintain professional role boundaries—hard to do when your client is a family member!

This does not imply that heritage speakers are somehow deficient. A deficit view assumes that these speakers do not have an adequate grasp on their heritage language because they learned it “socially” and not “academically.” Researchers including Dr. Nelson Flores point out that “if affluent white children were engaged in the same exact biliteracy practices they would not be positioned in this way.” Both heritage speakers and people who learned their second language in an academic setting can and should be trained—as adults—if they want to provide interpreting in high-stakes scenarios. In fact, the ATA Chronicle has published a fascinating report of how one such program for heritage speakers was implemented.

Nor am I arguing that children should never interpret—helping family members understand each other at dinner is probably fine as long as the child doesn’t mind. What I am talking about is when organizations “delegate” their legal language-access responsibilities under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to the clients’ children, leaving the families to deal with any potential fallout. Just as you wouldn’t have a monolingual 8-year-old negotiate with your mechanic or defend you in court, it should not fall to a polyglot 8-year-old to interpret in these situations! People, including the bilingual children themselves, have suffered harm because no qualified interpreter was provided—The High Costs of Language Barriers in Medical Malpractice details the medical and legal consequences of this kind of negligence in healthcare settings.

How My Parents Almost Got Stuck with the Bill

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I have a personal story, which I haven’t shared publicly until now, that illustrates why relying on your child for your language needs can quickly get messy. While purely anecdotal, it serves as my personal point of reference for the complex emotions and conflicting responsibilities a child interpreter may experience when tasked with providing language access.

When I was 12, my parents and I moved to Israel. I had only taken a few months of Hebrew before the move. I got enrolled in an Israeli middle school, where I would spend a few hours a day in a Hebrew-as-a-second-language class but, otherwise, take “mainstream” classes from day one.

On the first day of school, the first few periods were in the same classroom. Then it was time for electives. A kindly classmate tried to explain to me that I could take a lesson of my choice, perhaps math (“Matematika?she said and, seeing the blank stare on my face, tried the Hebrew word, “Kheshbon?”). I grasped the concept of an elective fine, but I still didn’t know what electives were available, how I could sign up, and, most immediately, where I needed to go for my next class.

The nice classmate was going to an art class, so, not knowing what else to do, I tagged along. For the next two years, I ended up taking art classes without explicitly signing up for them. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind the subject. But then my parents started receiving letters from the school. The letters, handwritten by one of the teachers, told my parents they owed the school for my art lessons and had to pay up ASAP to avoid any trouble. Guess who ended up translating the letters?

My parents were at a loss. After all, they had never signed me up for any paid electives! And I was too embarrassed to admit how I ended up in that class. The letters kept coming for a while. I don’t believe my parents ever addressed this issue with the school. What if the balance had been turned over to collections? What if there had been a heated standoff that I would have had to (try to) interpret? Luckily, these things didn’t happen.

Again, this incident happened in a different context. In the US, schools are supposed to provide language access to parents whose primary language isn’t English, including interpreters for parent-teacher conferences and translations of letters to the families. Schools may not always be compliant, but I’m glad the framework is there to spare schoolkids the tough role of negotiator between your parents and your school—both of whom have authority over you.

If there is one thing I’d like my readers to take away from this—if you are based in the US and are a medical provider or administrator, a public servant, a social worker, or a school employee—please find out what language access policies apply to your organization and advocate for language access for the people you serve. Children should not be responsible for handling high-stakes situations that may affect their and their families’ health, finances, criminal records, or immigration status.

Are Native Russian Speakers Always Russian?

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If a person you are working with speaks Russian, would it be safe to assume they are Russian? Well, it’s complicated.

First, the term “Russian” itself is ambiguous and can mean different things. It may mean a Russian citizen (rossiyanin) or a person of Russian heritage (russky), whether or not they live in the present-day country of Russia. To complicate matters further, people from the former USSR have been colloquially referred to as “Russian,” although some of them may not identify as such.

Legacy of Russian

In fact, many people from the former USSR may speak Russian as their first or second language. There are several reasons for that:

  • Russian was the official language in the USSR, often privileged over local or national languages of other constituent republics.
  • In Soviet times (and before), people moved from the territory of Russia to other parts of the country, bringing their language with them.
  • Russian remains an official or common language in some Eurasian countries like Kazakhstan or Moldova.

