Many companies use in-house bilingual personnel to produce multilingual versions of their products. Often done on an informal basis, with the employees being taken away from their normal duties to carry out the task. While the usual motivation for doing this is to save perceived costs, the practice is clearly flawed. Some of the more obvious problems include:
- Being bilingual doesn’t qualify an employee as a translator – would you assign an employee to review your critical marketing content simply on the grounds that English is their native language? You would be far more likely use an employee who is versed in the art of creating marketing copy in English; the same applies to creating copy in any other language.
- Is it really more efficient to delegate an unfamiliar task to an employee with other priorities, than it is to outsource the task? It is likely that your employee is more valuable when working within their particular specialisation. You might save on the cost of outsourcing, but have you calculated the hidden costs?
But there are deeper problems than these. Languages are fluid and change rapidly. It doesn’t take long for ex-patriots to lose touch with the latest nuances of vocabulary and style. New words appear, trend and become fashionable; new phrases develop; colloquialisms are born and die; old words and phrases take on new meanings or lose popularity. You can rapidly get out of touch with what is happening with your native language, especially if you spend most of your time speaking and writing in a different one.
The seven benefits of using in-country translators
These problems can all be averted by having your content translated professionally through a translation agency that employs in-country translators. Such professional translation services will add quality and value to your content; will save time and money spent on inefficient use of your in-house resources; and will contribute positively to your bottom line. Here are the 7 main benefits of using in-country translators:
- Good customer experience. Good customer experience is assured by presenting them with localised content that is relevant regionally. The opposite will be the case if they are presented with content that is flawed and difficult to understand. Only an in-country translator with relevant experience in the subject matter can provide the former; anything else risks damaging your reputation.
- Better employee experience. Better employee experience results when they are trusted to carry out the duties for which they were employed. We have already indicated the inefficiencies of using a bilingual employee to translate the content into their native language, but there are also significant motivational dangers. It is likely that the task would be low on your employee’ s priorities, and the additional workload is likely to be resented.
- Elimination of language attrition. First language attrition is a well-known phenomenon amongst people who regularly write and speak in their non-native language. The result is the individual gradually forgets the language they used to speak. As already mentioned, languages are fluid and change rapidly, but the individual changes too. The knowledge of one language impinges on the other; essentially they get mixed up. This phenomenon is avoided entirely by using an in-country translator.
- Prompt and predictable delivery. Prompt and predictable delivery is guaranteed when you assign your translation to professionals. This is unlikely to be the case if you attempt to do the work in-house, and even if it is the quality is likely to be compromised.
- Professional expertise. With a professional in-country translator not only do you benefit from the services of a highly qualified professional adept at translation, your translator will also be a specialist industry expert who will understand the sector to which the work is targeted. This includes being up-to-date with the terminology, the latest trends, and product features.
- Good workflow and documented quality control. Producing professional quality translations is a complex process that requires proper management and quality control. The workflow includes translation, editing and proofreading. Rigorous standards are required, for instance the translator must be native in the target language and have experience in the specific subject area. Documented quality control must be maintained throughout the process, so ensure your agency is ISO9001 registered.
- An efficient team at your fingertips. Efficient professional translation relies on teamwork, with each member of the team being qualified and experienced in their own field. Each project has a project manager to ensure that every step of the assignment is completed on time, to budget and in line with the expectations of the client; excellent client communications are an important part of the process. Having such a team at your fingertips will ensure project success.
A consistent message
If your translation is important to your business, then relying on your in-house bilingual employees is a high-risk gamble. Creating a professional localised translation is a complex task that requires significant resources. If you are translating into multiple languages, these problems are further compounded and your chances of achieving a consistent message are significantly diminished. The only rational approach is to use a professional team with experienced in-country translators, which is why so many major brands do just that.