Year: 2017


Question of the month: How can I optimise my translation budget?

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As we’ve learned in the past few posts, professional translation is an investment in your business’s sales and reputation. This month we’ll look at some ways to spend less on translation without compromising your brand. One simple option is to reduce the amount of text that you have translated. Instead of translating the full document, consider thinking about what information is actually required for a foreign reader. Trim any excess or maybe translate a summary. Your translator can be a big help here; paying for an hour or two of time to identify which information might be surplus to requirements can save you a lot of money in the long run.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words so you might consider using images in place of words, where possible. The furniture company Ikea, for instance, publishes assembly instructions that contain word-free diagrams, thus eliminating the cost of translating text into the dozens of languages spoken in countries where it sells its products. Roughly 80% of Ikea’s instructions are pictures are only, with the remaining text needed to communicate safety information.

While a translator always appreciates early notice of a project, make sure that your text is ready before sending it for translation. Working from a draft version that is updated multiple times will almost always cost more and take more time than waiting for the last version to be ready. Sending the final version also reduces the likelihood of any errors creeping into your text.

These are just three ways to maximise your translation budget. There are many more, so work with your translator to come up with options to save on your cost without scrimping on quality.

Next month we’ll continue in the series by looking at the question of whether to opt to work with a freelance translator or an agency as your service provider.


Question of the month: Google Translate – Friend or Foe?

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A perennial hot topic in the world of translation is the use of Google Translate and other machine translation tools.  There is no denying that Google Translate is a fast and powerful tool that makes content in over a hundred languages accessible to anybody with an Internet connection. Google Translate and its ilk are good for some tasks like grasping a basic understanding of what a text says or writing a letter to a pen pal.

For business purposes, however, they are still nowhere close to replacing professional translators. Machine translation tools might be getting better, but they still struggle to accurately convey the nuances of texts and provide error-free translations. After testing two free online automatic translation services, the Wall Street Journal concluded that, “these services are passable for travellers or for those wanting to translate a letter from a distance cousin. I definitely wouldn’t use them for business or anything that remotely requires accuracy.”

Another big issue needs to be considered before using Google Translate, namely confidentiality. By uploading any file to Google Translate, you give Google (and those it works with) “a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works, communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.” I think that it is worth thinking twice before losing control over the secrecy of your sensitive information, for instance details of a proprietary technology, embargoed financials or a potential merger. In this case, “free” translation can have a big cost.

And one last point: Even Google doesn’t use Google Translate for its own business communication, instead choosing to work with human translators to market its services. So, to sum up, it is advisable to limit your use of Google Translate to understanding the gist of non-business texts, but turn to a professional translator when it counts.

Next month we’ll continue in the series by looking at the question of how to optimise your translation budget.



Question of the month: Who is the target audience for your translation?

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One of the first questions that any translator worth their salt will ask you is this: who and what is your translation for? This seemingly simple question has a sizeable impact on the way that a translator approaches a text. For instance, a speech to a group of factory workers will entail a different style, word choice and sentence length to a highly technical report to be read by industry leaders. Likewise, an internal document that will be seen by two people demands a different approach to a glossy annual report that will be read by hundreds of investors and be picked up by international media outlets.

The purpose of your translation is also important. Translations can be broadly divided into two categories: “for information” and “for publication”. Texts for informational purposes can be translated in a way that is accurate, but the final version will likely be unpolished. These translations generally take less time and cost less. By contrast, “for publication” work is the best choice when your document will be read by a lot of people and when your image is at stake. These translations are usually reviewed by a second set of eyes and involve more time and a bigger budget. But it’s worth remembering that this cost is small when compared with the potential harm that a bad translation can cause to your sales, bottom line and reputation.

Next month we’ll continue in the series with a hot topic in the world of translation: Google Translate – Friend or Foe?

Question of the month: Why translate your documents?

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Let’s start out 2017 by answering a really simple question: Why should you translate in the first place? A couple of reasons stand out when thinking about why it makes sense to invest in translation.

Firstly, offering information about your products and services in other languages opens up your business to new potential markets and increases your earnings potential. A Common Sense Advisory study found that 72.4% of customers would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. Another 56. 2% of those surveyed said that the ability to obtain information in their own language was more important than price. Translation helps you to increase your bottom line by winning over potential clients outside your national borders.

Secondly, having information available to clients, employees and shareholders to read in their own language also enhances the visibility and reputation of your company, organisation or event. A professional translator can also work with you on your global marketing strategy, pointing out any cultural pitfalls and ensuring consistent branding. Translation can give your company, organisation or event the recognition it deserves.

Next month we’ll continue in the series with one of the first questions that a translator should ask you: Who is the target audience for your translation?