Suggestions for a good German to English translation service?
April 18, 2008 1:45 PM   Subscribe

I have one scanned JPG image of one typewritten page of modern German (or possibly modern Swiss-German). What's the best company, service, or person to use to get it translated into English quickly?

I can't post the image on Flickr or any other publicly accessible area because of international treaty issues. Yes, really.
posted by Asparagirl to Writing & Language (8 answers total)
There's a community based dictionary available for free at

It's even available as a plugin for OS X's dictionary.

Won't help with a full, natural, translation, but it should be useful.
posted by mhz at 2:22 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Written German in Switzerland (assuming it's not purposely written in a dialect) is almost identical to standard written German elsewhere. So that's not something to worry about too much when it comes to finding a translator.
posted by Gnatcho at 2:49 PM on April 18, 2008

If you're trying to use an online translation program you'll optical character scanning software (I have some old Windows stuff called Scansoft somewhere, not sure if it still exists as a product), but I would think the easiest thing to do would be to find someone who speaks German and ask them to translate it for you. If you really don't know anyone who speaks German, I believe there is a Goethe Institute in Los Angeles. You could try calling them and asking this question of whoever answers the phone. Good luck. :-)
posted by thomas144 at 3:31 PM on April 18, 2008

Best answer: Check your MeFi mail. :)
posted by mynameisluka at 5:40 PM on April 18, 2008

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that a professional agency would translate it for maybe a couple hundred dollars, if it's a document that you need to have a bulletproof, dependable translation of. (Like, say, something with diplomatic or treaty or legal implications.) Machine translation would be extremely inappropriate in that case. Note that German tends to be more expensive than other languages, since German speakers tend to live in areas with relatively high cost of living.

The next step down might be to ask around at a local college or university.

You may also want to consider whether the document needs to be kept confidential, that might inform to what extent you want to seek professional help. Could you trust some random grad student with whatever's in the document?

If it's a more casual situation, then sure, flush it through google or and see what comes out. If it's just one page, it wouldn't take that long just to retype it.
posted by gimonca at 7:18 PM on April 18, 2008

Response by poster: Turns out we've got a nice German translator round these parts, who should have the file translated for me sometime tomorrow for a very reasonable rate. Yay!

And just FYI, the file is not a treaty or something big and confidential like that -- it's just something that, by treaty, cannot have its original scanned image posted on the Internet. (Translations and transcriptions are fine, however.) More details to come in my first MeFi Projects post, hopefully in a few weeks. :-)
posted by Asparagirl at 9:59 PM on April 18, 2008

Hi there! I'm a professional editor who happens also to be a German translator. I have a degree in German studies from Yale, and I am a fluent German speaker.

I've been the oral and written translator for an American travel writer for years.

He wrote "The Beer Drinker's Guide to Munich," about to come out in its sixth edition.

I'm happy to do any translation you require.

Find the book at:

Find more about me at:

Best of luck!
posted by laskagirl at 5:51 AM on April 19, 2008

Response by poster: I'm happy to say that the file has now been translated by the aforementioned nice MeFite. Total time elapsed since my first posting this request yesterday afternoon: 24 1/2 hours. Now that's service! Thanks, AskMeFi!
posted by Asparagirl at 2:20 PM on April 19, 2008

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