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What's in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet

Here we go again :)

Writing, once more, about names, surnames, and place names when it comes to certified translation or translation in general.

And if you also happen to translate into a non-roman alphabet language, welcome to my nightmare.

What happens, and how do we treat names when moving from a Roman* alphabet into the Greek alphabet? Because that's what causes the headache. When we move from the Greek alphabet into a Roman alphabet, we have an established standard called elot-743. It's what the government uses and it is public access, so problem solved.

Let me just start by saying that no, we do not translate names. So if you are a Ελένη you will become a Eleni, and not a Helen. And no, I cannot give you the name Helen just so that you can have an English-looking/sounding name on your UK passport.

A translator is limited by staying faithful to the original. So if your original says Δημήτρης and not Δημήτριος, the translation will say Dimitris and not Dimitrios. It's simple.

It doesn't matter what your passport says. If we are translating a contract, and your name in the contract does not match the spelling of your name on your passport, it is not the translator's job to fix the mismatch. Change your original document (meaning the document from which you wish the translator to translate from) and then submit it for translation.

Furthermore, sadly when moving from a Roman alphabet into the Greek alphabet, we do not have an established transliteration code. This means all variants are acceptable. There are no right or wrong options. So taking the name Claire, this can be transliterated as Κλερ, Κλαιρ, or Κλαίρη.

If you have a preference, and if you already have other documents the translator can use for reference, provide those in advance. Within reason of what's doable and legal, we may be able to match your request.

But we can never include in a translation, especially knowingly, something that's not in the document from which we are translating.

*Roman alphabet: the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans to write the Latin language.

Often referred to as the Latin alphabet. However Latin is the language and Roman is the script.


Vasiliki is a translator, interpreter, transcreator, blogger, consultant and director of Greek to Me Translations Ltd. She works with English, Greek and French herself and has a team of trusted colleagues who can cover other languages. The offered language services serve mainly the legal, creative, and psychometrics industries. Vasiliki is a Chartered Linguist, member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL), the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and Panhellenic Association of Greek Translators (PEM). She is registered with the Greek Consulate in the United Kingdom as a certified translator and interpreter. She holds a BA in English Language and Linguistics and Masters in Business Translation and Interpreting. She is a Steering Group Member of the CIOL Translating Division (CIOL TD) and CIOL Business, Professions and Government Division (CIOL BPG). She is an Associate Lecturer in Legal Translation at London Metropolitan University teaching Legal Translation, Translation for International Organisations, Linguistics, Translation Theory and Strategy. She is a public speaker and writer for industry magazines. Her mission is to help organisations and individuals achieve their goals through the power of words. Through mentoring, Vasiliki helps aspiring or young translators to overcome self-limiting believes, build a business mindset and achieve their highest potential.You can follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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The contents of this blog belong to Vasiliki Prestidge, Director of Greek to Me Translations Ltd and cannot be copied or reproduced without the prior written permission of the author.

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