Spanish English Translation, Interpreting and Language Consulting


Some general information about translation as both activity and product, so you can better decide what service is right for you.

Scroll to the bottom for some useful online dictionaries and glossaries – the list is updated periodically so be sure to check back in.

Understanding the Translation Market, ‘Products’ and Services

Nobody has trouble accepting that there is a world of difference between Fish Fingers versus Sashimi Tuna, or a Burger & Fries versus an aged Wagyu rib-eye fillet with Kipfler Mash. They involve identifiably similar ingredients, but that is all. It is no different with language and translation: words are the common ingredient, but it is simplistic to contend that they are merely ‘meat and potatoes’, and the only determining factor of price and quality. The real evaluation parameter of a text is not how many words it uses but the significance and nuances of the ideas it carries; the ‘value’ of a translation is in how successfully it transmits them.

Ideas, like nutrition, come in a wide variety of substance and complexity. You are the best person to decide whether the catering for your communicative needs is best accomplished via the drive-thru window, a five star establishment, or somewhere between. Is it in-house or out-bound? Relaxed or formal? On the record or off the cuff? We make pragmatic decisions about ‘fitness for purpose’ all the time – even Michelin chefs will grab a burger on the run: it’s all about trade-offs and knowing if, when and how much you can afford to make them.

A large part of the global translation market is now dedicated to producing fast (ideally instantaneous) translations of a constant stream of content associated with digital media. Much of this material will only have a short lifespan, and be updated or superseded as the associated technology develops (or becomes obsolete). Unfortunately, this segment is propagating the idea that all translation can be good, fast, and cheap. Yet common sense tells you that while attractive deals arise from time to time, quality, speed and low prices do not consistently go together.

If you are uncertain about what translating is and how to balance the various factors for the kind of service that will suit you, there are some useful resources available online. The ones below will help increase your understanding of translation as a market and a service, and assist you in determining your own expectations and quality/price point.


This publication was produced in 2004 by French-English translator Chris Durban and published by the American Translators Association (ATA). It is  available for download through various translator organisations including the Institute of Translating and Interpreting (ITI) in the UK.

There are now editions in 11 different languages, including Spanish. Here are two sites where you can download the PDF:

Getting it Right – ATA / Getting it Right – ITI


This is a more recent offering coauthored by Chris Durban and Professor Alan Melby (who, incidentally, was one of the chief researchers and thinkers behind computerised translation technologies). Here is small excerpt:

“[…] a car is not a commodity unless all you care about is whether it has four wheels and passes safety inspection. Many car buyers look closely at such factors as fuel economy,horsepower, handling, number of passenger seats, and styling.”

If that whets your appetite to read more, you can find downloadable PDFs through these links:

Buying a Non-Commodity – ATA / Buying a Non-Commodity – ITI

Further Reading

If you would like to do some more exploring, then one useful place to start is “(Almost) Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Translation” by Lola Beldana and Alan Melby. You can find a downloadable PDF of it here.


I am a member of the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT) and the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI). As such I am bound by the respective Codes of Ethics. You can access them using the links below.


For professionals and travelers, here are some handy language resources from the Web.

Inter Active Terminology for Europe. (IATE). Multiple EU languages and subject areas; “the EU inter-institutional terminology database. IATE has been used in the EU institutions and agencies since summer 2004 for the collection, dissemination and shared management of EU-specific terminology”.

European Dictionary. Multiple EU languages, “a collection of online dictionaries for the languages spoken mostly in the European Community”.

Word Reference EnSp. Spanish <> English; generalist dictionary by

Word Reference EnPt. Portuguese <> English; generalist dictionary by

Mining and Petroleum Industry Technical Glossary. Spanish <> English; “contains 22,000 useful words and phrases that have been carefully selected for the extractive industries, mining and petroleum”.

Dictionary of Mining, Minerals and Related Terms. Spanish <> English; “A dictionary of more than 27,000 terms and definitions with extensive cross-referencing. Original content was compiled by the US Bureau of Mines”.

Dictionary of Foreign Trade. Spanish, English and Catalan.

Maritime and Naval Glossary. Spanish <> English; published by the University of Oviedo, Spain.