When in need of translation services, who should companies turn to in order to meet their linguistic needs? Google Translate? A staff member who has loads of time to look up words in a bilingual dictionary? A friend who travels frequently and doesn’t seem to have difficulty asking for directions in different languages? A cousin who learnt a foreign language in school years ago? Or a professional translator? Is it irrelevant? And is there a difference in the outcome? The answer should be straightforward. Free or very cheap translations done by non-qualified people can get your business in trouble because they will lack quality.
When you want quality work you definitely need to hire a professional translator. This way you don’t risk sloppy or inaccurate translations that will do nothing but damage your business and reputation, and make you look unprofessional.
Now, how do you know you’re dealing with a professional translator instead of someone who claims to be a translator? The profession is not regulated in most countries around the world so this can be tricky. Also, there are common misconceptions regarding what translators do and what the translation process involves. Nonetheless, don’t let yourself be fooled. Professional translators are involved in every aspect of their work and profession. They are invested in delivering top quality work which requires research and years of study. We don’t just study languages. We dedicate years to learning about our clients’ industries and respective areas of knowledge and expertise. That’s why we are involved in continued professional development. We are lifelong learners.
Last weekend, at APTRAD’s international conference for translators, Lloyd Bingham of Capital Translations talked about a translator’s path to professionalization. Translation is often not seen by those outside of the linguistic field as a profession, and translators are often not viewed as professionals within their field of expertise the way lawyers and doctors are. We have, therefore, a responsibility to improve our profession. We are our own bosses, and we run our own translation businesses, most often than not. But we are also part of a community of linguists and language experts. We often meet either in person or online to share knowledge, experiences and ideas that will help us grow our skills and serve our clients better.
Professional translators don’t miss an opportunity to improve and gain more knowledge.