Why Translate?

Read between the lines: be sure your translation gets a human touch…

Free online translation tools, without doubt, offer a quick way to get the gist. As long as you are wise to the fact that you cannot take the translation at face value, and take time to read between the lines, you will often find that a tool basically does what it says on the tin.

But how can a machine tell, for example, which sense of the Spanish word ‘esperar’ (which can be used to mean ‘hope’, ‘wait’ or ‘expect’ in Spanish) was intended by the person who wrote it? It cannot tell from the context whether that person is simply waiting, perhaps somewhat hopefully, for something to happen or is in fact expecting it.

Picking up those nuances can be make or break when communicating with existing or potential clients, partners or funders.

Translation tools operate in black and white, giving a literal solution to each word or short phrase as a separate entity. They cannot gauge the grey-scale: the context of the words, their intended meaning and tone, or the suitability of the language used in translation for the target audience. And while someone who knows the language of the source text would be able to understand it, they are not necessarily going to be able to produce something that reads as if it were originally written in English and that does not ‘sound’ like a translation.

That is why it is always worth investing in professional translation and dealing with a person who can grasp the meaning and context, pick up any ambiguities and work with you to ensure your translation hits the nail on the head, whatever you need it for.

It’s a question of finesse. Whether it’s a press release, web copy, editorial piece or an internal report or email, professional and intuitive translation can only support the quality and reliability of your brand. Get it wrong, and it might not only make you look sloppy, it could actually be damaging to your organisation.

About Kate Hartley