Lost in Translation: the importance of accurate translation for every business

Mar 15, 2014

Accurate translation is necessary for seamless business functions. One of the most common mistakes a business can make is to treat language translation of materials as an afterthought.

“Companies with great products/services that have a lot of potential in foreign markets take two steps backward because they had a lax attitude toward translating their product information correctly,” said Jerry Pacheco, director of the New Mexico International Business Accelerator.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) experienced several issues with the launch of its Spanish website, CuidadodeSalud.gov, namely that of accurate translation. The name of the site itself translates to “for the caution of health.” In this case, the erroneous English-to-Spanish translations appeared to be computer-generated and caused delays in Spanish speaking citizens being able to sign up for the new health care. Around 12% of the 317 million people in the US only speak Spanish, but only 4% have called about enrollment.

Tips to avoid this kind of embarrassment:

1. Avoid computer-generated translations because they overlook the context of a word AD Blog picor phrase. It is difficult for a machine to capture the correct meaning if a word has more than one. Machines also cannot pick up on any cultural or social contexts within a document.

2. When working with translators, provide clear instructions and submit well-organized files to be translated. Inform the translator about what the subject is. The more detail provided to the translator, the more accurate the translation will be.

3. Proofread the material for spelling, grammar and punctuation. Spelling or grammar mistakes can cause incorrect word translations, possibly affecting the overall meaning. Punctuation itself can change the meaning of sentence as well, so it is important that the translator receive the material after being proofread in the original language.

The best way to have materials translated is to use a certified translator with verified references. Translators are able to identify named entities and concepts a machine would overlook. They can also translate non-standard speech and language-specific puns.

Voiance specializes in translating documents that are true to your company’s image and messaging, while remaining sensitive to your customers’ needs. We work with any type of file format to deliver complete documents within your budgetary and timeframe requirements. Our expert US-Based project managers know what printed translation requires in virtually every industry and department in organizations of all sizes.