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Translation is worth a thousand (fill in the blank)

A picture is often said to be worth a thousand words. But what about a translation? What is a translation worth to you if it helps you to communicate with your clients and colleagues? For most, a translation is priceless...but that doesn't mean it has to cost you your first-born child. Think about all the texts that have been translated in the world. Too many to count! Now, what if those texts had never been translated for us to read? If you are a religious person and the Bible had never been translated, where would you be today? If you loved reading the foreign classics when you were growing up, would you ever have known these stories if they'd never been translated? If you did not have a translator to translate the "Wet Floors" sign in your place of business and someone slipped after a small spill, what would happen?

In the last scenario, you could very well lose your hard earned money from a lawsuit without such a sign in place. What about employees in your facility? Is there proper signage displayed to show them where to wash their hands or how to use any equipment necessary to perform their job? Is there a training manual or HR manual in their language? If not, perhaps this is something to consider for the long-term benefit of your employees, not to mention a wonderful investment for the future of your business.

Another point to consider is the quality of the translation. Professionals! Call them. They'll come to your rescue and you will never have to worry again about how terribly the latest automatic translation website has butchered your text. Forking out the cash for a professional translation, handled by trained and educated translators, proofreaders and editors will save you a bundle in the long run.

So many of our clients have paperwork, HR manuals and letters translated for employees with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). They understand the legal ramifications of not doing so and are proactively taking steps to invest in their employees and their company, both in the long and short term. Hospitals and courtrooms have interpreters and translations available. The small booklet that comes with your toaster has a translated user's manual enclosed. These are very different types of industries, but all see the benefit and need of professionally translated materials for clients and consumers.

How seriously do you take your business' communications? Are you willing to risk a lawsuit over a mistranslated (or not even translated) sign or manual? What about an e-mail that was misinterpreted or uses incorrect terms due to a lack of language skills? We tell our clients that they won't be spending an arm and a leg to have their texts translated, but what they'll receive in return is worth a thousand sleep filled nights. And they could very well even see a return on their investment.

For more information on how translation has affected and will continue to affect all of us, check out Nataly Kelly's "10 Ways Translation Shapes Your Life" or her new book with Jost Zetszche, Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World.