Key Advantages of Professional Translation

I asked professional English to Swedish translator Tess Whitty to summarize a previous article she had written on the key advantages professional translators offer their clients. Tess is a member of the Swedish Association for Professional Translators and the American Translators Association, where she serves on the committee in charge of setting up the ATA certification program for English into Swedish translators. She also has a well-respected blog about the language industry.

A professional translator has thorough knowledge of both the source and target languages and the cultures involved. Professional translators are also business people who are well-versed in communication, service and business practices.

1. It’s not just words
Translators must bridge linguistic and cultural gaps between two groups who do not speak the same language. This means translating concepts, instead of providing a literal word-for-word rendition. Incorrect translations (by accident or due to lack of knowledge) can threaten costly international business ventures.

2. Computers can read, but they just don’t get it
Regardless of advances in technology, computers cannot replace translators. Computers are indeed capable of compiling extremely large databases and providing a translation for a given word or expression within a split second. However, computers cannot read between the lines and interpret shades of meaning. They are also not very well versed in cultural nuances, grammar and idioms.

3. Research is key
A single word can mean many different things, depending on context. Knowledge comes with experience and being familiar with a given field is of utmost importance. Using the services of a translator with a strong background in a specific area leads to successful communication in that particular field on an international level.

4. Who’s your audience?
Professional translators are focused on a specific target audience and know to whom the translation is intended, and how to best reach those particular readers. This is key for businesses that use translations to reach end users of their products.

5. Low-quality translation has hidden costs
Translation errors compromise safety, intellectual property, and a company’s image, in addition to the bottom line. Hiring a professional translator helps companies keep their reputation in tact with global customers by avoiding cultural and linguist blunders. A professionally prepared translation means quality and accountability.

6. Professional translators provide subject matter expertise
Professional translators specialize in given subject areas and can provide in-depth expertise even outside the actual task of translation. For example, a translator who specializes in software translation often also knows a lot about software development, character limitations, internationalization issues, and the types of conventions, content or terminology that work best in the target language, even if this differs from the original source text.

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