The Range of Services Provided by Translators

If you consider the different types of documents that exist in the world, not to mention the tons of actual documents that people may want to be translated, you can begin to be impressed by the professional translation sector. These companies often offer multiple types of translation so that they can provide a service to most clients.

We look at the range of translation services these professionals offer. As will be seen, companies that provide these services must hire multiple qualified and experienced staff to cover all the requests brought to them by potential clients. We also demonstrate the differences between translation services, which is mainly what we cover here, and interpreter services, although these two offerings may be provided by one company. Additionally, we discuss machine translations and why these are inadequate to comply with translation projects for clients such as the courts and medical professions.

General Certified Translations

Certain documents have to be certified true copies of the original. Examples of certified translation services are translations of death certificates, birth certificates, divorce papers, immigration applications, and college transcripts. When important papers must be translated, these will only be accepted if the translation work is done by a professional translator. The translation and signature of the translator will have to be certified.

Legal Translations

Legal documents that are required to be translated are minutes and reports of court proceedings, judicial texts, expert opinions, similar technical documents, remittance drafts, corporate statutes, registration documents, and other administrative texts, warrants, and summons.

Professional translators working with legal texts must have a full grasp of legal terminologies, the laws of a country, how legal systems work in the countries involved, and the culture.

Legal translators may take on the role of juridical translators, where they are required to work directly in the courtroom. They may have to take on the part of official legal experts.

Juridical Translations

The term juridical translation concerns documentation that is legally binding. Such documentation may be comprised of bail assurance, insurance policies, internal regulations, conventions and protocols, accords, partnership agreements, and commercial, licence, or labour contracts. These experts are required to have the same background and grasp of legal terminologies as legal translators, for example.

Medical Translations

Medical translators require deep medical knowledge and the ability to use the correct terminology. These specialists deal with documentation such as prescriptions, medical findings, medical histories, drug information plus instructions, pharmaceutical tests, clinical research results, scientific articles, medical publications, and translating medical textbooks.

Technical Translation

The strictest or most narrow description of technical translation is confined to documentation like industrial, mechanics, electronics, IT, and engineering texts. A broader definition includes administrative terms, minutes of proceedings, financial reports, internal notes, instructions leaflets, and user manuals.

Most of these documents have a limited readership and short shelf life. Nevertheless, translators of these texts must have a firm grasp of the specific terminology used in these fields, despite the fact that less than 10% of such documents contain specialised terminology as opposed to 90% of ordinary language.

Literary Translations

Literary translation relates to the translation of literary texts of varying kinds. This ranges from novels, plays, and poems, to biographies, letters, manuscripts, books, magazines, and film scripts. Specialised skills and knowledge are needed by experts in this field. This sector of translation amounts to only one percent of all translation work.

It is vital that a translation retains the original meaning of a text. Sometimes, this is impossible, and instead of translation, concepts that cannot be translated are transcreated to ensure alignment of the primary and new text in another language.

When translating literary manuscripts, there are certain clear prohibitions. No text can be left out, altered, or added to. Even mistakes must be retained.

Business and Economic Translation

Business documents include reports, accounting documents, correspondence, and tender documents, to name a few. Once again, translators must be experienced in the requisite terminologies. Economic translation applies to translating texts that are more specifically academic and of an economic nature.

Informative Translation

As opposed to more specific texts, those of an informative nature generally do not require the same in-depth knowledge of field-specific terminology. For example, the factual recording of a crime, as opposed to a crime fiction, is not meant to evoke an emotional response from readers or to be aesthetical. Examples of informative texts are business articles, political opinion pieces, travel notes, essays, feature materials, reports of findings in science and space, journalistic articles, patents, and websites. There may be an overlap between literary and informative texts.

Machine Translation

Professional translators do not make use of computer programmes to provide automatic translations. A high degree of skill is involved in professionally translating a document and this also requires knowledge of document-specific terminologies and underlying factors such as culture. Machine translations are only useful to get a general understanding of a document but cannot be used in any professional or legal setting.


A distinction can be made between oral and written translations. Oral translations fall more strictly under the ambit of interpreting than translation. Another group of professionals is responsible for the interpretation. However, some companies combine both skill sets in their service offerings and have the right mix of qualified employees to execute projects for either requirement.

The provision of the various types of certified translation services requires expertise that is specific to the type of documentation that is being translated. Whether the items in question are legal, medical, scientific, or otherwise, established translation service businesses are able to handle these diverse projects due to hiring the requisite experience into the company and insisting on the highest qualifications and standards.

Becoming a translator is a rewarding career. It requires profound proficiency in one’s own language as well as at least one other language. It also requires a broad knowledge of the culture and background of the countries that use the second language, and a highly developed skill in using the terminologies specific to the type of service, e.g., medical, legal, or business.