Skip to content

Ethical Considerations for Interpreters

Today, I wanted to address ethics and ethical considerations in my practice. It’s a very important part of our practice, mainly because I work in the courts. However, I would like to stress that having a very strong sense of ethics is important for all translators and interpreters, even if they don’t work in a legal setting.

For example, I translated a memoir for someone. The author did not want to publish the book for the general public. He simply wanted his grandchildren and great grandchildren to know about his past. He trusted me with some of his most personal secrets — and I’ve honored his wish for confidentiality (As every translator should!).

That said, some of the most important interpreting occurs in very public events. When Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin met in Helsinki earlier this year, they decided to do so with two interpreters and no one else in the room. This unusual format left the world hungry for details about the meeting, and Trump’s American interpreter became a target for journalists who wanted her to abandon her ethical standards and provide details about what was said in the room.

Three days later, the American Translators Association’s (ATA) Code of Ethics had been cited by 15 news programs and publications, including CBS, USA Today, CNN, NBC, and ABC. That’s because the ATA Code of Ethics is something that is a very well known and respected resource.

Having an ATA-certified translator or interpreter ensures:

  • Fluency
  • Confidentiality
  • Cultural competence
  • Professionalism

The goal for all these ethical considerations is the client’s peace of mind. We make our clients feel like they are in good hands; that not only are their points and ideas being relayed thoughtfully and accurately, but also that their information is being kept confidential whenever needed. That is why I am dedicated to adding Farsi to the ATA’s long list of certifications. While I continue that effort, I will maintain the standards set by the ATA’s Code of Ethics — like all ATA members do. To learn more about how I can help with your translating or interpreting task, contact me.

Sepideh Moussavi, MSSepideh Moussavi, MS

Farsi Translation Center
(212) 304 – 4400

Related Articles