U.S. corporations, working with printed documents, need the services of a professional translator if, for example, they want their employee manual printed in German, they have reports they want to share with a Japanese subsidiary, or they are launching an advertising campaign in China. For non-linguists, buying translation services are daunting because written words reflect on their international business image. Translators who don’t get the correct business image across, fail to persuade customers, misstate directions, or make numerous spelling or word meaning errors in the targeted language, could literally cost the business hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are many benefits in choosing a translator working in their native language.
Reaching the Audience
A key translation factor involves designing the text specifically, to what and who the text is being produced for. Corporations need to know precisely what is needed. Will the text be for physicians or medical personnel? Is the text aimed for the general public? A native language translator will alter the style, vocabulary, articulation, and sentence length accordingly. The foreign language version should have the same impact and carry the identical message to the specific foreign audience as the original text. Many corporations develop ongoing relationships with their translators as the more understanding translators have of the business values, strategies, and products, the greater their ability to effectively translate them.
Native Language Skills
Professional translators are fluent, proficient writers in their native language. They are able to accurately and efficiently extract the meaning of the original document and communicate that message in the appropriate style and terminology to their native language. To do this, translators examine documents thoroughly and identify ambiguous material that needs clarification. Most native language translators break down sentences completely before generating new ones in the target language. The native language translator will recognize culture-bound clichés that make no sense to a foreign audience. They will pinpoint references to national sports that do not translate internationally. Literary or cultural metaphors that paint a picture for American audiences may not be understood by foreigners. Native language translators also understand subtle nuances of texts that may be inappropriate for certain cultures. They will know that a different culture may view references to the human body differently than Americans. Visuals may not carry the same message in other countries. For corporations wanting to develop a positive and strong international image, native language translators are indispensable. Translators give corporations written command of a foreign language which is a powerful tool for business expansion.
Translation Faux Pas
Powerful corporations have experienced significant financial loss by not investing in a native language translator. One example is when Pepsico launched a huge campaign in China using the slogan “Come alive with Pepsi.” A native translator would have known that in China, the slogan translated as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead.” Fiat launched their Italian car, the Pinto in Argentina. The word pinto is local slang in Argentina for penis. The Kenneth Cole Company committed a huge faux pas when they tried to use humor in selling their new spring collection. Their tweeted message began, “millions are in uproar in #Cairo.” The message succeeded in offending millions of people who were involved in the devastating political turmoil that was happening at that time in Egypt.
Corporations should enlist the services of a language-sensitive native translator to oversee all aspects of producing a foreign document. Last minute additions such as titles or word changes can sabotage an effective document. Businesses need to speak the readers’ language to get their message across; native language translators allow them to do that.