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Fisher International Services

Selecting a Translator

Things to consider: quality, price, qualifications

Quality of Translation: If you only need an informal personal letter translated into another language, the quality of the translation may not be too important to you. But if you need a translation of an important document, then quality should be your first concern.

Prices: Translation rates in the USA are usually based on word count, except for small jobs for which there is a flat fee. Prices vary by language and difficulty of the materials. Additional charges apply for translations requiring certification and/or other special handling. For a firm price it is therefore normally necessary to first submit the materials to a translator for review. You can do this quickly and easily by e-mail attachment, fax, or even by postal mail. It is advisable to obtain a written agreement of work to be done and price to be paid, even if it is only an e-mail. This avoids possible misunderstandings later.

Qualifications of Translator: There is no official government certification program in the United States for general translators, but only for translators and interpreters working directly for the government. The professional translator and interpreter organizations attempt to assure quality standards for their members. There is, however, no requirement for practicing translators to join or be certified by any of these organizations. While many professional translators have training, degrees and/or certification specifically in translation, as well as extensive knowledge of specific fields or subjects, others in business in the USA may have only a general knowledge of the language.

Better into Native Language

As you would expect, in most cases a person reared and educated primarily in one language will be better in that language than someone reared and educated primarily in another language. True bilingualism is rare and most people, even translators, seldom completely master more than one language. It is very difficult to learn to write a second language so that it reads like that of a native. A translator working into his or her native language is therefore normally better than a translator for whom that is a second language. It is therefore always better to obtain the services of a native translator of the target language.

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How to select the right translator for your translations