Don’t Risk Your Brand’s Reputation – Hire A Specialized Translator

Have you ever thought: “Why should I hire a specialized translator? Translators just deal with words, don’t they?”

Well, not exactly. For example, my field of specialization—financial and economic translation—requires a great degree of understanding. Within the world of finance there are many complex terms and concepts. They require niche expertise, because in essence it is about delivering regulated content. Getting lost in translation might be costly for fintech companies, especially when it comes to legal liability and protecting company reputation.

If you are looking for quality work, which will accurately project the image of your brand, then it is important to hire a specialized translator who can deal effectively with the content.  In one of my previous roles, I used to work on testing a risk reporting system in a bank. I entered derivatives test data—options, futures and swaps—into the Risk Exposure Management system (RXM).  This and my other roles in financial software houses allow me to quickly navigate the specialized jargon of portfolio or market performance reports and other financial translations

But don’t just take my word for it. What really matters is what our clients say.

I have asked 3 colleagues, professional translators, to each share a case study which demonstrates how their specialized knowledge proved crucial to solve their clients’ problems.

Case 1. The Power of Transcreation – marketing copy that sounds like an original

Elzbieta pointed out how important the correct terminology is for a translation—in many of my projects, readability is an absolute must. I often get hired by companies or agencies to fix a bad marketing or sales translation the client wasn’t happy with. Not because it was wrong but because it sounded like a translation and not an original flowing and easy-to-read German text.

My most recent case is a SaaS start-up providing software solutions for car dealers. They weren’t happy with their current German translations of their landing pages and blog posts. Their German sales guy Robert was the one having to deal with it, and he spent hours improving and fixing the German copy. But that wasn’t his main job!

Transcreation to the rescue.

We decided to work on a trial piece together to see if my writing style hit their tone of voice, which it did. I also hopped on a call with Robert to understand their industry and clients better. It turns out that the German copy needs a stronger sense of urgency and be less vague than the English one. Transcreation is not a 1:1 translation, but a very creative adaptation of the source text specifically targeted for a specific audience, in this case, car dealers. Being in direct contact with the German salesperson is crucial for me because he knows his prospects, customers, and pain points better than anyone else. Ultimately, my job is to make my clients’ lives easier.

When you have to outsource marketing translations, it’s wise to not only work with a translator specializing in that industry, but also with someone who can write well and adapt the translation to the client’s required tone of voice and their audience. Hiring a transcreator means hiring peace of mind.

Case 2. Combining sustainability and legal expertise

I recently translated a letter of intent written by a group of European regions. In this letter, they stated why and how they intended to form an agreement to create a task force for developing sustainable energy strategies together. The client needed to have the letter of intent translated into each region’s language, including French.

As a French legal and sustainability translator, this is the kind of project that’s right up my alley.

The client needed to hire a specialized translator who was familiar with the letter’s content and concepts: sustainable energy, and more specifically hydrogen. They also needed someone who had knowledge of the specific legal terminology and the structure of this kind of official document.

Translating a legal document leaves no margin for error. Accuracy is everything, even in the smallest details. In 2018, a misplaced comma forced a US company to settle in court for $5 million! Just imagine what a case like this could do to your business! Next time you have to translate a contract, get in touch with a professional translator. Someone who knows which exact words to use in each context and where to look for reliable information… and who actually enjoys spending time researching the most accurate terminology for your document.

Case 3. Don’t spoil the customer experience by not knowing your onions

Cycling is my biggest passion. When I’m not busy doing admin work for our local cycling club, I spend every minute on the road with my trusty Bianchi XR3 training for my next epic cycling challenge. And I could swap out a headset and fix bar tape in my sleep! It is this passion, deep interest, and knowledge I bring to my German translation clients in the cycling industry.

High-end bike manufacturers and bike component manufacturers risk their reputation with poorly translated descriptions for their products. They hire me because I’m part of their tribe. I understand their customers like no one else because I’m one of them, and I know their products inside out. I recently worked on a project for a bike distributor translating a brochure about the brands exclusive to them. These brands included bags, cleaning products, drinking systems and much more. One of the listed companies produces tyres, and this is a minefield for translators with little or no knowledge of cycling because a tyre isn’t simply a tyre.

