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A colleague had this problem recently: A degree certificate from their home university was issued in Latin, but they need it in English or Finnish for the purpose of a grant application. Apparently no official English translation was supplied or the copy has been lost.

There are a lot of people capable of making such translations, but for official purposes the translator needs to be somehow certified. This need is more common with documents like birth certificates, but I am not aware of anyone issuing them in Latin. This question is not about informal translations that many users here could provide, but about ones that government officials would be happy to accept. I assume such translations will not be free of charge.

So, are there any officially recognized Latin translators? If yes, where can I find them and what kind of recognition are we talking about?

  • The university I'm at certifies translators, but afaik only for living languages…I wonder if there's a similar standardization task force for dead ones. – Draconis Sep 23 at 3:52
  • How to solve the issue, undoubtedly depends on the local legal system. In my country the Foreign Affairs Ministry kind of certifies individual translations, and the burden is on them (they also set the fee, though) – Rafael Sep 23 at 16:22
  • @Joonas llmavirta: In my (perhaps limited) experience of life, nobody ever asks to see anybody's degree certificate. Any interested parties/ potential employers/ universities offering research degrees simply ask the original Uni for a reference. Which Uni is this that issues certificates, in Latin, w/o a translation; without a record? – tony Sep 23 at 17:35
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    @tony Asking for degree certificates like that is common in Finland. If you want to get a grant or a tenure, you need to show a certificate, in some cases the original paper copy. I just submitted a grant proposal and had to attach a scan of my doctoral degree certificate. (The colleague in the question is a colleague of a colleague, so I don't know the details. Somewhere in Europe, certainly. But I got interested in whether there is a good solution to the problem.) – Joonas Ilmavirta Sep 23 at 18:13
  • @Joonas llmavirta: I see! Accredited translators may be found in academia, I would have thought; here I'd try Oxford/ Cambridge e.g. Prof./ Dame Mary Beard--very well-known, of course; good luck with it. – tony Sep 23 at 22:26
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In the Czech Republic there are many diplomas issued in Latin (definitely the largest Charles University does so) and hence official translation services are available. The services do include translations into English and German, because that's what Czechs need the translations for, the Latin original is normally accepted here just fine.

For example:

https://www.jc-correct.com/overene-soudni-preklady-latiny (https://www.jc-correct.com/en/certified-translations)

https://www.ilts.cz/cs/jazyky/latinsky (https://www.ilts.cz/en/languages)

and many more, they keyword to search in Czech is "soudní překlady" and "latina" or "z latiny" and then check if the company has also an English language website to switch to.

I do not know if they do or do not have to see the original physical copy to issue a certificate for their translation.

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The Colombian Ministry of External Relations can produce an official certificate that Colombia has no official translators between Latin and Spanish: https://www.traduccionesbogota.com/la-guia-definitiva-de-traducciones-en-bogota-colombia/

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Well, a search for "Vatican" and "Latin translator" put me on to this guy, Daniel Gallagher, who has left the priesthood and has joined the Classics faculty at Cornell,

"[a]fter eight years at the Vatican translating the pope’s messages – sermons, letters, even tweets – into Latin ..."

You can read the rest of the article here.

Which is really just to indicate that there are translators that might be recognised as 'official', in the Vatican at least.

  • Good find! The question then arises whether he offers a paid translation service to outsiders. – Joonas Ilmavirta Sep 24 at 6:09
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I found this service when I searched Google:

Scholaro Translation

They specifically mention translating diplomas from Latin, and are a member of the American Translators Association. I don't know whether that carries much weight in and of itself, though, since I'm not familiar with that association. They also mention their translations are accepted world wide by governments, universities, etc, although I'd be curious to see some examples of translations in Latin that were accepted to back up that statement.

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