I am in a somewhat difficult situation, and I am not sure if this is the right site to ask this; feel free to close this question if not.

There is a refugee from Syria who has been studying computer science in Syria before he fled. He was 2 months away from graduating. I am currently helping him to get back to his studies (in Germany). To avoid that he has to start all over again, I need a translation of his official University course descriptions from Arabic to German or English.

I have tried two normal translators, who where quite expensive. The results they produced were of very poor quality, since a lot of technical terms are used in these descriptions. I study computer science myself and am thus able to judge the quality of the translation. I am often not able to tell what they mean. I am pretty sure that this is due to the lack of knowledge of technical terms of the translator, not because of the document itself. They try to translate the terms, but it is not clear what they mean. For example "programming paradigms" was translated to "kinds of different types of programming languages", and that is one of the few I was able to guess what was actually meant. With this quality it is very unlikely that he won't have to start from the beginning again.

So how or where can I get a decent translation of computer science technical terms from Arabic for an application to university, so other people at least somewhat knowledgeable in the field understand without too much thought?

  • 1
    A note: though his state as a refugee might count, are you sure that the university would accept a non-official translation? Aug 31, 2016 at 20:15
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    There is a professor who is somewhat helping me/him out, so anything would be a good start. There might also be the option to have an official translator sign that this non-official translation is correct.
    – RunOrVeith
    Aug 31, 2016 at 20:19
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    Can't the applicant help translate? If not, they are likely to struggle greatly in their new school in any case.
    – jakebeal
    Sep 1, 2016 at 0:47
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    Have a Syrian PhD student / faculty member do a translation, and have the translation validated by an accredited translator? This avoids translators the work of finding the correct technical term, but they can easily validate the matching of terms and overall content between both documents. Sep 1, 2016 at 10:11
  • 2
    When I was applying for my masters in Germany, I was in similar situation and did basically what @SteveDL recommended: I translated the whole description for all of my courses myself and then took it to a "certified" translator, who just read the text and stamped it with her seal for around 1/3 of the regular price. Of course, this is only available if you can find a translator willing to do such a thing. How acceptable that is, depends on local culture.
    – AndrejaKo
    Sep 2, 2016 at 13:20

1 Answer 1


Find a local firm of patent attorneys and ask them what translators they use.

Patent specifications and patent applications are full of technical terminology. Holders of a foreign patent wanting to establish their rights in your country will need their patent translated into your local language. Patent firms routinely use the services of translation firms that specialise in translating technical documents. The translators don't guess at the meaning of specialist terms if they don't know the most appropriate translation --- they will query and check candidate translations.


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