Ethics in translation practice

A comparison of professional codes of conduct


  • Phillippa May Bennett University of Coimbra, Portugal



translator ethics, translation ethics, codes of conduct, translation associations, translation studies


The interest in and understanding of ethics among translation scholars has changed dramatically since the publication of Andrew Chesterman’s proposal for a Hieronymic Oath (Chesterman, 2001). Early definitions of ethics based on equivalence (Newmark, 1991), faithfulness, loyalty (Nord, 1997) and trust have been put aside in favour of more recent notions of translator ethics grounded in accountability (Baker & Maier, 2011) and social responsibility (Drugan & Tipton, 2017). Practising translators who abide by codes of ethics/conduct are bound by principles of honesty, integrity, linguistic competence, confidentiality, and trust. This paper begins by presenting a brief literature review of the main developments in translation ethics from the early linguists to contemporary interpretations. There then follows an analysis and comparison of several professional codes of conduct from the main international associations of translators and interpreters with the benchmark, the Association of Translation and Interpreting Professionals (APTRAD). It is one of the more recent translator associations and has a code of conduct adopted in the last six years. The objective of this paper is to determine which theoretical definitions of ethics are reflected in the codes of conduct and to discuss their usefulness for translators in their daily practice. The paper ends with recommendations for changes to codes of conduct to make them more relevant to practising translators.


Download data is not yet available.


Primary references

APTRAD (2015): Associação de Profissionais de Tradução e Intepretação. (31-01-2021)

ATA (2010): American Translator Association. (03-02-2021)

AUSIT (2012): Australian Association of Translators and Interpreters. (03-02-2021)


ITI (2017): Institute of Translators and Interpreters. (03-02-2021)


Secondary references

Angelelli, C. (2006): «Validating Professional Standards and Codes: Challenges and Opportunities». Interpreting 8 (2), 175–93.

Arrojo, R., (2013): «Translators’ Code of Ethics». In: Durk Gorter, Jasone Cenoz, Carole A. Chapelle (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. New York: Wiley, 1-5.

Baixauli-Olmos, L. (2021): «Ethics codes for interpreters and translators». In: Kaisa Koskinen, Nike Pokorn K. (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Ethics. London: Routledge, 297-319.

Baker, M. (1992): In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation. London & NY: Routledge.

Baker, M. (2006): «Translation and Activism Emerging Patterns of Narrative Community». The Massachusetts Review. 47 (111), 462-484.

Baker, M., Maier, C. (2011): «Ethics in Interpreter & Translator Training». The Interpreter and Translator Trainer, 5:1, 1-14.

Berman, A. (1999): La Traduction et la Lettre ou l’auberge du lointain. Paris: Seuil.

Boéri, J. (2015): «Key Internal Players in the Development of the Interpreting Profession». In Holly Mikkelson, Renée Jourdenais (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Interpreting London: Routledge.

Catford, J.C. (1969/1965): A Linguistic Theory of Translation: An Essay in Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chesterman, A., (2001): «A Proposal for a Hieronymic Oath». The Translator, 7(2), 139-154.

Chesterman, A., (2021): «Virtue ethics in translation». In: Kaisa Koskinen, Nike Pokorn K. (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Ethics. London: Routledge, 13-24.

Drugan, J., Megone, C., (2011a): «Bringing ethics into translator training». The Interpreter and Translator Trainer, 5:1, 183-211.

Drugan, J. (2011b): «Translation ethics wikified: How far do professional codes of ethics and practice apply to non-professionally produced translation?» Linguistica Antverpiensia, New Series – Themes in Translation Studies, 10.

Drugan, J., Tipton, R., (2017): «Translation, ethics and social responsibility». The Translator, 23:2, 19-125.of Ethics and Practice Apply

Koskinen, K. (2000): Beyond ambivalence: Post modernity and ethics of translation. Tampere: University of Tampere.

Ko, L. (2006): «Fine-tuning the Code of Ethics for Interpreters and Translators». Translation Watch Quarterly 2 (3), 45-96.

Koskinen, K., Pokorn, N. K. (2021): «Ethics and translation: an introduction». In: Kaisa Koskinen, Nike Pokorn K. (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Ethics. London: Routledge, 1-10.

Lambert, J. (2018): «How ethical are codes of ethics? Using illusions of neutrality to sell translations». Journal of Specialised Translation. 30, 269-290.

Lambert, J. (2021): «Professional translator ethics». In: Kaisa Koskinen, Nike Pokorn K. (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Ethics. London: Routledge, 165-179.

McDonough-Dolmaya, J. (2011): «Moral ambiguity: Some shortcomings of professional codes of ethics for translators». Journal of Specialised Translation, 15, 28-49.

McNatt, D. B., Glassman M., Glassman, A., (2010): «The Great Academic-Practitioner Divide: a Tale of Two Paradigms». Global Education Journal, 23 (3), 101-119.

Munday, J. (2008): Introduction to Translation Studies: Theories and applications. London: Routledge.

Newmark, P. (1991): About Translation. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Nida, E. (1964): Toward a Science of Translating. Leiden: Brill

Nord, C. (1997): «Defining translation functions. The translation brief as a guideline for the trainee translation». Ilha do Desterro. A Journal of English Language, Literatures in English and Cultural Studies, 33., 41-55.

Nord, C. (1997): «Function plus Loyalty». In: Christiane Nord, Translating as a Purposeful Activity. Functionalist Approaches Explained. London: Routledge, 123-128.

Ozolins, U. (2014a): «Rewriting the AUSIT Code of Ethics – Principles, Practice, Dispute». Babel 60 (3), 347–70.

Ozolins, U. (2014b): «Descriptions of Interpreting and their Ethical Consequences». FITISPos-International Journal, Vol 1, 23-41.–.

Ozolins, U. (2016): «The myth of the myth of invisibility». Interpreting 18 (2), 273–284.

Phelan, M. (2020a): «Association codes of ethics». In: Mary Phelan, Mette Rudvin, Hanne Skaaden, Patrick Stefan Kermit (eds.), Ethics in Public Service Interpreting. London: Routledge, 87–98.

Pym, A. (2001): «The Return to Ethics in Translation Studies». The Translator, 7:2, 129-138.

Pym, A. (2011): Notes on the ethics of the translator, Part 1., (02-02-2021)

Pym, A (2012): On Translator Ethics: Principles for Mediation between Cultures. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Pym, A. (2015): Translation Ethics and Informed Choice (A talk at the University of Vienna).(02-02-2021).

Pym, A. (2021): «Translator Ethics». In: Kaisa Koskinen, Nike Pokorn K. (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Ethics. London: Routledge, 147-161

Pym, A. (2021): «Cooperation, risk, trust: A restatement of translator ethics». Stridon Journal of Studies in Translation and Interpreting, 5-24.

Toury, G. (2012): Descriptive Translation Studies - and beyond. John Benjamins.

Venuti, L. (1995): The Translator’s Invisibility. London, New York: Routledge.

Vermeer, H. (2000): «Skopos and Commission in Translational Theoiry». In: Lawrence Venuti (ed.), The Translation Studies Reader. London & New York: Routledge, 221-232.

Wood, G., Rimmer, M. (2003): «Codes of Ethics: What are they really and what should they be». International Journal of Value-Based Management 16, 181-195.



27. 12. 2021

How to Cite

Bennett, P. M. (2021). Ethics in translation practice: A comparison of professional codes of conduct. Verba Hispanica, 29(1), 31-52.