Sworn Translation made easier

Sworn Translation made easier

In my recent presentation for SATI on sworn translation, I tried my best to make this field of translation sound as intimidating as possible. My main reason for doing this was to discourage translators who think that this is an easy job to do – after all, how much skill does it take to translate a degree certificate, right?

Translators who are really interested in this field and are prepared to put in the time and effort to learn the required skills can make their life easier by doing some preparation work in advance.

The first step will be to purchase and study the Manual for Sworn Translation. The manual contains examples that can assist you in building a set of templates for different types of documents that you will definitely come across, such as divorce orders, degree certificates, adoption certificates or apprentice contracts, in the language combinations in which you work. I suggest also asking for the assistance of colleagues to help you set up this “library”. Even if the document you translate is not identical to your template, you will usually be able to reuse at least the basic phrases and terms, and as your library grows, you will be able to deliver your translation in a shorter time and with more accuracy.

Another important step is to keep a glossary or a database of specific terminology. Sometimes you might have to search for hours in order to find the translation of an obscure or archaic term in the source document, so it makes sense to keep a record of all these terms that are researched and checked.

This is where CAT tools enter the equation: they make keeping such records extremely simple.

I use CAT tools whenever I translate, so it seemed a logical step to start using them for sworn translations too. I scan my source document into a PDF file, then convert it to Word and work from there. Initially the Word document requires some basic formatting like any converted PDF file, but practice makes perfect, and you will quickly learn how to do everything in a short time.

When the preliminary work has been done and you have checked that your Word conversion contains all the text required, you are set to use your CAT tool for the translation. I use Wordfast Classic for this, as it allows me to work in Word and to recall previous translations done from my translation memory. I also use three different glossaries to instantly recall terminology with just one click, or I can quickly search in all the glossaries and translation memories I have built up over the years. In this way I can really improve the quality of my work, ensure consistency, eliminate most of the guesswork and speed up delivery to my clients.

Not all documents that come your way will be template- or CAT tool-friendly, so there will be times when you have to do the work the hard, old-fashioned way. Those times will make you appreciate the shortcuts you have adopted even more!

Sworn translation is all about accuracy, with no wiggle room when it comes to terminology. Enhance your reputation and invest some time in finding out exactly how you can assist yourself in the process of becoming the best sworn translator you can be.

If you have any questions about sworn translation or Wordfast Classic, feel free to contact me at wilna@lieben.co.za.

Written by Wilna Liebenberg

Related Articles