//Subject Matter Expertise in Translation

I get asked many questions in regards to who our translators are. Some are great questions and some are not. However, there is one question that isn’t asked enough, and that’s not only to just me but to LSP’s across the industry. Without this question being addressed your translation might as well end up in the garage.

Yes, our translators are in-country and native in the language they are translating into. Yes, they are college educated, and yes they are ATA certified. “Great so that means they have the ability to translate for our needs then?” No.

I speak perfect English; does that mean I can write about how a Milk Machine operates? No.  It is most important to ask what the translator’s background is, their Subject Matter Expertise. It is of the upmost importance that the translators not only know key terms and vocabulary in both languages, but have a perfect working understanding of the industry’s flow, style and concepts. Without this you are in for a very poor translation.

I have a perfect example of this situation which occurred with a marketing firm. The translator they used had no working knowledge of the Underwater Cables industry. So when they had their translation printed and distributed without an internal reviewer, they were in for a devastating surprise. All of the phrases that included “sub-marine” meaning under the sea, were translated as “submarine” as in the underwater vessel. This included sub-marine cables, sub-marine mapping and best of all the Vice President and Director of Sub-Marine Business. As you can imagine the embarrassment of not only the person in charge of setting up the translation but for the C- Level management were surprised to learn that they were in charge of a Submarine Vessel Business!

This situation could have been easily avoided. It is imperative you have a dedicated and trusted LSP that knows the critical steps and processes to manage your translation.  Many times clients are focused on cost savings, but they actually cost their organization more money in the end.  Instead of using lower cost vendors, freelancers, or worst of all internal employees who say they are bi-lingual, seek out Subject Matter Experts for the best results.