July 3

7 ways Singapore government agencies can avoid Translation Blunders


When translations are done perfunctorily in the name of inclusiveness, most of the time, the effects can be quite detrimental to any organisation. It shows how much respect these organisations have for the language, the culture, and the race. It is patronizing, to say the least.

This is not the first time these “translation blunders” have surfaced. Yet, many of Singapore’s government agencies, despite having several examples of “public shaming” incidents due to bad translations, choose to ignore the possible negative repercussions, went ahead with less than qualified translation resources.

Is it due to ignorance, costs, lack of professionalism, or other reasons not known to us that they choose the wrong path, again and again, sacrificing the respect and support of the community for them over price?

Below are 7 ways to avoid getting your agency in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons”

  1. Have a Quality-Over-Price mindset.
    When you are working with independent translators, bear in mind that high-quality translations are usually backed by not just qualification and passion but also years of experience. Translation work done by these qualified individuals does not come cheap. If you are working with translation companies, only certified translation companies can produce trusted, high-quality translation output. These certified translation companies deploy industry-approved processes that include selecting the right resources for the translation task and appointing independent linguists for editing and proofreading, to ensure high-quality translation output. Think twice before going for the cheapest because it is always true that when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
  2. Write with translation in mind.
    Write sensibly. Write simply. Write sensitively. Avoid idioms and jargon that may not translate well in another culture and language.
  3. Work with Certified Translation Companies with good track records.
    A certified translation company with a globally recognised certification such as ISO 17100, adheres to a process that will minimise unnecessary and embarrassing errors. A well-honed project management process managed by experienced Project Managers, means only the right resources are chosen for the job. A mandatory 4-eye check by independent linguists also means an additional quality assurance process to ensure critical errors are eliminated.
  4. Work with a qualified and experienced independent translator.
    If you prefer to work with a freelance translator, make sure the translator is one that is with the right qualification. The translator must also have a good track record of working on a similar type of translation. It would be a bonus if the translator is also a subject matter expert for your content.
  5. Work with the same resource to ensure consistency.
    Working with different resources will result in inconsistencies in your translation. When you work with a single certified translation vendor, all your comments, amendments, and instructions are documented and maintained. These specifics will be reflected in future translations making them consistent.
  6. Learn from previous mistakes. If you work with a qualified translator or a certified translation company, the likelihood of a critical error is rare. However, if errors should occur, they will be documented to ensure that it will not happen again in the future.
  7. Appoint an internal validator. No matter how good and careful a translator or translation company is, they are still external parties. No one will know the appropriateness of your content more than your people. It helps to appoint an internal validator to go through the translation before its final release.

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