A professional translator vs. “my cousin”

Why go to a professional translator? Or, more to the point, why go to a professional translator when you’ve got machine translation, that cousin of yours who lives abroad or an employee who speaks one language or another?

It’s not that you’d mind having family members on the clock, or even employees cramming English or Mandarin lessons into their schedules so they can get a language qualification to bolster their CV or cultural awareness. These days, staff with the skills to communicate in other languages is an invaluable asset and a significant competitive advantage for a company.

Nonetheless, there are times when even those who speak and write fluently – even flawlessly – in a language other than their own don’t have all the tools or experience required to precisely and effectively translate a message without the risk of altering the original meaning or tone.

Skilled as they may be, relying on friends or members of staff for your translations, who are more accustomed to other tasks, may initially seem to be the most financially beneficial option, but can quickly turn into a disaster from many different angles.

An imprecisely translated contract could lose you money or even land you in legal difficulties. A translation lacking the nuances of the original text may end up being taken completely the wrong way and offensive to your business partners. If the paperwork you’ve drawn up for a tender contains errors, it could spoil your chances of securing funding. Marketing materials that don’t reflect an awareness of the cultural differences between different markets could both alienate potential clients as well as backfire on social media.

In short, let the experts handle it.

So if you still feel like calling your cousin after reading this article, we’re confident it’s only to ask how they’re doing.