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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get an estimate for translation?
Send us an email ( and provide as many details as you can and we will get back to you within two business days.  For more information, please see here.

What is the difference between a translator and an interpreter?
Translation refers to written documents; interpreters work between spoken languages.

How can I pay for translation services?
The Translation Center accepts cash, check, purchase orders, and credit cards (MasterCard & Visa only). Credit card tends to be most convenient for individual clients who are not coming to pick up the documents in person. Please note that we are not able to make change for cash payments.


How long will it take to have my document translated?
Turn around time can vary based on workflow in the office as well as on the difficulty of the job itself, especially in the case of multilingual projects. When we make an estimate, we specify the turn-around time should the go-ahead be received within the day; should a few days or weeks pass after the date of the estimate, please re-confirm with us. For personal documents, please allow at least five working days for short translations. Please plan for your translation needs whenever possible! Rush rates are also available. Please contact us to inquire.

How can I send documents to the Translation Center?
The Translation Center can receive documents by post, fax (at 413-577-3400), hand-delivery, email (see here), FTP. Wherever possible, editable, electronic formats are preferred. If you are having trouble scanning a file or need help adding an attachment to an email, let us know. For rush jobs or projects involving original personal documents (i.e., birth certificates, diplomas, etc.), call us in order to make arrangements. Please see the bottom of our Rate page for more information.

Couldn’t I just use a free, online translation tool?
Online translation services are most useful to a user trying to get a grasp of what type of information is contained in a website, email, document, etc., but for an intelligently written, publishable text that will make you and your organization look good, use a professional. Example: A pesar de lo que ha logrado la tecnología con respecto a la traducción, ninguna página web consigue pensar – ni, mucho menos, escribir – como si fuera un lector, redactor, o traductor humano. [Despite what it has achieved the technology to the translation, no website gets thinking - or, much less, write - as if it were a reader, editor or translator humans.]

I have a bilingual colleague who can do the translation; could you proof it and certify it?
Sometimes we can. Often it is a question of whether or not the bilingual person has any experience in translation. A professional translator is a professional writer; good writing is a skill unto itself. Beyond that, a professional translator specializes in language switching and assimilating specialized language. Bilingual speakers are often more comfortable with certain topics in one language than the other. Translators work to bridge that gap and to create texts that read as well in the target language as they did in the original.

Who will translate my document?
The translator working on your project is as likely to be in Western Massachusetts as anywhere else in the world; it is a question of time and available resources. We employ a combination of full-time and part-time professional freelancers and graduate students at the University of Massachusetts. Except in the cases of a few hard-to-find languages, all of them translate into their native languages.

What is the difference between a certified translation and a notarized translation?
Certification, a free service for all translations returned as hard-copies, is our agency’s signed claim stating that we stand behind the accuracy of the document. Notarization, an additional service, adds the notary’s signature as an official witness to the signing of the document. It can be added to the document itself as a footer or on a separate statement of accuracy. Once we know a bit about your project, we may be able to help you decide which is best.

What is a “sworn translator” and do you have any available?
In a number of countries, a legal distinction for translators exists. It allows them to translate and stamp their translations as accurate and faithful to the original. In the US, where the distinction does not exist, we combine our agency certification with a notary’s signature to achieve the equivalent.

I want to apply for a job as a translator.  What should I do?
Please send us a short introductory email or cover letter introducing yourself, attach a translator résumé (which should include your languages, education, translation experience, subject matters you are qualified to translate, and your computer skills), and a short (one to two pages) translation sample.  Be advised that we receive many applications and only keep a few new applicants.


How long does it take to make an interpreting appointment?
The more advance notice, the better the odds that we will be able to find an available interpreter; the more rare the language, the more true this becomes. Please allow for a minimum of 48 hours.

What is your policy on cancellation of interpreting appointments?
We have a 24-hour cancellation policy.

For which languages does the Translation Center provide interpreters?
The Translation Center receives regular requests for interpreters in Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, Portuguese, Polish, Korean, and other languages commonly spoken in Western Massachusetts. We are often able to fill requests for languages without high concentrations of speakers in our region, especially with a bit of advance notice. If you are looking for an interpreter for a rare language and have not yet scheduled the appointment, please contact us first so that we can let you know when our interpreters might be available.

I have never used an interpreter before; what do I need to know? 
This will depend somewhat on the type of appointment, and you are always free to go over the interpreting procedures with the interpreter before getting started. You can expect the interpreter to introduce him or herself at the start of the session. From that point on, he or she will use the first person (”I”, “me”, “my”) when interpreting for the person who has most recently spoken. Interpreters do so in order to refrain from appearing to make any comment on the situation at hand. Everything said during the session will be interpreted. Anything said in an interpreting session is, as far as the interpreter is concerned, proprietary information. The client and interpreter should feel at ease discussing confidential matters.

What questions should I be prepared to answer?
When you contact us about scheduling an interpreter, we will ask you a number of questions about the time, date, location, subject matter, approximate duration, and about the background of the interpreter. You are not required to answer any of these questions if doing so would breach confidentiality. We use this information to select the best possible interpreter for the job as well as to help our interpreters prepare for assignments. Although all of our interpreters are fluent in both languages, there may be specific terminology to review (for example, a doctor’s appointment where a specific condition will be discussed). In addition, since many of the interpreters are part of the immigrant or foreign language speaking communities for whom they interpret, the interpreter’s name can be useful in helping us prevent confidentiality conflicts.

Does the Translation Center provide conference interpreting services?
The Translation Center provides conference interpreting services from time to time. These events take more planning than smaller interpreting appointments, so please arrange accordingly and give us time to allow an interpreter to prepare for the presentation, as well as to sort out technical issues (headsets, microphones, etc.) . For conferences longer than two hours requiring continuous interpreting, two interpreters will be assigned. Not all of our conference attendees will need an interpreter.

Can the Translation Center provide simultaneous interpreting equipment for those who do?
Yes, we are currently able to provide interpreting equipment for 50 participants at a time. The equipment consists of a radio transmitter used by the interpreter plus a receiver and earpiece used by the attendee.


What is multimedia translation?
Translatable language appears in many forms. Written and spoken are two broad categories that are represented by document translation and interpreting, respectively. Multimedia translation is meant to cover everything that doesn’t fall neatly into those two rubrics. For example, we provide narration and voice-over services, as well as subtitling, website translation, and multilingual desktop publishing.

What desktop publishing applications do you use?
We regularly work on DTP projects using InDesign ®, Quark®, QuarkXpress®, Framemaker®, and we also have extensive experience using Adobe Illustrator® and Photoshop®. We run both Windows and Macintosh OSs. If your DTP software of choice is not on this list, please check with us, as we are continuously expanding our knowledge and know-how in order to better serve our customers.

Do you do voice-overs and narration?
The Translation Center has extensive experience providing multi-lingual audio services for cd mastering, voice-overs, online e-learning courses and much more. We have a professional, sound proof recording booth on the premises and have access to native-language voice talent from all over the world.