Imagine the customer’s surprise after ordering a tubeless tyre, he opens his package to find he’s been sent tubs instead. I mean, there are only a few letters difference but a completely separate tyre technology!! An inexperienced translator won’t recognize the difference, but knowing you need entirely different rims (wheels) for tubs means these are not synonyms.

Conclusion

If you hire a specialized translator, they will help you eliminate unpleasant surprises and create an excellent customer experience in a foreign market. There’s nothing better than turning a first-time customer into a loyal fan of your brand.

You will also be able to focus on your core business—on the activities that generate revenue for your company or organization—rather than worry about incorrect translations and re-working them to make them acceptable.

What is a translation style guide and why is it important?

Has your translator ever asked you: “Do you have a style guide?”

And you wonder: What is a translation style guide? Why do I need it?

If you are building an international marketing strategy to expand your customer base, you need to communicate your unique brand identity to connect with potential consumers in new markets.

A successful international campaign means the consistency of your message across all channels. This in turn means the same tone of voice in any other language as your source language and local markets.

A translation style guide is a set of guidelines which outline your company’s preferred tone, register, and style to be used in translation. It is important because your translated content should match the way your company presents itself textually, but also visually. A professional translator should discuss your preferences with you at the start of the project as this is part of their essential research and preparation that you pay for. (You can read more about what the translation service includes here.)

Let’s see what a style guide includes and what the benefits are.

What do you need to include in a style guide?

1. Target audience

Firstly, tell us who will be reading this content. Think about your audience and the type of users.  What are their interests, age, education level, lifestyle indicators? What is their purpose when they use your product or content?

Are they university professors, customers installing their websites on your hosting servers or gaming users?

Established law firms or tech start-ups?

Will your content be consumed in a corporate boardroom or a school classroom?

2. Tone of voice

Every brand has its own unique tone of voice corresponding to its values. This voice has to come across in your translated copy.

Facebook, for example, uses a straightforward, conversational tone in all of its writing. And if you publish on Facebook, you write in an informal, playful, and engaging tone of voice, and aim to be personable, friendly, and even humorous.

Note these things in the translation style guide and use plenty of examples from your existing publications:

  • Do you want formal or informal language?
  • Do you prefer active or passive voice?
  • What about colloquial expressions, jargon or even slang?
  • Do you use inclusive forms of language, such as choice of pronouns (they), or forms of address (Mr, Ms, Mx)?
  • If the content is going to be published on social media, which ones? (see the comment above about Facebook)
  • If the content is for your website, what forms do you use in your CTA buttons? The imperative form? (“Upload file”, “Contact us today”.) Or more descriptive infinitive form? (“To subscribe, click on X”.) Also bear in mind that the CTA buttons will be localised. For example: in the American culture they tend to be more direct that in the French culture, where “Contact me today!” style of button may be perceived as too aggressive.

3. Formatting preferences

The translation guide is the right place to share the preferred formatting or punctuation. You should include preferences about the use of:

  • spelling locale (think US and British English)
  • acronyms or abbreviations,
  • capitalisation of bullet points,
  • use of punctuation in bullet points and after units of measure,
  • favourite fonts.

Specify units of measure, currencies, addresses, phone numbers, and any words that should not be translated. Typically, these will include website names, branded names, usernames or email addresses.

4. General brand style guides

If you have these, do not hesitate to share them with your translator. They provide us with essential and invaluable insight into your company’s personality, vision, and core values, and tell us how you wish to communicate them in your new language markets. Applying these guidelines in your multilingual content will avoid the fracturing of your brand’s message in any way.

brand-vision-and-guidelines

Terminology glossaries

Consistent and clear terminology is a key factor in your public persona, or that of your clients. Terminology glossaries are databases of key terms that must be translated consistently or not at all. Choose terms that are business-critical words used by your industry and your own, company-specific ones (e.g., your copyrighted or trademarked terms that should not be translated). Also consider audience-specific words to ensure relevance and engagement. For example, vegans like to use slang words such as “Buddha bowl” and “flegg”. Gaming fans read about “RendeZook” or “scratch damage”.

