Translation in Canada

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Languages spoken in Canada

Official language(s)

The official languages of Canada are English and French. As of the 2001 government census, these were spoken in Canada as a mother tongue by 17.3m and 6.7m people, respectively.

Other languages

Figures for mother tongue speakers of non-official languages were as follows: Chinese 853k, Italian 469k, German 438k, Punjabi 271k, Spanish 245k, Portuguese 213k, Polish 208k, Arabic 199k, Tagalog (Philipino) 174k, Ukrainian 148k, Dutch 128k, Vietnamese 122k, Greek 120k, Cree 72k, Inuktitut (Eskimo) 29k, Other non-official languages 1.5m.

History of translation in Canada

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William Francis Ganong

Translation demographics in Canada

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There are an estimated xx,000 translators in Canada. xx% are women, xx% are men. The average income of translators and interpreters in Canada, according to the 2001 government census, is CAD xx,000.

Demand for translation in Canada

In Canada, the demand for translation services comes largely from companies and public administrators. Public sector demand represents 35% of the market, of which two-thirds come from the federal government. Most of the private sector demand comes from large corporations who either outsource or have their own in-house translation department.

Over 90% of the volume of translation services involves the official languages; English to French makes up about 75% and French to English, about 15%. Of this volume, 90% comes from Canadian clients. Interpretation makes up almost 10% of the translation market, which may seem small, but in fact is much more significant than the global average of 1%. (Source)

Many translators in Canada work for the Translation Bureau of Canada.

Presently, there is an acute shortage of language professionals in Canada, as reported by in the article "Serious Shortage of Language Professionals in Canada". This shortage is causing Canada to lose its leading edge to Ireland and the United States, to name but a few. Demand for language services is high and ever increasing while supply is moderate, to say the least. While this situation is not helping Canadian exports, on the other hand, this means that the outlook is bright for translators in Canada.

Studies and reports on the Canadian translation industry are available in English and in French on the website of the AILIA.

Professional associations in Canada

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The Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council (CTIC), formed in 1970, "sets, maintains and promotes national standards in translation, interpretation and terminology to ensure quality communication across linguistic and cultural communities." It does not have individual members, but instead is made up of member associations in the eleven provinces and territories.

Among its members are:

Translators sharing a particular interest established other organizations:

There are also:

Accreditation and certification

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Translator training in Canada

 See also for reference
  • The Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface, in Manitoba, offers a Certificat de traduction anglais-français/français-anglais par Internet (Translation Certificate (online) - EN-FR/FR-EN; 30 credits).

There are also programs at Concordia University and McGill University.

The Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada (Association des universités et collèges du Canada) maintains a searchable database of all the translation programs available in Canada, in English and French.

Sworn translation

In order to become a certified translator, a candidate must first pass an associate level exam to become an Associate Member of the Association of Translators and Interpreters of his/her province of residence. Within six years the candidate must pass the certified level exam administered once a year by the Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council (CTTIC).

A candidate for the national exam must have a degree in translation plus one year of translation experience. For those candidates who do not have a degree in translation, 4 years of experience will be the pre-requisite for writing the exam. Years of experience will be equivalent to the number of words translated:

Official Languages (EN-FR/FR-EN) : 1 year of experience = 100,000 words

Other languages  : 1 year of experience = 30,000 words

Certified membership is also available to experienced translators through an "en dossier" or portfolio examination. Samples of a variety of work are submitted to a panel for evaluation, along with letters of reference, etc. This is the only type of certification recognized in the Province of Quebec. A certified membership is otherwise portable to other provincial associations.

Conference and court interpreters are tested once a year through CTTIC. A candidate for these exams must have passed an associate level examination in order to be eligible for these tests.

Laws specially applicable to translation in Canada

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Translation products produced in Canada

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Methods and terms of payment

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ProZians in Canada

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