One of the major existential hurdles for a growing company is the challenge to go global. Making this leap opens up all kinds of new possibilities, but with them come challenges you may not have foreseen. Participating in the global marketplace requires a level of understanding and engagement with other cultures, and speakers of other languages. And while machine translation has made progress in the last several years, professional translation by linguists remains the wisest option.
Before getting involved with translation, you must ask yourself, what are you trying to achieve by branching out internationally? What products or services are you providing to new markets, and how does your business match what those customers want?
Each company will have unique requirements that need their own configuration of translation services and language experts. Luckily for companies unfamiliar with this space, language service providers (LSPs) can help you build the processes that will allow you to create your multilingual documentation.
There are numerous reasons why it’s worth investing in professional translation rather than relying on machine tools alone. Here are just four of the most important:
Context and Verification Are Important
When you feed text into a machine translation tool, you have no way to confirm whether the output is correct. Even with knowledge of the target language, how can you confirm whether a native speaker will find the translation natural? These tools also rely on previous translations, and user data that might not match the context needed for your document. Words with multiple meanings, idioms, and formal language can all turn out incomprehensible; as a back-translation will often show. But professional translators tailor your content so that it is contextually accurate, and captures the spirit of your original document. They can also clarify and explain their choices in detail, so that you understand the translations you are distributing worldwide.
Don’t Forget About Rare Languages…
The error rate on machine translation increases substantially when working with less common languages; or languages with fewer speakers. Remember that in addition to being grammatically incorrect, poor machine translation can also damage how a company is perceived. The lack of nuance in document translations done by machine can jeopardize any project to connect with new audiences.
With human intervention and translators cross-checking one another’s work, the risk of miscommunication is significantly lower. Even within the USA, translators are helpful for reaching out to the sizable minorities who speak these rarer languages. The right assistance from professional linguists can help you make progress with underserved populations right in front of you.
What Is Your Unique Voice?
Translation is much more than simply changing one word to another in a different language. Even with the best dictionaries and tools that can capture idioms and unique phrases; you want to think about voice.
Do you want to project formality, cheerfulness, or calmness to your clients or customers when creating your document translations?
Do you have a clear grasp of what information should be presented in each market, and how to structure it?
This kind of attention is especially important for marketing professionals or others who want to give their translations some authenticity. A chatty, casual voice in English may not come across well in countries where you are planning to establish yourself.
Professional translators can help you craft a voice for their language that preserves your business’ identity; but also adapts it to its cultural and linguistic nuances. In particular, LSPs can help you develop glossaries and translation memories to maintain consistency across all your translated texts. The way you distinguish yourself from other businesses is managed in part through text; translation can carry that uniqueness through.
The Trappings of Translation
There are other elements of document translation besides text, of course: image content, layout, aesthetics, and so on. Linguists can also give feedback on what is or is not appropriate for these additional aspects.
For example, in stock photos, people prefer to see scenes that remind them of ones in their own cultural experience. Global communications must take into account the calendar and rhythms of life in other parts of the world. These additional pieces often only become relevant when you run into unexpected problems. With the help of a trusted LSP, you have access to a range of experts who can isolate cultural and linguistic issues; and resolve them.
The language barrier is often a cultural one as well; but it doesn’t need to be a barrier at all. By establishing relationships with professional LSPs, you can instead think of it like a bridge; connecting you to new audiences. Give our translation services a try; the depth and richness of the results will carry you to the next level.