Signal Jamming in the Translation Market and the Complementary Roles of Certification and Diplomas in Developing Multilateral Signaling Mechanisms


  • Andy L. J. Chan City University of Hong Kong


certification, asymmetric information, signaling, signal jamming, academic degrees, continuing professional development (CPD)


The market for translation services provided by individuals is currently characterized by significant uncertainty because buyers lack clear ways to identify qualified providers from amongst the total pool of translators. Certification and educational diplomas both serve to reduce the resulting information asymmetry, but both suffer from potential drawbacks: translator training programs are currently oversupplying the market with graduates who may lack the specific skills needed in the market and no certification program enjoys universal recognition. In addition, the two may be seen as competing means of establishing qualification. The resulting situation, in which potential clients are uncertain about which signal to trust, is known as a signal jam. In order to overcome this jam and provide more consistent signaling, translator-training programs and professional associations offering certification need to collaborate more closely to harmonize their requirements and deliver continuing professional development (CPD) that help align the outcomes from training and certification.