Why Not Using Professional Translators is a False Economy

Last updated Jan 22, 2024
By Lucy Williams

Companies invest a lot of money and time in marketing. When expanding into foreign markets, they need those marketing texts in other languages. Should you use professional translators for those texts? Is it worth spending more money? Yes! Here’s why not making that investment is false economy.

What it costs you not to use professional translators

There are lots of different options if you’re looking for translation services. But they aren’t all equal. Some services are cheaper than others. Some, like Google Translate, are free. Professional translators aren’t going to offer bargain-basement prices. But they always represent good value for money. You pay for the work that goes into a professional-quality translation. Gwen illustrated this in her post “Human Translation vs Machine Translation“, where she explained the complex stages involved in creating a professional translation. She also showed why human translation represents excellent value for money: it gets results.

The hidden costs of a cheap translation

Google Translate can’t replicate what professional translators can offer you in terms of quality. I’ve written before about Google Translate disasters like the fresh produce festival in Galicia mistranslated as the Clitoris Festival. In “10 Reasons Why You Should Use Professional Translation Services and not Google Translate“, I wrote about the Spanish town of Santander’s tourism website that used Google Translate instead of professional translators. It found itself encouraging tourists to visit the “historic helmet” rather than Santander’s old town. Google isn’t human and so it can’t think or use context. Algorithms will only take you so far. Automated translation can’t do all the different things professional translators do on every translation.

When it comes to translating difficult formats like websites and PDFs, get it right first time by working with a professional translator with the relevant training or experience.

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The cost to your reputation of not using a professional

Google and other cheap or free translations might be cheaper in the first instance. But mistakes have a habit of coming back to bite you on the bum. As the Google Translate bodges I mentioned earlier show, not all publicity is good publicity. A bad translation can damage your reputation. If it’s a technical translation (think engineering or medical) it could even be dangerous. Apart from doing harm, a poor-quality translation can make your brand look unprofessional. If it’s marketing materials, a lacklustre translation might be a damp squib. If it doesn’t move the reader and ultimately sell, you’ve wasted your money.

The added value that professionals offer

If you work with a specialist team of professionals like Gwen and me, you get more than just translation. Professional translators will invariably offer translation and correction. Many, like us, can offer complementary services, like copywriting, editing and SEO translation. This helps make sure your target customers find and read your texts. It helps you generate leads and product sales. Check out our “Translation Quote Guide For Customers” for more information about how to get a translation.

Double quality assurance means double value for money

Professional translators might often be freelancers, but we don’t work in a vacuum. We have trusted colleagues and networks of collaborators and contacts. This means if your translator can’t offer a specific service, they’ll know someone who can. Gwen and I work together to offer a range of services like translation, proofreading and copywriting. Our skills complement each other. We can translate your text and offer professional proofreading too. This double quality assurance doesn’t come with Google Translate or an amateur translator. Don’t be fooled by seemingly free or cheap prices. False economy like Google Translate will ultimately end up costing you more than you thought.

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Written by Lucy Williams

Lucy Williams is a subtitler and a Spanish-English translator for fashion, tourism and luxury goods/services. She holds the CIOL Diploma in Translation and is a native English copywriter specialising in SEO-optimised long-form content. Connect with Lucy on LinkedIn.

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