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The Benefits Of Using Professional Translations For International Business

In a recent White Paper “Making Globalisation a Force for Good” the DTI gives a special mention to the importance of using languages in international business. Essentially it is referring to the need for effective communication with foreign trading partners to get your message across, hit the mark in promoting your products and build successful relationships. These things are crucial for international success and will probably require you to use the language of your customers.

Of course, it’s a great idea to learn some of your customer’s language because it shows your respect for them and helps you to get closer to their thinking. Moreover, if you are fluent in their language and can even write it well then you have a huge advantage in your business dealings. For informal situations, routine exchanges between existing partners you don’t need to be a professional linguist.

But beware – foreign language ability is not the same as the specialist skill required for translating promotional literature or technical documents. Anything critical in its presentation (e.g. sales literature) or its accuracy (e.g. machine operating instructions) must to be translated professionally. Translation is a highly skilled activity performed by specialists. Even a native speaker is not qualified to this work for you. Don’t be tempted to use a short cut. “DIY” translation may save you a few pounds now but it could prove to be very costly later. And, for all the skill involved, professional translation is not costly.

Translations are always made into the target language (your customer’s language) by someone who is a suitably qualified and experienced native speaker of that language. Most translators have postgraduate qualifications in translation. Most of them belong to a professional body such as the Institute of Linguists (IoL) or Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI), whose members are largely freelance individuals. Both of these organisations have professional membership criteria.

The process of translation is more of a craft than a science since words in different languages very rarely correspond exactly in their meaning. What is more, translators will often disagree on the best ways to translate a document, particularly when it comes to matters of style. Even the smallest translation can involve fine judgements based on years of experience. That is the level of expertise you need to achieve a properly executed translation which is not going to let you down.

In the case of sales or promotional literature aimed at an overseas market localisation may be necessary whereby the text, graphics and illustrations are adapted culturally to suit the target country. Ideally you should get the final draft of your translation checked by an educated person you know in the target market who can check if the specialist terms are correct and whether the translated document will make the desired impression in their country.

There is a lot of interest these days in software used for translation, often referred to as Machine Translation or MT. It is used by large international institutions like the EU and UN to produce bulk translations of official documents which translators then have to tidy up. Similar facilities are available on-line where you enter source text and translation into the chosen target language comes back. Happily for translators, humans are still needed to make sense of the raw (often nonsensical) translation which comes out. For the present at least, subtle issues of context, register, emphasis and purpose - essential for accurate translation - are beyond the grasp of artificial intelligence.

So, the practical benefits of using professional translation in your international business are clear. But good translation communicates other messages too. Showing customers your commitment by presenting your company and products in their language will make a lasting impression on them.

By demonstrating your appreciation of a customer’s language and culture, you set yourselves apart from the crowd. By communicating properly in international markets, you appear as enlightened players with a global outlook, with whom others will want to do business. Professional translations will help you to promote your global presence and boost your international business.

About the Author: Roger Wakefield is a staff writer at:
Transglobal Language Translation, (, helping organisations and individuals to communicate more effectively in the global market.

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