If you do not yet have a single term base, the translator can help you with this task. Using professional tools such as SDL Trados Multiterm, we can import your existing file and consolidate, clean and manage the data for the future.

Should you use both glossaries and style guides?

Terminology glossaries are important tools for industry relevance and the consistency of terms and product names. Your localisation expert will use their linguistic skill, cultural awareness and your translation style guides as a reference point to decide how best to address your audience. As a result, your translated content will resonate with consumers the way you wanted it to.

Why should you invest in a translation style guide?

A true investment – saving your time and money

Style guides are often neglected because they are viewed as time-consuming. They need the business to be acutely aware of its own unique branding style.

They are, however, a real time-saver during any localisation project. The guidelines will immediately answer standard translation questions and eliminate the need for lengthy and repetitive calls or email chains. You can get on with your job, whilst linguists can set about their task with your brand context and preferences already in mind. The guides will also remove the risk of linguists attempting to “guess” what your brand voice is from the existing content. 

The main causes of high translation costs include countless rounds of corrections or re-translating previously translated material, completed by another service provider. A translation style guide will help you eliminate costly mistakes, frustration, and disappointment during the international marketing process.

In conclusion, consider translation style guides as an investment that offers a great return for your business, allowing your international marketing strategies to reach their full potential.

Context is everything when it comes to translation

If you ask a translator: “How do you say x in y language?”, their answer will likely be: “It depends on the context”. Context is everything when it comes to translation.

The market information

To make the most of your international content, provide your translator with as much context as possible!

Brief them with the following:

👉 Target audience: who are you talking to? (age, nationality/culture, interests, income, position, etc…)

👉 Tone: conversational or formal?

👉 Purpose: what’s your CTA (call to action)? What do you want your audience to do?

👉 Knowledge: how much does your audience know about your product/service or the subject matter?

Actually, you should think about these before you even start creating your content, and then make sure your translator knows them, too. That way they will be more likely to convey the same message and reinforce your brand identity.

UI strings

Whether it is an app, a website or software UI, the translator is often handed a list of strings in an Excel file with little or no context.

If the app is still in development, the translator cannot interact with it and will be clueless as to how to render the string in another language.

Context will speed up the translation process. Ideally we like to see screen shots of UI screens. However, if you really cannot provide these, could you insert a comment in that Excel file you sent to give context?

👉What does the string refer to: a button? an error message? a list item?

👉If it is an error message, what is it about?

👉Is it a placeholder or a variable?

👉Any character limit?

Here is an example:


err_InvldEmail

Enter a valid [&1]

This message displays if an email address is not entered. The following information will populate for this message: [&1] = email address.

🤔Without this additional detail, the translator will ask you: “Enter a valid what?”

English is a wonderfully concise language, and nouns have no gender. In French, the article “a” will vary (un / une) and the adjective must match the gender of the noun.

In this case, the client provided the context: the missing word in the string is “email address.” In French it is feminine (une adresse e-mail), so now we can appropriately translate the string, leaving the placeholder, and be assured that the article and adjective agree with the noun that will be dropped into the string later.

Translation: Entrez une [&1] valide.

Et voilà.

Textual context

Textual context is really key when translating from a concise language such as English. Homonyms and homographs are very frequent yet depending on the context will be translated into completely different words in other languages. Words such as home, book or turn are perfect examples:

Book a call with us OR read our free book?

A turn of events OR a turn of a page?

Home page OR work from home?

Another source of confusion can be the use of nouns to describe other nouns. A single colour ink cartridge can mean a cartridge with 4 colours built in one (a single cartridge that will print in colour) or 4 individual cartridges (a cartridge containing a single colour). A good translator will always ask questions to clarify the context and will as for any reference material, especially when it comes to specialised terminology.

