Tag Archives: Google translate

Translation guide for businesses

 

Clients are often asking us what the translation process involves, particularly if it is the first time they have had to work with other languages. The answer to this question can vary from client to client and is very much dependent on how you intend to use the results.

 

Some clients see translation as a low-cost means of increasing sales. With the advent of tools such as Google Translate, this notion of a straightforward push-button solution seems to be increasingly prevalent.

 

Naturally, it is in our interest to underline the limitations of free tools like these and to recommend the use of professional translation services instead. The truth is that these free tools can perform well, but only if you correctly set your expectations in terms of what you hope they will achieve.

 

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Equally, a high-level, professional-quality translation may be far beyond the scope of your requirements and may therefore represent an overly expensive option with very little ROI.

What are your exact requirements?

So, you have decided you want to make your products or services available in overseas markets. If you can reach a wider audience, you can reasonably expect to increase your sales. So, what should you do? Well, you first need to identify precisely what it is you want to achieve by having your product or service translated.

Many companies go for the bottom line first, i.e. the cheapest quote wins. This approach will ensure a cheap translation, often with a quick turnaround, and the vast majority of translation companies will handle this with varying degrees of success. You might get lucky and end up with an accurate translation, or the final product might only give you a rough idea of the source content.

 

However, it may be worth considering an alternative. Think about how long it took you to prepare your product for your ‘home’ market. If you spent hundreds of pounds, and months preparing the source copy, and a few weeks adjusting the design and layout, why would expect your translation to be delivered in a week for the lowest possible cost?

More to translation than meets the eye

Translation is not merely a case of exchanging English words for their foreign counterparts or vice versa; in fact, there are many factors at play, including context, cultural understanding, language structure and, in some cases, specialist terminology.

 

Unless you define your precise requirements right from the outset, you may find you are unhappy with the end result, and may even miss out altogether on the potential customers you were trying to gain. Be sure to structure your ‘translation brief’ with clear and precise instructions, and outline your expectations in detail.

 

If you would like more information about our professional business translation services click here to learn more or email hello@surreytranslation.co.uk to get in touch with us.

 

Written by Jayne Martin

 

Machine translation = Google Translate?

 

In a previous blog post, we had a look at the dangers of using Google Translate for your documentation, and you don’t need to look very far to see examples of why this isn’t necessarily a great idea. However, the field of machine translation is much wider than this, and that is what we’ll be looking at in this article.

 

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When we say ‘machine translation’, Google Translate is often the first thing that comes to mind. However, just like any commercial service, machine translation is no one-size-fits-all product. Its sophistication varies, and there are even translation companies out there with such faith in their MT engines that they will charge for the texts that their machines churn out.

 

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The reason for this difference is that MT engines can ‘learn’ to specialise. While Google Translate has learned from a broad range of texts, an MT engine can be fed content produced in a specific field or even by a specific company, meaning it learns better which terms are used in which contexts. It can also learn to improve its work by being sent human corrections of its translations. However, millions of words in the specialist field and hundreds of thousands of words of corrections are necessary to make a noticeable difference in quality.

 

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Another way of improving the content produced via MT is to have it reviewed by a human translator. This process is called ‘post editing’. The human translator will focus on making sure that the MT is understandable, terminologically sound and accurate; for example, MT sometimes misses crucial words, such as ‘not’.

This post editing service does have its place. Imagine, that you’ve just received hundreds of pages of documents for a big tender with a foreign government agency. You need it quickly, you want it as low-cost as possible, and really you just need to know what it says. This is where an MT and post-editing service comes into its own. You sacrifice quality and style; but if all you want is to understand the technical details of the tender, it’s a great fit.

 

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How much cheaper is it?

Well, that depends on the quality of output. A specialised and carefully trained engine translating a well-written French text will need much less post editing than an untrained or ‘baseline’ engine translating from a Japanese text containing typos. Most translation companies prefer to look at the MT and provide a flat fee or per-word quote. Sometimes companies will estimate the number of hours needed for the work. If the output is good and your requirements are unexacting, you may be able to get the post-editing for as little as half the price of a full professional translation.

However, even with post-editing, today’s machine translation is still far below the quality you can expect from a professional translator. For many texts, especially material that customers will read, a professional, human translator will always be the gold standard. There’s a big difference between language you can understand and language that is also engaging, precise and persuasive.

If you would like advice on whether MT and post-editing might be a suitable service for you, we’ll be happy to put our experience at your disposal. Please email us today at hello@surreytranslation.co.uk or give us a call on +44 (0) 1252 733 999. We look forward to hearing from you!

