Sworn translations

Sworn translation is not better than ordinary translation. In fact, it is not about superior quality at all. The notion of sworn translation stands for the document or the sole act of translation, the linguistic and substantive correctness of which is guaranteed by state proven and accepted translator. It is about moving the liability for the correctness of the translation from the contractor or any other person which is in possession of the translated document to the translator, not imporiving the quality itself. It is not the state that ensures the quality of the translation, but the translator who is a specific person.

Since the seal of sworn translator is similar to the seal of notary and court seal, it can cause some misunderstandings, whilst the state is not a party when it comes to sworn translations. Real consequences which may come from bad quality of sworn translated text are carried by the translator who signed and sealed the translated text, and not by the state. Though at first it may be seemed that the seal is carrying a notion of state assurance, in fact it is nothing more than translator's sigil. Because of that, the state is not connected with the liability coming from sealing the document by sworn translator. The law concerning sworn translators was established without any consultation with translation companies, business community, or police and courts, which are the major accounts of sworn translators.

The lawmaker created the Profession of Sworn Translator Act according to which, the only person that can pursue career as a sworn translator, must be a philology graduate with Master of Arts title. The reasoning standing behind introducing such restrictions was rising the quality of sworn translations. As it turned out, the act failed since at the time of its legislation there were no effective means of public or community consultation in Poland, and the lawmaker hoped that the reality will bend to the act, not the other way around. In fact, sworn translation is a type of document and not an indicator of translation's quality. Because of that, sworn translations were of very different quality until right about now. In most cases, the main factor producing such differences was the subject area. If the document that was to be translated was concerning ordinary topics, in most cases the translator had no difficulties with creating such translation.

Things were different when it came to documents concerning narrow, specialistic topics of one domain. Sworn translator, although he had the seal, had no idea what he was writing about. It was happening because of his linguistic, and not for instance law, education. While studying foreign philology one is learning to analyse linguistics and not any other specific domains of knowledge. Philologist will evaluate the style, form and cohesion of the text and ideas in the document, but will not evaluate if the document itself is right or wrong. In most cases he would not understand the concepts included in the text, just like any person who is not a specialist in this particular field of study.

See also