Getting the Balance Right in Document Translation
Businesses are expanding their operations globally like never before and that means searching for ways of getting their message across as well as they can. Internationally oriented businesses by necessity must forge a strong relationship with the translation agency or face being beaten to the new markets they are trying to access by their competitors.
It is this competition to get a foot in the door as quickly as possible that is leading to a struggle to balance the competing demands in translation of speed versus accuracy. While accuracy in document translation is the goal, how can this be achieved faster than anyone else? Does modern technology, particularly translation software and other translation tools offer a way forward.
There are two main reasons why a business might search for faster translation speeds. The first is to save money. Generally, the cost of translation depends partly on the number of words but also the time taken by a human translator to complete the task. The second is to get a message, especially a new one, to the intended market before any other competitor.
Accuracy in document translation is essential to get a business message across to new and potential customers. Multilingual websites need to be localised to match the languages, dialects, culture, socioeconomic, gender and age specificities of the market that has been earmarked for expansion. That’s a big ask of any non human translation tools, despite rapid progress over the last decade or so.
Many businesses launching themselves into the international marketplace for the first time often put their faith in machine translation and computer aided translation, often to the disadvantage of accuracy in document translation. Sometimes, the disadvantages of translation tools being used wrongly are not discovered before it is realised that it is not helping to acquire a substantial increase in market demand.
As far as translation tools available for use are concerned, machine translation such as Google Translate and its equivalents is the crudest of translation tools available. To be fair, these tools have improved immeasurably in the last decade or so. Think of the progress that spelling and grammar checkers like Hemingway and Grammarly have achieved. Mistakes in context, text content, spelling and other inaccuracies are almost foolproof when using these tools in the same language as your own. But machine translation cannot yet be relied upon for accurate translation.
Professional translators do use a number of computer aided translation tools. These help to translate large chunks of text and allow repeated phrases and sentences to be remembered for use again and again. Computer aided software is an aid to translation and is not a substitute for human translation. The use of these new tools is a bit like the use of intuitive spelling and grammar checks in a word document. Relying on them completely is not a satisfactory way of proofreading, but it does speed up the process.