Academic translations into English and academic editing in English

Supporting research throughout the research ecosystem: I translate from German into English and edit English texts to facilitate communication between researchers, science communication to broader audiences, and practical communication at universities and in other knowledge-intensive organizations.

Clouds in a blue sky



My translation and editing services ensure that your research paper will be well received in English by international experts in your field.




My translation and editing services in research and science communication bring your research to diverse audiences and can help with its translation into practice.

Bumble bee on a flower



My translation and editing services support day-to-day activities and the ongoing development of research, teaching and administration at your university.

Clouds in a blue sky

Translation and editing for research impact

As the Helsinki Initiative for Multilingualism in Scientific Communication rightly emphasizes, “Multilingualism keeps locally relevant research alive” and “Disseminating research results in your own language creates impact.” The dilemma for many multiliterate scholars is that the impact gained by publishing current research results in a language other than English typically does not negate the importance of also publishing in English. Providers of academic language services like me can assist with keeping the effort involved in parallel publications of more than one language version manageable: I craft reliable translations from German into English and edit existing English texts. As a one-woman services provider, I confine myself to a limited selection of fields in the humanities and social sciences when working on publications intended for a highly specialist readership.

Sound specialist translations of research contributions

I would be pleased to take care of your German-English translation or English editing needs in an area of:

  • Linguistics and literary studies
  • History, human geography, sociology, ethnology
  • Educational science, social work and social pedagogy
  • Gender and queer studies

Centring the human dimension

As different as these areas are, they are linked by the fact that they all revolve around human beings, human culture and human behaviour. Perhaps this is also why culture-sensitive human translation has an edge here.



Research communication from German-speaking Europe in English – Doubly translated messaging

Science and research communication needs to be appropriate for its time, medium, and target group, substantively reliable and confidence-inspiring. This is all just as important when it is disseminated in a foreign language – and not “merely” translated from specialist jargon into more ordinary language. I will gladly take care of your research communication translations (from German into English) or editing jobs (in English). Not only as a language professional with a feel for language, but also with language awareness and attentiveness towards your content and intended audience.

From science-savvy audiences to target groups with little affinity for research

Not only are the subject matter, objectives and target groups of science communication diverse – this communication also takes place in varied contexts and formats. I translate and edit material including:

  • Multimedia features, press releases and research magazines for universities
  • Teaching material for universities (such as slides for courses being newly delivered in English)
  • Academic policy advice (especially youth policy, family policy, mobility policy)
  • Climate communication and education for sustainable development
  • Texts for museums, memorials, and other sites of learning and education providers

Bumble bee on a flower

University translations and editing – Practical support for research, teaching and administration

Internationalization is, of course, about far more than providing information in English. It nevertheless often requires the delivery of an increasing volume of information in English – from strategic mission statements to administrative forms and sundry sentences – to support day-to-day processes at your university. It is important that this communication in English does not displace other languages but complements them: a language regime is optimal “when the best possible compromise between efficiency and fairness is found” and an elitist, English-only language regime would scarcely be fair. As an external provider of language services to universities, I can provide you with insightful support to ensure that your efforts to provide information in English bear fruit and lead to desired outcomes.

What English is right for my university?

Perhaps most obviously, the English used at German-speaking universities should not be “Denglish” (a form of English that mirrors German so closely that it can only be truly understood by people who are already fluent in German). At the same time, maximally authentic “English for the UK” or “English for the US” is also unlikely to be suitable: bizarre Britishisms (such as “MOT” as a translation for “TÜV”) or absurd Americanisms cannot facilitate friction-free English communication against the backdrop of a Germanophone environment. Information that would be clear in an Anglophone environment can become cryptic in the German context. Is the date “4/12/24” meant to refer to April or December, for example? Writing out the month as a word can solve the problem. Thinking about the needs of the language users we are serving is more important and more useful than thinking about what people would hypothetically say somewhere else.

In addition to these broad requirements for university English, aspects specific to individual countries, federal states and universities need to be considered: legislative environments vary and most universities have their own English terminology and their own house styles. As an external translator, I use the resources that are already available and contribute to organizational language resources (also in technical terms, for example by supplying files from Trados Studio or MemoQ).

Not just correct, but also usable: Empowering people to get stuff done

Practical communication sometimes seeks only to inform, but it often seeks to empower recipients to perform some action such as applying for an ID card, scholarship, state allowance or research funding grant. Universities produce numerous guidance documents with instructions for overcoming bureaucratic hurdles. The translations of these dull, dry but highly useful documents are often only valid for brief periods before changes to the content make a new document necessary. They do not need to be eloquent and elegant – just clear and accurate enough to ensure success. Are machine translations good enough to achieve this?

Not without comprehensive editing and overhauling, at the very least: the highly specific information sought by readers is often quite difficult to find in machine translations with their highly creative designations for things that already had names in English. Machine translation gives offices names not found on door signs, invents module designations not found in module catalogues, apportions new names to forms that make them hard to locate, gives books new titles, and even changes the names of bus stops and train stations. This creates confusion: fictitious parallel worlds spring up at exactly the places in the text that provide specific instructions to readers about where to go and what to do. Surmounting barriers to usability costs time, money and energy and translations with poor usability contribute to inefficient language regimes.

In my university translation and editing work, I avoid building parallel worlds and stay firmly in the real world – including the applicable legal context. As familiarity with some key vocabulary can make administrative challenges easier to surmount, I often keep some key terms in German and explain them in my translations from German to English.