I have interpreted for people from Russia, Moldova, Latvia, Ukraine, Belarus, and even Lithuania—a country that does not currently have a high proportion of Russian speakers. As a rule, older people throughout the region are more likely to speak Russian natively or fluently, whereas younger people are more likely to speak the national language as their first language and study other languages like English as their second language.

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Some Tips

This history has several implications for individuals who work with speakers of Russian.

  • Your Russian-speaking client or partner may not come from Russia or be of Russian ancestry. Don’t assume and, if their country of origin is relevant to the conversation, just ask.
  • Conversely, people from countries of the former USSR do not necessarily speak or understand Russian. If you are arranging translation or interpreting, check what language they actually prefer.
  • Be mindful of how you phrase your questions. I once heard a medical provider ask me what the patient’s “nationality” was. This kind of phrasing may be dehumanizing for people coming from a region where your ancestry and nationality are a fraught subject. If all you want to know is what language your client is speaking, that’s probably what you’ll want to ask. In that case, that patient happened to be Moldovan but was speaking Russian!

How Should You Refer to the Russian Language on Your Website?

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Having a website in several languages may be a good idea for many reasons from regulatory compliance to increased customer loyalty to higher sales. If Russian is one the languages on your website, here are some tips on how to make sure the language name is displayed correctly.

In English, we can just plug the name of the language into many different structures, for example “speak English,” “the English language,” or “written in English.” When localizing our website, we may be tempted to have the name of the other language(s) translated and then use the translation on buttons, dropdown lists, and sometimes even in the middle of a sentence! However, if you tried to do that with Russian, you might run into trouble. Compare the following forms.

If you speak RussianЕсли вы говорите по-русски
[Esli vy govorite po-russki]
User language: RussianЯзык пользователя: русский
[Vyberite yazyk: russkiy]
We have information in RussianУ нас есть информация на русском языке
[U nas est’ informatsiya na russkom yazyke]

You’ll notice that the word “Russian” is the same in all the English examples, but the translation of that word depends on the rest of the sentence. Here is how you can have the name of the language display properly.

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Dos

  • Send your translation team a screenshot or, better still, a link to your website so they know where each string appears.
  • For the dropdown list of languages, use the word “русский” (russkiy, Russian). That is the name of the language, which should not be capitalized unless it is the first word in the sentence or unless all other language names are capitalized, too. Do not use “по-русски” (po-russky), the adverb used in “speak Russian.”
  • If the word “Russian” appears in a sentence somewhere else on your website, have the entire sentence translated as a whole rather than insert the translation for “Russian” into a pre-translated sentence (see my post on concatenation).

Don’ts

  • Avoid using flags to identify languages. Russian is used in several countries and regions other than Russia, such as Kazakhstan, Belarus, or Moldova.
  • Do not use a language variable in the middle of a sentence. As we saw above, the form of the word “Russian” will depend on how it’s used, so populating all instances with the same translation will result in grammatical errors.

Should You Use a Low Reading Level in Your Russian Medical Translations?

Some translation requests I have received specify that the translation should read at a 5th or 6th grade level. Intuitively, this makes sense—you want your audience, who may have a low level of education or health literacy, to understand your message clearly. However, this approach is based on assumptions that may not apply to Russian speakers in the US.

Level of Education

First of all, immigrants from the former Soviet Union tend to “possess higher levels of education compared with U.S.-born whites,” according to a study by Neil Mehta and Irma Elo. The same study reports that “middle-aged and older aged [former Soviet Union] immigrants are about twice as likely to hold a college degree compared with their U.S.-born white counterparts.”

One reason for this may be the accessibility of education in their countries of origin. Another reason for their educational attainment is that there may be self-selection among recent Russian-speaking arrivals. They may be coming to the US as international students or temporary professional workers. These statuses require proof of solvency and a certain level of education.

Furthermore, it is estimated that some 70 percent of immigrants from the former Soviet Union might be Jewish. Speaking about immigrant women specifically, The Encyclopedia of Jewish Women points out that many were trained in STEM fields: “In contrast to the 16.5 percent of American women who worked as engineers, technicians, or other professionals, over two-thirds of Soviet Jewish émigré women had worked in these occupations prior to their arrival.” This means that overly simplified health communications may confuse this mostly highly-educated audience and even come across as insulting.

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Exposure to Medicine

In addition, the average Russian-speaking immigrant will have had more exposure to healthcare than an average American. In 2016, people in the US saw a doctor an average four times a year. To use Russia as a comparison case, in 2018, people there saw a doctor an average of 8.4 times annually. Whether or not more frequent visits are medically beneficial, it appears that speakers of Russian are more used to seeing medical professionals and, by extension, hearing medical vocabulary.

