For a long time, many companies have no longer just been focusing their range of services and desired collaborations on domestic customers and partners. Increasingly other European and overseas countries are playing a key role in domestic companies’ business development activities. And the companies that are recognising the opportunities for selling their products abroad are not so much large companies, but SMEs in particular. And the reason for this is often obvious – a good product will frequently sell just as well abroad. Broadening distribution beyond the domestic market can increase revenues and, therefore, frequently profits, provided good plans have been put in place.
But what are the hurdles to internationalisation? The largest and most important hurdle is often the language itself. Many companies find it very difficult to become active in a foreign market because, firstly, for some time now English is no longer the language you need to use to achieve success worldwide and, secondly, not all employees speak the required language and, therefore, are only able to translate texts using a dictionary. When you are dealing with complex texts, this usually leads to glaring errors in the translated text.
The team from the Typetime Translations agency in Hamburg explain why professional translations are becoming increasingly important…
Multilingualism in companies
Companies do not just rely on collaborating with foreign partners and distributing their products and services abroad; they are increasingly employing people from different countries with a wide range of native languages. Using English within a company is often a way to provide a language that everyone can speak. Companies usually find a workable solution to deal with any language barriers, but you need a whole range of different languages when, for example, collaborating with foreign customers, suppliers and business partners. This is the issue that many companies shy away from, maybe because not every employee involved in the process has sufficient mastery of the required language to enable them to also produce technically accurate translations or, for example, negotiate on equal terms with a business partner.
Problems will quickly arise if such items as instruction manuals, medical reports, legally compliant texts or scientific descriptions are required in another language. The individual words can certainly be found in a good dictionary, but there is always the risk with a word-for-word translation that the wrong expressions have been used, giving a completely different meaning in the target language. There will be problems if an erroneous translation leads to operating errors which result in damage to property or even physical injury to the operator. In this case the manufacturer can be made liable for this damage or injury.
Calling for professional translators
Professional translators help to give a high level of linguistic accuracy to texts of all kinds and with a wide variety of content. They ensure that the specialist terminology used matches the words that are actually required and that a text is correct in terms of content. The translator should be a native speaker who is also well versed in the finer points of the relevant language. Sometimes it can make sense to commission a specialist translator. These are often people who have changed careers to become translators. They have themselves studied subjects such as medicine, law, physics or engineering and are very familiar with the required terminology.
What is important is that if there are errors in the translation, the translator is now liable rather than the company. When selecting a translation agency, it is therefore absolutely critical to ensure that you are dealing with a professional service provider who has professional liability insurance. Of course, company employees who have the capability can undertake simple translations themselves. And in future it can be assumed that there will be a real assortment of languages in the company which will provide a very useful supplement to technical and linguistic knowledge. However, there will continue to be requirements that can only be met by professional translators. In a global market, professional translation agencies offering a wide range of languages and qualified translators will become increasingly important, particularly in the corporate market.