This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
If you go shopping in a market you’ll find lots of bargains, low cost clothes, bags and shoes. If you’re paying only a few pounds for a shirt or a pair of shoes, you don’t expect to get designer quality. But when you put on a shirt that’s poorly made and cheap material it doesn’t make you feel good.
It may be relegated to use only for working on jobs where your clothes may get damaged (painting the lounge?) or dirty (cleaning the car?). You wouldn’t dream of wearing it to a business meeting because you’d be conscious that other people in the meeting would notice the poor quality and fit and make judgments about you.
Cheap clothes can equate with a cheap and cheerful approach to business. Even if your business colleagues don’t consciously judge you, something in their subconscious will register and your reputation will be affected.
If you invest in a really good suit and a well-fitted shirt in good material the effect will be completely different. Your clothes say classy and professional.
So why should your website and your marketing material be any different?
A global impression
Localisation of your website is one of your very first steps when you go international with your business. Yes, English may be the language of business, but if potential customers who are based in Germany, for example, have to struggle to read the English, the chances of them choosing to buy from you are less.
Yes, there are many options for translating your website that fall into three main categories:
- Automated tools
- Low cost translators
- Professional colloquial translation services.
If you’ve just received a letter in a foreign language automated tools are a great way to get a rough overview of what it’s about. However, although these tools are evolving, they still aren’t great at dealing with phrases in common usage in one country that don’t translate directly into another language.
Let’s look at an example:
In English ‘Pull your socks up’ translates into French as ‘Tirez vos chaussettes‘, which doesn’t convey the real meaning, it’s just a literal translation and would completely confuse the reader who was instructed to pull up their socks instead of being encouraged to do better.
Maybe a low-cost translator would provide a better solution. That depends on whether the translator is familiar with idioms in both the origin language AND the target language.
For instance, in an airline magazine, we spotted translation of ‘immerse yourself in blue waters’ as ‘lose yourself in blue waters’ and, ‘if you want to try something different you can go paragliding’ became ‘if you want to try something new, you can go hang-gliding from the cliffs’. Not only are paragliding and hang-gliding two different sports, but this was an example of a family holiday – not guaranteed to put most parents’ minds at ease!
It’s easy to end up as one of those jokey emails featuring strange translations – for example:
For your convenience an elevator is located in China (hotel guest information)
A sports jacket may be worn to dinner, but not trousers (Paris Hotel)
Go away! (Barcelona travel agent)
This is almost always the result of a non-native speaker of the target language carrying out a translation.
This is why it really is worth investing in a professional translation service. The translators are fluent in the origin language – and native speakers of the target language. This means that they can convert the idioms of one language into an equivalent that makes good sense to the native language reader.
And your reputation as a provider of top class products or services is established!
Find out more – call us on +44 1245 216930.