Getting German Translations

Nancy from Translationadvisor gives you some useful tips about German translations:

Do you speak German? If not, don't worry. People in Munich are very friendly, and many people here speak excellent English. However, at some point you may find yourself in a situation where you need something translated to or from German. Below is advice to help you find the right kind of German translations for your needs.

Free online German translations

Do you need help understanding a German restaurant menu? Online translation tools are a convenient way to find translations of individual words. Google offers a free online tool to translate German as well as many other languages.

However automatic translators often make mistakes and sometimes even return nonsense, so you shouldn't rely on them for anything important.

German interpretation (spoken translation)

Do you have to attend a business meeting or a social event in German? Do you have to make a presentation to a German audience?

If you're looking for help with spoken communication, then what you need is an interpreter. Interpretation is a different skill from written translation, so be sure to look for a linguist who is specifically qualified in interpretation.

The AIIC, an international association of conference interpreters, offers a list of qualified interpreters in Munich.

Translation of official documents

If you need a translation for official purposes (e.g., courtroom use, presentation to government authorities), be sure to find out the specific requirements of the body that must accept the translation. For example, a German court may have a specific list of sworn translators whose translations they will admit.

Translation of personal and business documents

Do you need a translation of a letter, a business report, or a marketing document?

For informal or personal translations where quality is not key, you might be able to get help from a friend or colleague who knows both German and English. However, for important translations, it is safer to hire a professional translator.

The American Translators Association (ATA) has a searchable database of freelance translators, many of whom are qualified to provide German translations.

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