"It's one thing to have a language access mandate and even a language access policy; it's another thing to put these mandates and policies into place.” - Language Access Coordinator for a Large U.S. City
Working with your bilingual staff
How tempting is it to have your own in-house employees translate your documents? Your budget is already squeezed and they seem like a fantastic resource; they’re already there and they even know the territory. But, a there are several cautions to doing so.
Being bilingual doesn’t mean your employees are translators. Translation is a profession. Professional translators are well trained with a minimum of five years’ full time experience. Plus, they work in teams, translating, editing and proofreading every word, providing those extra sets of eyes to ensure translation service accuracy.
Think for a moment about Hispanic people in the United States. How many countries do they come from, each with their own local Spanish dialect? Yet each person is pretty confident in their command of the language.
Professional translation services use what is called Latin American Spanish; specifically designed to be acceptable across the widest number of Spanish dialects in the United States. The translated text will be easily understood by that specific community. A professional translation provider can also support your translation team by building multilingual glossaries and style guides to make sure your translations meet your requirements and your constituents’ needs.
And then there are the documents themselves in all their varied formats. Formatting your new creations can often be tricky. There is text expansion (more words), all kinds of punctuation and grammatical rules, applications that work completely differently in their non-English versions, and the list goes on. This is where real complications can occur. Whether you call this formatting, layout, or desktop publishing (DTP) it is very different to manage than English documents. A mature translation services DTP team has experience and capability that will help you avoid problems and errors.
Finally, when you are using staff to translate, it can take much longer to do the work and the results may or may not be accurate and complete. Is this really the best use of time? Doesn’t your staff have better things to do? If there is a mistake, who pays, especially if it lands in court? It just makes sense to use a professional translation service.
- Supplying source/editable documents will save time and money. Your supplier can recreate any document but it will add to the cost.
- Don’t stress about criticism; it can happen and there is a process to respond. The reviewer may be right; but often actually not. Remember that the best translation jobs already had three translators on the job; three pairs of eyes plus the desktop publishing team. Your vendor should acknowledge and value others’ input and have a process to evaluate and respond.
- Talk to your project manager and account manager. Ask for help finding solutions. An experienced team creates solutions and customized workflows. Good communications create good multilingual communications.
- Chinese: Simplified or Traditional. You may think about spoken dialects such as Mandarin and Cantonese. For written communications it’s about the character set. Simplified is used for more recent immigrants from Mainland China. Given your local population you may need to use both forms, much as you would consider the spoken dialect.
- English is just another language. Think this way. It makes your non-English communications part of your overall delivery.
This is Part Two of a two part series. Part One appeared last week.
Ask us how LanguageLine Solutions can work with your teams to provide fast and accurate translation and localization projects on time and on budget. Download our free Translation and Localization guide.