Online course on ethics for translators and interpreters

February 1, 2013 by
Online course on ethics for translators and interpreters

Rodin: The Thinker. Image credit: wallyg on flickr

Have you ever been given a document to translate and found that it contains material that you find offensive?

Have you ever been asked to “certify” someone else’s translation?

As translators and interpreters, we’re regularly faced with ethical issues and it can sometimes be hard to decide what action to take. Should we aim for the most beneficial outcome? Or should we ensure that our actions will not impact the outcome of a situation?

To help answer these questions, I’ve just started the online course for translators on “Behaving Ethically”, run by NAATI, the Australian National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters. This is an 18-hour online course which can be completed at any time over a two-month period, with a new course starting every month.

The course is based on the AUSIT Code of Ethics, which is used in Australia. It’s very much geared towards translators and interpreters in Australia and New Zealand, but may also be of interest to professionals based in other countries who are interested in ethical questions.

It’s interesting that accreditation tests for translators and interpreters in Australia and New Zealand include questions on ethics, as well as translation and interpreting tasks. The online course is not part of the local accreditation testing, but can be used to help prepare for it.

I’m enjoying the course and am finding the background information on morals and ethics both useful and interesting. As well as covering ethical decision-making for translators and interpreters in general, the course also looks at how cultural aspects can affect this, and gives good advice on what to do if you can’t accept or complete a job due to ethical reasons.

How about you? Have you had any training in the ethics of the profession? Did you find it helpful?

By Jayne Fox BSc MITI, German-English translator.
For German-English medical translation – and translation of corporate communications.

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About the author: Jayne Fox is a German-English translator specialising in corporate communications for sci-tech and health care. She works with German and Swiss organisations to help them communicate effectively with international audiences.

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  1. Marta (@mstelmaszak)

    It's a great idea for an online course. Well done, NAATI. And good luck, Jayne!

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks Marta! I finished the course today and am waiting for the results of the last assessment. I'm glad I did the course, it's given me a better understanding of the reasoning behind the principles in our codes of ethics.

  2. rose

    hello everybody, i have diploma in translation but this for along time. now i feel forget everything, can you help me how can i develope the language.

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Rose, joining your local professional translation association is a very good place to start.

  3. Cynthia

    Hi Jane! Very good post! Just wondering, what is Naati's position in regards to certifying a translated document. In my view, this is the job of a justice of the peace, not a translator. Do they say anything about that? And after you finished the course, how did you find it overall?

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks, Cynthia! I found the course useful to get a stronger understanding of ethical issues relating to translation and interpreting. About NAATI certified translations - yes, if you have the NAATI qualification, you can certify your translations. This just relates to the fact that the translation is accurate and complete. A Justice of the Peace can certify copies of original documents, to say that they are in fact true copies, but they can't say anything about the accuracy or completeness of a translation - that is the translator's job.

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German-to-English translator specialising in medical and technical translation and corporate communications
Welcome to my blog, Between Translations! I'm Jayne Fox, German-English translator specialising in sci-tech, health care & corporate communications.
I work with clients from around the world. From my location in New Zealand, I translate overnight for European customers.
See my websites for more information.
Sci-tech translation and corporate comms:
Medical translation:
Email: jayne(at)