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Doing Business Abroad? How to Overcome the Language Barrier

Doing Business Abroad
Doing Business Abroad? How to Overcome the Language Barrier
on December, 08 2016

If you are a company looking to do business in a foreign market, finding a reliable agency to translate your documents and marketing materials can be a tedious business. With so many translation providers currently pitching their services online, finding a good match with the right partner can be difficult and tricky. Several pitfalls await the inexperienced client looking for help in overcoming language barriers when they have little idea of what to hunt for. In this article, I hope to enlighten you on the biggest mistakes companies make when booking a translation partner and how you can avoid them.

Machine Translations

Cost is always a factor when a company is hunting for a service provider. Some companies think that that translation work is easy and aren’t willing to pay higher prices. But a poorly translated marketing campaign can be even more costly. The typical path to bad translation happens when companies opt for machine translations, which is when a computer translation program does the translation work rather than a human.

Some machine translation providers make the service sound better than it actually is. The truth is, a machine translation is an inferior product to the true, human-powered translation. Machines don't grasp or understand the finer nuances of idiomatic language and often fail to contextually differentiate between two definitions of the same word.

The result, in various segments of the end translation document, is nonsense, and when the document is, say, a legal or medical document of significant importance, legal or medical risks are taken when the client accepts a machine translation. The quality of the end product speaks for itself and, in almost every case, a translation undertaken by a human considerably outperforms that of a machine.

The Agency's Online Presence Matters

Cheap rates don't always mean the translation was undertaken by a machine. There are multiple unskilled translators out there who pitch you bottom-of-the-barrel prices to win your project. Be wary of very cheap rates and be sure to do your online research well and find a translation provider with a professional online presence. At the very least, the translation provider should possess a well put-together website that is written clearly, engagingly and professionally. The company's website would ideally feature testimonials, samples, and other evidentiary material that reassure you of the agency's quality work.

Also, verify that they are connected to other professional sites and organizations, such as LinkedIn and professional translation organizations, like ATA and ATC. Further, do they have an updated blog with content of depth and significance? Do they tweet about their latest developments and industry news? By investing a bit of time to research your translation provider, you will be able to find out if whether or not they are an agency of solid reputation.

Why an Agency is Better than a Lone Wolf Translator

Many companies make the mistake of hiring a relatively inexpensive freelance translator rather than a translation provider when it comes to big, complex translation projects. While there is an abundance of talented freelancers you can find online, choosing a team or agency means you will be able to tap into a broader, more diverse range of knowledge and skills. On projects that bridge different topics, say, engineering and marketing, springing for a specialist engineering translator may work for the segments on engineering, but he or she may be clueless to expertly translating the segments on company marketing. Finding a lone wolf translator who is an expert in more than one field is difficult and still, in the end, may not be able to deliver the quality you are looking for.

In turn, a well-organized translation agency will be able to assign your project to just the right team of translator specialists who will work together to produce a quality translation. At the same time, the agency can offer you a bevy of complementary services to translation, such as localization, SEO and copywriting, so that you don't have to hunt for separate providers of those much-needed services.

Spring for Professional Translators

Sometimes businesses look to have a bilingual in-house employee translate a specific project. When you book a non-professional translator to undertake such a task, you will end up with amateurish results. Translation goes beyond knowing how to speak two languages to native fluency, its requires years of training, a knowledge of the topic terminology, considerable writing, research and editing skills, a deep vocabulary and carefully cultivated experience.

Translation is both an art form and a science, which can be highly technical and requires a lot of sensitivity. The most qualified translators are those that have a finely-tuned subtle comprehension of the differences between the languages in question. They must have a solid understanding of the cultures the two languages represent to produce a quality translation. An in-house employee will struggle with the translation of the document and not deliver the quality your business needs to keep a solid reputation of excellence.

Help the Agency as Much as You Can

The process of acquiring a quality translation doesn't end with just picking a provider. Other factors go into making sure the translation process is embarked on with minimal problems. For one thing, grant the agency ample time to translate the materials well. Format and prepare the texts to the best of your ability. Make sure the final text is free from typos and mistakes, and has been edited for style and substance. Finally, be certain you have properly communicated what you want to your translation provider. For example, if your message is targeted at trendy millennials, and you want the end translation to reflect this, make sure you tell the translator you want a young voice.

If your company uses a lot of specific terms, provide the translation company with an editorial guide. Other helpful reference materials such as Internet resources, glossaries or diagrams should be provided if they help elucidate the project to the translation agency.

In the end, you want your translation provider to do the best work possible so that your company message is expertly conveyed to your target audience. By following these tips for picking the right agency, you are well on your way to being served superlatively by your provider of choice.

Denise Recalde

Denise Recalde is a Senior Content Writer at Day Translations. A seasoned writer and editor with eleven years of experience under her belt, she is a bonafide wordsmith who loves playing with the written word creatively and always takes care to lend a certain hue of snap and color to her drafts. Always one to rise up to challenges, she has traveled to 14 countries and has worked on a smorgasbord of writing projects that spanned several industries, from finance to health to beauty and fashion.

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