François Lavallée > Le traducteur > FAQ on Translators

FAQ on Translators
What is a certified translator?
A translator who is a member of the Québec professional order, called Ordre des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Québec (OTTIAQ).

Is it mandatory to be a certified translator (an OTTIAQ member) to practice the occupation of translator in the province of Quebec?
No. OTTIAQ is a reserved-title order, that is, only members can call themselves “certified translators”, but a non-member can practice the profession simply by using the title of “translator”.

What is the advantage of dealing with a certified translator?
To become certified, translators are subject to certain controls, in particular, holding a specialized B.A. in translation, or accounting for a lengthy period of pertinent experience. Certified translators also benefit from the order’s supervisory framework and upgrading courses, in addition to complying with an Ethics Code.

When you call upon a certified translator, you know that he or she is a professional whose skills have been verified. Furthermore, you will have recourse in the event of professional misconduct since the profession is governed by Québec’s Professional Code.

What is the difference between a translator and an interpreter?
A translator works with the written word, or texts. An interpreter works with the spoken word, or speech. They are two distinct specialities. Many interpreters also translate, but the reverse is not true.

How many languages must a translator speak?
Two are enough. This is generally the case in Canada. Also, translators usually work “into one language”, meaning that English-speaking translators will translate only from French into English. There are exceptions to the rule, however, as some people are trained to translate into their second language as well.

When a translator becomes a certified member of OTTIAQ, it is for translating into one specific language. To be certified to translate from French to English and English to French, the candidate must pass two separate exams.

Personally, I work only from English to French, and am certified as such. I can read German and Spanish, but I don’t believe I have the skills or the resources to translate from those languages… and even less, into those languages!

Are translators “perfectly bilingual”?
Not necessarily, if that means that a “perfectly bilingual” person is considered to be at complete ease in both languages, written and spoken.  A French-speaking translator must completely comprehend a text written in English and render it in impeccable French. If that translator does not reside in an area where English is widely spoken, he or she might not be proficient in spoken English.

How does one go about finding a good translator?
Besides asking for referrals from your acquaintances who have called upon professional translators, you may consult the on-line Directory of Ordre des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Québec (click on Directory in the Index on the left). The Directory lets you choose the language combination and field of specialization you wish.

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