When offering any type of translation or interpretation services, there will always be an element of ethical responsibility expected of you. This applies whether you offer spoken translation(interpretation) services or fulfill client’s document translation needs. Here’s a look at the ethical responsibilities you bear while providing your skills.

You Need to Translate and Not Create

This isn’t about adding in sentences or changing wording to change the meaning. Your translation needs to be exact and accurate. Just getting a word wrong could invalidate the document. Changing a word or a sentence when spoken could change the meaning of the whole phrase. Not only do you run the risk of legal problems, but negotiations could completely fail because you’ve got something wrong or you added something in to help clarify incorrectly.

You Need to Know Your Limits

Part of the ethics is to know your limits. If you find a situation is out of your depth, you should always decline your interpretation services. Remember the first responsibility: you need to make sure that you get it right.

This isn’t something that you can subcontract out. The documents or services that you agree to provide are through you. The client isn’t giving you permission to send the document or hire another person.

You Must Be Impartial

If there is a conflict of interest, you have the responsibility to declare that and not take on the job. A conflict of interest will mean that you’re not impartial, and may have a stake in how the document translation or spoken interpreted negotiations go. These conflicts may be personal, religious, or ethical for you.

You don’t need to tell the client why you are declining exactly. Just make it clear that you are not the right person for the job. If you want to be honest, the client will usually appreciate hearing that it is a conflict of interest and will thank you for that honesty.

You Must Recognize Your Mistakes

Mistakes will happen. We’re all human. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. When offering translation services, you need to be honest if you make a mistake. Be accountable for your work and correct any issues that happen for any reason. Some of them may be a slip, possibly due to a word having two meanings. Others may be due to the work being out of your depth.

In addition to this, to avoid regular mistakes, you will need to consider upgrading your knowledge of language and translation regularly. It is up to you to keep your skills up to date and remain on top of any changes to any languages. New words and phrases will come into languages, so be aware of them.

You Must Respect Copyright

When you offer document translation, you need to respect the copyright of said documents. In the majority of the cases, they will belong to your client. The translated documents belong to your client, not to you.

Sometime you will run into the situation where the documents will not belong to your client, either. Whether you translate this information will be up to you, but you do have a responsibility to the copyright holder. This will go back to the ethical responsibility you have of a conflict of interest. Translating something that the client doesn’t have the rights to translate could be an ethical conflict of interest to you.

Know your ethical responsibilities as a translator or interpreter. The responsibilities above apply to document and spoken translation services and all interpretation services. By following the responsibilities above, you will be able to offer a service that your clients will trust and recommend.