Blog post contribution by Myles McKelvey

A colleague of mine was complaining today that there are so many bad translators in Montreal. So then how do you find a good translator in Montreal? To separate the wheat from the chaff, there are five important questions to ask:

1. What are the translator’s credentials?
Before choosing translators, always check out their credentials. Find out what degrees they hold and from where. Unfortunately, most translators in Montreal have not been trained as translators but have simply fallen into the profession by accident. In fact, most individuals who call themselves translators in Quebec have little or no formal translation training whatsoever – the vast majority are just “winging it.” But savvy business owners realize how important it is to use qualified translators. Why? The bottom line: accredited translators consistently produce higher quality translations and are therefore able to convey a more professional image of a company’s products and services.

2. How many years of full-time translation experience does the translator have?
In Montreal, many self-proclaimed translators have full-time day jobs in unrelated professions and occasionally dabble in translation on the side. In any other profession, this would be completely unacceptable. For example, you wouldn’t want to visit a dentist who occasionally pulls teeth but most of the time flies airplanes – nor would you want to board an airplane with a dentist in the pilot’s cockpit. So it’s always a good idea to ask prospective translators: “How many years of full-time translation experience do you have? During those years, were you revised by a well-seasoned professional translator in order to hone your translation skills?”

3. What’s the translator’s mother tongue?
Many translators in Montreal claim that they are able to translate from French to English equally well as from English to French. In most cases, however, this is pie in the sky. For example, an Anglophone may have an excellent command of French, but may not write in a manner that incorporates all the nuances and cultural cues inherent in the French language. By using only translators who translate into their mother tongues, you can ensure that your text is as culturally and linguistically accurate as possible – and that it “speaks” directly to its target audience.

4. What’s the translator’s specialization?
Be wary of the “jack-of-all-trades.” Translators who claim to be able to translate in every field under the sun are rarely ever exceptionally good at everything – or anything, for that matter. So if someone claims to be an “expert” in many different fields, this could be a red flag. Official bona fide translators, on the other hand, generally specialize in just one field, such as legal, medical or literary translation.

5. Is the translator certified?
For the same reason that it’s a good idea to hire certified professionals in other fields, when you use the services of officially accredited translators, you can rest assured that their skills meet professional standards and that they possess the essential credentials and experience. In Quebec, translators certified by the Ordre des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Québec (Quebec order of certified translators, terminologists and interpreters) must have a bachelor’s degree in translation or equivalent training and have completed a six-month mentoring program or two years of work experience. Certified translators must also have an excellent knowledge of both the source and target languages as well as impeccable writing skills.

For all of these reasons, it’s always a good idea to choose a professional certified translator!

Myles McKelvey, Certified Translator