When a company decides to translate or localise its website or its e-commerce platform to expand its audience, it may be tempted to resort to machine translation because it is quick and, most importantly, free of charge. But as the saying goes “if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is”. Although a lot of effort has been put into improving machine translation technology, it will never be able to understand or express the nuances that a human being can. In my opinion, as a professional translator, its only valid role is to give an idea of what a text means, but it should never be used to produce a translation for the general public. That is why, in such cases, a qualified translator is needed: someone who will take into account factors such as the target audience, the target culture, terminology proper to the sector and/or the company, among other things.
Translation is important for any company wishing to export its goods or services, but not any translation will do. Just like when contracting other service providers, price is not the only factor to be taken into account. Temptation is particularly high when users don’t speak the target language, and so they cannot evaluate the resulting translation, and instead simply place their trust in the machine translation. The same happens when a linguistic service provider is chosen based on the lowest price; if that translation isn’t subsequently evaluated by a person competent in the field, there is a risk that clients will be given a bad impression of the company.
If products are badly translated this creates distrust and clients will probably look for the same article in a different shop, even if the price is higher, because they don’t want to risk buying from a company that doesn’t respect itself or its clients enough to produce a high-quality translation allowing for a perfect understanding of the product description.
Competition is fierce on the Internet. There is a huge variety of options and if a client detects something that provokes the tiniest bit of doubt, they will reject that company at the click of a button. The language used on a website or online shop is a company’s finest form of advertising and so its translation should certainly not be taken lightly. The key is to offer a corporate image that reflects reliability, and to that end the best option is always to make use of the services of translation experts.
Cristina Fernández, professional translator
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