In Translation/Localization

With the introduction and advancement of machine translation in today’s world, just about anyone can “translate” content. Both free options, like Google Translate, and more sophisticated, fee-based products make transforming content from one language to another seem like a simple task that anyone can do.   But are those technologies providing the highest quality of translation you and your organization need to complete your localization project?

What is a Commodity?

Put simply, a commodity is something that can be bought and sold. Commodities are usually pretty standard. This allows for bulk production, which cuts down on cost for the end consumer. For example, a bookshelf is a commodity. When purchasing a bookshelf, you likely have certain expectations based on size, weight, and price, and you can find substantially the same bookshelf available from multiple sellers. On the other hand, custom woodworking is a service. If you’re looking for a bookshelf to fit into a specific space within your home, or if color, material, and quality are of importance, you’re likely to hire someone to meet your specific needs.

Commodity buyers usually focus on paying a set price, while the service customer focuses on quality of work, the process with which the work is done, and the details to complete the work.

Machine translation can be thought of as a commodity. However, technical accuracy, subject-matter expertise, and cultural context go beyond the commodity world. While a commodity like Google Translate can produce generic translations of text, it has not been trained on any of the factors that will bring the most value to your project. In fact, machine translation is known for creating some pretty bad results, from invalidating a police search and seizure to miscommunicating voting instructions and even possibly contributing to medical malpractice.

To capitalize on the speed of machine translation for the content important to your business, it’s better to think of machine translation as a tool that your language service provider uses to provide you with skilled service, much like a carpenter uses wood and tools to craft your custom bookshelf.  While a simple bookshelf may not make a difference to most people, your translation needs expand beyond what a commodity like Google Translate can provide.

Cultural Differences

Most languages have significant cultural differences between them, which can influence the interpretation of information. Unlike a machine, a human translator understands culture. Translators are able to include the cultural context within written content, such as cultural sensitivities, untranslatable idioms, and so on. Having someone to work with who understands culture and the differences between the source and target language brings tremendous value to your translation projects, going beyond what a commodity can offer.

Subject-Matter Expertise

While machine translation can produce results quickly, you cannot rely on it to truly know your business or your market. Many translators specialize in a certain field, so they’re aware of specific abbreviations, buzz words, and acronyms related to the subject at hand. Imagine translating medical insurance information if you’re not working with related healthcare documentation on a daily basis. Think of how many different meanings there are in English for words like “claim,” or “benefits.” Or how to ensure understanding of “co-insurance” or “deductibles” or “co-payments” when targeting speakers from a culture used to nationalized medicine.  Working with a translator who specializes within your industry will ensure an accurate technical translation from one language to another, showcasing the true value of the service.

Develop a Partnership

A translator’s reputation relies on your satisfaction with his or her work, from matching your company’s brand guidelines for style and tone to cultural sensitivity, accuracy, and turnaround time. With so much at stake for both parties, forming a partnership with your translation team to work through all translation needs is worthwhile. Allowing your translation team to get to know your business, your target market, and the target audience for your content sets them up for success as your communication specialist.

It’s Worth It

While cost is an important factor in any project, translation or otherwise, it’s worth your time and investment to consider translation as a service rather than a commodity. Do your due diligence in finding the right team to become your true translation partner who will inevitably bring value to you and your business.

Vocalink Global provides total multilingual language solutions to ensure you and your brand are heard and understood across language and culture. This, of course, includes translations and localization services as a key part to overall communication strategy. When it comes to translating content, we do more than translate words into a target language. Our translation team ensures our clients are understood in any format or channel, with cultural relevance and efficient processes. Whether you’re marketing to a global audience, seeking to educate a key population, or sharing a corporate update across international locations, concise and accurate translation is essential for engaging stakeholders and gaining traction. Connect with us today to learn how we can partner with you and bring value to your business. 

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