So far in this series of articles on International Communications, we’ve looked at how to plan your projects to get the best return on investment. Now we’re going to turn to how you make sure you’ve got the right expertise working on the project to give you the best results.
It goes without saying that you need to be working with a qualified translator, i.e. someone with a recognised qualification in languages or a proven track record within the industry, and there are many good translators out there. So how do you establish the right one for you?
There are four critical elements you need to consider to make sure you are represented professionally, accurately and appropriately in your target marketplace:
1. Keep it native
As a qualified Spanish translator, people often think I translate into Spanish, but this is not the case. As English is my native language, I would always translate a document from Spanish into English. This is because a native speaker of a language is always going to be able to write more convincingly in that language than someone who has learnt the language and uses it as a second language.
To give you an example of this, take a look at this sign:
As native English speakers, we all know what the message is trying to say, but we also understand the hidden connotations and had we been responsible for this sign, we would probably have phrased it slightly differently.
So, the first rule of thumb is to make sure your translator is a native speaker of the language your document is going into.
2. Get a specialist
You need to make sure your translator has experience in your industry. Regardless of the sector we work in, we all have sector specific terminology that we use on a daily basis. To us it may seem normal, but to a lay person it will appear quite technical. Therefore, it is important to make sure your translator has a similar level of understanding of your industry as you do. That way, you can be confident that they will be using the right terminology and have a good understanding of the processes or procedures involved in your sector to be able to write authoritatively on the subject in the foreign language.
Again, you can see an example of where this was clearly not the case in the image below; perhaps a Health and Safety specialist would have been more appropriate in this instance.
3. Double check
For any translated documentation going out into the public domain, whether to represent your company, provide instruction to users or maybe to enter into legal agreements, it is essential for your translation to pass through a revision stage. The reviser, who should be as equally qualified and experienced as the translator, revises the translation against the original to ensure its accuracy and checks it conveys the correct meaning.
This is an important stage as translators are only human – or at least should be! – and no matter how skilled at their profession they are, there is still room for human error. As such, having a second pair of eyes to look over the document helps to guarantee your investment and also provides you with added peace of mind.
4. Use your own in-country expertise
Don’t underestimate the value your own technical experts can add to the translation process. If you have already established distributors and/or sales agents in the foreign markets, it is useful to get them involved as they can usually assist with local terminology as well as providing insights into the local market.
Now I’m not suggesting you get them to do the translation, as they are unlikely to have the necessary skills or time available to complete the work to the standard you require, not to mention the fact that you want them to be out there selling your products or services. But I do think it is important to include them in the process, especially if you are aiming to produce marketing material for them to use in the local market. The last thing you want is to invest time and money into the translation for them to then be reluctant to use it because they were not consulted.
As you can see, getting the right people to work with you on your international communications is crucial. It will ensure you get the right message across using the correct terminology for your industry and most appropriate style for your audience. But most of all, it will give you the peace of mind that your company is being represented just the way you want it to be, which will ultimately lead to boosting your exporting activities.
By Helen Provart, Managing Director, April 2017
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