Swearing a translation / Bestätigungsvermerk

Sworn and/or certified translators in Germany are governed by the law of the individual Länder. In Bavaria, according to the Dolmetschergesetz, the form of words we place under a translation is prescribed.

bq. Als in Bayern öffentlich bestellter (bestellte) und allgemein beeidigter (beeidigte) Dolmetscher (Übersetzer, Dolmetscherin, Übersetzerin) für die … Sprache bestätige ich: Vorstehende Übersetzung der mir im … (Original, beglaubigter Abschrift, Fotokopie, usw.) vorgelegten, in … Sprache abgefassten Urkunde ist richtig und vollständig.

The wording has changed slightly over the years.

Apparently (I heard in Munich) the BDÜ was promoting a particular English translation of this wording a few years ago. It presumed a translation was headed (Auszugsweise) Beglaubigte Übersetzung (although many reject the term beglaubigen for a mere humble translator, as discussed ad nauseam elsewhere). Here it is:

bq. Certified Translation (in Excerpts)
In my capacity of a translator and interpreter for the English language duly registered and commissioned by and sworn to the State of Bavaria I hereby certify that the foregoing translation is a true and complete translation of …. whereof the original/a copy/a fax copy has been submitted to me.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunder set my hand and seal at …

I wonder if anyone uses this wording?

11 thoughts on “Swearing a translation / Bestätigungsvermerk

  1. I only use the German (Bavarian) wording. Er, was the English wording written sometime in the 19th century? ;-) Sounds odd, doesn’t it?

  2. Some of the judges say you should only have the German version, but I think if you translate into English it’s good to have an English version.
    A bit archaic – and a couple of dubious prepositions in there too. And ‘translation in excerpts’ – could this be a Germanism?

  3. >>if you translate into English it’s good to have an English version>And ‘translation in excerpts’ – could this be a Germanism?

  4. Oops, what happened to my post? OK, let’s try again.
    “if you translate into English it’s good to have an English version”
    I agree. If you translate into English, it is definitely a good idea to have an English version.

    “And ‘translation in excerpts’ – could this be a Germanism?”
    Yes, it sounds a bit German. There are probably better translations for “auszugsweise Übersetzung”.

  5. I translate patents from German to English and occasionally have to certify a translation for submission to the USPTO. The attorneys I work with gave me this boilerplate:

    “I hereby declare that all statements made herein of my own knowledge are true and that all statements made on information and belief are believed to be true; and further that these statements were made with the knowledge that willful false statements and the like so made are punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both, under Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code and that such willful false statements may jeopardize the validity of the application or any patent issued thereon.”

    I think this sort of language is simply endemic to legal and bureaucratic documents.

  6. Charles: yes, yours is a standard US one.
    There are forms of words used by translators in Britain and the USA, who use such wording but can choose it themselves. Maybe it would be better to use that.
    I object to the ‘in excerpts’, to ‘in my capacity of’ (it’s either ‘in my capacity as’ or ‘in the capacity of’)and ‘sworn to the State of Bavaria’, and also to the archaisms at the end, especially the superfluous addition of ‘In witness whereof I have hereunder set my hand and seal’- I don’t even think the Rundstempel is a seal, it’s just a stamp (admittedly these arhcaisms would be quite usual in the USA, no doubt…)

    Incidentally, Charles’ boilerplate (widely traceable through Google) contains ‘are believed to be true’, but the words ‘nach bestem Wissen und Gewissen’ (‘to the best of my knowledge and belief’) were removed from the Bavarian text a good fifteen years ago – now we just say it’s correct and complete!

  7. When I translate into English, I use English wording (if they could read the German, they wouldn’t need the translation):

    “I, ___________, being familiar with the English and German languages, certify to the best of my knowledge and belief that the foregoing is an accurate and true translation of the original document from German into English and the whole thereof, which was presented to me and is attached in certified photocopy.

    Signed on this day…”

    It works well for me and I’ve never had any complaints. I also like the lack of dubious titles and penalties and the like. :-)

  8. Derek: Are you a sworn translator? Anyone anywhere could use the kind of wording you do, and can create a stamp if they want, provided they don’t create the impression they are a court-sworn translator. There are some authorities that won’t accept that, though.

    I am not sure what you mean by ‘dubious titles and penalties’. If I wanted to swear a translation for a court in Germany, I would have to use the Bavarian wording. That would include papers for service abroad.

    When it comes to sending something abroad, of course, the Bavarian courts are unlikely to see it. Some judges say only the German wording is valid and the English should be omitted. I disagree with the latter – if it’s going to English-speaking persons it should be explained in English IMO. But I admit 1) if I have space, I include both German and English wording and 2) my English wording is a translation of the German – but in many Bundesländer, there is no prescribed wording.

    I assume the main purpose of all this mumbo-jumbo is to make the translator named and traceable. No-one can guarantee there are no mistakes in a translation.

  9. Dear Margaret,

    Well, I am an “ermächtigter” translator. And that is what I meant with “dubious titles” – they are different all over Germany. I avoid mentioning my title in the certification (it appears below my name and on my stamp).

    As far as “dubious penalties” are concerned, I was referring to the text “made with the knowledge that willful false statements and the like so made are punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both” mentioned above (I would never put something like that in my text unless I absolutely had to).

    The wording of the certification itself may be set in Bavaria, but it isn’t in Schleswig-Holstein. I seem to remember taking my version from one of the translation associations here in Germany (though I am not a member of any). In fact, I have not yet found a “definitive” text and believe me, I have looked.

    I also have a German version for use within Germany. I usually call ahead and ask at the court/authority if they will accept my certification – I have yet to be turned down (knocks on wood).

    You are, of course, right about anyone being able to make a round stamp. But that has always been the case and I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make. My round stamp has the text that was provided to me by the OLG – the stamp maker wanted to see the document, but I’m sure one could have found someone who would have done it without checking up (I went to the “alt eingesessene” shop). That does not, however, make a ‘real’ stamp any less legitimate (IMHO).

    I agree that it is all probably meant to make the translator traceable, which I am: my text is followed by my name, title and contact information.

    Best regards,

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