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Why Do High-Quality Translations Matter?

By Deirdre Nuttall, 101 Translations


Most people in the IT industry worldwide can read English to some degree, and often very well – and English is the working language for IT professionals in many parts of the world – so why translate marketing and communication into their languages at all? Is it just a waste of time and money?

In an information- and communication-saturated world, we have all had to develop the ability to decide what is relevant to us – and what is not – in the blink of an eye, often almost subconsciously. Who has time to pore over every single piece of text they are exposed to on the Internet, in their email inbox, or on their phone?

In this context, being able to communicate in a reader’s own language can determine whether they delete an email or read it click on a link or quickly navigate away from a page without giving it a second thought. Research shows that the average Internet reader takes just ten seconds or fewer to decide whether or not to stay on a given page, and key to making that decision is the matter of whether or not they feel that the material is relevant to them. Unless they are looking for something specific, if the text is not in their language they are more likely than not to leave.

Moreover, there is often a significant generational gap when it comes to fluency in English. The young salespeople and technicians you meet at trade fairs and other events might speak good English, but they are rarely the decision-makers in an organisation. Instead, you may need to speak to more senior, older employees and management who grew up professionally in a non-English-speaking national market. To communicate with this demographic effectively, you are well-advised to have marketing material in their own language that they can read without coming across any inaccuracies or jarring notes.

It is important to understand that communicating with someone in their own language calls for a lot more nuance and subtlety than can ever be achieved with an automatic translation or even a technically accurate word-for-word translation from English into the target language. To capture your readers’ imagination, you might want to use colourful phrases like “It is all Greek to me,” or “We’re all in the same boat”. You might refer to someone “having a nest egg” or a tricky situation that nobody wants to discuss as “the elephant in the room.” But if you do, how will your text fare when it has been translated into other languages? Idioms sneak into even relatively formal, technical language and rarely make much sense (if any) when they are translated directly. At this point, you risk not only confusing your reader, but even alienating them.

To really engage with your readers and to command their attention, it is essential that the communication you send them reads as though it had been originally written in their native tongue, as they speak their language in France, Germany or China. To capture this level of fluency, clarity and eloquence, and to ensure that there is no scope for confusion, you need to entrust your text to professional translators who are able to write copy in their language which feels native and yet conveys the same meaning as the original English, rather than people who can write in the target language without capturing all the nuances of the source material. You need translators who understand what you want to say and can communicate every nuance perfectly, even when that means that some phrases simply cannot be translated word-for-word, to get your original meaning across.

Using translators with this level of skill and expertise is a matter of quality control and also of courtesy to your readers by going the extra mile, you are showing that you care about them and have gone to the trouble of communicating with them in their own language with accuracy and precision.

Accuracy and precision matter in all translations, but perhaps most of all in the world of IT, in which even small inaccuracies and failures of clarity can lead to great confusion and sometimes very expensive and damaging mistakes. When it comes to communicating with the fast-paced, emerging word of IT, a little time and money invested in really high quality translations can make an enormous difference.


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