Spanish Academic Translation

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Demand For Spanish Academic Translation

There is a constant demand for Spanish academic translation, that is, translation of Spanish academic documents such as diplomas, certificates and school reports. It needs not be pointed out that such demand usually comes from students who want their academic credentials to be recognized in English-speaking countries, like the U.S. or the U.K., because they want to pursue higher studies there. The difficulty that arises in Spanish academic translation stems more from cultural differences than from linguistic differences. Cultural difference here refers particularly to the different educational systems that exist in different countries and the different ways of evaluating students that prevail in different countries.

Experts Know How to Handle Linguistic Knots

The few problems that arise from linguistic differences in Spanish academic translation are the result of terms that have the same roots and are similar-sounding, but actually do not correspond to each other in English and Spanish. For example, the Spanish term ‘colegio´ is similar to the English term ‘college´, but it does not refer to an institute of higher learning like a university but to a secondary school. Hence, the term ‘colegio´ should be translated into English as ‘school´ or ‘secondary school´. ‘Colegios´ generally award the ‘bachiller´ degree, but that is only a high school diploma, and should not be confused with the baccalaureate degree. The Spanish ‘facultad´ does not mean the teaching staff of a university, but a school in a university, like the ‘school of biotechnology´, or ‘school of performing arts´.

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Problems That Arise

Regarding the problems that arise due to differences in the educational systems, many Latin American educational systems award a ‘maestría´. However, unlike the U.S. ‘masters´ are not awarded after two years of study following the bachelor´s degree. It is the ‘licenciatura´ that is the equivalent of the master´s degree because it is obtained after five years of university education. The ‘licenciatura´ is the lower of the two degrees awarded by a university, the higher being the ‘doctorado´. Unfortunately, bilingual dictionaries translate both of them as ‘degrees´, and a translator should not fall into that trap. He or she should have sufficient knowledge to distinguish between the two kinds of degrees.

Besides, the ‘licenciatura´ is a term that is unfamiliar in the U.K. or the U.S. Here the discerning translator must strive to provide some additional information that would enable the target language reader to make sense of an unfamiliar educational system. The specialized Spanish translator can provide the explanation by adding some basic information about the course of studies, their level and content. Thus, ‘Licenciatura en filología inglesa´ should be translated as ‘Licentiate in English Philology. A licentiate is defined as a degree situated between that of a bachelor and a doctor which is only awarded by European universities now.´

Academic translation of Spanish grades into the British or American system and vice versa is also fraught with difficulties. That is because the grading systems used in these countries differ greatly from one another. The Latin American countries use either a 10 or a 100 point system of grades. The American system uses a letter grade system. Either the Spanish translator would have to orally explain the relationship between the point and the grade, or he or she could interpret the evaluating system in terms of percentages. The Spanish ‘Matrícula de honor´ then equals 95% to 100%, the ‘Sobresaliente´ equals 85% to 94%, and the ‘Notable´ equals 65% to 84% and so on.

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