Why you should work with professional translators
Around the world, translation is recognized as a liberal profession – in the same sense as law, accountancy, or any other academic field. Why?
Because high-quality translation requires:
- Consistent study and updating of knowledge and expertise
- Skills and creativity that often border on the artistic
- Broad general knowledge of at least two languages and cultures
- Specific knowledge in particular areas
Quality translation also requires an investment of time, in order to:
- Grasp the essence of the material and obtain updates
- Clarify the obscure
- Produce the optimal translation, employing the correct terminology and rendering text in an appropriate style
Why should you require a professional standard of translation?
If a particular document is not translated properly, your clients or end-users will not take you seriously and you risk losing credibility. Poor quality or inaccurate translations can lead to misunderstandings that may have serious outcomes (in the case of legal documents, for instance).
In a nutshell: Translation is not a matter of one-to-one correspondence where words are taken from the source language and translated literally into the target language. The translator needs to take into account the cultural images and customs of those who will be reading the translated document. A good, professional translator understands how to convey the message in a manner suited to your target audience.
How to avoid common pitfalls:
- Avoid the temptation of doing it yourself: While your foreign contacts will happily overlook errors in conversation, submitting written materials that lack polish may even be considered insulting. Use a professional translator!
- Avoid the temptation to use a non-professional bilingual. Knowledge of two languages does not qualify someone to produce a good translation. Spoken and written registers of language are very different: even when someone claims to be able to speak two languages fluently, this does not mean that he or she is capable of rendering written text to a reasonable, let alone high standard. Use a professional translator!
- Seek expert knowledge. Every translator has a different educational background, areas of expertise and interests. Use a professional translator who is knowledgeable in your field.
How to save time, money and hassle:
The more the translator knows, the better your final product will be.
So be sure to share any relevant information with the translator about:
- The purpose of the document – is it destined to be published on a website, or as a brochure for potential clients, etc?
- The precise target language – American or British English? Spanish forSpainorMexico?
- Target audience – are they experts in the field, academics, the general public, etc.?
Again: Share with your translator. Translators who ask questions are doing so out of professionalism, not from ignorance.
And talking about cost…
There is indeed a wide range of prices out there, but it is worth remembering:
Cheap can be costly: You stand to lose clients if you offer inferior products, because they will stop buying. You might save a few hundred on one translation, but you risk losing thousands in terms of the bigger picture.
Quality translation is both an art and a skill – it comes at a price, but it pays you in full value.