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  • Writer's pictureYelena McCafferty

Translation is not all about books

Ahead of the International Translation Day on 30th September this year I ran a LinkedIn awareness campaign with the hashtag #TranslationPR and the slogan: Translation is not all about books!

Why? Simply because when you tell someone you are a translator, the initial association most people from outside the industry will have is with book translations. I have translated less than a handful of books in my career so the world of translation is much wider.

Some of our clients know that we translate props for movies from time to time and it’s rewarding to see your own work on a big screen. Over the years I have also developed expertise in genealogy translations, working with old handwritten family records, often in pre-revolutionary Russian. I was delighted to have helped the producers of the popular BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are, Series 19.

Media work doesn’t end there: I translate video footage for documentaries which the producers then review and select for the actual film.

Years ago I translated make-up and cosmetic product descriptions for packaging as the products were subsequently exported to Russian-speaking countries. As part of the project the client posted the actual products to me so I could feel and try them, without relying on the visuals. Many countries require that labelling and manuals of imported products include a version in their language.

I also translated descriptions of artwork and provenance for art collectors as well as menus and wine lists for fine diners. Projects such as these don’t come in every year but when they do, they can be quite challenging as research into history or into the art of cooking may be required.

Certified translations stand out as a separate service as they are generally required for all sorts of purposes: property transactions, immigration, education, employment, to name just a few areas.

On the point of employment, the rise of AI has been very much in the news lately, but when it comes to technical instructions and health and safety guidance for workers, our clients don’t risk resorting to machine translation. Any place of work pertains some risks and it’s vital that employees whose first language is not English should know the rules to follow.

And legal certified translations are not restricted to documents. Some of those are translations of audio recordings for court cases and I’ve translated secret recordings made by children, husbands, wives, neighbours, all trying to prove their point and get justice.

Some commissions are one-offs. I once had to translate a tattoo. You might think that for a word or a phrase people would just turn to machine translation but it wasn’t a simple one. It was a quote from Shakespeare so I had to do my research and provide the customer with the correct translation from the book. Translation is not all about books! But on an odd occasion it may be related to literary translation.

Legal stamped translation from Russian into English

[Tip: We don't publish translation rates as each project is individual and pricing depends on the complexity, format and urgency. Please email us: for a quote.]


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