Author Archive for Tomás Jiménez

Literature Translation English to Spanish: On the Cusp of Gorgeous

It was some while back when an American author asked me to translate his work: “On the Cusp of Gorgeous”

Sometimes as a translator you get to translate something very beautiful, something special, something that reminds you why you decided to study to put the long hours into gaining your M.A. in Translation and Interpreting when you were already working long hours and bringing up a young family.

This work of fiction or more accurately this observation of life around and life unfolding is developed on a train journey from Quito, Ecuador.

In the very first paragraph the author explains that “there is magic in a train”. Well, that sense of magic stays with us right through the work.

Written from the perceptions of a grandfather we board the train and watch how he describes the train journey, what is seen from the window, what is seen inside the carriages but crucially what is yet to be seen visually.

For this work is also about feelings and emotions and the pure joy of a man surrounded by his family: his children, his grandchildren, his wife and her parents.

He tells us about the people on the train and those who we see through the windows of the train and he does this with passion but careful not to be over stated; there is nothing gratuitously over emotional about the writing.

In fact, the emotion is what we get to feel as a reaction to the skilful writing.

I am not one to say that I find something to be wonrdeful if I do not; I do not feel that I need to please people or engineer a way to make myself likeable to them.

Simply put I enjoyed reading this work much more than several books by certain celebrated authors and for me it was a joy and a privilege to translate it from English to Spanish.

Translation Spanish to English of Degree in Education Academic Record

I have completed the translation from Spanish to English of the Academic Record for a graduate of the Degree in Education from the Complutense University in Madrid.

One of the joys of academic translation is that you are always learning about new academic subjects even though you have no personal experience of those areas of study.

In this particular case my client had successfully completed a Degree in Education and needed to have the full details with grades translated into English.

It has been fun finding out a little about the degree content. Here are few examples from the syllabus:

Pyschology of development/learning

Historical and current international trends in education and culture

Teaching of manual and visual expression

Quantitative analysis in education

The list goes on and on and it is enlightening to appreciate what such graduates have needed to understand as part of their training.

In terms of grades one has to be very careful to try to accurately reflect the level the student has reached.

All in all, translating academic records is a fascinating and rewarding experience.


Law Degree Academic Record Translation Spanish to English

I have completed the translation from Spanish to English of a Law Degree Academic Record.

That is to say not just the one- page graduation certificate that the student receives but additionally all of the details of the syllabus of that law degree.

I have helped law graduates several times so there was not a not that was completely new but you do have to be careful because in my experience degrees in law in different universities and different countries are not identical. Furthermore, such courses of study develop and change as the world in which we live develops and changes and such changes become important to law practitioners.

Of course, there are so many different kinds of law anyway in each country and I have to find a real equivalent from one language to another.

In this respect I think legal translators have to be very careful.

Certainly, we acquire subject specific knowledge over the years but we are not lawyers or solicitors and we do not write the laws or have a say in how those laws are written except for in very exceptional cases where a translator is also a law maker.

There are of course translators who are also lawyers or put another way people who have worked in law and then decided to also translate or to have a change of career and leave law practice in favour of translation.

I got to thinking about how my legal translation is helpful and to whom.

Obviously to the Spanish law graduate who is looking for employment in Britain but hopefully also to those people who have perhaps lived in Spain and on returning to Britain need help with matters that they wish to address.

While it is true that I myself translate legal documents for these kinds of clients I think it must be very useful to have a solicitor practicing in Britain who has studied in Spain and as such is most familiar with Spanish law.



Spanish Degree Certificate Primary Education Translated to English

I have just completed the translation from Spanish to English of a degree certificate and academic record for a Spanish primary school teacher.

I was astonished, if not a little shocked by the number of documents that this primary school teacher needed to have translated into English so that she could apply for a job here in Britain. Therefore, one of my main concerns was how to get the price down as low as possible for her.

Translations were required of everything that she had studied and in great detail.

Not just the certificates but also the academic record which yes, I am accustomed to translating but then the syllabus of her university degree. Really, really? I did ask her several times to check carefully that there was no mistake and that all these Spanish documents really did need to be translated into English.

Having established what needed to be done I was able to work out a non- urgent completion date together with a very discounted price for the translations and of course free signed, stamped certifications.

From my previous experience of translating these kinds of documents I know that my work will definitely be helpful to her and that she will have the necessary English translations of her Spanish academic documents to then be in a position to apply for work here in the U.K.

I just hope that the whole venture of moving to England from Spain works out well for her and that she finds the life that she wants.


Research Paper on Autism Translated English to Spanish

I have just finished the translation from English to Spanish of a research paper on certain aspects of Autism.

I have a personal interest in the subject.

Several years ago, back in Spain I knew a lovely young couple in my group of friends. They were newly married, very sweet, often invited friends round to dinner and were just great company.

