OK, let me give you some context. I am writing this post after a couple of ‘incidents’ that occurred. Incidents that can easily be described as a series of unfortunate events halted right before the cliff fall by the use of the magic stick of a professional translator.
Incident number 1
A few months ago, I received a phone call at 9 pm from an anxious academic. They needed their research paper to be translated into Greek so that they could submit it and be considered as a potential speaker at a conference taking place in Greece. The ‘call for papers’ deadline was midday of the following day. Two days before the phone call, the academic had resorted to Google Translate, their also academic friend and colleague who speaks Greek, the teacher of the Greek school and their grandpa. And finally, a friend of a friend of a friend gave them my contact because all aforementioned "solutions" have failed to produce a good enough translation or even a complete translation. The challenge, of course, was that the research paper was roughly 5,000 words. As a rule, translators produce 2,000-3,000 words a day and that, of course, is only a guide figure. It all depends on the subject, the quality, the amount of research that needs to take place and how tired the translator already is (considering this was a 9 pm phone call!).
Incident number 2
A couple of days ago, I received an email from a friend of a friend who knows someone who urgently needs their professional qualifications translated into Greek as they’re flying to Greece within 24 hours to volunteer at a refugee camp. The translation request was not only urgent but also requested to be done pro bono. Having successfully untangled Ariadne's thread, I found out that the volunteer got in touch with the Greek authorities and that the Greek authorities told the volunteer that their documents need to be translated by a priest, yes a Greek priest! The volunteer found a priest and approached them. The priest accepted the task and waived the fees. Instead, they asked that the volunteer makes a donation to the church. Subsequently, the priest approached a different person, a Greek speaker and IT Support employee, who has excellent command of English (the priest didn’t) and tasked them with this translation. Following that, the IT support employee approached me and asked me to do this for free as it is very urgent and it is for a good cause and because their computer is broken (isn't that funny?).
By now, I’m guessing that you’re either angry or you’re laughing or you’re simply thinking what on earth…
So, back to the original question and to the point of this post which is not to rant but to raise awareness and help people find the right professionals for the job when they need them. So, where can you find someone to translate something for you?
Forget about Google translate, your friend, your neighbour, your priest's son who spent a summer in Greece, the Greek school teacher, and the Professor of Philosophy. Or, you can approach all of them, fail, stress and then ring a professional translator at 9 pm and pay the
urgent-I-am-not-going-to-sleep-for-you-tonight kind of fees.
Let’s be serious. There are people out there who do translation for a living. The difference between them and the above-mentioned "solutions" is that they are professionals, they are trained, and they are qualified. They know what they’re doing, how much they’re charging and they can probably do it faster than you. So where do you find these people? Where are they hiding?
1. Do a Google search using these keywords: ‘English into Greek professional translator in London’, ‘English into Greek professional translator in Oxford’ or wherever you are. The location doesn't really matter to be honest. This is the digital market.
2. Search The Chartered Institute of Linguists’ public directory on http://www.ciol.org.uk/find-a-linguist
3. Take a look at The Institute of Translation and Interpreting public directory on https://www.iti.org.uk/component/itisearch/?view=translators
4. Contact your embassy or consulate. Often embassies have a public list of translators which they collaborate with or refer citizens to. This list is usually published on the embassy’s website or at the Embassy’s offices.
5. Check out the professional body of translators in your country:
6. Or simply do a quick search on social media. Look for ‘Greek translator’, or ‘Greek translations’ etc. on Facebook, Twitter, even Instagram and Pinterest, and they will list a few potential suppliers for you.
I know you want it fast, perfect and for free, but ask yourself: "Is this realistic?", "Can anyone do it?", "Is it just a matter of speaking two languages?". Would you go to anyone who owned a scalpel to perform surgery on you? Probably not. Yes, your health is very important to you. But, shouldn't the documents that will eventually secure you a slot as a speaker at an international conference or win you a lifetime achievement award for humanitarian action be given some respect too?
Avoid the drama, save your money and chill.
Speak to a professional translator.
**The job roles of those mentioned in the above two stories have been amended for the purposes of this blog post. I, however, guarantee you that their real professional capacities do not make these stories any less wild.**
Vasiliki is a professional translator and interpreter working with English and Greek. She specialises in legal, marketing, and psychometrics. She is a member of CIoL and ITI and she is registered with the Greek Embassy. Her mission is to help you reach your goals through the power of words. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.