Monday, October 29, 2012

Professional Document Translation - Your International Business May Depend on It

Document translation is one of the most basic of all translation services, if not the most basic. This is not to say that document translation is simple, which is one of the big misconceptions that can lead to big losses for any business.
Twenty years ago, if you needed a document translated from English to Spanish, or vice versa, you would find someone who understood both languages reasonably well and ask them to translate the document. Not surprisingly, as long as you chose someone who was relatively competent, this worked pretty well. But twenty years ago, more than likely your business future was not dependent upon the quality of the translation; that is not necessarily the case today. The interconnectedness made possible by the Internet has resulted in tremendous growth in international markets and corresponding growth in competition for market share.
No matter how simple the document you need translated is, you need to make sure that you use professional translation services. The computer age brought us machine translation services. Machine translation is fairly easy thing to accomplish with a computer, actually, not really more complicated than copying and pasting. Google will do this for you with the click of a mouse, well, kind of. The results are sometimes just barely readable, and clearly not acceptable in any real business situation. If you are translating a document from English to a language you are not fluent in, can you afford to trust results generated by a machine?
Businesses should resist the temptation to use machine translation services in an effort to cut corners and save a little money. This method of document translation ultimately costs more than it saves. The problem comes from the fact that document translation is not just a matter of swapping out words. Professional translators translate meaning, which is not the same thing as just mechanically replacing words. In fact, quality translation is something that only humans can do. When you lose the human factor, you lose meaning, and losing that meaning results in ineffective communication. Ineffective communication can, in turn, result in lost opportunities.
English is full of words and phrases that mean almost, but not quite, the same thing; other languages are similar. Given this, and the cultural factors that must always be taken into account, you can understand why document translation is so complicated, and why professional translation services are essential. Meaning is the key, and that can only be determined and presently effectively in other languages by people who have the knowledge and expertise to accomplish the task.
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  1. What a great post. Our company just hired a document translator to make sure nothing gets over looked as we were moving half of our business over seas. It was so helpful since it was a language and a culture that we didn't understand.

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