December 28

5 Reasons You Should Not Be Doing Your Own Translation

5 Reasons You Should Not Be Doing Your Own Translation

It is not uncommon to hear from our potential clients that they are surprised with the price quoted for the translation work. It is especially so for first time translation buyers. They more often than not think that the price is too high for the work requested.


“You know I can do the translation myself but I don’t have the time.”

“I can get my secretary/intern/staff to do this for free as she knows the language.”

“My son can do this but I don’t want to bother him.”

Do any of these statements sound familiar to you? If you have attempted any of the above, no doubt you have regretted your decision.

In fact, any of these statements could be the beginning of something disastrous.

As a professional translation service provider with more than 20 years of experience in the market, this is our advice for you:

Although you may know someone who is, extremely proficient and confident in two, three or even more languages, this does not necessarily mean they are equipped to provide a good translation.

Translation is highly subjective in nature and there is no such thing as a perfect translation. Despite its subjective nature, it is not difficult to tell a poor translation from a good one. Translation is a professional job that can be only be handled by professionally trained translators.

There are, however, a number of reasons your impressive bilingualism does not qualify you to translate your company’s 40-page marketing brochure from say Thai to Chinese, or your son’s single page birth certificate from Arabic into English.

Allow us to point out 5 reasons why you should not be doing the translation yourself.

1. Speaking a language is different from writing

Even though you may have the ability to confidently engage in complex discussion in a second language, it does not mean that you can master its complexity in a written format. Written work requires consideration, and in-depth understanding of sentence structure and grammar, which can vary drastically between languages. Additionally, readers will often be quick to notice errors in written work, while listeners have the tendency to ignore or even conveniently “tune-out” to mistakes made by a speaker. It is especially important to have grammatically and structurally accurate, comprehensively edited and proof-read work when submitting translated documents for official applications.

2. Translation is a highly skilled, professional work

Proper translation requires a plethora of skills. Professional translators are like creative writers.  They are trained to have the ability to produce texts that read well in their target language. They can reproduce a text that takes into account appropriate style and terminology in the target language.  Translating from one text to another is not as simple as translating word for word. Translating complex ideas from one language to the next requires expertise. It takes years of professional training for a person to become a qualified translator and it takes even more years for one to gather enough experience to be specialised in a certain subject matter.

3. What you really need may be more than just translation


If this is your first-time buying translation service, you may not be fully aware of what is required.  You may need assistance in other areas in order to present the translation in a final format that is fit for its purpose. A good translation service provider will often be able to recommend and provide a multitude of additional services, requiring specific skills, for which you may be unaware of. Some of these may include:

Certification Service – Official Certification is often required for the submission of documents to government agencies, embassies and most legal related cases. Only a translation service provider with a recognised accreditation is able to provide a certification that is accepted by these parties. Certification from freelance translators, individuals and translation company with no accreditation are more than often rejected.

Translation Memory Technology – Translation memory technology is a highly efficient productivity tool used in conjunction with traditional translation method to help reduce the cost of translation, improve consistency and overall quality of the translation in the long run. It also speeds up the time-to-market for simultaneous product launches by leveraging on previously translated materials. Such tools are too capital intensive and complicated for freelance translators, individual or a 2-3-man outfit to deploy. The deployment of such technology also requires a professional understanding of the translation process in order for it to be productive and efficient.

Multilingual Desktop Publishing – A key part of the localization process, the adapting of design and layout to suitably display translated text to fit the local requirements is often necessary for corporate clients. When done professionally, it will help maintain a consistent corporate identity across different languages and this will hugely enhance global branding in their conquest of the global market.

Interpretation – For the uninitiated, some may confuse interpretation with translation. Sometimes, what you really need is an interpretation service. In some cases, you may even require both translation and interpretation services. It helps that the translation service provider you are working with has a wide enough spectrum of service to also cover interpretation.

4. Bilingualism maketh not an Interpreter 

Being conversant in two or more languages, does not make one a good interpreter. It only makes one, well, a bilingual. There are two common interpretation methods: Simultaneous and Consecutive. In both of these interpretation methods, an interpreter needs to be professionally trained in a number of skills including memory retention, attention to detail, active listening skills, and, of course, very specialized knowledge of both the source language, and the target language.

5. A translator cannot be an expert in everything

Not everyone can be an expert in all subject matters. It takes years for a person to become a professional translator and even more to be specialised in a certain subject matter. Even when a translator is a subject matter expert in say, biotech research documents, it doesn’t mean that the translator will be able to handle translation of documents of a legal nature written for the industry. You need access to a wider group of linguistic resources in order for you to fulfil these specific requirements. Working with a translation service provider with a wide network of native linguistic experts specialising in the very specific can help you produce the translation to meet your ultimate requirements.

Because most companies do not budget for translation and because bilingualism is so prevalent, it is always very tempting to engage internal resources, friends or relatives to “help out” with their translation requirement. Our advice is:

Resist the temptation! Leave it to the professionals!

Even if you have colleagues, friends or relatives who are professionally trained translators, it still pays to engage the services of a professional translator. A professional translation service provider offers much more than just translation.

Lingua Technologies International is a leading provider of a number of services including Certified Translation and Editing, Multilingual Desktop Publishing, Design ServicesInterpretation, Subtitling, Transcription, and Voice Over. We have over 5,000 linguistic experts to ensure your translation requirements are met with satisfaction.

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