Business Translation Center

Three reasons why it's a mistake to ask bilingual staff to provide your business translation service

by OFER TIROSH 02/08/2017

When you run a busy company and need something translated fast, it may seem difficult to find the time to locate a professional translation service. However, seeking out bilingual staff members to undertake your business translation may not be the wisest course of action. Here are three reasons why doing so could be a mistake. 

Bilingualism doesn’t equal translation ability

More than 50% of the world’s population is bilingual. However, the ability to speak two languages doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with excellent grammatical skills. Almost everyone in England can speak English, but it doesn’t mean they can write it with the finesse required for professional business communications. The same is true of those who speak other languages. 

Providing a translation service is about more than just linguistic talent, particularly when it comes to business translation. Every piece of information that your company shares with the outside world speaks to your business’ level of attention to detail. If your business communications in other languages are poorly punctuated and include sloppy grammar, what does that say about your company’s overall standards?

Staff members are not localization experts

One important element of business translation is ensuring that the messages you wish to convey are delivered in an appropriate manner. This means that literal translation of the words you’ve written is not enough. Idioms and certain phrases (blue sky thinking, for example) don’t translate literally, so require the translator to be familiar with locally used idioms in the target language. 

Localization is also important here. Is your innovative product name the same as a brand of cat litter or cough medicine in your target country? Does it mean something rude or funny (or both)? Even huge companies get caught out by details such as this, which is why using a professional localization company is so important. Your staff members may well speak two languages, but that doesn’t mean they’re in a position to provide you with appropriately localized copy. 

Translation is a distraction

Finally, it’s important to remember that your staff are employed to do certain jobs and that those roles should already be keeping them plenty busy (if not, it could be time to review your company’s efficiency!). Taking a staff member away from his or her day job in order to focus on a translation project can disrupt the usual operational flow of the company. This can be stressful for the staff member in question and for the team around them, who inevitably have to pick up the slack while the bilingual staff member is distracted. 

The nature of the translation can also be an issue here. Asking a team member to translate confidential information about a new venture, which could impact the company in various ways, can put that individual in an awkward position. If you don’t want information being shared at the water cooler, it might be best to seek out a professional translation agency that would be happy to sign a non-disclosure agreement. 

Of course, using a translation service will cost more than leaning on a bilingual member of staff for assistance. However, if something is worth doing, it’s usually worth doing well. That’s why professional translation agencies are on hand to help. 

For more information, contact the Tomedes team