Difference between a sworn and a ‘normal’ translation

Interpreters/Translators for the Tourism and Travel Industry in Zimbabwe
June 2, 2018
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Difference between a sworn and a ‘normal’ translation

For official purposes, say for immigration, school applications, etc you need your documents to be translated by a certified or sworn translator? So how does one translate a birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce certificate, will or even your degree certificates into another language in Zimbabwe and know it will be accepted in the other country?

The difference between a “normal” translation and a “sworn” translation is that the first has a strong communicative function, and the translator’s task is to make the text more accessible to the reader. With the latter however, the translator cannot attempt to improve the source document or try to adapt it to a specific audience. The translation should be clearly recognizable as the same document, with all the information as in t
he original, even if some of it seems unnecessary or repetitious. Sworn translators assume that every word and every nuance has a purpose, and reproduce the content, every signature, every stamp in the way they appear on the original.

Having said all of this there is one huge myth which needs to be dispelled and that is simply to have a document stamped and signed at a police station, by a commissioner of oaths or by a lawyer does not make it a sworn translation. A sworn translator has sworn an oath in the specific country to “translate faithfully and correctly, to the best of their knowledge and ability”. To ensure that a translation is recognized as a sworn translation, sworn translators stamp and sign every page of their translations and add a statement certifying that it “is a true translation of the original”. A sworn translation of a document is the legal equivalent of the original document in a court of law. Furthermore, also remember that a sworn translator is sworn for a particular language combination which implies that a translator sworn for English-French is not necessarily also sworn for French-English. Translators wishing to provide sworn translation in both directions have to be tested and sworn for each language combination separately.

Now that you understand the differences between the two kinds of translations, do not forget that a sworn translation needs to be given to a client as a hard copy, whereas a normal translation can be sent electronically. Therefore, factor into your calculations an extra three to four working days for postage.

For official sworn translations and normal document translation kindly visit us or email simba@lingua.co.zw or call +263778484566

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