Translation and Interpretation FAQ

Learn more information about professional translation and interpretation and the DVTA.

What is the difference between a translator and an interpreter?

Translators work with written materials while interpreters deal with the spoken language. Translators take a document written in one language and rewrite it in another language. Interpreters listen to spoken words in one language and repeat the same message in another language.

Should I pick an individual translator or a translation company?

You should choose depending on your circumstances. If your project concerns a single language and subject and you have the time and ability to manage the project, a relationship with an individual might be the right solution. Working with an individual translator will be more economical, and will better ensure consistency if you have other projects of a similar nature, especially if the individual has and uses a translation memory tool and/or builds personalized glossaries for his/her clients.

On the other hand, if your project has many documents, if you need to have one or more documents translated into several languages, or if you want someone to manage the project for you, a translation and/or interpretation company might be the better bet. In addition to managing multilingual projects and offering editing, proofreading and desktop publishing, these companies often provide other services such as software and Web site localization, terminology management, or simultaneous interpreting equipment rental.

How do I pick the right translator or interpreter?

Unlike some foreign countries, the United States has no examinations for certified or sworn translators. To ensure that you are dealing with a competent professional, look for indicators such as years of experience, formal education in translation, and accreditation from organizations such as the American Translators Association. Court interpreters can be certified by taking examinations available at the federal level, and in some areas at the state level, for certain languages.

The American Translators Association offers a booklet entitled A Consumer’s Guide to Professional Translation that describes the qualities you should seek when hiring translators and gives selection guidelines. It is available for $7 from the ATA website: www.atanet.org (click on Publications).

How much will a translation cost?

Rates vary depending upon the type of service offered. Interpreters charge by the hour or sometimes by the day. Rates are usually higher for conference and simultaneous interpreting. The total price may include reimbursement of travel, parking and other expenses. Inquire in each case.

Text length and complexity are the determining factors for translation charges. In the U.S. translators usually charge by the word. Services such as extensive formatting, desktop publishing or editing usually incur additional charges, sometimes at hourly or flat rates. For an accurate comparison, request a total dollar estimate, and make sure the services offered are the same (translation, editing, proofreading, by one or several linguists). Individuals and translation and/or interpretation companies are usually willing to provide free estimates.

What is a certified translation?

In the United States, a certified translation consists of a statement signed by the translator and notarized by a Notary Public, attesting that the translator believes the translation to be accurate and complete. This should be attached to the original document and translation. Sometimes this statement is called a “Certificate of Accuracy.”

What is the mailing address for the DVTA?

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 269, Brandamore, PA 19316