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Frequently Asked Questions


How do I get an estimate for the Translation Center services?
Call or email (translate@umass.edu) us about the specifics of your project. You can also visit us at the Center during regular office hours. In order for us to give you the best possible estimate for translations, please provide as many details as you can such as the languages, topic, word count, format, and timeline. It is helpful if you send us a Word document of what you would like translated. Usually, we will get back to you within one business day or sooner. Quotes depend on a number of factors including languages, length, topic, and complexity. We always aim to give you the best service at the best rate.


What is the difference between a translator and an interpreter?
Translators work with written documents. Interpreters work between spoken languages.


How can I pay for services provided by the Translation Center?
The Translation Center accepts cash, check, purchase orders, and credit cards (MasterCard and Visa only). Credit card payments can be made on our webpage. Clients who do not plan to visit the Center to pick up their translated documents are encouraged to pay via the webpage. If you plan to pay with cash at the Center, please bring the exact amount since we are not able to make change for cash payments.




How long will it take to have my document translated?
Each project is different. Turn around time varies based on the complexity of the specific job, especially in the case of multilingual projects. When we give you a quote, we specify the turn-around time from the moment we acknowledge receipt of the go-ahead for the job. However, if a quote is more than a few days old, please confirm with us that the quote still applies. We usually return short translation projects and personal documents such as birth certificates and transcripts within five business days. Whenever possible, plan for your translation needs! We offer rates for rush jobs.


How can I send documents to the Translation Center?
You can personally deliver, mail, fax (413-577-3400), or email (translate@umass.edu) your document to the Translation Center. We prefer to receive editable, electronic formats. If you are contacting us with a rush job, especially one that involves original personal documents (i.e., birth certificates, diplomas, etc.), please call us in order to make arrangements. 


Why can't I just use a free, online translation tool?
We do not recommend the use of online translation tools. At best, online translation tools can be useful if you are trying to get the gist of what type of information is contained in a text that is written in a language that has a high presence on the internet. However, if you are dealing with a language that does not have a high presence on the internet or that your search engine does not easily locate, the online translation tool might not even give you an accurate gist of a text. You should also remember that many online translation tools are search engines and that they might occasionally deliver an acceptable translation because they find on the internet what a human already translated. This is not always a guarantee. It was reported to us that a teacher wanted to send a note home to a mother about her son's failing performance in school. She wrote her note in English and sent it through Google. Google produced "Tu hijo ha fallecido." Luckily the teacher had a human Spanish speaker review the note before sending it to the mother because what the teacher meant to say was "Your son has failed" and NOT "Your son has died," as Google produced in Spanish. If you want an intelligently written, responsible, and publishable text that will make you and your organization look good, use a human to do the translation work.


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 staff translators, full-time and part-time professional freelance translators, and professors and graduate students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In the cases of a few hard-to-find languages, we reach out to native speakers who translate into their native languages with the support of one of our project managers.


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. Tell us about your project and we can help you decide which is best.


What is a “sworn translator” and do you have any available?
In a number of countries, there is a legal distinction for translators which allows them to translate and stamp their translations as accurate and faithful to the original. This distinction does not exist in the United States. At the Translation Center, we use our agency certification with a notary’s signature to achieve the equivalent.


How do I apply for a job as a translator at the Translation Center?
Send us a short introductory email or cover letter. 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 two-page sample of your translation work. Please note that we receive many applications and are unable to acknowledge every applicant.




How long does it take to schedule and confirm an interpreter?
We encourage you to reach out to us with significant prior notice so that we can do our absolute best to find an available interpreter. This especially applies, for languages that are not widely spoken in Western Massachusetts. In most all cases, we need at least three business days to schedule an interpreter.


What is your cancellation policy for interpreting appointments?
There is no fee for interpreting assignments cancelled 24 business hours or more before a scheduled appointment. However, if you cancel within 24 business, there will be a charge which could range from the full cost of the assignment to only travel costs depending on the specifics.


For which languages does the Translation Center provide interpreters?
The Translation Center receives regular requests for interpreters in Spanish, Chinese, French, Vietnamese, Russian, Portuguese, Polish, Korean, and other languages commonly spoken in Massachusetts. We are often able to fill requests for languages without high concentrations of speakers in our region, especially with advance notice. If you are looking for an interpreter for a language that is not so common in the area and have not yet scheduled the appointment for which you will need the interpreter, please contact us first so that we can let you know when our interpreters might be available. In addition, we can provide phone interpreting if that would work for your event.


I have never used an interpreter before. What should I expect? 
Excellent question! Understanding what it means to work with an interpreter will help you make the most of your time with the interpreter and increase the quality of the occasion for which an interpreter will be present. Please feel free to go over the interpreting procedures with the interpreter before the session starts. In general, 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 speaker. 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.


I need to schedule an interpreter. What information do I need to give the Translation Center?
When you contact us to schedule an interpreter, be prepared to give us the date, time, location, subject matter, languages, approximate duration, and any other background information that may be relevant. 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, we aim to send an interpreter who is also competent in medical settings instead of our best legal interpreter. We also ask for such information because some interpreters might be part of the immigrant or language communities for whom they interpret. The name of interpreter can be useful in helping us prevent confidentiality conflicts.


Does the Translation Center provide conference interpreting services?
Yes! However, please note that in order for these events to be successful, they require advanced planning. Conference interpreters often need to prepare for the topic of the presentation. During the conference, time will be required to test equipment such as headsets, microphones, etc. Events beyond two hours require two interpreters for continuous interpreting work.


Does the Translation Center provide simultaneous interpreting equipment?
Yes! We can readily provide interpreting equipment for 35 participants at a time. If you need more equipment, we might be able to work with you with advance notice. The equipment consists of a radio transmitter used by the interpreter plus a receiver and earpiece for each individual who needs to listen to the interpreter.




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 covers everything beyond those two rubrics. For example, we provide narration and voice-over services, as well as subtitling, website translation, and multilingual desktop publishing. If you would like to go multilingual, and do not know how, we would be happy to help!


What desktop publishing applications do you use?
We regularly work on DTP projects using InDesign ®, Framemaker®, Adobe Illustrator®, and Photoshop®. We run both Windows and Macintosh OSs. We can work with other software as well. Check with us to see if we use your DTP software.


Does the Translation Center do voice-overs and narration?
Yes! The Translation Center has extensive experience providing multilingual audio services for voice-overs, online courses, tours and much more. We have a professional, sound proof recording booth at the Translation Center, and have access to native-language voice talent from all over the world. We can provide consultation services to help you decide which voice might be the most appropriate for your project.