Save Money and Face: Hire a Professional Translator

From the embarrassing to the deadly, translation mistakes come at a high cost. They can be avoided by using professional translators. The American Translators Association (ATA) distributes a guide online and in print aimed at helping people buy translation services. The ATA brochure, Translation: Getting it Right offers the following suggestions:

  • Does it really need to be translated? Get rid of unnecessary information before translating.
  • Use pictures instead of text whenever possible.
  • Think international from the start. Avoid cultural clichés, literary references and sports metaphors that do not make sense in other countries.
  • Differentiate between translation needed for information only and translation for publication. Will an accurate, unpolished translation be sufficient, or are you trying to persuade or convey an image?
  • Tell the translators what it’s for. Make sure they know the type of publication and the target audience.
  • The more technical your subject, the more important it is to have a translator who knows it inside out.
  • Typographical conventions vary from one language to the next. For example, neither months nor days of the week are capitalized in French and Spanish. Do not be tempted to “correct” translated text to follow an English convention.

The bottom line is, companies can’t risk getting a translation wrong. It’s critical to have qualified translators to get the job done right. After all, translation is not just about words; it’s about what those words are about.

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