April 19

Risk of Mediocre Translation


How Mediocre Translations Can Adversely Affect Your Business

It is a common practice for businesses to try to reduce or to cut spending on what they would consider as non-essentials in order to manage the ever-rising business costs and to stay profitable. Unfortunately, to many businesses, translation is always an after-thought. Most of the time, millions of dollars can be thrown into the creation of an aggressive marketing campaign for a product or service only to have the campaign failed miserably at global level just because translation was not recognised as one of the crucial elements in the global marketing campaign.

As the famous saying goes, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.”

Language is something that is subtle but yet very powerful. It has the infinite potential to affect individuals and binds strangers without them realising it. That’s the magic of language. The result could be very different if the language element is not considered, recognised or managed properly when executing a communication plan.

Let’s use Google Translate! (Are you sure???)

It’s undeniable that effective cost management is one of the keys for business survival. So how do you save on translation cost? Easy! Let’s get our translations done by Google Translate!

Wait, are you sure? Yes. Why not? Translation technology has evolved so fast that AI translation is good enough now. Besides, it is FREE!! Or is it?

It is true that Google Translate is one of the brilliant tools developed in the 21st century to facilitate communication between different language speakers. It is a favourite with travellers, and it is a convenient tool to use if you would like to have a gist of certain information not available in your language especially when you are doing your research online or doing your online shopping on foreign languages sites.

The main thing is that you are using it to get an overall meaning of the information in another language that without the help of this tool, you would not be able to understand. You tend to forgive the odd sentence structures, the weird choice of word, and the sometimes-offensive translation produced. You even try to read in between the lines when the translations cannot be understood. You put up with bad translation results. Why? Because it is free.

But ask yourself this: Would you entrust Google Translate or any translation machines for that matter to translation important information such as your company information, product manuals, brochures, catalogues, personal information such as resume, educational qualifications, birth certificates, contracts, agreement……. and the list goes on.

The answer is no. And we know why.

Even the Malaysian’s former government1 was not spared the public embarrassment when they choose to use translation from Google Translate at official events. International organisation like Facebook was also unable to avoid the awkwardness2 caused by its own translation machine. These stories, and there are more, point to the fact that machine translation is not mature enough to replace human translation as yet.3

Wrong translation can affect the image & reputation of businesses. It can destroy a brand name that has taken years to build. The adverse effect of having poor or wrong translation is not always funny. In more serious cases, it could result in accidents, injuries and loss of lives leading to expensive law suits that could see the business never recovering from it.

So, ask yourself again, is Google Translate really free? Is it really worth it?

Anyone who is bilingual can handle translation. You sure?

As a veteran with more than 20 years of translation experience in the market, we understand and know the importance of high quality and accurate translation. We know the negative impact of bad or wrong translation on a company’s reputation. We are aware that good translation forms a good foundation of marketing strategies or business development. This will, in turn, determine the success of a marketing campaign.

For things as important as your marketing campaign, would you entrust its translation to just anyone who is bilingual? If so, would you entrust it to your PA, colleague, your wife, your husband, your mother or even your kids?

Speaking from the standpoint of a translation company, we believe that

“Only a translator IS a translator”

Being bilingual or tri-lingual doesn’t make one a translator.

To be a qualified translator, you need to go through years of academic training. The end of the training years, only means the beginning of years of experience accumulation in order for one to be professionally recognised as a qualified translator. You need more than just talent to be a translator. You need a combination of superb talent with great passion and a whole lot of patient to be one.

Let’s use a freelancer then. It’s definitely cheaper and they are qualified translators.

Yes. Freelance translators are good alternatives if you have a limited budget for translation. They are definitely much better than Google Translate or anyone bilingual person.

The main advantage of working with freelance translators is that they are definitely much cheaper than a translation company. If you have a limited budget or if you are very price sensitive, this may be your best choice.

However, the advantage stops there.

The average capacity of an individual translator is between 1500 to 2000 words a day. For some of them, their capacity might even be lower. Scalability is definitely not something you can expect when you are working with a freelance translator.

Freelance translators work alone. This means that the translation produced will be edited and proofread by the same person. We all know that checking one’s own work is the surest way to submit to errors.

A translator can be specialised in a specific field or they can be a generalist, good at most generic translation but specialised in none. To illustrator my point: A legal translator will never be able to handle translation of marketing materials, just like a translator specialising in medical translation will not be able to translate a User Guide for a tooling machine accurately.

A translator is only good with a specific language pair. If you require other languages to be translated, you may need to look for other translators. Imagine if you need to translate your manual into 24 languages and if you insist that working with freelance translators is the way to go, you would need to first look for 24 different translators for your different language requirements; test all 24 of them; evaluate them, and repeat your search if any of the test translators do not meet your requirement. Then you need to project manage for the translation of manual with the 24 translators, preparing files, coordinating deliveries, managing quality issues, replying to queries from all of them etc. Do you even have time for your own job? Are you prepared to do that?

We have not even touch on Translation Memory, Project Management tools and ISO 17100 certification which are crucial in the production of high-quality translation work but are painfully missing when you choose to work with freelancers.

As an experienced translation company with more than 20 years of industry experience, we work with a pool of more than 1000 tried and tested professional native linguists who are based in their home countries covering many different specialisations. This means we are scalable to meet your demands for different specialisation. Our processes are ISO17100 certified and our project managers are well versed with the translation project management cycle and the deployment and usage of Translation Memory tool to ensure the success of your localisation and translation project.

Engage us today, experience our high-calibre translation, make an appointment with our sales consultant to see how an exceptional translation could enhance your marketing strategies!

If you want to gain that competitive edge in your global market, you can consider the following professional services offered by Lingua Technologies Int’l:

  1. Display Ad localisation (online or offline)
  2. Website localisation
  3. SEO / SEM localisation
  4. Training Programme or Training Materials localisation
  5. Products description or manuals localisation

~ Translation & localisation show you care about your customers. ~

  1. Bangkok Post, “Malaysia eye-poked over bad Google Translations”, 10 January 2012.
  2. Reuters, “Facebook says technical error caused vulgar translation of Chinese leader’s name”, 19 January 2020.
  3. Korea Joongang Daily, “Machines no match for humans in translation” 22 February 2017

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