South America Revisited - Cetra

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					International Certification Study:
South America Revisited
By Jiri Stejskal

   n the previous issue, we com-          Just as in North America, the certifi-     attempt to fight corruption and to add

I  pleted our review of North
   American certification programs
outside of the U.S. by looking at the
                                          cation of translators and interpreters
                                          is handled differently in each country.
                                          Some countries have a sophisticated
                                                                                     a measure of academic judgment.
                                                                                        The administration of the roll of
                                                                                     translators was in the hands of the
rather complex situation in Mexico.       certification process and a wide selec-    Ministry of Justice until 1999, when
The Canadian programs were cov-           tion of university courses in T&I,         it passed to the Ministry of Foreign
ered last year in the January and         while others do not. We will now look      Affairs. Meanwhile, the system of
March issues. In an attempt to com-       at the situation in Colombia,              fees for judiciary experts, first estab-
plete the coverage of South America       Uruguay, and Venezuela, three South        lished by the Act of 1951 and last
as well, I sent out queries to transla-   American countries with state-run          amended by the Act of 1969, is now
tors and interpreters in Chile,           systems of certification.                  in the hands of the Judiciary’s
Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru,                                                   Disciplinary Council. In August
Uruguay, and Venezuela to comple-                                                    2002, the Council announced that the
ment the information presented in             “…Just as in North                     legislation concerning the fees still
the July 2001 and June 2002                                                          needs further revision, as the remu-
columns on Brazil and Argentina. I
                                           America, the certification                neration of translators specified in the
received a wealth of information               of translators and                    Act is not being observed. As an
from some countries, and very little        interpreters is handled                  interesting side note, similar legisla-
or no response from others. There-                                                   tion in Peru, the Supreme Decree
fore, the information below is not             differently in each                   33/92, rules that while “official”
necessarily well balanced, but it                  country…”                         translators work in a free market,
offers a sufficient glimpse into the                                                 they will provide translation to the
T&I profession in South America.                                                     Foreign Ministry free of charge.
                                          Colombia                                      Currently, candidates for certifica-
                                             Translators and interpreters have       tion are examined by the aforemen-
   I would like to extend special         been certified by Colombian govern-        tioned university department. As an
thanks to the following contributors:     ment regulation as “judiciary experts,”    eligibility requirement, which is not
                                          along with accountants, jewelers,          stipulated in the Act but rather
• Edgar A. Moros                          mechanics, and 15 other professions        imposed by the university, a university
  (,                  since 1951. Reportedly, some 5,500         degree is required, but no experience
  professor of translation at the         translators have been certified to-date,   is needed. The examination requires
  Universidad de Los Andes, ATA           99% of them living in Bogotá. Like in      candidates to pass a four-module test
  member;                                 Mexico, there are many indigenous          consisting of about 200 words of text
• Mariana Irisarri                        languages in Colombia1, most of them       to be translated in each direction in 3
  (,               made “official” in the 1991                hours, and about 20 minutes of inter-
  public translator, notary public,       Constitution. However, most of these       pretation in each direction. In order to
  ATA member;                             languages lack written form, and the       pass the test at the Universidad
• Professor Roberto Puig                  Colombian justice system does not          Nacional, candidates need to score
  (, Fellow        provide for judiciary experts in lan-      90%, up from 60%, with all four mod-
  of the Institute of Linguists           guages other than Spanish.                 ules carrying equal weight. Conse-
  (London), professor of English             The certification of translators and    quently, the pass rate has dropped and
  translation at the State University     interpreters was first handled by a        fewer candidates earn the credential
  in Montevideo;                          special institute that was simultane-      (currently 10% to 20%).
• Soledad Martinez                        ously responsible for preparing can-          Other eligibility requirements
  (; and              didates for qualification (IEI). After a   include:
• Anthony Letts                           series of irregularities were reported,
  (, Fellow          certification was passed, in 1998, to      • Moral integrity, certified before a
  of the Institute of Linguists           the State Universidad Nacional               notary by three independent wit-
  (London), ATA member.                   Modern Languages Department in an            nesses.                         ➡

The ATA Chronicle | March 2003                                                                                            11
International Certification Study: South America Revisited Continued

