I have a business meeting next week; could you come and translate for me?
No. What you need is an interpreter, not a translator; translators work with written texts and interpreters work in spoken situations. Although there are interpreting translators and translating interpreters (the umbrella term is “linguist”), I choose to restrict myself to translating written texts and am not available for spoken language assignments.
Do you translate user manuals as well?
Not usually. A good translator will only work in specialist areas in which they are competent. You are probably familiar with the situation in which a mechanic starts to explain how a motor works: however plain and simple their English is, the explanation is simply all Greek to you. This is exactly how it is for me, so I tend to stay away from technical texts. The exception to this is if the manual is about an appliance with which I happen to be very familiar. For all other cases, I am more than happy to use my wide network of colleagues to recommend a suitable translator for you.
Do you translate into Russian as well?
No; the only exception being legal documents, which I translate from Russian into German and vice versa. Russian is a very difficult language and the mother-tongue principle generally applies to translation work. Under this principle, translators only work out of the foreign language into their mother tongue, not the other way round. This is because, in the vast majority of cases, you can only be stylistically confident in your mother tongue. However, I am more than happy to use my wide network of colleagues to recommend a suitable Russian translator for you.
Do you translate into English as well?
No; the only exception being legal documents, which I translate from German into English and vice versa. But I am more than happy to use my wide network of colleagues to recommend a suitable English translator for you.
FAQ Document Translation
In German, translators can be “beeidigt”, “vereidigt”, “ermächtigt” or “öffentlich bestellt”. What do these terms mean and which one do I need?
All of these terms mean the same thing. The differences are simply down to the fact that each Federal State uses its own term. They all refer to a sworn translator who has been officially authorised or appointed by the relevant district court to certify the correctness and completeness of written translations. As such, a sworn translator is able to translate documents “mit Beglaubigung” or “mit Stempel”, i.e. with legal certification, as required by the public authorities and universities.
A “zertifizierter” translator is, however, merely a translator who is certified according to the European Standard DIN EN 15038. While this is certainly a hallmark of quality, it has nothing to do with certified translations in the legal sense.
… or am I actually looking for an interpreter?
Sworn interpreters work with spoken language, for example at court hearings, with the police, in registry offices, etc. I do NOT offer this service.
What about state certified (staatlich geprüft), IHK approved (IHK-geprüft) or graduate (Diplom) translators?
These are all qualifications to watch out for as the title “Translator” is not protected by law in Germany. The fact remains that certified translations of certificates, documents, etc. may only be undertaken by sworn translators (“ermächtigte” translators in Lower Saxony) as described in the above paragraph. No other title will do.
Would I be better off sending my document to a notary?
No. A notary can do a lot, but cannot certify translations. Only sworn translators can do this, as described in the above paragraph.
The public authorities in the USA require the following: All documents not in English, or the official language of the country where the visa application will be processed, must be accompanied by a certified translation. Your translation must include a statement signed by the translator that states the following: Translation is accurate Translator is competent to translate. Can you fulfil this requirement?
In English: As a duly authorised translator for the English language by the Regional Court Hanover, Germany, I hereby certify that the foregoing is, to the best of my knowledge and belief, a true and correct translation of the German document submitted to me as a copy/certified copy/original.
In German: Die Richtigkeit und Vollständigkeit vorstehender Übersetzung des mir als unbeglaubigte Kopie/beglaubigte Kopie/Original vorgelegten Dokuments wird bescheinigt.The stamp that I use to officially seal translations confirms that I am authorised by the State Court of Hanover to provide certified translations in German, English and Russian. That, along with my signature, fulfils this requirement.
Could I just come round to your office to drop the documents off?
I would rather you didn’t. As a freelancer, I work from home rather than running a translation office and would therefore request that you make an appointment before visiting.
I need a translation into/from a language other than English or Russian; where can I find someone to do this?
A database of officially authorised, appointed and sworn translators and interpreters is provided for all languages by the State Justice Administrations at www.justiz-dolmetscher.de. For a list of qualified translators and interpreters that includes both those who are sworn and those who are not, please see the BDÜ’s database (the German Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators).
I have a copy of a German/English/Russian document which needs certifying; can you do this?
No. I am only authorised to certify (my) translations into or out of German, English and Russian–nothing else is permitted. Please contact your local authorities to have your copy certified.
I’ve already translated something myself; could you stamp it for me?
In principle I can certify translations by other people. However, as I will need to compare the translation very closely with the source text and alter or add things to the translation if needed, I charge the same for this as for a new translation by me.
Do you also translate from Russian into English and vice versa?
No. As it was in Germany that I received my authorisation to provide certified translations, I am only able to certify translations into or out of German.
How do you make corrections in a document?
That depends! If you provide me with a printed text, I will correct it in the good old traditional manner with a red pen (or rather biro). On PDF files I will highlight the relevant sections and insert a note explaining the error. The simplest way of making corrections is, of course, to use track changes in a Word file, adding in comments as necessary. Depending on the platform, I can also edit website texts directly online.
When is an error an error?
Unless otherwise agreed, I adhere to the current Duden recommendations. If you would prefer not to use these recommendations (FAZ refers a different set of guidelines, for example), please specify this when placing an order for proofreading and I will only correct objective errors for which there can be no argument. Please note that I only proofread German German as I am not familiar enough with the rules of Austrian and Swiss German.
So what kind of texts do you correct?
“What” in terms of what errors do I look out for? That depends on what you require! When you place an order, please specify which of the following areas I should correct alongside indisputable errors:
- Spelling and grammar in accordance with Duden recommendations
- Checking of proper names, references, figures, consistency of terms, style (multi-clause sentences, word order, target group)
- For literary texts: plausibility
- For proofs: layout, correct hyphenation
“What” in terms of what kind of texts?
Websites, flyers, brochures, specialist texts, letters, adverts, technical books, novels, dissertations and theses, etc.