They very much wanted to start a family but getting a first baby did not seem to happen. They did not see any specialist or try any special method to get conception. They did not talk about their disappointment to everyone but I knew of it and knew that they really did want a baby.

Quiet unexpectedly all of a sudden she became pregnant and I can tell you then there were big celebrations. It was also like the pregnancy made it possible to talk about the worries they had had when it seemed like it might not happen.

There were dinners, laughs, jokes. I remember people saying things like: “so what do you want boy or girl? You two are going to be busy now, you will have to brush up your football skills or maybe your child will like swimming or the theatre. You two are not going to get so much free time now!”

And it was perfectly obvious that they did not want free time: they wanted a family, a baby.

About that time I moved to England and I lost contact with the lovely couple but this is what I have heard.

The baby arrived and quite soon as it was developing it started to be obvious that everything was not alright. The child was diagnosed with Autism and it was serious.

Life became very hard indeed for them and they found it very difficult to cope. They seemed to lose their joy of life and started to ask what they must have done wrong to create a child like this and then they went on to blaming each other.

Eventually they got divorced.

We hear so much talk nowadays about an inclusive society where everyone is equal and must have the same rights and that I think is surely a good thing. But no one wants to bring a child into the world who is ill. And it really does not help when society seems to say: “of so you have a child who is very ill, very sorry to hear that but the doctors are great aren’t they, they can do so much these days”

It is never enough.

We always need more help.

Every single research paper is potentially another step forward.

Every small piece of understanding is absolutely valuable.

Even if the conclusion of the research is asking questions and suggesting futher research it is still part of that journey towards a better hope for sufferers; for the patient, for the family for everyone.

I ask myself what I can do. I have no money, I cannot make a grant to the university research departments.

All I can do is hope that my translation from English to Spanish might one day help communication about Autism, help increase global interest in this condition and ultimately be my tiny drop in the ocean, my tiny grain of sand to support the work in this field.


Flamenco Translated to English

Is it possible to really translate flamenco to English?

Certainly the words can be translated but will they make sense and more importantly will they convey the same meaning and message that they convey in the original Spanish.

My feeling is: no. No, even if we can produce a very good translation of the words of flamenco songs into English from their original Andalusian Spanish this often will not bring flamenco any closer to us.

Why is this?

The words in flamenco songs themselves are very often not so important in themselves. What matters is how they are sung.

Flamenco is such a unique and powerfully emotional form of human expression.

There are times of course when the lyrics of a flamenco song do narrate a particular experience.

For example one of the countless lyrics for Alegrías and Cantiñas:


“Que bien te pega la gorra

navarrito navarrito

¿De qué regimiento eres?

Que de Navarra soy, señora”

These lyrics are heard sung as far back as 1927.

They could be translated something like this:

” How well your cap suits you

little guy from Navarra, little guy from Navarra

What regiment do you belong to?

I am from Navarra, madam.


The translation does not get us very far.

Perhaps we can work out that this is conversation between a young man in the army and a lady who does not know where he is from.

We would have to do more research to find out if this is a reference to the movement of Spanish soldiers from the north of Spain in such regions as Navarra to Andalucia in the South  to support Spanish military forces. We could then see if this is a  reference to the Peninsula war between Napoleon’s empire and the Spanish Empire for the control of the Iberian Peninsula.

At the end of our research we could perhaps think that the lady in Andalucía is delighted to see the young soldier from the north and that is why he looks so grand in his military cap.

But without all that study into the possible meaning of the lyrics we will get the sentiment by listening to Naranjito de Triana sing these words in this performance of  Cantiña. These specific lyrics start at 8:30

Why translate Flamenco?

As a method of information; as a way of simply showing a non Spanish speaker what the lyrics of the song, translation has a function. But my feeling is that if we want to get closer to flamenco we simply have to learn Spanish as a first step and then of course we would need to feel an affinity with flamenco sentiment.


Academic Translation Spanish to English

We translate all Spanish academic documents to English for British authorities.

We provide signed, stamped certifications of our translations and these comply with British Home Office regulations.

This covers everything from Primary School up to and including PhD and post doctorial research.

This aspect of our translation work is most important at this time as Spanish people continue to enter the UK looking for work and they often urgently need to have their Spanish academic records translated into English.

Recently we have been very happy to be able to help many Spanish people by providing translations of all of their school and university documents whether these be their certificates or the documents giving the details of the subjects that they have studied and the grades that they have obtained.

Because we have lived many long years in Spain and worked within the Spanish education system we feel that we are ideally placed to fully understand the subjects and Spanish academic grading system.

We are aware that these translations can get a little expensive so we try very hard to find ways to offer discounts. We explain this in more detail in our article on the translation of the Spanish police background check which we also present in the Spanish version Antecedentes Penales.

The same basic principal exists for our academic translations. If you ask for the translation of more than one document we will offer you a discount.