Furthermore, in Russia, a physical is often are required for schoolchildren, first-year college students, and job applicants. For instance, Russian children have extensive physicals at ages 7, 10, 14, 15, and 16, when they are seen by several specialists, including a neurologist, dentist, ophthalmologist, and endocrinologist, and get an ultrasound, a cardiogram, and a blood test. Again, whether such in-depth screening is medically necessary is beyond the scope of this article. Be it as it may, an average Russian will have some familiarity with the most common conditions and diagnostic tests.

Implications for Medical Communication

As a result, a Russian-speaking immigrant is likely to recognize words that may be considered specialized vocabulary in the US. For example, a person who had their blood work done many times in their country of origin will be used to the word eritrotsity (red blood cells, literally “erythrocytes”). Using a literal translation of “red blood cells”—krasnye krovyanye tel’tsa—in an attempt to make the text more accessible may have the opposite effect. In fact, I’ve once interpreted at a diabetes consult, where the medical provider said, “the organ that produces insulin,” only to have the patient say, “You mean ‘pancreas’?”

None of this means that your Russian-speaking audience will necessarily have a high level of health literacy or a good understanding of the US healthcare delivery model. That being said, Russian speakers are likely to be familiar with common biology concepts, such as names of internal organs or medical specializations. So what should you do to communicate effectively with this demographic? Consider the following approaches.

  • Focus on breaking down the more advanced diagnostic or treatment procedures, explaining what will happen at each step.
  • State the rationale for recommending a particular drug or treatment, keeping in mind that this treatment may be unfamiliar to your patient or different from what they have come to expect in their country of origin.
  • Define any potentially complex terms the first time you mention them. That way, you know the reader will have something to refer to if they are unfamiliar with the term.

Translated on—but Not Necessarily by—a Computer

Would it surprise you to find out that today’s translators spend a lot of their time on a computer? This may not be the first image that comes to mind. Perhaps you imagine a person with a heap of dictionaries and reference books. At the most, they type up their carefully crafted translation before they send it off. Yet many translators use software tools to ensure their translations are consistent and their client’s formatting and code are preserved. As always, by translation, I will be referring to producing written content in another language, as opposed to interpreting oral or signed communication.

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You Mean Machine Translation?

Of course, using computers to translate isn’t a new idea. Automatic, or machine, translation has been around since the 50s, and it’s made considerable progress recently. Does that mean that human translators simply use machine translation in their work or that machine translation is supplanting human translators? Not quite.

A lot of translation nowadays is commercial — that means business, scientific, medical, legal, patent, or other kinds of non-creative writing need to be made available in additional languages. For this kind of translation, consistent and accurate phrasing is paramount. To help with this, many—but not all—professional translators use special software that stores glossaries and previous translations and gives the human translator suggestions on terminology and phrasing. This software may be configured to include suggestions from automatic translation providers, but in many circumstances, they should not be used due to confidentiality requirements or the quality of machine translation.

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Why Translators Have to Worry About Tags

Most texts nowadays are produced on a computer, but can we just enter the translation in a word processor? For some texts, that might work, although you would lose the benefits of consistency and accuracy that specialized translation software helps you with. However, sometimes what you need to translate is not a linear text per se. Other kinds of content, such as webpages, user interface strings, or desktop publishing layouts, also require translation. In that case, we should care to preserve not only the message but also such elements as:

  • hyperlinks
  • formatting
  • non-translatable variables

That’s another reason translators may choose to use specialized software, which recognizes any XML or HTML tags your content might contain and helps preserve them in the appropriate spot in the translation.

In the end, translators who do not use automated, or machine, translation in their work often rely on specialized translation software to produce consistent content that reflects not only the meaning but also the form and functionality of the input text. Writing and content generation have changed in the last couple of decades—why shouldn’t translation?

I Know Two Languages. Am I Ready to Translate?

Perhaps you speak two or more languages, whether you learned them at home, in the community, in school, or as an immigrant. Are you ready to translate, and should you? There are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you are prepared to perform effectively and serve your clients well. For the sake of clarity, I will refer to spoken or signed communication as interpreting, and written communication as translation, but these tips largely apply to both activities.

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Specialized Language

You need to know both of your working languages at a high level to be either a translator or interpreter. Perhaps you feel confident in your ability to have a casual conversation in a certain language but aren’t sure how you would do in a business meeting. Excluding people whose language knowledge comes from sources other than formal study from working in this area is neither just nor justified. Professor Nelson Flores points out how arbitrary dividing language into academic and “social” is.