I would be delighted to learn more about your university translation or editing project. Especially if it involves:

  • Diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI)
  • Languages, language policy, and internationalization
  • Sustainability and climate action
  • AI and the digital transformation

Why my “slowcoach approach” is a real time saver

Time to understand

I take the time to understand your content and its context – to speed up that process for people who will encounter my version of your work.

Time for multiple passes

I work on your text in several passes (often including a listen-though as I proofread) – to remove stumbling blocks for readers and smooth their paths through your text.

Time for structured communication

Being too quick on the draw creates chaos. I compile my questions for you so they can be addressed without extensive back and forth. I also avoid the perils of multi-tasking by not always having my email programme open as I work. If you need a quick reply, feel free to give me a call.

Time for technical wizardry

I take time to familiarize myself with software in order to eliminate unnecessary manual steps and to make sure your project doesn’t get eaten by gremlins.

Time for language awareness

I take time to keep my language skills up to date and inform myself about conscious language and Englishes beyond my own – to make sure your English communication is up-to-date and uses equitable and inclusive language.

Time for cooperation

I often give colleagues a moment of my time to resolve questions about language usage, substantive issues or technical glitches – and when I need help myself, it’s rarely far away.

I’m not the world’s fastest translator – but you can still save time by working with me!

I may not be the quickest language services provider – but working directly with me could well still be more efficient than finding an internal solution or working with a contractor who uses subcontractors.


About me – Sarah Swift

You may already know me as a languages person and a knowledge-intensive service provider, but here are a few more details to round out that profile. Did you know that I used to be an IT translator in the far distant past? That I am neither British nor American, but Irish? That I enjoy being a change agent and can handle a hammer?

All it takes is faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust?

English is my first language, but my skills as a language professional go beyond a native speaker’s feel for language and my work on your text will add more than a sprinkling of “native speaker pixie dust” to it. You probably don’t need my “nativeness” (my origins on the Irish Atlantic seaboard and my spontaneous fluency in Hiberno-English, including grammatical features like the hot news perfect). My command of the English language and my language awareness are probably more relevant to your project than my intuitive feel for English. So let me offer you more than nebulous native speaker pixie dust: expertise, thoroughness and reliable processes.

Confession time: I used the word “native speaker” here (unwisely, perhaps) because I thought it might help you to find me. I find it embarrassing to call myself thus, knowing as I do that being an English native speaker is often used as a proxy for Whiteness. I frequently counsel against using the term because it generally cannot be used to describe your need for language services in a precise and non-discriminatory way. The term “non-native speaker” is even worse – its deficiency perspective implies that having English as a second or additional language is a problem when being multilingual and multiliterate is actually a fantastic asset.

Knowledge-intensive service provider

I treat your content with at least as much care as I give to language issues. Content, in fact, is really what drives me – I am not just a language professional but a knowledge-intensive service provider. My clients deal with complex topics that are far from self-explanatory and I work to ensure that their analysis comes across accurately and coherently in English.

Irish by birth, Upper Franconian by choice

I come from the north of Ireland (but not from Northern Ireland) and I live a mere bike ride from Germany’s eastern border (but not in eastern Germany). Maybe that’s why I pay close attention to questions of geography and identities and carefully avoid conflating concepts such as nationality and citizenship. At any rate, I have the peace and quiet that your text needs in my office in Northern Bavaria.

Rainbow over Bamberg

Change agent

Many issues that my clients care about also matter to me. Transport and mobility justice, for example, or linguistic justice. I relish opportunities to support progressive agendas in a small but significant way with clear and reliable translation and editing work.

Observant traveller

I don’t have a car – I don’t even have a driving licence – and I mainly use sustainable forms of mobility. That shapes my perspective: I’m not used to hurtling from point A to point B by the quickest and most direct route, isolated from my fellow humans and my surroundings in a metal capsule. I tend to pick up on much of the detail of what is between A and B. This focus on context also characterizes my work on your text.

Sarah Swift in a forest

Barrier hater

Most people can get past these barriers most of the time – sometimes even without getting their feet wet – but they are a problem for some people some of the time. Barriers like this frequently remind me that Germany ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities back in 2009 but has been slow to deliver comprehensive accessibility and usability. I set out to ensure that my translation and editing work provides user experiences that are NOT akin to a muddy slalom through a puddle.

Red and white barriers on a path that force people to walk or cycle through puddles

Former IT translator

I haven’t worked in the IT sector for decades, but I have retained an unflinching attitude to technology from those days – and a certain willingness to engage with technical innovations.

A one-woman band – but not without backing

I keep in close touch with a handful of freelance colleagues who can step in to replace me in an emergency or assist me when a project needs to advance faster than my capacities permit. I also value lively dialogue with many university translators and with my colleagues in various networks including the professional associations BDÜ and MET.

Hammer wielder

English has its uses as a lingua franca but it can also wreak epistemic violence. Handling this dangerous tool is part and parcel of my work. But I seek to use it constructively – as a tool – and not destructively – as a weapon. I am not the language police and my suggestions should be understood as options and not as truths that I seek to dictate. My practice of conscious language (as defined by Karen Yin) includes taking care to avoid imposing my own language preferences.

I provide both editing and translation services, but I prefer translation because my translations supplement original texts without supplanting them. Having multiple usable versions of a text ensures that more can be thought and expressed and that more people can be reached than would be possible in only one language.



Sarah Swift standing by the river in Bamberg

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