• Proof of the right to earn income            There are many academic pro-             • Universidad del Cauca: working
  in Colombia. (It is not necessary         grams for translators and interpreters        on a terminology network with the
  to be a Colombian national.)              in Colombia, in addition to a dozen or        Universidad de Antioquia and the
• Submission of an application for          so undergraduate programs that                Universidad del Valle;
  specific language pair(s).                include translation as a language-          • Universidad IDEAS;
                                            learning tool. Of the 12 academic           • Escuela de Administración de
The examination schedule only               institutions offering graduate diploma        Negocios (EAN): 100-hour diploma
allows one examination to be taken at       courses for translation listed below, 8       program based on business needs
a time, and examinations are offered        are in Bogotá and 4 are in the                for English document writing;
only in Bogotá in June and December         provinces. The offerings range from         • Instituto Caro y Cuervo: free
each year. If the candidate fails, the      100 to 300 hours of class sessions.           courses in classical Latin and
examination can be taken again any          Reportedly, none of the courses have          Greek for translation; and
number of times. There are no contin-       computer facilities, and the student        • Universidad de La Sabana:
uing education requirements, and no         mix is such that the programs cannot          weekly three-hour internal courses
re-examinations.                            assume that each student has access           in classical Latin translation for
    There are several T&I organiza-         to a computer. At present, none of            teaching staff (mainly used by the
tions in Colombia. The Colegio              these courses are designed as training        law faculty).
Colombiano de Traductores (CCT)             tools for professional translators.
was founded a little more than a               Among the universities offering          Apparently, there are no graduate
decade ago with the support of the          graduate courses in translation are:        courses available for interpreters in
Colombian Foreign Ministry, the                                                         Colombia at any level. The
British Council, the Alliance               • Colegio Universidad de Nuestra            Universidad Nacional has offered
Française, the Goethe Institut, and five      Señora el Rosario: three semesters        some theory on the subject, but has no
major universities in Bogotá. The             of technical modules in economics,        equipment to make a practical appli-
Colegio has about 70 members and its          law, literature, and translation theory   cation of the theory.2
purpose is to serve as a meeting place        (all into Spanish since 1994);
and contact point for translators,          • Universidad Nacional, Bogotá:             Uruguay
offering a regular schedule of aca-           three semesters of workshops (lin-           In Uruguay, translators become
demic and social events. The                  guistics and theory are the strong        sworn translators (“traductores
Asociacion Colombiana de Traduc-              areas) for translating into English       públicos”) upon completion of a four-
tores e Intérpretes (ACTI) was estab-         (since 1999);                             year course at the Law School of the
lished in 1997 and reportedly has less      • Universidad de Antioquia, Mede-           State University in Montevideo. The
than 10 active members. It has an             llin: three semesters of terminology      credential is currently available for
admission examination for document            and linguistics;                          English, French, Portuguese, Italian,
translation into Spanish only.              • Universidad del Valle: has net-           and German. For other languages, the
    Individual members of the CCT             work for terminology with the             appropriate embassy certifies the
and the ACTI have been involved in            Universidad de Antioquia and the          competence of experts in the foreign
the state certification process, com-         Universidad del Cauca;                    language concerned, with translations
plementing the team of linguists at         • Universidad de Pamplona, Pam-             being signed jointly by an expert and
the Universidad Nacional. The                 plona: two semesters, mainly for          a sworn translator who have gradu-
Colegio does not certify, since               English teachers (now held up by          ated from the university. Another
Colombian law (Decree 382/51,                 lack of government funding);              option for candidates who are inter-
Decree 2275/51, Decree 2265/69,             • Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano,           ested in acting as experts in foreign
and the Civil Code) would neces-              Bogotá and Cartagena: two                 languages (except for the five lan-
sarily implicate it in any civil or crim-     semesters (a program for English          guages mentioned above) is to apply
inal liability case, or require it to act     teachers);                                to the Colegio de Traductores
as arbitrator, and there is no adminis-     • Universidad del Quindio: has a            Públicos del Uruguay, attaching docu-
trative, academic, or financial struc-        relationship with the University of       mentation in support of their applica-
ture to support such a position.              Puerto Rico;                              tion. After review of such documents

12                                                                                              The ATA Chronicle | March 2003
and an interview with the candidate,       Administration. The degree, however, There
the Colegio decides whether or not to      was still merely a professional certifi-   is also an interpreters association,
approve the candidate’s inclusion in       cate. In real life, the courses proved     Colegio de Intérpretes de Conferencia
the list of language experts (“idó-        unsuccessful on account of their syn-      del Uruguay (CICU), founded in
neos”). These experts are called to        thetic and impractical character.          1986, that has 16 members. Since
help translators, whenever needed,         Finally, the authorities organized reg-    there is no training in Uruguay for
with the translation of languages for      ular courses at the law school. A new      interpreters, CICU requires profes-
which there is no sworn translator         three-year plan was put in practice in     sional practice (100 days of actual
available. Translations are then signed    1976 at the school, where Professor        interpretation work) or a proven skill
jointly. There is no official certifica-   Puig still teaches language and legal      in the field (to be evaluated by two
tion for interpreters in Uruguay.          translation. A few years later, another    members) for admittance.
Uruguayan professional translators         year of study was added. The degree
receive training mainly in legal trans-    is once again on a par with that of        Venezuela
lation, since areas such as literary or    lawyers, notaries, architects, etc.           Certification in Venezuela is han-
technical translation are not fully cov-      As was noted above, law school          dled by the National Government at
ered at the university. Translators spe-   graduates become “sworn” or                the Ministry of Justice. Certified trans-
cialize in their areas of choice after     “public” translators, rather than lit-     lators are called “intérprete público.”
completing their university studies.       erary or scientific translators. The       Similar to Spain, a translator is certi-
    In order to be eligible for the        school’s objective is to train transla-    fied as an “intérprete,” even ➡
studies, candidates must have finished     tors for official purposes and work,
high school and have passed an             and therefore their studies are
entrance examination in English,           focused on the letters and the law.
French, Italian, Portuguese, or            Interpretation is currently not offered
German (in addition to Spanish), both      as an independent program, but it is
written and oral. A level of proficiency   covered to some degree in the
similar to that of a native speaker is     school’s curriculum (court consecu-
required. It is of interest that this      tive interpretation, for instance).
examination is an exception in the            The level of the T&I profession
educational system of Uruguay,             has been duly noticed at the United
because student applicants normally        Nations and in Europe; reportedly, it
enroll for university studies after com-   is among the highest in Latin
pleting high school without having to      America. The Uruguayan Association
pass any entrance examination.             of Public Translators (Colegio de
    This credential was duly recog-        Traductores Públicos del Uruguay) is
nized in Uruguay at the end of the         well known abroad thanks to its
19th century. The law school regula-       journal, the Revista del Colegio de
tions of 1885 stated that the degree       Traductores Públicos del Uruguay,
was to be granted by said school.          founded and edited for 11 years by
Later on, sundry regulations and           Professor Puig. However, the publi-
administrative provisions organized        cation was recently discontinued. The
courses and examinations, but in           Colegio was the first Latin-American
1915 students were transferred to the      member of the International
Escuela Superior de Comercio. Thus,        Federation of Translators (FIT), and
the degree was no longer a university      the third in the Americas, after the
degree, but merely a professional          U.S. and Canada. It was founded in
degree. The next stage began in 1932,      1950 on the basis of a previous asso-
when courses were taken again at the       ciation founded in 1932, and cur-
university, not at the law school, but     rently has about 300 members. The
at the School of Economy and               web address of the Colegio is

