We have seen truly some extraordinary changes and improvements to the technology available to us in the last decade. Today, these developments allow us to work faster and better and effortlessly connect with people based practically anywhere in the world, which can be beneficial in both – our personal as well as professional lives. As a result, a growing number of businesses and organisations decide to approach foreign markets and international consumers with the hopes of expanding their revenue streams. Additionally, in the digital age we live in, the boarders are, in many cases, practically non-existent, and so language is often the only remaining aspects still standing in the way of a successful expansion. As a result, accurate translations became a key element within not only our personal, for example during international travels, but also our professional and business lives.
Nonetheless, many people do not fully understand how professional translations work and how to go about acquiring them if such need arises. We have therefore prepared this article in order to help you to navigate through different options and approaches to translating your content, either for corporate or personal use, and took a closer look at advantages and disadvantages of each method.
Different translation providers – which one is good for me?
If you need your documents or materials converted into a different language, there are several ways in which you can approach this task.
Some of the most common methods, include:
- Working with a translation agency
- Working with a freelance linguist
- Using free online software
Working with a translation agency
Partnering with a professional translation agency, which specialises in accurate translations is perhaps the most common way of converting documents and materials into a different language, especially if they are intended for business or corporate use. An expert agency, which specialises in providing professional translation services will be able to accurately convert your materials and documents, not only taking into the account the linguistic aspects, but also other factors, which can indirectly influence the reliability of the translations, such as socio-economic or cultural factors.
Another key benefit of working with a translation agency is the possibility of translating your documents or materials into several languages at once. This can be especially important within the corporate environment and competitive business sectors, where time is often of essence.
Additionally, professional translation companies often specialise in translating content for a particular business sector. Whatever the nature of the materials you need to translate, e.g. medical, marketing, legal or financial, you will be able to find a translation agency which is expert in accurately converting such materials and so is able to reliably translate the sector specific terms.
To discuss this further, we have spoken to a leading professional translation agency in the United Kingdom, a London based Translation Services 24, which said, that “Translating documents and materials often require a different approach, depending on the nature of the content itself as well as the target audience. Translating legal documents involves a completely different set of skills than, for example, translating marketing campaigns, and so the linguist translating should not only have an excellent linguistic knowledge, but also fully understand your particular sector and target market.”
Unfortunately, these benefits come at a price, and so using a translation agency is the most expensive option from our list. Consequently, it is most popular amongst business owners and organisations, where accuracy and fast turnaround times are nothing short of essential.
Working with a linguist
Working with a freelance linguist is the second most popular option amongst business owners. One of the key benefits of this approach, compared to working with a translation agency, is cheaper cost. Generally speaking, working with a freelancer can be cheaper than working with a professional translation company. Nonetheless, lower costs come at a price…
One of the biggest drawbacks of freelance linguists is the fact, that they usually cover only a single language and specialise in one business sector. For larger projects, which require translations into several different languages, this means that you will have to find numerous providers and manage the delivery of all languages yourself. With tight deadlines, this can become extremely problematic, especially if the nature of your documents varies e.g. marketing, legal etc.
Additionally, freelance linguists will not usually be able to advise you regarding the best way to approach your chosen target market and audience, something that professional translation agencies often offer as part of their service.
Free online software
Free online tools have come an exceptionally long way since their humble beginnings. Today, tools such as Google translate are able to efficiently translate even complex texts within seconds. This option is the ideal solution for translating documents needed for personal use, such as communicating with friends or family.
Where to find them?
Choosing the right approach to translation services is only the initial step. Once you have decided which option is best for you, based on your individual circumstances such as timeline, type of content and its purpose as well as the budget available to you, you will need to find the best provider.
If you decide to go ahead with a professional translation agency, there are several different ways in which you can find the optimal provider. From completing a simple search online to visiting third party websites such as Trustpilot or Clutch, where translation agencies are reviewed by verified customers. Ideally however, a translation agency will be recommended to you by someone, who have previously worked with one and who have tested the quality of their work. Additionally, when choosing a translation agency, it is essential to ensure that they are part of an official translation body, such as ATC (Association of Translation Companies).
Similarly to translation agencies, freelance linguists can be found online. Websites such as the ITI (Institute of Translator & Interpreters), CIOL (Chartered Institute of Linguists) or Proz.com provide detailed reviews of linguists and their contact details.
Lastly, free, online tools are widely available. Nonetheless, Google Translate is the market leader, and the accuracy of this translation software is significantly higher than its competitor, and so we would highly recommend using this tool for translating personal documents.