THE SOUTH AFRICAN TRANSLATORS' INSTITUTE BECOMING A SWORN TRANSLATOR Background The rules regulating the process for becoming a sworn translator initially required prospective sworn translators to locate a sworn translator who had been sworn in the relevant language combination for seven years and ask that person to set them an examination testing their translation ability. As there was no regulation of the examinations set by these sworn translators, the standards differed widely, as did the fees charged for this service. In addition, the wording of the rule meant that it was impossible for prospective sworn translators wishing to become sworn in a language combination for which no sworn translators yet existed to become sworn, since there was no-one to set them an examination. These rules still apply, but in addition the South African Translators' Institute was in 1998 recognized as an examining authority for prospective sworn translators. The examination is administered under the Institute’s system of accreditation and facilitates the process for candidates. Procedure for the sworn translator's examination Sworn translation accreditation is available only to members of the Institute. The sworn translator's examination is a written examination in which various compulsory texts must be translated. The main objective of the examination is to test the final translation product that the candidate can present and candidates are therefore given 24 hours to complete the exam. Candidates are also free to use all and any sources that they may have available. They may not, however, consult another translator. Candidates are not required to have a sworn translator’s stamp for the examination. However, they should include a reasonable facsimile of a stamp on texts translated in the examination. The certification and stamp facsimile should also appear as close as possible to the end of the translation so that no extra information can be added by a third party. Marking of the examination scripts is as follows: Errors are classified as either major or minor errors. Two major errors in one text, or one major error and four minor errors in one text, means that one fails the examination as a whole. In addition, candidates will fail the examination overall if there are two or more major errors or more than eight minor errors in the entire examination. The candidate is penalised only once for major errors of a technical nature, such as failure to certify. Major errors: Gross mistranslation, in which the meaning of the word/phrase in the original text is lost altogether; omission of vital words or other information; insertion of information not contained in the original (except in the case of translator's notes); inclusion of alternate translations, where the translator should have made a choice; any important failure in targetlanguage grammar; misspelling of names of persons or places or reference numbers; miscopying of a date; and failure to certify at all, as without certification the document is useless. Minor errors: Mistranslation that distorts somewhat, but does not wholly falsify, the intent of the original; omission of words that contribute only slightly to meaning; presentation of alternate translations where the terms offered are synonymous or nearly so; `inelegance' in target language grammar; typographical errors; and failure to certify every page. The examination script is submitted to two markers, who mark it independently and anonymously. The identity of the candidate also remains secret. If both examiners pass the candidate, s/he passes; if both fail the candidate, s/he fails. Examiners will indicate the number of major and minor errors made by the candidate. The papers are also moderated by the Examinations Assistant. In the event of one examiner passing and the other failing a candidate, the script is submitted to a third examiner, whose decision is final. Members must provide the name of a responsible person to act as invigilator. Invigilators need not sit with candidates all the time, but the examination paper will be sent to them and they should open it and seal the script in the candidate's presence, after having witnessed the sworn statement (included in the package) to the effect that the translation(s) is/are the candidate's own work. Candidates may not have the examination paper in their possession for more than 24 hours. Invigilators should return the script to the chairperson of the Examinations Committee within three weeks of the examination material being posted to the invigilator. Procedure on passing the sworn translator's examination Once you have passed the sworn translator's examination, you will receive a certificate. On the strength of this document, contact the Registrar at your nearest High Court. S/he will tell you what to do to appear in court. You may be told that this will entail the services of an advocate or a lawyer, but it is possible to do it yourself if you know the procedure. What you need to hand in to the Registrar of the court: 1. 2. 3. Your certificate certifying that you have passed the examination. Notice of set down: This is so that your name can be placed on the roll, after which you will be given a case number (which is called when you are sworn in by the judge). Notice of motion: This document tells the court what your business is and why you would like to appear before the judge. A revenue stamp is required on this document. 4. 