The ATA Chronicle | March 2003                                                                                              13
International Certification Study: South America Revisited Continued

though the certification examination         is challenging, says Professor Moros,      Profesionales del Perú, also a FIT
focuses on translation rather than           who teaches at this university. Some       member, serves the needs of local
interpretation skills. Reportedly,           students are sent to the U.S. and          translators and interpreters. Programs
anyone can take the exam, which con-         Europe, but most of them stay in           for translators and interpreters are
sists of a written test and an oral inter-   Venezuela. The university is planning      available at the Universidad Femenina
view. A degree in translation is not         to develop a master’s degree program       del Sagrado Corazón (UNIFE). The
required and there is no continuing          in translation. There is a third univer-   languages offered are English and
education requirement or recertifica-        sity, the Universidad Metropolitana,       French, and the students can achieve
tion process.                                which offers a minor in translation in     the degree of “Bachiller en Traducción
    There are currently two universi-        the modern languages program.              e Interpretación” or “Licenciada en
ties in Venezuela with a translation             Venezuelan translators and inter-      Traducción e Interpretación.”
program. The Universidad Central de          preters are organized in CONALTI              In the next issue, we will examine
Venezuela (UCV) in Caracas has a             (Colegio Nacional de Traductores e         the credentialing processes in the
translator and interpreter training pro-     Intérpretes), also a member of FIT,        Netherlands and Belgium. As the
gram, offering a Licenciatura (bach-         which was founded on July 29, 1980.        editor of this series, I encourage
elor degree equivalent) in translation,      All members of the association are         readers to submit any relevant infor-
interpreting, or a combination thereof.      either graduates of the School of          mation concerning non-U.S. certifi-
This program is reportedly very thor-        Modern Languages of the Central            cation or similar programs, as well as
ough. All students must take two for-        University of Venezuela or translators     comments on the information pub-
eign languages. The second university        and interpreters with many years of        lished in this series, to my e-mail
is the Universidad de Los Andes              experience in the field. Several mem-      address at
(ULA) in Mérida, which offers a              bers are certified public interpreters,
degree in modern languages with a            qualified by the Ministry of Justice to    Notes:
major in translation. In the translation     translate documents to be filed at         1. About a half million Colombians
program, five courses are taught:            government offices or to act in court.        use 1 of the approximately 80
Documentation and Terminology;               Further information on the Colegio is         indigenous languages as their
Translation I (General Texts); Trans-        available at                 native tongue. For more informa-
lation II (Sci-Tech-Med); Translation                                                      tion, see
III (Legal and Commercial); and              Chile and Peru                                show_country.asp?name=Colombia.
Translation IV (Literary). Students also        In Chile, translators and inter-
take two foreign languages (currently        preters can join the Asociación            2. The information on Colombia was
English, French, Italian, and German         Gremial de Traductores de Santiago, a         supplied by Anthony Letts,
are offered). As a final requirement,        member of FIT. Pontificia Univer-             Roberto Pizarro, and Mavis
students must do an internship at a          sidad Católica de Chile offers a four-        García. Mr. Letts compiled the
company, government agency, or               year program for translators focusing         results of their discussion.
translation bureau. Finding a place          on English, French, and German. In
for the students to do their internship      Peru, the Asociación de Traductores

        ATA’s Portuguese Language Division                                  9th Annual Spring Meeting
                  Watch for details and registration                             Roney Palace Resort
                        online and by e-mail!                                      Miami, Florida
                                        April 25-26

14                                                                                              The ATA Chronicle | March 2003

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