Multiple-Language Translation: Challenges and Best Practices

Idea TranslationsBest PracticesMultiple-Language Translation: Challenges and Best Practices

The ever-increasing globalization calls for companies to broaden their horizons. Technology tools help us bring down country barriers and reach a potentially larger audience.

However, expansion implies overcoming the hurdle of language diversity. In this context, how do we go about translating our corporate, educational or scientific material?

According to the UN, more than 7000 languages are spoken globally, although there are five languages that are considered as “official” in 145 countries, according to the Ethnologue journal. These languages are English (59 countries), French (29), Arabic (27), Spanish (20) and Portuguese (10). Likewise, some 23 languages are spoken by half of the world population.

The 10 most popular languages are English, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, French, Russian, Portuguese and Urdu. Source: Ethnologue

Many organizations hire freelance translators to translate their content. Others choose to work with holistic translation companies. Why do some organizations choose translation companies over freelancers?

First: Specialization and Professionalism

A translation company providing holistic services has the advantage of focusing only on this task, and can achieve an unparalleled level of specialization and professionalism. Translation companies are constantly training their translators, and the team members for each project are chosen based on strict standards. In addition, not relying on a single person but on a team ensures that deadlines are complied with, regardless of the availability of an individual.

Unlike individual freelancers, translation companies can receive certifications, such as ISO 9001:2015, which ensures that the organization has quality management systems in place, or ISO 17100, which sets specific quality standards for translation services. This last standard establishes minimum requirements for translation projects —such as the qualifications of translators, editors and proofreaders—, resources management and availability, data and confidentiality protection, among other key aspects of the translation process. You can trust that an organization that has achieved these certifications provides a qualified and guaranteed service.

Second: Multidisciplinary Work

Jorge Luis Borges, the popular Argentine writer who worked as a translator of literature and poetry, said:

“From the perspective of a dictionary, languages are just a collection of synonyms, but they are more than that. Bilingual dictionaries, on the other hand, may give the impression that each word in one language can be replaced by another word in the other language. Actually, each language is a way of feeling and perceiving the universe”.

Translating is not simply replacing a word with another word in a different language: it is a complex process that involves analysis, interpretation, writing and correcting, and considering the wider context not explicitly mentioned in the written text. To this end, specialized consultants rely on a multidisciplinary team that covers a wide range of languages, dialects and professional fields. Pursuing the best possible outcome many times means searching for the best specialized translators around the globe.

Translation matters: 40% of consumers state that they would not by a product if they cannot read about it in their native language. Source: Common Sense Advisory

Third: They can Take on Complex Translations

When we talk about highly technical translations, we refer, for example, to scientific papers, economic reports or training manuals. A literal translation is not enough. A holistic translation service has the advantage of working not only with translators, but also with experts in each field to provide an accurate translation. For example: if the content relates to pharmaceuticals, like a dossier or label, the holistic team will include an expert on this field, and other projects may include engineers, software developers — or even an orthopedic surgeon!

The language diversity in science is very limited: 80% of all academic papers indexed in Scopus are in English. Source: Research Trends

Fourth: They Follow Technology Trends

A translation company needs to be on top of new technologies. This is particularly important for e-Learning platforms, and very relevant in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic: during 2020, the biggest challenge faced by learning centers was digitizing their paper materials. There are many alternative platforms available; the main issue is how to create, translate, curate and upload content.

Learning centers need to adapt quickly to this new digital context, working with developers and other experts to plan, develop and implement educational projects in several languages by using effective technology tools, such as Moodle, Articulate 360 and HTML5.

Adapting learning tools to different languages will be key in the coming years. By 2024, the e-Learning market is expected to grow by almost 22,000 million dollars in the US only. Source: Business Wire

Your Brand is Worth it: Holistic Services and Quality Translation

If your company’s goal is to have accurate and effective translations, holistic translation services are the most efficient solution in the long run, much better as opposed to hiring freelance translators. As we have discussed, these organizations have multiple advantages, ranging from international standards certifications to working with multidisciplinary teams. In the end, the goal is to obtain optimal translations that can be leveraged to expand and grow globally, expanding the value of your brand.

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