Oct 1, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Every day all over the world, language professionals bring people together by bridging the communication gap. Their jobs are so important, in fact, that the United Nations recently adopted a resolution aimed at celebrating their role in “fostering peace, understanding and development.” Enter September 30th’s International Translation Day. In honor of yesterday’s observation, here’s a closer look at five things every business person should know about translation in 2018.

1. The language barrier is a huge problem in business.

In our increasingly globalized world, the boundaries between countries continue to blur. Critical to this endeavor is translation.

But what happens if you do not have people with vital language skills as part of your team? Misinterpretations and misunderstandings that can lead to serious implications, including the potential of a total breakdown of communications. This can occur both with clients and coworkers, as well as between international businesses and multinational organizations. It can also be a major impediment to knowledge sharing.

The good news is translators can make sure the right information is delivered in the right way.

2. If you want to grow your business, translation may be the key.

“Imagine having your company’s press release read worldwide, or doing business with prestigious overseas clients. Your small business may not be there yet, but thanks to an increasingly global economy, those dreams are becoming a reality for many companies,” explains Business News Daily.

Whether you are looking to facilitate a new overseas partnership or reach more global consumers, translation is essential.

3. Translation failures can come at a significant cost.

Certainly, inadequate or absent translation services can cost your business money in the form of lost business. But the repercussions don’t end there. Digitalist Magazine suggests, “The costs of translation failures are often more than just financial. Miscommunication can lead to loss of reputation, legal exposure, physical harm, or even industrial disasters. For this reason, clear, accurate and effective communication – between cultures, languages, disciplines, and industries – is an increasing priority.”

The impact on a brand cannot be overstated. Nor can the fact that shoddy translation can be as detrimental as no translation at all. Ian Henderson, chief technology officer and chairman of global language service provider Rubric, tells Business News Daily, “Poor quality negatively impacts your branding. If you’re an overseas hotel and [a native speaker] reads your description online, he or she may seriously question your reputation based on a bad translation.”

4. Finding the right translator can be a challenge.

We’ve already established that poor translation services can be a serious problem in the business world. So it is hardly a surprise that translators are in great demand. In fact, the job outlook for translators is growing at a rate of 18 percent -- “much faster than average,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But the challenges do not just end there. In addition to having the language skills you are looking for, the best translators will also have an understanding of what your business is about, the message you want to convey, and who your audience is. In some cases, this may mandate specialized business knowledge in a field like economics, marketing, or scientific research.

In any situation, hiring a professional translator with ample training and/or experience is imperative.

5. Translation is only part of providing a native brand experience.

Translation on its own is not enough to facilitate a true native brand experience. Also critical is localization.

Explains Smartling, “Localization and translation are not the same thing, and understanding this difference is very important to a successful global B2B marketing campaign. Although business translation is a major component of making foreign companies comfortable with your brand, localizing goes beyond just language. Understanding the behaviors, values, and nuances of a particular culture and adapting your marketing efforts to those ideals is all part of this process. In order to meet these cultural demands, your website and its content need to be transcreated. Even images, color selections, and payment options can make a tremendous difference to how international clients perceive your products.”

Now that you know how crucial translators are and will continue to be moving forward in business, you may be thinking of acquiring some translation skills of your own. Learn more about translation studies here.







Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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