Stop Literalism

Recently, a client approached me with an editing job. The translated text was about the client’s organizational goals. They needed the Farsi translations to accurately convey the English materials and they suspected the current translation had some major flaws.

They were right. The translations were word for word, too literal. I have to admit, the translator had done a thorough job looking up the words in Google translate. What was missing, however, was meaningfulness and cohesion. Reading it felt as if you were stumbling from one word to the other. Unlike the English text, it had no depth and the meaning was obscured by an attempt to remain within the boundaries of the English structure. It was, after all, designed for Farsi speaking individual who did not have an understanding of English. I wonder how many of those would continue reading the translation after the first couple of sentences. Certainly, my client didn’t want this to happen.

Unfortunately, we encounter these types of translations way too often. For some reason, the bilingual translator’s goal is to become proficient in finding the right words rather than constructing a text that actually makes sense in another language. There is more to translation than understanding a language or knowing the vocabulary. For example, if a translator does not have deep understanding of both languages’ grammar, he or she cannot render an accurate translation and convey the right meaning.

I believe that the Farsi speaking individual has as much right to know the real meaning of a text, just as much as my client has a right to convey their full intention. In 2015, I started my work to establish an ATA Farsi Certification program to address this issue. I was hoping, and still am, that with such examination, a Farsi translator’s proficiency can be assessed. That at least we can begin working toward a higher standard for Farsi translations. Today, we are only months away from the very first ATA Farsi Certification Examination.

To learn more about our services and to find out if we can help with your project, please request a free quote.

A Tribute To Sa’di Shirazi

Today I came across this beautiful poem from Sa’adi Shirazi.

بنی آدم اعضای یکدیگرند

که در آفرينش ز یک گوهرند

چو عضوى به درد آورد روزگار

دگر عضوها را نماند قرار

تو کز محنت دیگران بی غمی

نشاید که نامت نهند آدمی


banī ādam a’zā-ye yekdīgar-and
ke dar āfarīn-aš ze yek gowhar-and
čo ‘ozvī be dard āvarad rūzgār
degar ‘ozvhā-rā na-mānad qarār
to k-az mehnat-ē dīgarān bīqam-ī
na-šāyad ke nām-at nahand ādamī

As it happens, April 21, is the great poet’s birthday and is registered in the Iranian calendar as Sa’adi’s commemoration day. It is interesting to note that a Persian rug presented to the United Nations in 2005 and currently on display at the entrance of the Hall of Nations at the UN Headquarters in New York, has an inscription of this poem.

There are many translations but below are two that capture the true meaning of this poem.

This is a verse translation by Ali Salami:

Human beings are limbs of one body indeed;
For, they’re created of the same soul and seed.
When one limb is afflicted with pain,
Other limbs will feel the bane.
He who has no sympathy for human suffering,
Is not worthy of being called a human being.

And by Richard Jeffrey Newman:

All men and women are to each other
the limbs of a single body, each of us drawn
from life’s shimmering essence, God’s perfect pearl;
and when this life we share wounds one of us,
all share the hurt as if it were our own.
You, who will not feel another’s pain,
you forfeit the right to be called human.

For more information about the translation and interpretation services offered by the Farsi
Translation Center, click here.


Improve Your Certification Image

Dear Colleagues: 

The business of translation of Farsi in the US has become questionable. Due to the lack of a standardized certification, many individuals who do not possess adequate translation skills have entered this profession. The translations and interpretations produced by these non-qualified translators have considerably lowered the quality of Farsi translation products and interpretation services in the US compared to other countries such as Canada or Australia. 

The American Translators Association (ATA) is the sole organization in the US that offers translator certifications. Given that there is no standardized certification procedure for the Farsi-English pairing by the ATA, we have formed a volunteer workgroup and have initiated the process for its certification by the ATA (Read our announcement published in ATA’s Newsbriefs here). The benefits of this certification include:

1. Ensures the quality of Farsi translations and interpretations and allows our community to safeguard the Farsi language and join the other major languages already certified by the ATA. 

2. Contributes to greater confidence in the quality and credibility of our profession, the recognition of our commitment to the profession and its ethical practice and greater visibility in the ATA directory. 

3. Creates a distinction that puts certified translators in a better position to market themselves and engage with others in their professional community for further development in all areas. 