Situational context

Situational context refers to the factors and circumstances from the real-world environment which are affecting meaning. This is what is currently making machine translation so difficult to implement: it is hard to replace humans and their ability to live through communicative exchanges in real life, because the situational context involves the reasons why something occurs, references to the social, political or economic nuances.

A classic example is the form of personal address (“you” in English).

Who is talking? A millennial or a 19th century book character?

With whom? A colleague, friend, a boss, a doctor or Le Président de la République?

Are they talking or writing?

Is this happening now or 50 years ago? 

When you adapt your product and your marketing campaigns to your target countries, you need to take into account their culture, traditions, and values.

Marketing experts will tell you that your specific message needs to get across to your audiences so that you can meet them where they’re at. The same is true for your international audience.

Work with a professional translator and localiser who will help you get your message across the borders.

And please: Provide your translator with context!

IF TRANSLATORS WERE CAR MECHANICS…, or 4 common questions to ask before buying a translation service.

“Can you repair my car? I need it for tomorrow.”

“Can I see it?”

“No. Not until you tell me if you can fix it.”

“Um…What kind of car is it?”

“A blue one.”

“I mean the manufacturer and model.”

“That’s personal information I don’t want to disclose. When will it be ready?”

“Well…what noises has it been making? How old? Mileage?”

“Questions, questions! Am I supposed to tell you how to do your job? Just tell me how long it’ll take to fix it.

Oh, and I can only afford €X.

And I want you to use these complicated, old, rusty tools of mine.

I’ve also started to tinker with the car myself, so you should give me a discount now that you only have to finish off the job. And fix that leak I made while tinkering.

Here’s a blurry photo of it to help.”

(Curtesy of Gary Smith **Confessions of a Freelance Translator: Secrets to Success**)

I hope that this story made you smile. Of course, it is a bit of a caricature.😉

Like many other professions: car mechanics, plumbers, builders, dentists, doctors, lawyers…, translators need to see the product that they are asked to work with. We are “wordsmiths”. Our job is not about: “just tell me what this means in [language]”.

When you ask for a document or website to be translated, a professional will discuss with you these 4 common questions:

1. What is the language you would like us to translate into?

Like any other professions, we have a bit of jargon lingo. The language your text is originally written in is called “source language”. The one we translate into is called “target”.

A good translator is a linguist with a thorough knowledge of the “source language”. This allows us to understand your text well. For example, I have proofread in the past a financial text translated from English, where the linguist mixed up the English and French meaning of “billions”! However, a pro will never offer to translate into their “second language”, unless they can offer you a native-speaker review and proofreading as part of their service. You want your translator to have a perfect knowledge of both the target culture and language, because we translate meanings and messages, not “just words”. Only a native or fully bilingual translator can ensure this.

2. Do you know about…?

Just like car mechanics, you have generalists and those who specialize in brands. We also have specializations, e.g. texts about medicine, law, agriculture, finance, marketing. In my case, the specializations come from the professional experience in software houses and the financial industry. I also keep learning, reading publications and participating in webinars or online courses in my specializations. Just like doctors, lawyers or engineers, specialized translators have an in-depth knowledge of the concepts, terminology, and specificities of their field.

3. When will it be ready?

Typically, translators translate between 2000 and 3000 words a day. I would approach with caution working with anyone who promises you tens of thousands of words per day. It is likely that they will just put your text through a machine translation engine and do a bit of editing (or not). In that case you are wasting your money.

However, the turnaround and deadline are not synonymous. Like for any professional mentioned above, your deadline will depend on translator’s availability, the type of document and area of specialization, availability of any reference materials.

4. How much does it cost?

Translation rates depend on a variety of factors: the type of document you need translated, the area of specialization, the source and target languages, the urgency, the volume.

Rates are often calculated per word, but some translations are charged per hour because of the extra work they involve, e.g. layout work for a non-editable PDF or extensive linguistic and SEO research for marketing texts.

(Imagine translating the message behind “Just Do It” – it is more than just 3 words!!)

Proofreading work is usually charged per hour.

