5 Reasons Why Doing Our Own Translations Can Backfire

For individuals and companies doing international business, few services are as important as the accurate translation of documents, software, contracts, and other business communications and agreements. While the temptation might be great to save costs by performing a translation of a key document in-house, the truth is that there are many problems that can occur when attempts are made to translate a document or coding source without a professional trained in converting one language into another. Here are just five reasons why you should leave translation to the professionals, and why a good translator can make all the difference in creating a successful business partnership.

1. Software Coding Requires Extreme Precision

For many businesses who use software to complete important tasks, translation of software code is often a big step towards assimilating a new program that can revolutionize how a business is done. The downside of software translation, however, is that even the slightest mistakes can undo thousands of lines of code and render most programs useless or nonfunctional. Moreover, because software coding often involves the use of arcane terms and subtle differences in language that can seem nightmarish to non-native speakers, the task of translating software programs is one that should be left to a professional translation service provider.

Fortunately, many certified translation services specialize in bringing company software up to speed with extreme precision and technological knowledge, so companies can rest easy knowing that they’ll have the most efficient software available after a translation is completed. By saving themselves the headache of translating difficult code, businesses will be making the right move by hiring a translator who knows how to make software work perfectly in a new language

2. Ambiguous Language May Not Translate Well

Anyone who has ever been puzzled by the idioms native to any language will know that direct translation of one dialect to another never quite works out as well as we’d hope. Take the English phrase, “My hairs were standing on end.” To a native English speaker, this saying would make perfect sense when used to describe a feeling of fear, but directly translated into most other languages, the phrase would leave listeners or readers completely puzzled.

This is where professional-level translators often make the biggest difference in document translation: By understanding the meaning of even the most ambiguous phrases from another language, certified translation companies such as Letter Crafts can excel at creating clear documents for agencies such as ICA, IRA, MOM, schools, banks and other institutions. With the right translator for the job, even the thorniest language can be rendered into clear and concise prose. And that is translation at its best!

3. Grammar and Word Order are Important for Readers

As is the case with the many idioms native to any language, one of the difficulties that arises in translating documents for businesses is the tendency of different languages to contain different word orderings and grammar rules than listeners are accustomed to. Without experience in understanding these key differences, it can often be difficult for non-professional translators to effectively communicate what has been written in a given document. Fortunately, a good professional translation service provider will often be well-versed in how phrases and sentence construction can be accurately recreated in a new language, meaning that your documents will emerge from the translation process with crystal clear and unambiguous meanings conveyed as the original writers intended.

If you’ve ever looked at the key differences between languages such as English and Malay, for example, you’ve probably noticed that many words exist in both languages that have no parallel in the other dialect, making the translation process extremely difficult for non-professional translators. The ability to render meaning from dissimilar languages can therefore be a huge bonus for international companies, especially when good communication is a central facet to an international business relationship. The last thing a company wants to do when interacting with an important client is to use imprecise or unclear language, in other words, and that is just one reason why the right business translation services Singapore can make all the difference for company communications.

4. Unintentionally Causing Offense

Between any two languages that are significantly different (or even share similar origins, such as French and English), certain phrases that are not handled carefully by translators can cause offense to native speakers. The last thing business leaders want to do is to give offense to clients and business partners, so it is important that capable translators are given the task of clarifying phrases that may be perceived as a slight to another culture. An old story has it that US President Jimmy Carter once told a foreign audience that he had “abandoned America” in order to hold a speech, when he meant to say that he had recently “left America” to visit an allied country. Even a small gaffe such as President Carter’s can be confusing to non-native listeners, so having the right translator is indeed very important!

5. Misunderstandings That Aren’t Caught Early Can Cause Extensive Future Problems

Perhaps one of the greatest reasons why translators are so important in fields such as business is that misunderstandings in business communications will not always be caught right away, meaning that by the time problems arise as the result of a misunderstanding the issue can no longer be fixed. Obvious gaffes in translation can be caught right away, but subtle shades in meaning may be missed by translators who don’t grasp the meaning of phrases that may have different meanings.

For example, a misinterpreted letter stating that a factory is to be “closed” over the holidays may be believed by non-native speakers to mean that the factory is to cease operations and lay off employees, even if the original document meant to convey that the factory would merely close its doors for one day for a celebration. In one instance, the news might trigger company downsizing, while an accurate translation might simply convey good wishes for the holiday season. Without a skilled translator, the ramifications for misinterpreting even the smallest phrases can give the wrong impression to business partners and create confusion and an inability to properly plan out a company’s future.

