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You should not rely on your bilingual friend or even your bilingual employee to translate your content. In the same way, you wouldn’t have an English Master’s Degree student write your content for you in the first place.

On the surface, they might seem qualified. Your bilingual friend can speak German fluently, for example. Or your employee lived in Germany for three years and is adept enough to carry on a conversation and navigate the foreign country.

Just as the Master’s Degree student is educated and skilled in writing and grammar.

But none are fluent in your content.

Whether you are trying to write an app, website or software, you need people who are experienced in the specific field of your content and your foreign market.

Professional Translators are Trained

An obvious statement, yes. An even more important distinction? Of course. What your employee or bilingual friend will be missing is training in:

  • Cultural idioms
  • Regional design trends
  • Technical writing layouts
  • Knowledge of the latest technology and processes in the industry
  • Colors and references that will be appropriate for your foreign audience

Most professional translation services do more than just rewrite the text. They work with design, layout, and context to make sure your meaning translates properly, not just the words.

Localization and Regional Influences

As in the United States, each country has different regions of the nation with their own identities, idioms, and slang. While we all speak English from the same dictionary and set of grammar rules, different areas of the country have developed their own meanings and usage for some of these words.
Photo with regional slang terms
Using “Y’all” in the South would make sense for that audience but using it in content targeted for those living in South Dakota would not.

The same goes for other countries, and your bilingual friend might come from one part of the country where slang terms and common phrases are different than where your target audience is.

Using a professional translation service means you also get a professional localization. Localization is the process of adapting your content, phrases and slang terms to match those of the foreign region or city you are trying to target.

A Different Set of Standards

When hiring someone for translation services there should be accountability on many levels. There should be a clear process and documented steps that ensure accuracy, efficiency, and consistency.

A bilingual employee or friend has probably never done any sort of translation for business or professional purposes before. This means they have no process and can’t be held accountable since there’s no standard or system to judge them against. They have another job they need to worry about, which might not get done if they’re worried about translations.
Photo of a checklist for a translation process
There also can be no review process if there is only one person involved in the translation. When you created the original content, it is safe to assume you had at least one other person read over the content for grammatical errors, basic flow, and understanding.

Unfortunately, when you use one person to do your translation there is only one person who can review the work — the person who wrote it! You would never submit a business proposal without having it reviewed by another person and your translations should be treated the same way.

When you pay for professional translation services, you have a team of people working on your content. This team includes an extra team member to review the final translation for errors, both grammatical and contextual.

So even if translating with an employee or friend may seem inexpensive, you will never keep any of those translations or be able to reuse them. In the long run, it may end up costing you more in wasted time and resources.

All the work that goes into creating original content should not be “lost in translation.” These mistakes and oversights can be avoided when partnering with a proper translation service company. Contact us today to learn more about why you shouldn’t rely on your bilingual or even multilingual friend.

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