Some translators charge a minimum rate, others will offer you a more comprehensive solution that can include translation, proofreading, and testing. It is always best to ask for a free quote, which they will be happy to offer.

Would you commission building a house and ask for a terrace and a pool half-way through the project? Communicate the scope of work and request any auxiliary services at the start. If you don’t, you might end up stuck with an unfinished project, or worse, a set of unbudgeted charges.

 

In addition, if you require a service in marketing or digital branding, you must have a discussion about your brand’s tone and voice, your audience and its demographics, your product’s features and benefits.

 

Do you need professional translation for your document, website or application into Polish or French?

You can order my services or ask for a free quote here: https://edittranslations.com/contact/.

 

Why should you hire a professional translator if you have bilingual staff?

I’ll be the first to admit: I have built my industry knowledge and maintained my translation skills in my in-house software development jobs. In other words, I was part of the in-house staff who spoke languages and so a lot of translation work landed on my desk. However, in many cases, especially in development and testing projects, the localisation of software was actually part of my job and of the project plan. And I am fully qualified to do the job. Not all testers happen to have a master’s degree in professional translation…😊. In short, I am more of an exception that confirms the rule.

So why exactly should you hire a professional to do your translation or localisation work?

 

1. My employees are fully bilingual so they can translate competently and professionally

Ask yourself this question: You learned to count at school. Does this make you an accountant? Like arithmetic, language is a tool. In translation language is also a tool, but we don’t just speak languages. Native speakers, even if they manage to resist the influence of their host country’s culture and language, stay within the boundaries and limitations of their language. A high level of bilingualism is the most basic of the qualifications of a competent translator. Add to that mental dexterity, bicultural competence, industry expertise and strategies required to transfer meaning successfully across those boundaries.

 

2. Being a native speaker makes you fully competent in the language

Have you ever read something written by a native speaker and it didn’t make sense? Or asked them about a rule in their language and they just answered: “I don’t know, that’s just how it is.” We speak our native tongue organically, without studying the grammar, syntax or structure. Think of all the risks you take if you rely on a non-professional. The ability to write clearly and accurately is a prerequisite for a professional translation.

 

3. Do you really need to be certified to do a translation job?

You need a certification to be a plumber, electrician or carpenter. So why are you ready to accept a non-professional service in translation?  Like in other trades, translators complete courses, diplomas, and university degrees during which they learn about tools, technologies, methodologies and resources necessary to perform their duties. It is doubtful that your in-house staff understand how to use some of the tools that professionals use for productivity, such as translation memory and glossaries. As a result, you will end up with a subpar product.

 

4. My bilingual staff can translate that marketing flyer “real fast” and won’t cost me anything

When you take your bilingual staff away from their primary responsibilities and ask them to translate, you’re distracting them from their actual job. According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, employees can experience 50-60 interruptions each day. That’s an interruption every 8 minutes. After each interruption, it can take an employee 23 minutes to return to his or her original task, according to a study by the University of California, Irvine. The financial cost to these distractions is $10,375 per person, per year, according to Harmon.ie. Distractions also take their toll on your employees’ engagement and effectiveness. Harmon.ie’s research shows that 33% of employees had difficulty working and producing because of workplace distractions, and 25% had no time to think deeply or creatively as a result. One in five workers found that distractions caused information overload and 1 in 10 missed deadlines because of them. So, before you ask a bilingual employee to “just” translate that flyer “real fast,” ask yourself what unaccounted costs you may be incurring.

 

5. How about a quick review?

Sometimes, in-house staff are asked to review a translation completed by a professional. While your bilingual employees may have grown up speaking a language at home, that doesn’t mean they have the same linguistic expertise to understand specific grammar or cultural conventions. Therefore, their edits or suggestions may actually hurt the accuracy of the translation created by a professional linguist. Once again, you are wasting resources on something that’s neither their job, nor their priority.

 

6. Equal opportunities for all?

Additionally, you may be creating equal opportunity and equal pay issues in your organisation. You may have more than one employee with the same level of education, experience, base pay and performance, but only one receives a small bonus each month for translating documents. The other may feel treated unfairly if they didn’t receive the same opportunity.

