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Translation: What happens when you buy a commodity.

by Joseph 12. January 2015 05:56

The very first Translation blog post that I posted started off with a quotation from Benjamin Franklin, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” and established our commitment to quality and quality assurance.

It is truly something I believe in and instill in new hires when training the translation team here at Foreign Credits. If we are going to do something, we are going to do it well in order to deliver the best quality translations at a fair price.

As a company that offers credential evaluations as well as translations, we are in a very unique position in that we see what other Language Service providers deliver. A lot of the providers whose translations we receive offer bottom-barrel pricing and sell translation as a commodity rather than a service (see Translation: Service or Commodity?).

Below are examples of translations we have received that were done by said companies. These examples prove that you truly get what you pay for and when a translation is concerning your academic credentials, buying a service is much preferable to buying a commodity. Furthermore, these examples are ones from fairly common language pairs (German, Spanish and French into English) and I assure you, finding good-quality providers for these language pairs is easy to do.

German Error image 1


Erroneous Translation



This first one was done from German into English. As can be observed, there is a typographical error in the translation of FAKULTÄT – FCAULTY; which would not be that bad except that the original document had attached an original English Translation to the German Text (see below).

German correction

Original Translation


And still further, we have the following typographical error.

Second German Error


Erroneous Translation

Original Translation




While typographical errors are minor infractions, they are magnified by the fact that these misspellings in the final translation could have been avoided if the project manager had been more careful to notice that an original translation was attached, if the translator had been more attentive when re-typing the original translation for proper certification, or if any among the Project Manager, Translator, or Quality Assurance (the issuing company talks of a QA step in their workflow) had thought to run a simple spell check. Moreover, in a document of eighty words, two errors such as these lend to the questioning of the translation’s validity entirely.

This next translation was of a document from Mexico. In this case, the translator had shamelessly changed the names of courses to something they were not thereby invalidating the translation as a whole. The customer was then asked to pay for a second translation, one that truly represented the source documents’ content. The coursework was for a program in agriculture.


Spanish error - originals

I truly wish I were fabricating this information; however, this is what the original translation company provided. For the life of me, I cannot even try to understand how a translator thought these translations of the coursework were alright to submit.  As can be seen below, the translations of Commercial Poultry Production, Temperate Climate Bovines, Basic Crops, and Growing Ornamental Plants are nowhere near being close to conveying the idea of an Agricultural Practicum, Horticulture, Artificial Insemination or Soils and Fertilizers (respectively).

Spanish Correction

This last example comes from the translation of a Doctoral diploma from France. In this instance, a French pronoun which refers to the physical diploma itself was left in place and does not have any meaning whatsoever in English. It should be noted that this translation was issued by the same company that completed the first example.

French Error and Correction

Additionally, I should add that that phrase, “pour en jouir avec les droits et prérogatives qui y sont attachés.” is a very common phrase and present on almost all degree-granting certificates from France and its translation; therefore, is equally as common.

In conclusion, it can now be observed that you truly do get what you pay for when it comes to translations. How much money can really be saved in ordering a translation based on low price when the resulting first translation is so poor that the document needs to be re-translated to be done properly? All three translations were certified translations done by companies and were accompanied by a certification statement. In researching the companies that issued the translations, both of them obscured their quality assurance workflows if they mentioned quality at all.


At Foreign Credits, we believe in transparency in our procedures. You can trust us to deliver the best possible translation because we have in place and adhere to a quality assurance policy in order to minimize errors. Aside from the procedural protocol in place, we also have two members of the staff who hold Master’s degrees in Language and Linguistics; in addition, all members of the translation staff have taught language for at least two years at either the secondary or post-secondary level. We know language. It’s our profession. It’s our passion.

Translation: Service or Commodity?

by Joseph 21. November 2014 10:45

When tasked with writing an article about whether or not translation is a service or commodity, it should first be established what would differentiate the two. Webster’s dictionary defines commodity as, “a mass-produced unspecialized product” examples of such products would be granulated cane sugar, iodized table salt, unleaded gasoline, or even 16 GB flash drives. For all these items, they are essentially the same in quality, despite the price tag, and when needed, average consumers are generally satisfied with the lowest-cost item.


On the other hand, other items cannot be considered commodities; cars cannot be considered commodities unless all that was important to the consumer was its ability to mechanically propel the operator and up to three guests on four wheels (a Ford Focus is not the same car as a Maserati Quattroporte). In the same way, no two documents in need of translation are the same and no two translations of the documents are the same. Therefore, it can be established that translation is not and cannot be considered a commodity.

When buying translations, there are many factors to consider including the type of document to be translated, language pair, subject matter, target audience, purpose, and regional variation. If your documents are of a highly technical nature, you wouldn’t want to have it translated by a medical doctor unless it pertained to medical devices, and vice-versa. Language Service Companies understand these demands on translation projects; it’s our profession and we have trained project managers with an array of tools available to them to ensure that you receive the best quality translation possible. Moreover, Language Service Companies have a system of Quality Assurance practices to minimize the occurrence of errors.

These steps of tailoring the approach to each specific project give added value to translations purchased from a company. What separates Foreign Credits from other Language Service Companies is that we are very transparent in our operations. When you order from Foreign Credits, you will know that your translation will be translated by a competent professional with years of experience translating similar documents; before you receive the final translation, you can trust that it is accurate because of our quality protocol which ensures that it has been edited by someone who is unaffiliated with the original translator and working to verify translation accuracy. Finally, your translation will undergo quality assurance checks to make sure that the final document accurately represents the source document in register and formatting.


If you have any questions regarding the services we, the translation department at Foreign Credits, provide or regarding the quality assurance practices we have in place, we would be happy to discuss any of your questions via e-mail at, or give us a call if you require assistance with the service ordering process.

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