6 myths and misconceptions

It may be tempting to abandon website translation because it is too expensive, too complicated, and too time-consuming. These are common beliefs for many professionals when they start researching translation, because it is an industry full of inconsistencies and misconceptions. Let us set the record straight.

Myth #1: Translation is complicated and expensive

Unfortunately, this myth is based in reality. Some translation companies charge exorbitant yearly fees to use their technology, which often ends up being confusing and inefficient. Furthermore, because many companies only provide the technology, you are left scrambling to hire reputable translators and proofreaders.

However, this is not always the case. At Translate Company, we have created a unique combination of technology and translation services that makes it possible to set up your website translation at the push of a button, at a significantly lower cost than most other translation companies.

If you do your homework and find a reputable agency, website translation is a small investment for a sizable return.

Myth #2: English is such a popular language that translating your website is redundant

English is the most popular language used on the web - this is true - but it only comprises about 36% of online economic opportunity. By neglecting to translate your website, you are missing out on the chance to reach a huge pool of potential customers before your competition does.

The good news is that you can reach 90% of online spending by translating into only 12 languages. Most small-to-medium businesses are slow to recognize the significant economic benefits of website translation - if you do it first, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Myth #3: There isn’t much difference between translation agencies

This could not be further from the truth. At first glance, many agencies use similar lingo and may claim to have similar service and technology offerings, but this is where the similarities end. Unfortunately, because there are no universally regarded standards that translation companies must adhere to, there is huge variation in prices, quality, and offerings.

We recommend getting clear quotes from each agency you are considering, with a thorough outline of what services and technology it includes. If you have to jump through hoops to get answers from a company, that probably indicates the kind of customer service experience you can expect to have throughout your translation process.

Myth #4: Machine translation is eliminating the need for human translation

Machine translation may seem to have become significantly more efficient over the past few years, but still fails to translate anything more than single words accurately. For business purposes, machine translation is never an alternative.

Machines have algorithms that are programmed with basic knowledge of grammar, word choice, and phrasing, but this is rarely sufficient to create an accurate translation. Human translators understand that there are many words with similar meanings, and many meanings for the same word, and can choose the most contextually appropriate word in any given sentence. They detect and adapt nuance and style to optimize meaning.

Ultimately, machine translation will continue to advance, but it will take a massive shift for it to produce anything close to human quality, and by this time, machines will have taken over almost all other professions as well.

Myth #5: Any translation professional can translate well

Translation is a complex process involving grammatical accuracy, contextual understanding, and preservation of meaning. It is a craft that requires experience, training, and dedication.

At Translate Company, we hire 1 out of every 30 translators that apply to work for us, because many translators have not developed the skill set required to produce quality translations. Many other translation companies are not as selective when hiring translators, resulting in companies unknowingly purchasing low-quality translations.

Further, some companies may try to hire a bilingual employee or crowdsource a native speaker to translate. While many bilingual people have a strong grasp of both (or all) of their spoken languages, it does not necessarily mean they will translate well.

Good translators are trained linguistic experts. They have strong reading comprehension, exceptional grammatical knowledge, and are adept researchers. Most bilingual people do not possess this broad skillset, and consequently cannot produce translations with the accuracy and clarity of an experienced translator.

Myth #6: Specialized translation is always the best option

Specialist translators are expensive, generally unregulated, and often unnecessary. Professional translators are usually well-equipped to translate business materials in most industries, even if there is some technical lingo involved. Most professional translators have specific areas of expertise, even if they don’t advertise themselves as specialists, simply because they tend to gravitate towards industries that interest them.

If the accuracy of your content will jeopardize the legality or safety of your customers, you need a specialist. If not, a professional translator is your best choice.

TL;DR

  • Cobolt is not complicated nor expensive, though most other solutions are.
  • Translating your website reaches the 64% of people online who do not speak English.
  • There are significant differences between translation companies, although they may appear to have similar service offerings.
  • Machine translation is never an option for business translation.
  • Experienced professional translators are key to a successful translation.
  • Specialized translation is unnecessary unless the accuracy of your content will jeopardize the legality or safety of your customers.
Chapter 6: Metrics for success