It is no secret that in this brave new world companies very often face global competition and have to depend on proprietary content to gain competitive advantages. It is also a common practice that many companies often use their multilingual employees for translating Sales, Marketing, Accounting, Legal, Scientific, and Technical documents.
There are advantages and disadvantages in using your multilingual employees as translators, there are some qualifications that all translators should have.
These qualifications help ensure the translated content will emotionally and intellectually connects with a company’s target audience:
1. Tested & certified
2. Knowledge of applied linguistics in the source & target language
3. Experienced in a computer assisted translation (CAT) tool
4. Industry specific terminology familiarity and/or expertise
5. Familiarity with different categories of translations: literary, cultural, commercial, diplomatic, legal, medical, and software/websites
Certainly not all English speakers are necessarily good writers. Similarly, not all multilingual speakers are naturally good translators.
In order to bridge this gap translators often receive degrees from institutions of higher education who test and certify their expertise in areas such as documents in multilingual contexts, theory of translation, practice of translation, terminology and computer applications for translators, software / website localization, etc.
Just like you would not simply hire an English speaker to do complex legal work dealing with courts and legal situations, you do not want to have your documents translated by someone who has not completed proper translation training because at the end of the day the unique content that your company is depending on has to be really relevant with the target audience in order to be effective.
There are computer assisted tools, computer aided translation or CAT that can help in producing world class translations by building and ensuring consistency in terminology, leveraging previously translated content to improve time to market, and reducing your translation costs.
Computer-assisted translation is a broad and imprecise term covering a range of tools, from the fairly simple to the complicated.
Properly translating documents not only helps you to increase your global market share, it also helps in maintaining a brand image. To that end, you want to ensure as much consistency as possible with style, terminology, and format. Your multilingual employees might not always be familiar with these factors.
It is absolutely crucial that your translated content use the correct industry specific terminology. For example, a commercial for a German car company that aired on TV in North America used the words “white power”.
Needless to say it caused much embarrassment for the company and the commercial was pulled after spending nearly $1 million in producing it. A hotel chains had the following passage on their website:
Every room has excellent facilities for your private parts. In winter, every room is on heat. Each room has a balcony offering views of outstanding obscenity! You will not be disturbed by traffic noise, since the road between the hotel and the lake is used only by pederasts?
Needless to say, this translation was not done by an expert translator but rather a multilingual resource unfamiliar with translation styles / rules. English was definitely not their native language. Or perhaps it was done using an online tool like Google translate? There’s no way of really knowing after a translation gets released into the public domain.
Last but not least
Different types of content require a distinct type of translating style (literary vs. commercial, website vs. print). The multilingual employee might not be familiar with this subtle difference.
All in all, there is great potential for more harm than good in using multilingual employees to translate documents for your firm.