By providing a professional translation service that complies with British authorities’ requirements and regulations and offering the lowest fee that we can at least in a small way we hope that we can help the Spanish people who are trying to set up a life here in Britain.



Translate to Mother Tongue or Not

The consensus of opinion among translators is that you should always translate back into your mother tongue.

Mother tongue means your first language, the language that your parents spoke to you and that you were brought up with and invariably that includes the language that was surrounding you where you were brought up.

The idea is that if say for example you were born in Britain but studied Spanish no matter how good you have become at speaking, reading and writing the Spanish language you should always translate from Spanish which is your studied language back into English which is your native language.

Generally speaking this is a good idea but being dogmatic can be problematic.

Let’s look for the sake of argument at a hypothetical case.

A hospital in a Spanish speaking country wants to have an NHS published medical document in English translated into Spanish.

Following the mother tongue advice, it would be logical to seek a Spanish native speaker from the relevant Spanish speaking country to carry out the translation.

What might happen?

We find a university professor who is a native Spanish speaker and  who loves Britain. He knows a lot about the history of Britain and loves British theatre television and films. He has even taken part in an amateur production of a Shakespeare play; so he really understands the English language.

He knows nothing about medicine or hospitals, however.

Should we give him the translation job?

Here is another option:

A girl is born in Britain of a Spanish origin family. She is very studious at school, gains lots of high grade A Levels and goes on to university where she studies medicine and passes with first class honours with distinction.

Her language at home was Spanish when she was growing up because her parents felt it was very important to keep their Spanish culture alive.

Her language at school (perhaps grammar, perhaps private) in a primarily British area and at university is however English as is the language of her medical texts.

Now an adult and working in the NHS as a doctor she uses her Spanish language when seeing Spanish patients if that is what they prefer. She is involved in helping Spanish medics in Britain and has worked with Doctors Without Borders in a Spanish speaking country.

Her medical Spanish is an active language. She is in fact practically bi lingual especially with reference to her own area of expertise: medicine.

She has what is sometimes referred to as subject specific knowledge.

My thoughts are that despite the fact that she was born in Britain, brought up in a very British environment and uses the English language professionally she is the ideal candidate for translating a medical text from English to Spanish.

She will almost certainly know and understand just about everything in the specific area of medicine to be translated and she is surrounded by her colleagues who may be happy to provide medical opinions and she has access to highly specialised dictionaries and other resources.

So, what is more important: where you were born or who you have become?



Academic Equivalence Spain/UK

Academic Equivalence is provided by NARIC (National Academic Recognition and Information Centre).

Recently a client approached me and asked me if I could provide Academic Equivalence for his qualifications gained in Spain.

I feel that the subject could use some clarification.

We translators do not provide equivalence of academic qualifications.

We provide translations of the academic document and we aim to find the best equivalent term from one language to another.

Thus, it is our duty to provide the very best translation for one language to another so that the authorities such as NARIC for example have the necessary information in English that enables them to look at the request for academic equivalence.

Put another way if say for example someone qualified as a secondary school teacher in Spain the translator cannot tell the British authorities whether they should or should not permit that Spanish qualified teacher to teach in Britain.

In the case of teaching qualifications the teacher from Spain will need QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) and that is awarded by NCTL  (The National Colleage for Teaching and Leadership).

For doctors wishing to work in the UK the authority is the General Medical Council.

So, certainly  the service provided by  translators will be essential in the process of applying for recognition of qualifications but we are not in a position to advise on equivalence.

The good news is that we have been translating Spanish academic qualifications to English for about 30 years and in that time our translations have always been acceptable to the various British authorities.

Sometimes if our clients find it helpful we can provide a glossary to accompany the translation. This can be useful when Spanish and British academic grading systems and terminology are different as indeed they often are.

For example Spanish examination grades are often expressed in words such as “Sobresaliente”, “Notable”, “Bien”, “Aprobado”, “Suficiente” etc but the British system uses letters such as A*, A, B, C etc.

The problem here is that we cannot tell NARIC for example that it should consider “Sobresaliente” to have the same meaning as A* or how “Matrícula de Honor” should be considered. What we do is to provide a helpful glossary with suggested comparable terminology.

Whatever you need it is almost certain that you will need a signed, stamped certification and as members of the Chartered Institute Of Linguists we can provide this and will usually charge £10.00 for one certification and thereafter provide discounts and/ or provide further certifications for your other documents free of charge.

If you need a translation from Spanish to English of your academic documents please contact us and we will provide you with a no obligation quote and timescale for completion of the work.



Traducción al inglés de Antecedentes Penales


En inglés

Estamos traduciendo el Certificado de Antecedentes Penales al inglés cada vez con mas frecuencia.

Puede ser en parte porque estamos todavía en estas fechas en el comienzo del año académico y llegan personas de España o de otros países de habla española que necesitan la traducción de este documento entre otros.

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