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These days there is a growing tendency to seek and transact translation services purely by email. There are lots of translator databases out there, so it’s easy to send a 20-word enquiry to a bunch of likely candidates, sift through the replies, and pick the cheapest price. That’s okay to a point, because we all buy generics when we can get away with it. But the impersonal ‘e-Bay translation’ procurement method is not always ideal.

Working with Professional Translators
Returning to the UNSW case study, we find something interesting: the University itself specifies the wording of the translator’s ‘statement’ (or what we would usually call our declaration):

“Each translation must be accompanied by a statement which states ‘The translated text in this document is an accurate and complete translation of the original document’”

Now, most translators have their own declaration formula, and would use it automatically unless told otherwise. In a way, the presence of that precisely worded ‘statement’ is like a little test to ensure that you (and the translator) have followed the process properly. And note the expression ‘accurate and complete’: this makes full translation the safest approach, preferably formatted as closely to the source document as possible. Opting for attention to detail and high quality presentation shows that you want your application to be taken seriously.

Evidently, this is not a situation where a bulk, bargain-bazaar approach to sourcing translation services will do. The translator needs to know that the application is especially for UNSW – s/he may even want to contact the University for more details about meeting its requirements. For example, does the ‘accompanying’ statement go on the last page of the translation, at the foot of each page, on the back of each page, or in a separate document?

So, in this instance you’d need to find a capable professional, and communicate effectively with him or her so that together you can present all documentation in the appropriate way, right down to the translator’s statement. The databases of professional translator institutes are a good place to start looking (in Australia, AUSIT). Check the specialisations that each translator offers, narrow it down to three or so, and maybe give them a call instead of just emailing. Help them understand what you need so they can work with you to achieve it.

It’s worth repeating that official applications are pivotal times, when supposedly convenient short cuts can end up as big detours in life. It’s no saving if a non-compliant translation means missing a deadline date and waiting another semester to enrol, or postponing your overseas working holiday until next year.

Coming up
Obviously, it is possible to faithfully make certified copies and perform accurate and complete translations of purportedly ‘original’ documents that have been cleverly forged or tampered with. The fact remains that translators (or certifying JPs) can never truly know if the source document they have been given is genuine or not. The only people equipped to determine the authenticity of such items are forensic experts and, of course, the authorities who issued them in the first place. That brings up the subject of legalisations and apostilles, to be explored in subsequent posts.



After all the explaining up to now, a practical example helps to visualise one way of submitting documents and translations where a high standard of compliance is expected. Case Study… To illustrate a typical process, and how each official body or institution can apply its own standards, let’s look briefly at enrolments for the UniversityContinue Reading