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Cheap Translation Services: Do You Really Get What You Pay For?

If you’ve ever been in need of translation services, or are currently looking into them for your company, chances are good that you’ve likely shopped around for what you consider to be the best deal while looking into the different options. You’ve spent a lot of money and time ensuring that your current brochure, form, website, etc. is perfectly crafted for your company and your customers. If you are looking to have the same translated for another audience, it only makes sense that you would like the best for them as well. If this is still fairly new for you, it can be a bit overwhelming and we understand wanting to find the best price for your company. However, that best price may not always come with the best quality translation, so if a pricing option seems too good to be true, it may be important to remember that you often really do get what you pay for.

If you do decide to use cheap, often unaccredited translation services, or even accept the help of a bilingual friend who may not be truly qualified to translate your text, you will end up with an initially cheaper service. However, you might compare it to the quality/cost comparison of just about anything currently on the market. Just as a $5.00 shovel may work well for a single yard project, chances are good it won’t last the entire season, and you will end up needing to replace the shovel again anyway. If you continue to purchase the $5.00 shovel, you will likely spend more money and time replacing it than you would if you had just purchased the $30.00 shovel to begin with.

Translation is similar. If you print a subpar translation on your brochures, your customers will notice. There will be errors, and although they won’t always be critical errors, if your customers can tell that it’s a translation at all, it impacts your reputation with them. The mark of a good translation is one you do not even realize has been translated. It should read smoothly and naturally so that the reader believes it was written with him in mind in the first place.

Professional linguists do not and should not have the cheapest rates around, so if you are quoted an extremely low price compared to others, it’s likely that the linguists used are not the most qualified, or perhaps, the agency uses shortcuts to keep the price so low (using machine translation to begin with, and only using a human proofreader to review that text, for example). A reputable translation agency will have strict measures in place to ensure the quality of your product. A translation should always be handled by at least two separate qualified linguists to both translate and proofread/edit the text, and then undergo the agency’s own quality assurance measures to avoid any issues from the onset.

If you are truly interested in saving money, have the translation handled correctly the first time to avoid costly mistakes down the road. ATS is proud to say that we do not take shortcuts with your projects and always use professional translators and proofreaders who are qualified to handle the content of your project. If you would like more information on a current project you have, or would like to request a free consultation, we would love to hear from you!

What If I Just Use the Google Translate Button on My Website?

It’s not uncommon to hear someone ask about using Google Translate (or another free machine translation tool) for their translation needs. Those in the language industry probably hear this question fairly often, especially since there is a Google Translate button on many websites, both personal and professional, prompting users to translate a website into the language of their choice with just the click of a button. Although those in the language industry will have immediate reservations about using free, automated machine translation professionally, it is not difficult to understand why many would feel this is a good option. After all, Google provides some amazing services, many of which are free. If you have grown to trust Google for these other services, it might stand to reason that you feel comfortable trusting Google for a free translation, as well. Trust us, we completely understand! However, your organization’s brand and your website’s accuracy may be at stake if you are relying on this method to translate content for your visitors.

The ability to correctly maintain both the meaning and the intended impression of your website’s subject is something, at least at this point in time, that can only be accomplished with professional human translators. These translators are able to dissect the content of the page, understand the intention of its message, and then convey that same message and intention in another language.

Automated machine translation such as Google Translate is unable to identify all of the nuances of a language, and often makes errors involving both the grammar and vocabulary of the target language. If you have ever used the Google Translate button to translate a non-English website into English, it was likely very obvious that the translation was automated and not done professionally by a native speaker. This type of translation does not capture the true original message, even if we can make out what the proper words should have been, some of the time.

If your organization values its branding and professionalism, it is important to have your website translated professionally. A professional translation agency will ensure that a native speaker of the target language who specializes in the subject matter translates your content. The translation will also be reviewed by a proofreader or editor to ensure the quality of the final product. This helps to maintain the professionalism your company conveys through its branding, and it can also keep your company out of legal trouble in certain cases, should your information be translated incorrectly. If you are a food vendor, for example, and your website mistranslates allergy warnings, this could have major legal ramifications for you if one of your customers falls ill.

Even if there are no legal implications, native speakers of a target language will know when a website has been translated through an automated system and may look to your competition for a company that will better communicate with them. After all, good communication is a form of good service.

The process of taking your message, breaking down its intended meaning in all places, understanding the nuances of your ideas and messages, and putting it all back together in another language is complex. Although we completely understand the appeal, we urge you not to rely on a seemingly free service to do this. Just as other aspects of your business are handled by their respective professionals, we recommend doing the same for your translations to help prevent potential mistranslations and bumps down the road.