In our global world, translation is a fact of life. If your customers can’t read about your product in their language, they won’t buy it. If they can’t get support for the product in their language, they probably won’t come back.
Many companies have hired bilingual or local employees to solve this problem. Excellent choice. Both the insight these employees bring to the team, and the service they can provide to customers who don’t speak English, are invaluable.
When it comes time to translate documents, many to turn to these employees. On the face of things, it’s cheaper to translate internally, and who could possibly understand the company better than its own employees? Yet, outsourcing your document translation work may be the best choice in the long run.
Don’t Pay a Lawyer to Fix your Toilet
The cost of using internal employees for document translation work can be hard to quantify. In addition to what they are paid for their time while working on the translation project, you must consider the opportunity cost of taking them away from their primary responsibilities. While some lawyers actually could fix the toilet in their office, would you like to pay them their hourly rate to do it?
Along with the cost of producing the translation, the cost of any errors must also be considered. Generally, an error tolerance of a maximum 1 mistake per 100 words is a minimum acceptable level. For marketing, legal, or other high-value content, the tolerance may be even lower.
Additionally, it’s important to determine if your staff is any good at document translation. Contrary to popular belief, being bilingual alone is not enough, even with native-level fluency in both languages. Translators must be good writers in the language they’re translating into, along with having a deep understanding of the language they’re translating from.
While some bilingual people do meet those two requirements, the value of formal training and experience in translation cannot be overestimated. For example, when translating two languages which are related, a translator must be on guard for undue influence of the original text on the translation they’re creating. While you can understand what I mean when I say, “national team of Mexico,” it’s definitely more natural to write, “Mexican national team.”
Choose Authoring Over Document Translation For Employees
Even though internal employees are not particularly suited to translation unless they have formal training, experience, or other qualifications, they are an excellent resource for creating new content.
Blogs, customer guides, and FAQs are prime targets since they are generally considered too costly to translate, and often create even more of an impact when written directly in the customer’s language. Pieces like these let your employees build relationships with your customers directly, and connect with them in ways straight translation cannot. After all, no one in Brazil wants to read about your work with the Cincinnati Reds.
Another valuable way staff can contribute to document translation efforts is in the review process. Check back for a detailed guide to reviewing your outsourced translation.