5. An affidavit in which you yourself testify that you have sat and passed the examination. This has to be certified by a Commissioner of Oaths (police officer, school principal, religious minister or sworn translator who has the correct stamp). A short statement in which you testify to your own proficiency in the language(s) concerned and in which you undertake to translate “faithfully and correctly to the best of your knowledge and ability”. This is signed by yourself and the judge on the day you are sworn in – do not sign it beforehand. These documents need to be delivered to the Registrar. You are then assigned a case number, which is stamped onto all documentation. You will then be informed of the date on which you are to appear in court. When you arrive at the High Court on the day, ask for directions to the “roll”. This will tell you which courtroom to go to. When your case number is called, you will be called to the front to raise your right hand. Once you have been admitted as a sworn translator, you are entitled to have a stamp made giving your name and stating that you are a sworn translator of the High Court of South Africa. This must then be stamped onto any translations you do in your capacity as a sworn translator. If you wish (and if there's space!) you may also include your qualifications on the stamp. No requirements are laid down by the court. SATI will supply pro forma copies of the necessary documents free to members who pass the examination or for a fee of R50,00 to others. A manual on sworn translation is also available. Contact the Examinations Assistant. Guidelines for sworn translation 1. Sworn translation, which consists mainly of legal translation, is a specialised type of translation and the market for sworn translators is correspondingly limited. Sworn translators also carry a heavy responsibility; they may be called upon to verify before a lawyer or commissioner of oaths that their translation is a true translation (i.e. a correct rendering of the original) to the best of their knowledge and belief. The types of translation strategies employed in sworn translation differ in certain respects from those required in general translation. Whereas most general translations have a strong communicative function, with the emphasis on the message being made easily accessible to the target reader, this is not the only criterion in sworn translation. Sworn translators have no poetic licence and should not attempt to “improve” on the source document or adapt it to a specific audience. The text may not be manipulated in any way: the translation must accurately reflect the source document. This obviously does not mean that the translator must translate and transcribe every word literally; the norms of good translation must be followed, but the form of the original must be strictly adhered to. As clients usually require patent documents, contracts, birth certificates, driver's licences, degree certificates, etc. to be translated for legal purposes, these types of texts should be clearly recognisable as such in translation and must contain all the information in the original, even if some of it seems unnecessary or repetitious. Translators must 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. If the translation is found to be inaccurate, it will do the sworn translator no good to say, “I thought it sounded better without ‘for the purpose of’ on every other line!” The translations must also be stamped with a sworn translator's stamp (not required for this examination). When carrying out a sworn translation, bear in mind that every page of the translation must be certified. It is always assumed that a sworn translation has been carried out on the basis either of the original document or of a certified photocopy of the original. In this case, the following certification is required at the bottom of each page of the translation: Certified a true translation of an original or Certified a true translation of a certified photocopy. This type of certification of a sworn translation is fully acceptable to the authorities. If, however, you are given an uncertified photocopy to translate, you may translate the document, but in order to cover yourself legally, you should indicate the following at the bottom of the translation: Certified a true translation of a photocopy. This type of sworn translation will probably not be acceptable to the authorities, since the possibility exists that the photocopy was tampered with. For the purposes of this examination, in which you will be required to carry out simulated sworn translations, all photocopied texts must be considered to be originals except where the stamp of a commissioner of oaths appears on the document, where the text will be considered to be a certified photocopy. Candidates should therefore certify and sign each page of the translations in the appropriate manner. A sworn translator's stamp is, however, not required for the examination. When translating educational certificates, you may well find that the source language education system differs from the target language education system. It then becomes necessary to find the closest possible linguistic equivalent in the target language and to annotate the translation. Annotating a text implies explaining concepts in the source culture in terms of target language referents, and in order to do this it is essential that the translator has a good knowledge of both education systems. The SA Qualifications Authority (SAQA) can provide information on the relations between the educational systems of various countries. It is therefore not the task of the translator to determine the equivalent South African qualification for a foreign qualification. If qualifications are not verified, mistranslation may occur. All stamps and signatures must be annotated by putting the following in brackets in the text: An illegible signature appears here or A stamp/company logo bearing the following inscription appears here: .... In a case where a document appears in more than one language, e.g. a South African marriage certificate written in Afrikaans and English, the translator should insert a note to the effect that although the original appears in two languages, the translator has used only one language (e.g. English) as the source language. Where translations are longer than one page, this should be indicated, e.g. “page 1 of 4” at the top of each page. Produced by the South African Translators’ Institute, P O Box 1710, Rivonia, 2128. www..translators.org.za 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.