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ASTM August 2018 Update

Posted By Victor Hertz, Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

I hope everyone is staying cool! Now that summer is in full swing, I’m turning my air conditioner up and turning my attention toward the in-progress standards in development within the ASTM F43 committee.

While drafting the individual Translation and Interpreting standards, one of the most critical questions that has arisen is “what criteria should be used when certifying a multi-language company?”

Consider the following: Interpreting is currently provided in at least 200 languages and dialects. This represents 40,000 potential dyads (pairings) of languages. If we tested each dyad, it would be impossible for any company to qualify. Moreover, many of these dyads are effectively empty sets. The need for Czech-to-Navajo translation, for example, is vanishingly small.

Given the above, how can we certify a multi-language entity?

A number of ideas have been proposed within the drafting committee. And while we haven’t yet reached consensus on any one of these proposals, several interesting ideas have been put forward.

If you have any contributions or ideas, they would be most welcome.

It seems reasonable to me that, at a minimum, we could designate certain languages as “core” languages. The United Nations has six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. To those six, I propose adding German, Italian, Japanese, and Korean. I think it’s fair to say that these 10 languages combine to represent the lion’s share of translation and interpreting assignments worldwide and therefore, would make a good test for certification.

However, this is just one possible approach. If you have any suggestions, please do not hesitate to send them to me at

Respectfully submitted,

Victor Hertz
Accredited Language Services

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