As a professional translator I have to believe that businesses need and will choose to invest in professional translation. But you might be saying, well why should they? With tools like Google Translate and Babel Fish there’s no need, right?
Well, I recently sent an email to a web design company based in Mexico offering my services and I was surprised at their response. They said that there was no need for my services, since they could integrate Google Translate into their websites. So, I went and looked at one of them, and yes, Google did translate the website into English for me, but it was very poor English, with a number of sentences which didn’t make much sense. Could I understand it? Yes. Did it look like the face of a professional, serious company? No, not at all.
Information is heavily in demand from all corners of the globe, but people usually want information readily available and properly written in their own language. In fact, a recent Eurobarometer survey “User language preferences online”, found that 9 out of 10 internet users, if given a choice of languages, would choose a website in their own language. When the information provider, be it a public service or a private company selling products and services considers itself to be a professionally run organisation, what impression does it leave with the user if what they can access in their own language is poorly written? That the organisation is not very professional, and the chances of the user trusting that organisation are distinctly lowered, which if it is a company selling things, means there is a greatly reduced chance of the user making a purchase of any kind!
I would say that it would be better to have no translation at all, than a machine translation or one done by a non-professional translator.
So what does this mean?
1. People, perhaps without knowing it, want any content of interest to them that was originally written in another language, to be professionally translated. And of course this is not just literature, this is information available on the internet to do with just about everything.
2. Professional translation is and will be in high demand. And this is proven to be the case – Common Sense Advisory calculates that the market for outsourced language services is worth US$33.523 billion in 2012, and as of 2012 the language services market is growing by 12.17%.
People are searching globally for products and information, we live in the age of the global marketplace. Surely to grow beyond your domestic market you need to be able sell your products in other languages? Surely a marketing and brand development strategy cannot be seen to be worth so little, so as not to be worthy of a proper, professional translation?
The same Eurobarometer survey referred to above also showed that only 1 in 5 respondents would buy products online in a foreign language.
So if you want to know how to grow your business and you have yet to invest in translation of your marketing materials and especially your website, look no further. A recent article entitled “Translation at Fortune 500 companies” published by the Common Sense Advisory found that companies which increased their translation budgets were 1.5 times more likely than other Fortune 500 companies to increase their total revenue. Of course we’re talking about the top end here, but this surely is a way SMEs can get the edge over their larger competitors, isn’t it?
So why invest in professional translation?
- So that your material, for whatever purpose, is not sneered, sniffed or laughed at by a native speaker.
- So that you can communicate your information to whoever you want to, clearly, and as you intended it to be.
- So that you can reach a wider audience.
- So that you can grow your business.
- So that you can be accessible to the world, when the world comes knocking at your door.