In this age of translation software and quick and easy automated cheats, including the dreaded Google Translate, it is tempting to believe that professional translation services are no longer necessary. Surely technology and modern advances in automated linguistics have rendered human beings unnecessary in this field, right? Wrong!
There has been a surge in interest for language learning in recent years, thanks in part to wide availability of materials and language learning systems made possible by the internet. Not only that but the declining costs in international travel have made it much more realistic than ever before to get out there and immerse oneself in other cultures and languages.
Corporate blogs have become an integral part of any marketing strategy in a world where an internet presence has become crucial to success. The only problem is, with so many battling for a piece of the pie, the internet has become glutted with banal, dull content, with one article linking to yet another and without anything particularly interesting to say. With the advent of SEO sensitive content, the unfortunate by-product has been words for the sake of words, and the more the better. Content is produced simply to insert key-words which will hopefully show up high on google rankings.
Have you ever read a document, be it a newspaper story, a web page description or an advertisement, and thought to yourself, “boy, this could really have done with some editing!” or worse, “wow, this is a really poor translation!”? It happens more often than you think, and most of the time, it is not so much a bad translation as the result of the writer not proof-reading their text before they publish it.
All freelance translators have at some time experienced that feeling of sitting at a computer, staring at a text, fingers hovering the keyboard ready to work… but your mind is blank. But don’t worry, there are plenty of resources out there to help you out with that blank screen!
In the past, marketing was understood to mean placing adverts newspapers, magazines, radio/tv, on billboards or flyers. In the past few decades things have changed radically, and the company that wishes to compete on today’s market must be digitally literate. If they want to continue or expand into the international market, that means using all of the new technologies and social media to their advantage.
A freelance translator sounds like the ideal job when you’re commuting to work in rush hour traffic on a cold, rainy morning, and the thought of being able to get up whenever you want, eat and drink at your desk without anyone complaining, and above all, work in your pyjamas(!) sounds very appealing. However, is being a freelance translator really all it’s cracked up to be, or does the solitude of the long-distance translator drive you crazy in the end?
BigTranslation recently teamed up with Hersen to help them on their quest to internationalise their business. So, how did we do this? Well, considering the markets they want to expand into, this involved translating their website from Spanish into English. We only work with native translators specialised in the field that the translation is for.
As English speakers we are really spoilt, as pretty much the whole world is trying to learn English, and where large parts of the world have not yet fully succeeded in the endeavour, they are well on the way. So this takes the pressure off as native English speakers, which might be seen as a good thing. Unfortunately however, the all-too-common result on our part is the tendency toward extreme laziness when it comes to language learning! After all, why bother when the rest of the whole is beating a path to our door and doing all the work to make themselves understood.
All of us have seen those lists of “top 10 translation fails” on Buzzfeed or similar pages, with their ridiculous and hilarious mis-translations from one language to another, but no-one actually wants their business to be the butt of these jokes, or appear on the lists. While it’s very amusing to see “ducha” translated as a “douche” (who wants to find one of those in their room, right?) or “exit” as “’exito” in Spanish [success, not really what people are expecting to find at the end of the hotel corridor], and “stir-fried wikipedia” sounds like an interesting item to find on the menu, if your business is in the tourism industry, you want to limit these translation mistakes to the internet where they belong.