4. The ATA certification can open doors to new business opportunities and higher compensations for certified Farsi translators and interpreters. 

The process for establishing a certification for a language pair is relatively straightforward and is described in the guide provided by the ATA. Our workgroup has already covered most of the initial steps and we are now reaching out to you to support this endeavor. 

At this point, we need to collect 50 signatures. Signatories are simply declaring their interest in taking the certification exam for the Farsi-English language pairing. Please note that this does not involve any cost or obligation for the signatories. Your signature is simply a testament to the demand in the Farsi-speaking community for reliable professional translation services.

Participation from Farsi translators will shift the status quo, both in terms of leveraging campaigns for our work and the pairing’s recognition by the organization. Our journey toward ATA Certification begins here, so don’t delay! Sign up here to be included in our list of supporters and to receive important updates about the certification. Act now and Sign Up



In the winter of 2000, during a visit to Tehran, I met a young accounting student who lived in my parents’ neighborhood. Since I was also an accounting student in the US, we compared notes. She told me that she had a hard time understanding accounting concepts because their translated textbooks were too literal.

Later when I quit my accounting job in California and moved to New York, I began pursuing my passion of translation. I realized that the same need existed here in the US. So my company’s vision was born.

I felt for the Iranians (and Americans) who don’t have access to high quality translation and interpretation and I understood their frustration. Early in life, I had the privilege of studying the French language at a prestigious school in Iran and later I continued my love of languages with learning English in the US. I felt how others who did not have the same privilege are missing out on the benefits that foreign languages can offer.

Today, Farsi Translation Center is still loyal to that vision. We have always treated our clients with compassion. A commitment born in Tehran’s post-war of 1988 with my first translation project. We carry that same dedication wherever we go.


I founded Fravahr Translation in 2010. My company went through many ups and downs as do all small businesses. Recently, I reached an important Milestone. My milestone isn’t about revenue or the number of customers, but rather a vision. From the beginning, I realized the huge need for my native language’s presence in high quality linguistic circles. The American Translators Association (ATA) did not offer a certification in the Farsi language. I made it my mission to organize the first ever Farsi linguistic team to establish a language pair at the American Translators Association (ATA). After over four years of hard work, finally in January 2020, the ATA Certification Committee has officially recognized the need for a Farsi certification and has given that first Farsi linguistic team the green light to move forward. To me, this milestone is more than just creating a Farsi certification program at the ATA level. It is giving the Farsi (or Persian) language the attention it deserves as one of the oldest, richest and most beautiful languages in the world. 

There is still much work that needs to be done. But for now, I would like to say that I couldn’t have done it without the support of those who believed in this new vision, however out of reach it used to seem.


The American Translators Association (ATA) is the largest professional association of translators and interpreters in the United States with nearly 10,000 members in more than 100 countries. ATA offers certification examinations for its members in some language combinations and is affiliated with the International Federation of Translators (FIT). If you hire an ATA certified Farsi translator you can rest assured that:

  • Their translation skills are at a professional level.
  • They are committed to the profession and its ethical practice.
  • Their credentials have already been verified.

With the efforts of Sepideh Moussavi, the founder of Farsi Translation Center,  the ATA Certification Committee has officially recognized the need and the demand for a Farsi to English certification. To learn more, read our blogs The Importance of ATA CertificationThe Human Cost of Bad Translation, and Know Your Interpreter.

Google Translate: Friend or Foe?

Recently I put a Farsi-language ad in a Facebook group that said:

If anyone needs any type of translation to and from Farsi, Please contact us at (212) 304- 4400. With over 25 years of experience in translation we have produced books, articles, and document translations to individuals and professionals all over the world. For a list of our services visit



Member of the American Translators Association (ATA)

Within 24 hours, somebody wrote a comment saying, “OR, you can use Google Translate, which is free.”

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Scam Alert: Fraudsters Target Interpreters and Clients

Perpetrators of business fraud are getting more sophisticated everyday, and the translating and interpreting field is no exception. All the familiar scams involving everything from impersonated or “spoof” email accounts to “overpayments” with counterfeit checks are present in this industry. As problematic as schemes like that are, today I want to talk about a different kind of business fraud: CV or resume theft.

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