Free advice is more often than not worth exactly what you paid for it: nothing. This does not mean that all free advice is bad, we like to think our blog offers plenty of legitimate translation advice, but it does mean once in a while we hear tips that make us do a double take. Here are some of the worst tips we have ever heard about translating.
Advice: You do not need a professional translating service, just use Google Translate or a computer system (machine translation).
Why this is terrible advice: The difference between a professional translation done by a real person who actually knows both languages and a software system designed by a group of engineers is huge. Computers simply do not pick up the little human language complexities and nuances that professional translators do, and this causes some spectacularly horrendous results for corporations that think a computer will suffice. Take a global ethics report from a large corporation. It is vital that the nuances of that language are translated over to English correctly in order to avoid misinterpretation and potentially serious legal issues. For large corporations this means either avoiding potentially costly lawsuits by using the correct professional translation services or walking straight into them with a computer translator.
Years ago, while working in a large Midwest city, we received an invitation by regular mail to attend a “Hispanic” event sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. The invitation was in Spanish, or at least a mere semblance of Spanish since it had been translated by Google translate. We called several colleagues in the Hispanic industry who also received the invitation and who were also very surprised by the terrible Spanish used. After contacting the Chamber, we learned that the director had trusted her new assistant to translate the invitation after he had told her that he was bilingual. He might have known a little bit of Spanish, but thought he could convince his colleagues he knew more by using the online translation tool. It backfired on him and the Chamber. It was an embarrassing lesson for them.
Advice: All translation companies are the same, just pick the cheapest.
Why this is terrible advice: When a business truly looks into the issue it is very clear that all translation companies are not the same. Using an experienced professional service with a proven track record that is dedicated to providing translation services as their primary focus is essential to getting a quality product. The difference will be noticed throughout the international corporation, from the quality of new recruits improving by having higher quality eLearning materials that are correctly translated, to a smoothly-run HR department, that can read fluent ethic reports translated into fluent English instead of broken English, the difference is substantial. It is worth any corporation’s time to ensure they use a high quality translation service and to make sure they switch to a better company if they are not satisfied with their current vendor. To be a truly international corporation, a business has to have international fluency between its different geographical locations and professional, high-quality, and error-free translation services are the best way to ensure this smoothness.
Companies that take this advice to heart and make sure they partner with a dedicated translation service, like weLanguages (www.welanguages.com), will be significantly happier in the long run.