Man vs. Machine: Who Should Translate Your Brand’s Content?

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Let’s delve into that all-important question – “Should I use Google Translate or a professional translator to translate my content?”


It ultimately depends on what you’re translating, of course. A financial report for instance, should be translated by a professional linguist with a background in this sector. If you’re looking to translate your website, you’d obviously need a human to perform the job. But if you simply want to learn how to say “hello” in German, then a machine translation tool like Google Translate would do the job.


The machine vs human translation battle has long been a topic of debate in recent years. As the translation market grows (currently worth more than $30 billion), technology also advances, offering more room for the emergence of sophisticated machine translation.


There are several types of technologies available in the market but none come close to the competence of a human translator. Believe it or not, there’s a better alternative to simply cutting-and-pasting content into Google Translate. For accurate results, choose a professional translator or even better, a translation agency.


Machine Translation – The Pros and Cons

Let’s cut to the chase – machines produce translations much faster. Projects can be delivered in just a few minutes while a human translator might take up to an hour. Most online services are free, making machine translation a cheaper alternative. Despite these benefits, machine translation has one major downside – the standard of translation is almost always inaccurate, especially if you want to translate industry-specific content that requires particular terminology.


Certain words and phrases are unique across different languages and industries and a machine is unable to translate context. If you’re translating something to be read by the masses, then it’s highly recommended you opt for a human translator – translation mistakes or inaccuracies can be harmful and costly for your brand.


“Technology may be advancing and machine translations may be improving but generally, we believe content will always need that human touch” says Michal Shinitzky, the managing director at Pangea Translation and Localization services. “Whether you are translating for a Forex company or an iGaming firm, you should make sure your translator has background in finance or gaming and that they understand the market. You need to really understand the material to be able to translate correctly and contextually”.


Human Translation – The Pros and Cons

A machine will get the gist of a text but very rarely will it perform an accurate translation. If you want to ensure quality and accuracy, it’s best you turn to a human translator. A translator won’t just interpret word for word, they will interpret the context and make sure to capture the same meaning, with regards to the respective industry. A human can detect idioms, metaphors or particular phrases that need to be localized and identify content that requires specialized terminology for your sector.


Human translators may be more expensive than machines and the turnaround time may be longer, but at least you’ll be assured of proper results. Be rid of any grammatically awkward content or false word choices which obscure meaning. As long as they are experts in the associated fields, linguists can translate anything from gaming to financial translations using the accurate lingo.


There is a lot of technology readily available for translation agencies which not only assist translators but the clients, too. Translation memory tools for example, speed up projects, making the work easier for linguists and reduce costs simultaneously for clients. This cutting-edge database technology stores terminology, sentences and phrases that have been previously translated for reuse in future projects. Clients are charged less for repeated phrases and work efficiency is boosted for translators. Many agencies use TM, but that isn’t the be-all and end-all of their work processes. A human translator is still necessary.


To sum up, should you use Google Translate to translate your content? The answer is no – especially if you value your brand. Tell a translation agency a bit about your industry, make sure they have expert linguists in the field, and you’re bound to see higher quality translations.
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The Ultimate Checklist for Translators

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There are several widely-held myths about translation . Many mistakenly assume it’s an easy process that simply involves scanning a text and producing it in another language. In fact, translation requires skill, expertise, time, effort and research. In order to produce a professional translation, a linguist should follow quality and technological standards. Like most jobs, it requires going through a checklist to ensure quality and accuracy.


Want to become a translator? Are you currently working for a translation agency? Here’s a translation checklist to help you deliver a high-quality translation service:


1. Revise your Project

When you receive a translation assignment from your project manager, make sure to properly revise the instructions that came with the job. You don’t want to get involved in something you don’t understand. Double-check the client’s briefing to confirm everything is clear and then verify that all appropriate files and documents are attached.


2. Consider the Context

When it comes to translation, context is king. Professional translators are usually experts in particular fields so make sure that the project you receive is right up your street. Always confirm that you are comfortable and familiar with the subject matter of the document. You should be able to not only accurately translate the words, but the context, too. Each industry has its own lingo and jargon – do you understand the terminology? Are you experienced in that specific field? Ignored context always results in a translation gone wrong so let your project manager know if you’re uncomfortable with the job.


3. Do Your Research

You may be an expert in a particular industry but sometimes, you need that extra bit of guidance. Once you know the subject matter of the source text, do some research about it. Are you reviewing a restaurant? Scan the internet for its competitors and have a look at their use of terminology and language style. Will you be writing about a new technology? Identify relevant reference sources online as well as related websites. These are a good starting point in providing excellent translations.


4. Provide Personality

A document that has been translated word for word is never appreciated. Try to give the content some personality and perhaps even a little twist when translating it from one language to another. A skilled translator will translate a text as though it is the final product. Of course, you need the source text as a basis but at one point, you should distance yourself from it in order to give the final piece some character and individuality. Unless requested by the client, translating a document word for word will appear lazy and careless. Give yourself a good reputation by adding some flow and creativity to your text.


5. Be Consistent

Received another project? Have you worked for this client before? It is essential that you are consistent in your translations. Most clients expect consistency in the work produced. They want to protect their brand and avoid confusing the reader. It’s therefore recommended that you stick to the same writing style and use similar terminology and phrases. Use the same tone throughout the text and never ignore the translation memory. This tool helps determine similarities between the new content and any previously translated words and phrases, saving you time and ensuring brand consistency for the client.


6. Give Feedback

Want to be perceived as an efficient and serious translator? Provide feedback! If you find any errors or problems with the source text or if you notice that there are inaccuracies in the translation memory, inform your project manager. If word count or due dates is a concern, let them know. Honesty really is the best policy. You don’t want to rush a job and give yourself a bad reputation. It’s also a great idea to leave notes or comments when delivering the document regarding wording, format or other important linguistic components. Feedback is always appreciated by the project manager and the client as it helps them improve and build quality in the long-run.


7. Proofread

Finished your translation? Brilliant! Now it’s time to proofread your own work. Start by spellchecking and correcting any typos. This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how often this gets forgotten by writers and translators. Once you’ve checked that it’s free of spelling and grammatical errors, read over your document and compare it to the source text to make sure you haven’t forgotten or mistranslated anything. Do not ignore your CAT tool when it detects missing text, untranslated segments, empty space or missing words and numbers. You should also ensure that you haven’t got any repeated phrases. The translation memory tool comes in handy but you need to check that you do not use the same vocabulary or phrase more than once. The final document has to make sense in the target language and read as though it was originally written in that language. Summing up, it should act as a stand-alone document.
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