Often at events, I chat with business contacts about their organisation's translation needs. Some say they outsource to agencies and others say they have in-house staff who speak languages, so they assign the translation work to them.
In this article, I’m describing why your in-house Greek speakers should not be acting as translators.
1.Speaking a language does not make your staff translators
Equating the one with the other is like saying that anyone with fingers is a pianist. We all know that’s not true. Language is a tool. Translation is a profession. Translators don’t speak languages. Translators transfer written ideas, values, concepts and meaning from one language to another. Speaking a language means staying within the boundaries and limitations of that language. Being a translator means having developed the skills, knowledge, expertise and strategies required to transfer meaning successfully across those boundaries.
2. Native speakers of a language often do not know well-enough their own language
How many times have you read something written by a native speaker and it didn’t make sense? This happens because in most cases, we learn our native language with little or no effort at all. We do so very organically, without studying the grammar, syntax or structure of our first language. Being a native speaker does not mean being able to write clearly, grammatically and syntactically all of which are prerequisites for a good translation.
3. Not qualified for the job
Translators are trained for the job. There are courses, diplomas, and university degrees during which translators learn about tools, technologies, strategies, methodologies, and resources which they then apply to their daily practice. It is these skills that when combined with excellent linguistic expertise make someone a great translator.
Think about it. How long does it take your in-house staff to translate something? Is this part of their role or was it conveniently added to their never-ending to-do-list? And when they devote time to translating, what do they have to stop doing in order to pick up the translation task? Do they stop selling to customers? Do they stop answering customer queries? For someone who doesn’t have the right tools, knowledge and experience, translation can be a laborious task that distracts them from their KPIs affecting your organisation’s performance and strategy.
5. The domino effect
It is very common that when someone within your organisation performs a translation task, the translation is then revised by someone else and it is then signed off by someone senior. What happens when a senior employee doesn’t like the translation? You end up using resources on several levels on something that’s neither their job, nor their priority. This can cause unnecessary frustrations and friction within your team. Even worse, it can delay new product and press releases, new marketing launches etc.
Do you need more reasons?
What is stopping you from assigning the job to a professional translator?
Most organisations will say “cost”. But are translators that expensive? Let’s take for example a 200-words marketing email. Translators might charge anything from £0.05 per word (£10) to £0.20 per word (£40). Keep in mind that £0.05 is rather low, so be careful.
Then there are minimum charges. These can span from £30 to £50 or £70 for the first 250 words. Another translator might offer you a more comprehensive solution that includes translation, proofreading, and testing. These figures provide a rough idea of costs.
Now keep a record of time spent in-house for translating a piece of similar volume and compare the costs. This comparison will help you draw the pros and cons between hiring and not hiring a professional Greek translator.
I’m sure that once you have completed your comparison, you’ll be able to see that hiring a professional translator is not that expensive, especially when you take into account the savings you make in overheads (short-term gains) and the fact that your employees remain focused on their job and KPIs (long-term gains).
However, the value of a professional translator is not limited to cost efficiency. The true value is the increase in quality and long-term gains.
Translators often use technologies that help them work faster by recycling previous relevant content. This means that the more work you allocate to the same translator, the more productive they become.
It also means that overtime, your translator will develop a house style with you, terminology databases, translation memories and glossaries; all of which lift the quality of your content and generate consistent outputs.
Translators love details. This means that while reading your source material, they'll be able to identify and suggest improvements. They will often go above and beyond their role because they love languages and want you and your business to thrive.
Vasiliki is a translator, interpreter, transcreator, blogger, consultant and founder of Greek to Me Translations, a company that helps businesses communicate their brand and products to their customers, grow their market reach and form new partnerships. She works with English and Greek and specialises in legal, marketing, and psychometrics. She is a member of CIoL, ITI and PEM and she is registered with the Greek Embassy. Her mission is to help you achieve your goals through the power of words. You can follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and you can read her blog.