It is so sad that few places have standards for professionals. There is translation and then there is translation. I have bumped into too many people over the years who claim to be professional translators, but lack even minute knowledge of the source language. How can you translate what you do not truly understand? I guess you can convey some, or even most of the meaning, but what about the nuances which truly give meaning? So much of history has been lost because a “translator” did not fully understand the content and decided to eliminate a section or two.
The importance of the level of accuracy various according to the content. In certain instances it is okay to have few mistakes, as long as it does not take away from the general meaning. Still, ask any lawyer about the frustrations of dealing with a translator that does not understand the precision of legal terms and the vast implications a simple mistake can have. Anyway, back to my first sentence… I feel that these arguments could be solved by requiring translators and interpreters to be licensed or accredited. Australia does a good job of requiring certification for most professions. If you want to understand what I mean, check out this site: http://www.naati.com.au. Their page on Accreditation is excellent. It clearly states the various levels of professional translating and interpreting. http://www.naati.com.au/accreditation.htm.
I am still looking to meet someone who has passed their Chinese-> English Translating Test. I am currently studying for it. I will let you all know in two years whether or not I pass.