Translation service providers (TSP) are one the fastest growing industries today thanks to the mass global expansion of businesses and huge numbers of migrants moving abroad to live in foreign countries.
The internet has made it possible for businesses to reach international audiences and the obsession consumers have with overseas brands makes tapping into foreign markets a real possibility.
But in order to achieve success in overseas markets, brands have to communicate effectively with their audience. And that means translating marketing and product material into the language of the target market.
Sounds easy doesn’t it? Yet you will be surprised by how many obstacles could trip you up if you do not use the services of professional translation companies. Many businesses have already fallen flat on the face.
Why else do you think TSP’s are the fastest growing industry?
It is not only businesses that require translation and interpretation services. Hundreds of thousands of expats, migrants and refugees need help too, mostly with legal and medical interpretations.
But whatever your reasons are for needing a linguist, it is important that you choose a professional service that most suits your needs. Oftentimes, hiring somebody just because they speak a second language is not enough.
Industry-specific language experts
It is often the case that translations require specialists in the relevant field a client needs interpretation services for.
This is certainly the case when translating legal or medical documents and advertising material for foreign markets.
Legal and medical documents have technical wording that requires a trained specialist with a background in law or medicine to understand. In many cases, it is critical the exact translation is interpreted.
Likewise with marketing. The need to communicate effectively with international consumers requires localisation and transcreation services that drill down to the local dialect of a specific region rather than a generalised overview of a language.
For example, the Spanish spoken in Spain is quite different to the Spanish in South American countries, all of which have their own unique differences as well.
In-house or in-country linguist
The level of expertise you require from a translation company leads you to determine whether you hire a linguist in-house or in-country.
Simple translations can be performed by linguists with a good grasp of the language they are asked to translate.
When a linguist is translating to or from their second language they may not be familiar with local dialect or have specialist knowledge of the field in the other country which could mean errors are made that go unnoticed.
In-country translators are more likely to have a better understanding of their region and can use precise terminology and expressions that communicates one language to another more effectively.
For advertising purposes, linguists that have knowledge of the target market are better placed to translate slogans and marketing content than a non-native.
Reputable translation service providers have connections with multiple linguists all over the world that can deliver specialist interpretations. And sometimes this insight can mean the difference between success and failure.
When paying for a translation service, you want to be assured the translation is accurate and fit for purpose.
Ask the translation agency what quality policy they have in place. Do they have specialist translators in law and medicine etc, do they offer in-country translations for location-specific purposes?
A reputable TSP will have a dedicated process in place that includes editing and third party reviews.
It is the linguist that reviews the translation that is most important here so ask the agency you are inquiring with about their specialist skills and qualifications.
Before hiring a linguist, you want to be assured the translation you receive will achieve its goal, and that typically means the linguist you need is the best qualified person for the job.
Let the linguist ask you questions
Once you are satisfied the agency you are considering with has the specialist requirements you need, you want to test them about their knowledge.
An experienced linguist will want to know the main purpose for your translation so they can assign it to the right individual together with the format or area of specialist knowledge that is required.
For example, the legal and medical fields have many sub-categories which may require specialist knowledge in specific areas.
If you have marketing material, a linguist should want to know what platform the copy will be hosted on; website content, brochures and catalogues etc all require different tones and use of language. This requires the knowledge and skill of a professional copywriter.
The cost of any service is always an issue and companies that do not have in-house specialists will outsource your translation to a linguist that does – which could result in additional costs.
If price is a factor, shop around three or four translation agencies that do offer the services you require and determine which company suits your budget. Bear in mind the cheapest price is not always the best service.
Before deciding which TSP to work with, go with your gut feeling. After talking to several linguists or agencies, you will get a sense of whether they are the right translation company for you.