A few thoughts on language translation

480px-BeijingImagine for a moment how devastating it could be if you were in a country where you did not speak the language, and needed to call a business phone system for help. Perhaps your credit card has been stolen, and you can call the credit card company. Or to book in-country tickets for an event or exhibition. What a relief it would be to hear an introductory option for your native language… only to experience despair when the subsequent “English” was nonsensical. Language translation is a refined skill that facilitates comprehension. 

When foreign language text is translated badly into English and then read “as is” by a native speaker, the result can be unintelligible, certainly confusing, and possibly even aggravating to anyone who has the misfortune to listen to it. Now imagine if this bad translation and mangled language were representing your company over the telephone. Sub-standard translations result in confused and disgruntled customers. What’s more, the chances of caller misdirection as a response to a poorly translated and confusing voice prompt would be not only a possibility but a certainty.

Translating text for the spoken word from any language to another is a skill that can only be done effectively and correctly by an experienced, certified, and professional translator. Although “auto” translation services and websites can be useful for obtaining the approximate meaning of a foreign language phrase, they can never be relied upon to provide accurate meaning for instructions, voice prompts, or informational messages.

Language is not only a means of communication but also a snapshot of culture at any given moment. Words have nuance depending on the context of usage. And at any given point in a culture’s timeline, words can have alternate meanings or slang usage that, when deployed improperly, can change a translated sentence irredeemably. To prevent any translation confusion, at Marketing Messages we not only encourage the use of certified and experienced “native language” translators to our clients, but we also provide this service for all of the languages that we offer.

When our native-speaker Voice Talents find grammatical errors, incorrect sentence construction, spelling errors, etc., the unfortunate result is additional time and possibly expense for language correction and client approval. These costs we try to avoid, but of course, we necessarily have to pass them on to the client. The time to correct the errors can be aggravating……and unnecessary……if your translation is completed professionally. Ask us how we can help you and your clients get it right the first time. 

Deep down inside, you know proper translation is the right thing to do for your phone prompts, your clients, and customers, AND above all out of reverence and respect for the beautiful languages and dialects that allow us to communicate globally.