At the same time, different subject fields and text types do have their own vocabularies, grammars, and other conventions. Most translators and interpreters specialize, meaning they work in one or a few areas. For example, if you end up working as a healthcare interpreter, you will need to learn the names of common medicines and procedures and know what to expect during a clinical visit. No one knows this “out of the box,” but there are many ways of getting this knowledge, including interpreter training programs, experience working in healthcare, self-study, shadowing a medical provider, or a combination of these activities.

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Techniques

Apart from knowing the subject matter in two languages, you need to be able to re-code message from the one language to the other effectively. (As a side note, many translators only work from their second, or passive, language into their first, or active, one.) What if there is no exact translation? Should you follow the structure of the original utterance? How do you remember all the details, and can you omit something?

Translator or interpreter training teaches you some approaches that will help you cope with these challenges and provide good service to your clients. Once again, a college degree in not the only venue where you can get these skills.

Ethics

Finally, some situations might arise in the course of your work that will require you to make a judgment call. What if you’re sure the speaker or writer made a mistake? What if a person tells you not to interpret what they just said? What if two agencies ask you for a quote for translating the same document?

Knowing two languages or being a subject-matter expert alone doesn’t provide guidance on how to handle ethical quandaries, but translator/interpreter training does touch upon potential ethical conflicts and some best practices to follow in tricky situations. Granted, the standards may be different depending on the organization training you, the subject field, or even your region or country. For instance, different codes of ethics have different guidance on whether and how much an interpreter should advocate on behalf any of the parties involved in the encounter. However, these standards will provide a starting point you can refer to as you make your own judgment calls.

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I’m Sold. Where Do I Sign Up?

Once again, none of what I said means that you need to have a framed degree on your wall before you dare to translate or interpret. There are many ways to get the skills you need to be successful, including short courses or self-study materials. Below is a list of resources you might want to check out. This is list is by no means exhaustive, and I cannot endorse or vouch for any particular provider.

  1. Short courses and webinars
    1. ProZ.com translator website
    2. eCPD private training provider
    3. Training for Translators by Corinne McKay
    4. Blue Horizon interpreter training
  2. Professional organizations
    1. American Translators Association
    2. International Medical Interpreter Association
    3. National Association of Judicial Interpreters and Translators
  3. Universities
  4. Self-study materials
    1. For example, CDs by Acebo
  5. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) about various disciplines, for example on Coursera

However you decide to develop your skills, doing so will help you feel confident and do your job effectively.

Chickpeas or Garbanzos: Is Your Translated Content Consistent?

Imagine that halfway through the menu, one of the ingredients changed its name from “chickpeas” to “garbanzo beans”? Or a product was called “gadget” in your website and “device” in your online store? That might easily confuse your audience and muddle your brand message. Yet this is precisely what might happen in translation. Here are some things authors and content managers can do to preserve their organization’s voice in translation.

Decide on Preferred Terms

Consistency in key words you use in your communications will help you create a recognizable brand message and be precise in your communications.

  • Create a list of English key words and, if possible, their definitions.
  • Have a qualified translation provider, whether they are in-house or a contractor, document approved translations for these key words and save this list so you can reuse it on any translations in the future.

If you want to talk about driving, have your translation team pick whether they are going to use conducir, manejar, or perhaps even guiar in Spanish.

Decide on Your Tone

It’s good to have a document with some general guidance for your content creators, including translators. This type of document is sometimes called a style guide. Some things you could include are:

  • Should any company or product names or slogans be translated? If so, is there an existing translation you want to use?
  • Will you be more formal or more familiar in addressing your audience?
  • Should any references to your local phone numbers (like 911 for the emergency services) be replaced? With what?
  • Should names in hypothetical examples be replaced? If you have a Siobhan as a hypothetical customer, should that name be adapted in translated versions?

Recycle Your Translated Content

Once you have decided on your style and key words and have produced a few translated materials, don’t let all that hard work go to waste! You’ll want any future teams working on your translations to refer back to what was done before them and keep a consistent style in all of your materials. Any of the following things can help your team maintain your voice in translation:

  • Glossary of key words, ideally in both languages
  • Any style guides
  • Any existing target-language (translated) materials

Following these principles will help your translated materials do justice to your carefully crafted English message. Even if you have different people or teams working on your translations, sharing some guidance and existing translations with each of them goes a long way in keeping a high standard for your translated content.