If you need a translation, it’s best to avoid these nine pitfalls. Otherwise, your turnover and profits may fall instead of rise.
(1) Having the translation done by a collueague who is not a professional translator
Your image is extremely important to your company. Your company needs to come across well. That’s why, for example, you use a specialised web designer.
Purchase orders and invoices also need to be processed properly. So you need an excellent internal accountant or you request the services of a professional independent accountant.Then there is the content of the website, brochures, manuals, letters, contracts, etc. You may ask a technical writer, copywriter or lawyer to draft them but what about the translation? Well, there must be someone in the company who has studied the required language or happens to speak it quite well. That is definitely the person to entrust the translation to.
Weird train of thought. Why not use a professional translator who knows what he’s doing?
What’s the use of spending lots of money on products, services, technical infrastructure, legal help if you throw it overboard with bad translations?
More on this subject: Why a professional translation or text is important
(2) Using machine translation
Machine translation is easy, quick and most of all, very cheap. But is it also good? And is it good enough to link your image to it?
Whatever some companies may say, the answer remains ‘no’. This does not mean that machine translation cannot be used but then only in professional hands and for very specific tasks.
The machine translations that are now being offered are nearly always revised by non-professional or amateur translators. There is not a single serious professional who does this.
In addition, we’ve not yet mentioned the issues of confidentiality, liability and other matters rarely ever mentioned by companies that offer machine translation.
More on this subject: Machine translation: Babel or babble?
(3) Not using a native speaker
No matter how well you may know a foreign language, you never know it as well as a native speaker. So it is logical to use a native speaker for your translations. This is yet another reason why you should not use a colleague who happens to have studied a foreign language.
If you use a professional translator or a serious translation agency, you can trust that they will use only native speakers.
(4) Not having a revision done
Even the very best translator will make a mistake. Nobody is perfect. Revision is therefore always necessary. By revision we do not mean swiftly opening and closing the document, which is sufficient for ISO and which is what many translation agencies limit themselves to.
Revision is also not limited to checking the spelling and grammar. In a true revision, source and target language are thoroughly compared sentence by sentence.
When you get in touch with a translation agency or translator, make sure you are certain that a proper revision is being done. Don’t take anyone at their word.
More on this subject: Revision: The holy grail
(5) Buying cheap translations
A top-notch smartphone costs a lot of money. A top lawyer also costs a lot of money. In the same way, high quality translators are expensive or at least they seem to be. Then again, there is a lot you can do with them: communicate effectively, maintain your excellent image, increase your profits …
There are, of course, cheaper alternatives, but in the long run they always end up being more expensive.
It happens all too often that a company chooses the cheap solution (or worse: machine translation) but complains about the bad quality of the translation afterwards. It’s even more of a disaster when the company only notices this after a period of time and has already lost a lot of turnover.
Usually all such translations need to be re-done.
More on this subject: Why do translations seem expensive?
(6) Using an unreliable partner
When you need a translation, you need a reliable partner. This can be a translation agency but also a professional independent translator with an extensive network.
Important and indicative for the work delivered is the service you get. Does the service provider answer in a timely manner, is their information complete, are they proactive, do they demonstrate and make use of their knowledge, do they keep you informed, do they deliver precisely what they have promised and when they promised it, are they transparent about the people they worked with and the means … a lot of questions that help you determine whether you are dealing with a reliable partner.
The main factor is, of course, the quality of the delivered translation. Make sure you have it revised by someone you trust. Play it safe.
More on this subject: Independent translator or translation agency: A difficult choice
(7) Not taking account of the layout
If you want to have a brochure translated, it is extremely important to take the translation thereof into account when you create the layout.
A bit of extra work in advance, can save you a lot of headaches and hours of time lost afterwards.
More on this subject: Mockup of files for translation
(8) Not asking for the right type of translation
Not all texts need to be translated in the same way. Everything depends on what you want to do with the texts. In exceptional situations machine translation will do but when it comes to publications and therefore your image, only a professional translation and revision will do.
If you do not know what type of translation is best suited for your text, your reliable supplier will be all too happy to help you.
A nice overview: The four most frequent forms of translation (and when to use them)
(9) Not taking the professional translator into account
The translator whose services you use, must adhere to specific professional standards. Nevertheless, your attitude towards the translator also determines the degree to which the collaboration will be successful.
The more you take the translator’s professionalism into account, the better the result and the more effectively you will reach your goal of converting the relevant translations or texts into greater turnover.
More on this subject: Frequently asked questions to translators