19 March 2012
Getting the Most Out of Your Translation
Getting the Most Out of Your Translation
By Sarah Baiz
There are many reasons why a company may decide to translate a document. Perhaps they’ve formed a new partnership abroad or they want to expand their customer base. New business challenges and opportunities constantly arise, and translation, or the process of rendering written texts in one language (the source language) in another (the target language), is one way to meet those demands head on, no matter which business sector you are in. Language is one of the most important “currencies” in the global market, allowing greater access to products and services worldwide.
Translation can do many things for a company. It can allow the company to minimize misunderstandings by negotiating the differing cultural and linguistic gaps when branching out overseas. It can improve communication between international teams by ensuring that each team understands exactly what the other team meant to say, especially if they do not speak the same language. And it can help a company to extend their customer base to non-English speaking populations – if a product is only promoted in a single language, it can be difficult to for those who are not native speakers to understand it completely. Language access is a key issue in all these circumstances.
According to a survey by the Common Sense Advisory that targeted eight non-English speaking countries across three continents, 56.2% of consumers say that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price and 72.4% say that they are more likely to buy a product with information in their own language . Furthermore, 72.1% of consumers spent most or all of their time on sites in their own language. If they don’t see the product or service being promoted, they certainly won’t buy it.
Even if a company isn’t looking to expand their market base abroad, translation services can bring added value by accessing additional customers in the U.S. Within the United States alone there is a linguistically diverse population, with an estimated 11 million people, or 4.2% of the population, who experiences some level of difficulty in speaking and understanding English . Translation is an effective tool which can help to ensure success in business.
Before beginning a translation project, you should know what to expect. Translation is more than simply “bilingual typing” and cannot be done by just anyone who speaks another language. Professional translators are thoroughly knowledgeable about both the languages and cultures that they work in. They are writers, capable of producing texts that read well in the target language. But above all, they are effective bridges between the languages they work in, with the ability to render the message of the original text in the target language, using the appropriate style and terminology.
The translation process begins with the source document. Before sending the document to be translated, review and edit it. Typos, inaccurate punctuation and/or sloppy word choice in the source document can change the meaning of the original text in unintended ways and can result in inaccurate or misleading translations. Ambiguities in the original text can also lead to misinterpretations and should be reworded. In addition, decide what really needs to be translated. Rather than blindly translating documents in full – possibly hundreds of pages—decide with your client (or sales team) which information is actually required. Lastly, finalize the text before translating it. It is much more likely for errors to slip in if the translation service provider is working with multiple drafts.
Once you have a text to be translated, there are still a few more decisions that need to be made. Decide who your target audience will be. Do they speak a particular regional variety of a language? What will the translation be used for – is it in-house use only or will it be disseminated? What type of text is it – is it an informational text or a sales brochure? Style, word choice, phrasing, and sentence length will all vary depending on where your text will appear and what you want it to achieve. If the translation service provider knows what your text is for, they can prepare a foreign-language version with maximum impact for that particular audience and medium.
At the start of the translation project, you should be realistic in regards to the amount of time it will take to produce the translation and the price. How many pages can a translator produce an hour? How much time do you expect him or her to spend crafting the text that will promote your product or service? (How much time did your team spend producing the original?) You want a quality product that will represent your business – and choosing a reputable translation service provider is a must.
Like in many other service industries, there are good translation service providers and bad ones. With a company’s reputation at stake, choosing the right one can be the difference between success and failure. Good quality translation service providers will be knowledgeable about the subject area you are working in, know their translators and their abilities well, and will be able to provide you with samples of their work and references. Their translators, editors, and proofreaders will be native speakers of the language they work into, and familiar with the local customs. Some translation service providers also provide desktop publishing and design capabilities. Being able to supply customers with a translated document that is a mirror image of the original English-language document provides their clients a sense of relief – but not every translation service provider can do this, and fewer can do it well.
Language Connections, a Boston-based translation firm with experience in translation in numerous fields, is one such company. Language Connections is a full service Language Service Provider focused on providing certified professional translation, localization and interpreting services to clients across the U.S. and worldwide.
Language Connections is a multi-lingual translation agency which specializes in legal, pharmaceutical, medical, and technical translations for corporate and government clients. Contact them at the coordinates below.
2001 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02135
Tel.: (617) 731-3510 Fax: (617) 731-3700