If you’ve managed to break into an international market, you already have a lot to be proud of. But now you’re facing some new dilemmas. Mainly, language barriers that require business translators on staff to smooth any miscommunication.
But how do you maintain effective communication across time zones? And how do you know which business translators will be right for your company?
You’ll need to translate internal documents, like employee handbooks and training manuals, into your target language. So, it goes without saying that your business translators must be native to the country in question. Merely speaking a second language well is not enough to catch the nuances and get the grammar down 100 percent.
When it comes to legal issues, you may require business translators who also have a specialty in the local law. Contracts and legal documents with specific technical language require a subject matter expert, as well as a professional linguist.
And of course, you have to market your product to a foreign audience! This is where a team of transcreators may come in handy, rather than regular business translators. They can adapt your message to a local audience with creative zest.
These can be exciting hurdles, or devastating hangups. Your company's overseas success literally depends on the quality of the business translators you hire. To make sure your company has a smooth transition into international waters, keep the following things in mind.
Related Post: Transcreation vs Translation: What's The Difference?
Your Bilingual Employee Isn’t Enough
Someone on the payroll with Mandarin or Spanish skills is indeed a good asset. They can be very helpful in facilitating communication and giving out pointers. But they’re designers, or IT pros, or account managers--not business translators. That means there’s a limit to the services they can provide at a professional level.
You wouldn’t ask your marketing strategist to do your bookkeeping. Even if they’re really good at math, you need to hire a professional certified accountant to get the job done. The same applies to translation. Instead of putting undue pressure on your bilingual employees to bridge the gap, make sure you hire professional business translators.
Translators don’t just speak the language--they study language itself. They have a deep understanding of the complexities of syntax and diction.
When a handful of Japanese synonyms might adequately match the English word, a professional translator knows the best one to choose based on context and implication.
Outside the office, business translators are also trained to be attentive to social norms, so you can avoid embarrassing faux pas with unfamiliar customs.
Human vs. Machine Translation
While it may sound like the premise of a doomsday apocalypse movie, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine translation (MT) has posed some serious questions in the translation world. Can a machine understand language with the same nuance of a human?
The answer, for the moment, is no. MT is great for quick, low-stakes tasks, like translating your Swedish friend’s Instagram post, or cheating on Duolingo. But when it comes to your business, there’s no room for awkward translation blunders. Even minor disconnects could potentially cost you boatloads of money. Just ask Parker Pen, KFC, or Mercedes-Benz.
MT software can translate word-to-word, and now with AI developments, is beginning to grasp phrases and sentences. But it still takes a human to translate idea-to-idea, and that means qualified business translators who can get the job done professionally.
Related Post: 5 Reasons Why You Need a Human Translator
Translation vs. Localization
Human intelligence becomes paramount when you tackle localization. Localization is the translating of your app, website, or marketing material not just to another language, but to another culture.
Let’s say you have a snarky ad that always gets a wry laugh out of your 26-34 year old target audience. Translation will change the words of the ad, but we all know that humor is the first thing that gets lost.
Localization, on the other hand, will aim to preserve the emotional response--a wry laugh from 26-34 year olds--instead of the words themselves. That means that even though the words might change, your intention is translated. Then your winning ad campaign packs the same punch in Taiwan as it does in Tallahassee.
Localization is a fascinating and critical process if you wish to deliver your brand experience intact to another culture. Clearly, for translation services at this level of sophistication, you need to make sure you are hiring the best.
Regular business translators may not be up to the job of localization, since it requires going beyond words and assessing the appropriateness of your images, color scheme, promotions, legislation compliance, and many other elements.
Hiring The Right Business Translators
Here’s what to look when deciding on the right business translators for your company:
- Guaranteed 100 percent accuracy
- Human powered translations
- Fast turnaround time
- Specialization in your field (legal translation, medical translation, etc.)
- Good reviews and references
- Native speakers of the country in question
Remember that your business translators work for you. They are there to make you look good and help your business succeed in a foreign environment, avoid legal complexities or costly blunders.
They are, in fact, key to your company's success, so don't cut costs or make snap decisions when your reputation is at stake. Don't try using machine translation or a bilingual employee, either, unless you want to regret your decision later.