Here at Bubbles, we’re always in the ebb and flow of international trade and communication… but for many business owners and marketers the intricacies of translation is probably the last thing on your mind.
The time will come when you do need material related to your business translated though. It’s always good to go into translation services knowing what to expect and also what not to!
Read the checklist below – there are three of the most common myths related to professional translation, and questions we’ve often answered when talking to new clients.
“Professional translation services are on the decline.”
International trade is linked to translators
In business, getting a hold on a new market is hard enough with your product or service – not having a perfectly-translated content marketing backbone makes your journey even harder.
When companies expand internationally, they need translators. A good translator can flawlessly move you from one country to another without any hiccups while crossing the language barrier.
And the fuel behind professional freelancers (international trade itself) is only growing – in fact, the UK just received a big boost to international trade funds.
Recent UK activity: £15m allocated to international trade lending
Last year, the government announced a substantial £15m foreign trade lending increase to help UK businesses take over more of the international market.
What about crowdsourced translation?
Often, if there is a community behind a product or service, someone in that community who speaks two languages will offer to do pro-bono “translation” from one language to another. If this were to work, companies could potentially hire customers and clients on a one-time basis to expand into each new country.
Unfortunately, this is not a viable option for any reputable business that cares about its image. Which brings us to our next myth…
“Anyone who is bilingual can be a translator.”
Knowing languages doesn’t necessarily mean perfection
Let’s take English as an example – your average English speaker will use between 4,000 and 5,000 words in his normal vocabulary. An “educated” speaker will use between 8,000 and 10,000, and the highly educated professions that call for truly descriptive words – doctors, lawyers, etc. – will use up to 23,000.
In order to correctly translate between languages, the translator has to know all of these words and – even the highly specialised ones between that 10,000 and 23,000 gap. Not understanding the exact meaning of any word or phrase will lead to incorrect meaning and tone on the other side of the translation.
Can often lead to abrasive statements, too
The reason why it’s so risky to use just an ordinary “bilingual speaker” is because if a word or phrase goes awry, you can cause serious offence to the other party. For simplicity, let’s use an English word as an example…
Its true definition isn’t offensive, but all English-speaking cultures have morphed to see it as a derogatory word. Imagine using that on your website, in your promotional material, or anywhere else? That’s what we call a crisis.
In-demand translators know two languages very well
This risk is negated with a professional translator. He or she will know all of the relevant words and phrases for both languages down to their very cores.
Be wary of hiring a translator who claims to know a multitude of languages – although knowing many languages can be useful in some circumstances, it’s better to hire a language-specific translator for every new language that you need to cover. This ensures that you’re getting someone who specialises in both languages… and not just someone who “knows” both of them.
Bubbles Translation Services has over 3,800 native speaking translators – we have a variety of translators for over 280 different languages, all with specialist subject areas too! Get in touch today.
“Machine translation is going to eradicate the need for human translation.”
Yes, it’s advancing unbelievably fast – but it’s not pertinent
No one is denying the explosive growth of C2C translation – there are apps on Google Play and the App Store for almost anything.
- iVoice Translator Pro lets you speak a sentence and get the translation read right back to you
- Word Lens lets you scan a menu and get the menu in your own language
- Waygo gives you 300+ daily phrases for a variety of different languages
But the problem is, just as an average bilingual speaker can’t translate everything that a business needs to translate in the right way, apps like these can’t help businesses to expand internationally. They’re too archaic and not meant for a business marketplace.
Nothing will ever beat the human touch
There’s no way to automate the subtle intricacies of language. The usage of the word retard (explained above) is one obvious example, and there is this truly shocking example from Russia, where the Google translate tool was spitting out homophobic slurs!
There are much more subtle implications in each and every word and phrase that we use.
In order to have a clear voice, you have to first be able to communicate your vision to a translator, and then have him or her be able to put down exactly what you mean in another language… in the right context, tone and phrasing to articulate what you mean.
Anything short of that is projecting a different image than you have in mind, and that’s not having complete control of your brand outside of its domestic market.
Summary: translation lets you become an insider
The growing international trade community is fuelled by relationships between companies from different countries. Professional translators bridge the gap between your culture and theirs, which is why the demand for them is only increasing.
Get on board with a translation agency that hires skilled translators who specialise in 1-to-1 language relationships – “jack of all trades” translators usually won’t be able to accurately articulate your vision in other countries.
Once you do, you’ll be able to have a clear brand voice – without a solid translation service, you’ll be stuck in your domestic market… and viewed as an “outsider” everywhere else.
Bubbles Translation Services is your professional translation agency with over 3,800 translators, specialising in more than 280 different languages.
Speak with us today and learn how we can help you expand globally… the right way.