Why You Should Hire a Professional Translator (and proofreader)
“Find the best writers, pay them to write, and avoid typos at all costs.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
In the quote above, Hemingway perfectly sums up the following article. Let me offer you some reasoning behind the encouragement to open your wallet wider to hire a good translator.
Whether it is your startup’s website or an advertisement campaign for a bigger company, you might have invested significant amounts of money in it. You start expanding to other countries, the language of which you do not speak yourself (besides that 4-month language course in France). It might be tempting to cut costs by DIY (doing the translation yourself). However, I wanted to break down why you should hire a professional translator.
Impacts on reputability
Typing errors (aka “typos”) and grammatical mistakes often appear in felonious emails. A common fraud type involving this is “Phishing emails”, as reported by Scamwatch by Australian Competition & Consumer Commission:
The email or text message does not address you by your proper name, and may contain typing errors and grammatical mistakes.
Interacting with the replies from all the 100,000 recipients of the phishing email would be lots of unnecessary work. The masters of fraud therefore invented a way to filter only the crème de la crème of potential victims, summed up well by Cormac Herley, commenting on a book named “Think Like a Freak”:
Anybody who doesn’t fall off their chair laughing is exactly who they want to talk to.
You would not wish that for your own product. Proofreading the content should be outsourced to the experts and not be done by yourself, even if you master your own language. However, it is possible to do it yourself, unlike translating the content into another language. While the machine translations are getting better, for languages as illogical as the human brain itself (like Finnish), you need a real human to do the job.
Not only typing mistakes and grammatical errors show the lack of professionality/interest in the product, in foreign countries it can make the locals lose interest in it. Traslating content in to the local language can make the people feel closer to your brand, whereas having grammatical errors in it can signal lack of interest and care.
Finding a good translator
Much like comparing any deals, there are those that seem way overpriced with unnecessary niches and those that are just too good to be true. More often than not, in the latter case, the warning signs are to be concerned about.
The most popular online freelancer service Fiverr hosts all kinds of offers on translation among other services — for example translation of 1500 words from English to Spanish in two days, only for $5. That is $0.003 per word, whereas the average rate is around $0.10 — $0.20. After Fiverr’s commission and Paypal fees, what’s left for the translator is $3.58, lowering the PPW (price per word) to $0.0023. Either these people are from countries with low cost of living or they are not actually doing the translations manually.
I see people with thousands of orders on “gigs” like these on Fiverr and an increasingly high amount of content with grammatical mistakes. “How do they get away with this?” you might ask and the answer to that question is another question: “How could I know?”. You hired the translator in the first place, because you do not speak the language (well enough) yourself, so how can you verify the quality of something you are not an expert in? You could hire a proofreader (from Fiverr, using MS Word’s built-in grammar checker), but that would add up to the costs that you were already trying to cut. It is like going to a hospital for a complication — you just have to trust them to do a good job, because even if they did a bad job, how could you know?
Here are a few tips to help you look for a trustworthy translator and proofreader:
- Use common sense. If the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is not.
- Avoid Fiverr. No professional translator would work through a platform taking 25% off their salary and no one looking for services on the site would be willing to pay that 25% more for the translator to make up for this. If you want to take a small risk and support freelancers, UpWork is a much better place to find trustworthy ones. Again, usage of common sense is advised.
- Verify. If the job is done and you have doubts about the quality, find a qualified person to proofread it for you. Preventing the possible losses from the grammatical mistakes is worth that little extra money.
- Bonus tip: Once you find a good translator, communicate with them about your preferences and stick to them for future projects. Language is a powerfull tool, if used right. Expressions and their meanings can vary by cultures and the translator knows how to handle them.