Busted: 6 common misconceptions about finding a translation agency

 

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Finding a translation agency that can help you to take your business global can seem overwhelming: where in the world are people going to be reading my documents? What languages do they speak? How can I know that my message is being conveyed accurately? Will the translator be able to post me my documents in time? What time is it there? What time is it here?!

 

 

 

Whoah there! Step away from the search engine. It doesn’t have to be difficult to find a translation partner – it’s actually quite simple! The perceived difficulties come as a result of a few common misconceptions. Today, we’d like to debunk a few that we sometimes hear from first-time translation buyers here at STB:

 

 

 

1. I should work with a translation agency based in the same geographical location as my company

 

 

 

Once upon a time, this would have been the case, but thanks to email and the internet, this is simply no longer a prerequisite. Nowadays, you can focus on finding a partner who fits your requirements best, no matter where in the world they live.

 

 

 

At Surrey Translation Bureau, our team of project managers are just an email or phone call away, ready and raring to take care of your translation project. They are well-equipped to do this, with a Masters degree in translation and many years’ experience in managing a whole range of translation projects.

 

 

 

Email and phone calls are a fantastic way to communicate, but we love meeting our clients in person too, and are always keen to do so and to learn more about what they do! We’re only an hour away from London by train, and we regularly attend trade fairs, conferences and business events across the UK, Europe and sometimes even further afield. We would be delighted to arrange a meeting and put a face to a name!

 

 

 

2. I need to translate documents into Chinese. I have to use a translation agency in China, right?

 

 

 

Not necessarily! You don’t need to work with a translation agency in the country where they speak the language you are looking to translate. In fact, it’s best to just find a partner who you can communicate well with, and let them do the heavy lifting when it comes to communicating your project to the translators. That partner might be in the country of your target audience, but they could just as easily be in your country – or neither!

 

 

 

Here at STB, we have an extensive, carefully developed database of translators across the globe. We cater for almost every language combination and specialisation, from aerodynamics through to zoology, and pretty much everything in between.

 

 

 

Many of our freelance translators live in the country where the language they translate is spoken. This means you benefit from excellent communication and customer service, while our expert, native translators handle your translations. The perfect combination!

 

 

 

3. I’m not sure I could work with a translation agency based in a different time zone

 

 

 

You can! Time zones can be confusing, but you don’t need a wall covered in clocks like a newsroom from the 80’s. As a UK-based translation agency, we run on GMT, and as such overlap with most time zones. Essentially, this means that in a working day, we can communicate with clients and translators based in other parts of the world with different time zones.

 

 

 

This time zone map shows just how well placed the UK is for communication across the globe. Our working day shares hours with both China and the West coast of the USA. As you move further away from the Meridian Line, this overlap moves too, making quick communication trickier.

 

 

 

4. I will have to send hard copies of the document I want to translate and receive hard copies of the translation back. That’s going to take days!

 

 

 

Only rarely; the vast majority of the projects we handle are digital documents, such as Microsoft Word or InDesign files. In an instant, we can download the files via email to give a quote. Once completed, it only takes another instant to deliver them back to you. A far cry from the days of pen, paper and post!

 

 

 

Of course, when clients need hard copies of documents, we can arrange for couriers to take your files wherever they need to go.

 

 

 

5. My project is important. I should send it to a big translation company.

 

 

 

Not necessarily. A smaller translation company might be a better fit for you than a huge corporation. Large translation companies have a lot of resources such as sites and employees. However, they can’t always guarantee that you’ll get the personal attention and detail that smaller, boutique agencies can offer. You might find that the guidance and expertise offered to you by a smaller agency is exactly what you need.

 

 

 

6. Can’t I just use an online translation app?

 

 

 

At your own risk! While handy for getting the gist of a sentence, machine translation still falls a long way short of professional translation. Your customers will instantly be able to tell the difference between a text handled by a professional, highly-trained native speaker and the garbled, automated output of a computer. Just search for “Google Translate fails” to find the millions of funny –  and sometimes very expensive –mistakes made by other companies. That’s not a list you want to be on!

 

 

 

So, finding a translation partner isn’t as difficult as all that after all! Have a read of our guide for first-time translation buyers if you’d like to learn more about ordering your first translation project, or get in touch with STB to talk through it with one of our team.

 

 

 

No matter where you are based, contact hello@surreytranslation.co.uk or call 01252730014 to see if we could be your go-to translation partner.