 

So, what is stopping you from assigning the job to a professional translator? 

 

We are under pressure to keep the costs down

Because of financial constraints, some businesses or non-profits try to save money, often by asking bilingual employees to help translate various documents. By using bilingual employees to complete translation work, you expose your organisation to costly mistakes. Is it really worth the risk? I know this may sound biased, coming from someone who is a professional translator, but the data speaks for itself.

Cost of translation can vary, but on average it is between 0.07-0.15 euros per word. This means that a standard, 350-word page will cost around 50 euros.

Some translators charge a minimum rate, others will offer you a more comprehensive solution that can include translation, proofreading, and testing. It is always best to ask for a free quote, which they will be happy to offer.

 

Outsourcers don’t understand our tech business

This is a common complaint, especially with large translation agencies. Their vendors can be scattered around the world and will not take time or have an opportunity to get to know your business. However, if you hire an independent translator directly, they should and will ask you for background information, existing documentation and glossaries. You can ask them directly for their credentials, quality processes and turnaround times. (Read about the essential questions to consider when hiring a professional translator here: https://edittranslations.com/what-makes-an-excellent-translator-5-traits-you-should-look-for/ .) Look for a specialist in your industry: e.g. I worked in software development teams, so I’m already up to speed with or can quickly grasp complex technical explanations of your products.

 

We need to focus on innovation

It’s good to keep everyone up to date in a fast-changing technology world, but do not neglect your brand. A professional translator will help you spread the word about your technology to foreign audiences and this in turn will help you increase your customer base and sales.

 

Long-term gains

If you hire the same translator repeatedly, they will with time become more productive and knowledgeable of your business. We use technologies, such as terminology databases, translation memories and glossaries, which speed up our work and make it consistent by recycling previous relevant content. Meanwhile, your employees can get on with their own work!

#HireaPro

 

How do I choose a financial translator?

And why do translators specialise anyway? These are just words, aren’t they? Well, not exactly. Financial and economic translations require a great degree of understanding.  Translators who understand the concepts will be able to translate much more accurately than those who don’t.

Within the world of finance there are many complex terms and concepts

On the asset management side, if you are looking for accurate translations, then it is important to choose a translator who can deal effectively with the content.  Do they know the difference between cyclical and defensive stocks? Is the term “bond proxy” translated or is the English version used in other languages? When the translation team understands such concepts and can combine their financial knowledge with their linguistic expertise, then you are certain to have a great financial translation.

The importance of accuracy

Apart from the sound technical knowledge required in translating financial statements or portfolio analyses, the accuracy and attention to detail matter as well.  This is not just about getting the language right, but about representing the numbers accurately as well. The translation may be perfect in terms of written fluency, but it will be no good to the client if they have not taken the required care to transcribe or transfer the numbers, symbols or abbreviations. What if assets of $1,000,000 become assets of $100,000 in the translated document? Correct localised conventions must be used, such as a digital point and comma.  A million (1,000,000) in the UK and US may in other countries look as follows: 1 000 000.  Simple details, obvious to many, but important to get them right.

You can get on with your core business

Using a competent translator will allow you to focus on your core business instead, on the activities that generate revenue for your company or organisation. You will avoid the gigantic headaches associated with the incorrect translation of documents and with re-working them so that they are acceptable.

The answer: work with an expert

At EdIT Translations we are experts in financial translation.  Before starting the company, its founder, Elzbieta Dubois, enjoyed a successful career in software houses building solutions for financial services, including major European banks in Paris and London, building societies, investment corporations and lenders. As a Business and Test Analyst she translated specifications and user guides and performed localisation testing, and so she is well-placed to deliver very high-quality translations of technical financial documents.  She combines this experience with solid linguistic skills. A master’s degree in Professional Translation at the University of Strasburg and 30+ years of residence in the UK and France allow her to address and convey each country’s specific locale and culture. With this background, she can produce translations that are true to their audience and culture. So, the next time you are looking for an expert financial translator with a focus on your specific needs as a client, look no further, we are here to help!