Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sample Codes of Ethics

Just to go back briefly to the codes of ethics topic, here are a few sample codes that some translators’ associations have. I’ve looked at codes from a pretty interesting variety of groups.

American Translators Association

The National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators

The Association of Translators and Interpreters of Nova Scotia

Sveriges Facköversättarförening (Look under “Nyheter” at “God yrkessed,” if you can read Swedish)

Nearly all the codes I’ve seen emphasize that translators need to have good skills, not accept work that is beyond their abilities, keep information about clients and customers confidential, be accurate, and make other such expected suggestions. Only the ATA has any sort of code for clients and their guidelines are worth repeating:

“A. I will put my contractual relationship with translators and interpreters in writing and state my expectations prior to work.

“B. I will adhere to agreed terms, payment schedules, and agreed changes, and will not capriciously change job descriptions after work has begun.

“C. I will deal directly with the translator or interpreter about any dispute. If we cannot resolve a dispute, we will seek arbitration.

“D. I will not require translators or interpreters to do unpaid work for the prospect of a paid assignment.

“E. I will not use translators' or interpreters' credentials in bidding or promoting my business without their consent or without the bona fide intention to use their services.

“F. For translations for publication or performance over which I have direct control, I will give translators recognition traditionally given authors.”

It is important to note that even if some translation agencies join translators’ associations and follow these rules, the great majority of a translator’s clients are not members (unless said translator only works for agencies that are corporate members, though not all, or even most, agencies join such associations) and thus are not aware of these codes, nor feel bound to them. So the question remains for how to better educate clients and/or to only work for clients who treat their translators with the respect they deserve.

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