So if you’re looking into business translation services Singapore, be sure to let the professionals handle your most important documents! At the end of the day, you’ll find that the results of a good translation can strengthen business relationships, ease the process of getting to know new business partners, and give your business a reputation for excellence in international relations. What business could ask for more?

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    Localization vs. Translation – The Differences Between the Two

    The world is becoming interconnected more than it ever was in history. Businesses want to sell outside their traditional boundaries. They also want to entice the world to become consumers of services and products. As they seek their adventures out there, they encounter several problems.

    Top on the list of challenges is two items.

    Companies use translation and localization services to overcome the two problems.

    What are the major differences?


    Translation focuses on the following items:


    Localization focuses on the following items:

    Language vs. culture

    Every global marketer must understand the implication of grammar as is and culture-responsive language. Over 100 countries use the English language. However, the language differs from one region to the other. Pronunciations, spellings, and word use differ.

    Translating text to English will be the easy part. You have to customize the translated text. There will be New Zealanders, Jamaicans, and others interested in the writing. They want the content to respond to specific language nuances that reflect their society. Those cultural and societal codes will be different everywhere despite the language being universal.

    Some common universal languages that translation can help with are English, Portuguese, French, Spanish, and others. With localization, you will see texts responsive to French Canadians, British English, Spanish Argentina, and so on.

    That is not all; you have to respond to specific language contexts that go along with the various dialects. You have to be sensitive while at it. Translating idioms and jokes is quite tricky. Unfortunately, once you embark on global expansion, you have no option.

    Word to word vs. functional content

    People have a problem understanding content when it contains imported metrics. For example, currency, weights, sizes, and such things give people problems with conversions. Even a simple figure such as £1 million will give an American audience challenges.

    People want to feel things in their local languages. Since the person is looking for information, he will look for the simplest and most helpful. If your content is difficult to read, people will pass it on. If you have figures that are not readily digestible, expect the target to look for alternatives.

    If someone is shopping for a garment, he will want to see particular sizes that she is accustomed to in his local area. For example, people are accustomed to sizes and not measurements. Elsewhere, the sizes are different. Others use measurements instead. To make any content easy to understand, you have to localize it.

    Technical vs. emotional content

    There are places where people appreciate black cloths during funerals only. Even in households, those people don’t buy black items because they attach negative connotations to the color. If your company colors have black as the dominant color, how do you get into such a market? Although this is a theoretical case, companies face such kind of dilemmas when going global.

    They have to translate all technical stuff. Compliance with local laws goes beyond translation. You have to localize contracts, privacy policy, terms and conditions, product descriptions, and sometimes even the service and products themselves. Medical reports, technical and scientific material, patents, copyrights, and such content may not need localization.

    Marketing is an emotional endeavor. You have to target all rhetorical appeals to be effective. You have to show empathy, ethics, and authority. When selling to a cross-cultural community, you have to responds to cultural diversity. You can use symbols to overcome any possible backlash.

    Localization will help you identify potential pitfalls with your marketing materials. If there are images that can bring conflict, you may need to substitute them. A good example is an eagle celebration among Albanian-Kosovar crowds. In most parts of the world, you can use it for marketing copies. In Belgrade, Serbia, that will be courting political undertones.

    Complimentary nature of translation and localization

    As noted, translation is always the starting point. A copy can be successful in one part of the world. Though history tells us that the chances of it being successful elsewhere are high, the modalities of the application determine its success. You have to translate the content first. It is only after doing so that you will spot the small details that can hurt your campaign.

    It is at that point that you will look for ways to make sense or convey the intended message. You will have to remove anything controversial. You have to replace it with something that the locals appreciate.

    Keeping a marketing copy that has images of women with exposed legs in any Arabic country will give you serious problems. In such places, they only accept women in hijabs. Localization services Singapore for marketing copies can feature ‘Singlish’—a Singaporean English dialect, instead of mainstream English.

    Typically, a company has to translate its:


    Translation and localization are necessary steps towards your internationalization and globalization efforts. In case you are not convinced about going an extra mile after translation, read the stories behind Honda Fit, HSBC’s ‘Assume Nothing Slogan,’ Chevy Nova, or KFC’s ‘Finger-Lickin’ Good’ slogan.

    For all localization services Singapore, you can contact us at Letter Crafts. We understand the common pitfalls that companies encounter when entering this market.