Yellow Boat Word Works

– Translations (German to English) and Copyediting –

Bernard Heise

Member of the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters

German-to-English translations, copyediting: social sciences, legal, financial, marketing


Michael Wildt, Hitler's Volksgemeinschaft and the Dynamics of Racial Exclusion, Berghahn Books, 2012

Wolfgang Schmale, Gender and Eurocentrism: a Conceptual Approach to European History, Franz Steiner Verlag, 2016

Wolf Gruner & Jörg Osterloh, eds., The Greater German Reich and the Jews: Nazi Persecution Policies in the Annexed Territories 1935 - 1945, Berghahn Books, 2015

Rolf Hosfeld, Karl Marx: An Intellectual Biography, Berghahn Books, 2012

Regula Bochsler & Philipp Sarasin, The Rendering Eye: Urban America Revisited, Patrick Frey, 2014

Inke Arns, Igor Chubarov, Syvlia Sasse, eds., Nikolai Evreinov & Others: "The Storming of the Winter Palace," Diaphenes, 2017


I’ve worked as a full-time German-to-English translator and as a copyeditor since 2009, both in academics and as a freelance linguist specializing in legal, financial, and marketing translations for large translation agencies. I’m fluent in German – it was my first language as a child of German immigrants in Canada and I lived in Germany for years at a time after 1989. My graduate work, which focused on German history (PhD, Cornell University, 1998), involved the close reading and translation of German texts ranging from handwritten sixteenth-century court records to modern historiography. The resulting dissertation entitled “Visions of the World: Geography and Maps during the Baroque Age, 1550-1775” was very much a study of the language and science of early-modern mapmaking and geography and their relation to the aspirations of absolutist government; built around a case study of eighteenth-century Saxony, it was based on research carried out in the archives and libraries of Leipzig and Dresden. This academic background honed my analytical, linguistic, and research skills, which have proven crucial for my work.


My academic translations have included books, articles, lectures, and grant applications across a wide spectrum of subject areas, from gender roles in Renaissance court culture to the Holocaust, as well as cyborgs, space medicine, victimology, and the Russian revolution. The agency work has ranged from lease agreements and financial reports to birth certificates and judicial verdicts, as well as advertising campaigns for cosmetics, hotels, energy drinks, and airlines. Much of this agency work has been done for some of the world’s largest law firms, financial institutions, and corporations. But a lot of it was for smaller enterprises that would really have been better served by artisanal translators.


Whether translating or copyediting, my goal is always to produce an accurate English rendition of the text that precisely captures the appropriate tone. While machine translations are becoming increasingly viable, getting it right – really getting it right – has less to do with translation per se than with properly managing the nuances of the target language. It means paying close attention to the discourse and terminology of the specific professional or academic field and ensuring stylistic consistency. Depending on the client’s needs, it also means checking facts, querying ambiguities, and offering feedback – all with the goal of producing the strongest possible text.


Good translations are expensive. Thus, if all you need is a rudimentary translation that conveys a sense of the meaning of the original, then machine translations (e.g., Google translate - although one should be aware of confidentiality issues) are often quite adequate. If you’re a large law firm or corporation and need to have high volumes of material translated or edited in a very short time period, your best bet is to use large agencies, which, along with using their own evolving machine translation tools, draw upon pools of hundreds or even thousands of linguists. But a large agency simply cannot deliver any kind of personal continuity. Therefore these corporations cannot deliver the kind of reliable quality and continuity that comes from establishing working relationships with qualified linguists who learn your preferences and needs and take personal responsibility for their work. So if you’re looking for consistent quality you can rely on and translations you can trust, then you may want to choose a more “artisanal” approach, which will give you better, more consistent results – often for a lower price – than what you’ll get from a large agency.


If you think you might want to work with me, send me an email with a description of your project and any files you might want to share. No project is too small. Confidentiality is assured. Communication takes place by email or Skype. Rates and payment terms will be negotiated individually.



“Translating a historian’s works – especially the kind that cites original source material – is a craft that requires a translator capable of quickly developing an understanding of the complex questions at stake and highly sensitive to the historicity of language. Bernard Heise is a truly outstanding academic translator who is mastering this craft to the point of perfection and whose excellent services – which he always delivers extremely fast – meet the highest expectations!” -- Prof. Dr. Svenja Goltermann, University of Zurich

“Dear Bernard Heise: Thank you so much for your excellent translation from German to English of Viola Shakir's chapter on Egyptian and Tunisian cinema about the Arab revolts for Mohsine El Ahmadi's and my book, The Birth of the Arab Citizen and the Changing Middle East. Viola, who is bilingual in German and English, was delighted with your work. The book will appear in October 2013 and thanks to you, her chapter is one of the strongest in the collection. Warm regards.” -- Stuart Schaar, professor emeritus of Middle East History at Brooklyn College, CUNY

“Bernard Heise’s translations are distinguished by their strongly pithy content and high linguistic sensitivity. He is able to skillfully convey complex relationships and fine differentiations into academic English. I would readily call upon him again for translation work.” -- Pascal Germann, historian, Zurich

"Collaborating with Bernard Heise was very enjoyable, not least due to his historical expertise. Competently and in a timely manner, he transformed the German text into a scholarly article in the English language." -- Dr. Katrin Keller, Director of the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Historical Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences

“I appreciate Bernard Heise’s ability to precisely adapt to different writing styles. His punctuality and promptness as well as professionalism during the translation, as well as afterward in the formal follow-up work, such as the implementation of style sheets for footnotes, etc., make the collaboration both pleasant and smooth.” -- Wolfgang Schmale, professor ordinarius at the University of Vienna

“Bernard Heise not only translates precisely and elegantly, he also helps rectify ambiguities in the original German text. The collaboration with him was very expeditious and enjoyable. I can heartily recommend his services! ” -- Dr. Regula Bochsler