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.

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.” Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Four Things to Know About Our Practice

I’m lucky to be a translator and an interpreter. My work is an intellectual exercise that reveals to me the common concepts that underlie the grammar of my three languages (Farsi, French, and English). In this post I would like to address some common questions we field “in the trenches” at The Farsi Translation Center, on any given day. I hope it answers some of your questions, too! Continue reading

The Human Cost of Bad Translation

My mother is not fluent in English and this fact counted heavily against her on a call to an insurance company recently.

The call was about an important question relating to my mother’s account, so I joined her to make the call. The person on the other end of the phone said they had to verify my mother’s identity, and so they needed her to speak, not me, her daughter. The operator asked what language my mother speaks, and put us on hold while they found a Farsi interpreter.

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The Importance of ATA Certification

The American Translators Association (ATA), a well known international organization, offers a translator certification—a distinction that puts all translators, regardless of work status, in a better position to market themselves. For Farsi translators and interpreters in particular, the ATA certification is more than just a suffix.

I am very passionate about the mission of the organization and the importance of these certifications for the following reasons:

  1. It distinguishes those who are qualified to translate from those who are not; and
  2. An increase in Farsi translators will support the Farsi-English pairing. As of now, this pair has not been established at ATA, and the ATA is not recognizing Farsi as a language.

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