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For non-linguists, buying in translation is often a source of frustration. The suggestions that follow are aimed at minimising your stress.

Rather than blindly translate documents in full – hundreds of pages – decide with your client (or sales team) which information is actually required.

Translate only relevant sections of existing documents, or produce shorter documents in your own language and have these translated. Is the translation for internal use only or is it the key to unlocking those new markets you aspire to?

Translation prices range from 1 to 10, and while high prices do not necessarily guarantee high quality, below a certain level you are unlikely to receive a text that does credit to your company and its products. Be realistic. How many pages can a translator produce an hour? How much time do you expect him or her to spend crafting the text that will promote your product or service? (How much time did your team spend producing the original?). When choosing a supplier, calculate how much you have spent to develop the product or services you want to promote outside your country and put a commensurate budget into the translation.

If your budget does not stretch to a professional translation, perhaps you are not ready for the international market yet. The added value that a translation company offers (translator selection, project management, quality control, file conversions, standardised presentation of multilingual projects, etc.) also has a price-tag, but can save you hours of work and should increase your return on investment.

Machine or software translations?

Now widely available, these are often no more than raw machine translations. Some cheaper web offerings can also be the work of non-native speakers struggling away with a grammar book in one hand and a dictionary in the other. Arguably they have their place in the market but more often than not are simply good for a laugh!

“Tehao Rechargeable shaver RCCW-320: Smuggle the razor blade (reference value around 400 g) on your muscle vertically. Then drag your skin and shave back slowly.”

A French company used a software translation package to produce its accounts: “la clôture mensuelle” became “The Monthly Fence” (and not the correct term of “Month-end”) and “positionnement  chrono journal” was translated as “positioning stopwatch newspaper” (instead of ledger log position).

On a website translated from English to French: “Appelez sans fraise,” and not “appelez sans frais” (literally a strawberry free call as opposed to a toll free call.)

On a packet of Chinese Noodles on sale in a French Supermarket “Fait en porcelain” - literally made out of teeth-chipping China!

Often it can be simply that there is no translation for a particular word or phrase; professional translators should be aware of this and inform you if this is the case.

The mighty Apple once listed a Powerbook with ports for “Cable d’incendie” (literally fire-wire.)

Even squiggly lines have their place in accurate translations: a bilingual banner in the US celebrated 100 anos of municipal history. In Spanish año is year; ano is anus.

Other translations may be technically accurate, yet the sentences do not flow as smoothly as they might; word order or choice of vocabulary may be unduly influenced by the original language. They are not particularly effective for selling.

Our best advice is to get involved. With translation, the fastest way to get caught out is to wash your hands of the whole process. If you do not invest time to brief your suppliers, there is little chance that you will get what you want or need. It may take only 10 minutes longer than telling your secretary to “get this translated,” but if the right person spends those 10 minutes chatting to the translator you will almost certainly save money and stress further down the line.

At translationexpert.co.uk we make it our policy to go over the finished translation with you at no extra cost to ensure the highest quality is maintained and that you, the customer, are completely satisfied.

translationexpert.co.uk is here to help. Click for our prices or to contact us

 
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