Legal interpreters vs the Ministry of Justice in the Netherlands, (unfortunately) the same old story…

Hi there dear readers!

In about a month the tender for interpretation services published by the Dutch Ministry of Justice will expire.
If you are not familiar with the issue, the Dutch Ministry of Justice has created more room for less qualified legal interpreters (level B2), which of course outraged qualified colleagues (level C1) who have been on strike since January. More information can be found here and here.

It is very sad to see a common pattern with what happened in the UK and Ireland a while ago. I had blogged about the fact that both Ireland and the UK had switched from using qualified legal interpreters to outsourcing interpretation services to big translation companies. In both cases there were pretty terrible consequences: (the so-called) interpreters were not able to understand what was being said, thus failing to provide a good service and in turn slowing down the whole system.

I have tried to identify what these 3 countries – UK, Ireland and the Netherlands – had in common when those (risky) decisions were made:
– shortage of qualified legal interpreters vs the number of cases, hearings, etc.
– shortage of money by the Ministry of Justice
– belief that outsourcing most of the work (looking for interpreters, contacting them, etc.) will lead to a more cost effective management of interpreting services
– trying to standardise payments to the same hourly rate, regardless of language combination, type of assignment, travel time, etc.
– belief that “excellent” interpreting is ok, but “good enough” is ok too. On a personal note, I would be terrified to sit in a court and have to rely on someone whom I can’t trust completely

Have you heard of similar cases somewhere else? Examples of good practices are also worth sharing!

Thanks in advance for your comments!

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How do I know if the translator I hired is doing a good job?

Hi there dear readers!

Sometimes it can be quite hard to understand if the translator hired is actually doing a good job, especially if one of the languages they work in is a so called language of limited diffusion. Here is some advice if you need to hire a translator and would like to know something more:

Membership of professional associations

Translators who are committed to their jobs (and are not amateurs!) are usually members of at least one translators’ association. This means that they satisfy certain criteria to be part of the organisation and that they regularly invest time and money to get training. You can either verify your translator’s credentials on the association’s listing or you can check the association’s listing to find a few translators in the language(s) that you are in need of.

Certifications and diplomas

Translators usually have either a degree/certificate/diploma in translation or they have relevant qualifications/work records in their subject matter, such as a Ph.D. in chemistry if they specialize in chemistry. Look for those as well, your translator will be more than happy to provide you with them!


Sometimes people underestimate the power of referrals and word of mouth in the translation world. If you already work with a few translators, ask them to refer you to a trusted colleague for a certain language combination. Usually translators know other colleagues from their translators’ association meetings, past projects, etc. In this way you will be able to contact someone you already know you can trust.

Hire a proofreader

A second pair of eyes is always a great idea to polish the translation, but also to receive an opinion about the work of the translator you hired. You can find a proofreader by following the above mentioned advice. Also, remember that it would be always advisable to have a translation proofread by someone else because a different approach and perspective can only benefit your texts.

And do you have more advice to check the quality of a translation and/or would you like to share your experience?

Thanks in advance for your comments!

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A book review of ‘Come sono fatti i cosmetici. Guida pratica alla lettura dell’INCI’ by Giulia Penazzi

Hi there dear readers!

As I anticipated here, I have finished reading this lovely book in Italian by cosmetologist Giulia Penazzi. The book is about how cosmetics are made and aims to serve as a hands-on guide to read INCI lists.Cosmetic products

After an overview regarding the relationship between cosmetics and the law, the book is divided into two parts. The first one analyses cosmetic forms one by one, such as emulsions, gels and powders. The second part groups cosmetics depending on their function, such as deodorants, moisturising products, anti-aging cosmetics and so on. Each section ends with several examples of INCI lists that are all commented so that readers can understand what a certain product may actually contain, its main effects and the quality of its ingredients.

This book is great to read not only if you want to deepen your knowledge of cosmetics, but also if you have some doubts about a product you are using or might be using because it is divided into sections with some practical advice (I have discovered I could have treated my skin a lot better for the past two decades!) and also information against widespread fake news.

If you have not studied chemistry, the commented INCI lists will not mean a lot to you, although there is a colour-coded key to help you understand the main ingredients. Apart from this (and you can skip all of those lists by landing to the next chapter), the book reads very well thanks to its informative, yet not too academic, style.

As a final thought, I truly liked this book because it allows the reader to understand what hides behind a marketing claim and how chemistry and biology are deeply involved in cosmetics and body care in general.

And do you have any recommendations for my reading wish list – both online and offline – for books about cosmetics and/or translation ?

Thanks in advance for your comments!

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