With very few exceptions, a truly professional translator will only translate into his or her own native language. Although many people around the world now speak English as a second language, use it daily in business, and have even spent time in an English-speaking country, it is important to remember the difference between spoken and written language. Even if someone has a high level of conversational English, his or her writing will be immediately recognized as foreign. The small errors of vocabulary, grammar, and syntax made by a person using English as a second language may not be important in basic email correspondence, but they can be a crucial factor in determining whether or not an article or monograph is accepted for publication by an international professional journal or a product is sold.
A poorly translated website inspires both laughter and a lack of confidence. If you want an English-speaking public to trust your company and buy your products, make sure that your web site is accurate, well written, and informative. A small percentage of a project budget dedicated to professional translation and editing services is a good investment that will guarantee a professional image for you and your company or organization.
I once saw a large, three-column advertisement placed by a major Spanish headhunter in the employment section of a major newspaper that called for a ‘found riser’ (instead of fundraiser) for a prestigious international organization. A brief, economical consultation with a professional translator could have saved this company a lot of embarrassment and the possible loss of a valuable client. If your professional image is on the line, resist the temptation to do a translation yourself if you are not a native English-speaking professional translator. The same goes for entrusting your document to a native speaker or a person who claims to be bilingual; he or she might not have training or experience in translation, editing, or writing. The American Translators Association‘s guide to buying translation services cites a very convincing example: “In 2000, Lina’s, a pricey French sandwich chain, advertised for franchisees abroad with a text concocted by a self-proclaimed bilingual employee. Slogan: ‘Tomorrow we will expect on your dynamism.’ Response: zero.”
Believing that free translation software can provide an accurate and elegant translation of a text destined for publication or your website is an error. Below is a fragment of an original Spanish text on the utility of dance in Special Education followed by two free machine translations into English:
Afortunadamente los prejuicios de género tienen ahora tendencia a desaparecer, y ser profesional de la danza ha cobrado un cierto valor social ya que los estudios de danza comportan una cultura general y específica amplia. Se podría decir que la danza se ha institucionalizado. Así mismo, aún no está admitida como disciplina escolar al mismo nivel que la gimnasia, la plástica o la música.
1) Luckyly the sort prejudices have now tendency to disappear, and to be professional of the dance has acquired a certain social value since the dance studies tolerate ample a general and specific culture. It would be possible to be said that the dance is had institutionalized. Also, not yet it is admitted like scholastic discipline at the same level that gymnastics, plastic or music.
2) Fortunately gender bias now have tendency to disappear and be professional dance has gained some social value as the dance studies involve a wide general and specific. You could say that dance has become institutionalized. Also not yet admitted as school subject at the same level of gymnastics, the plastic or music.
Both translations are obviously unacceptable.
A sample of my translation of this monograph can be found main “Services” page of this site.
A machine will never contact you to clarify the meaning of a phrase or signal a possible error in the original document. Professional translators will never guess the meaning of a term or phrase they don’t understand. They are reliable and active partners in producing accurate, professional, and effective documents.