When Translation Doesn’t Deliver: Where Do Things Go Wrong?

By Rossion

By Rossion

Have you ever come across a truly confounding translated work? It might contain clear errors, or maybe the language doesn’t make sense, or it may read awkwardly. There are many reasons for a bad translation. We’re here to lay out the don’ts, so you can avoid headaches in the future!

Don’t Expect Machine Translation To Do a Human’s Job

Machine translation *can* work… sometimes. But it can also add errors, misunderstand nuances, or miss out on context completely. Not to mention localization, tone, and style! While it may be tempting to save money using machine translation, machine-translated text often creates more headaches than it’s worth, delivering unprofessional – or downright misleading – results.

Don’t Necessarily Choose the Least Expensive Translator You Can Find

Pricing standards exist for a reason. So if a potential translator or agency quotes you a much lower rate than other translators for the same job, it can be a red flag. Understand the value of professional language providers. The extra money up front can save unforeseen expenses afterwards, to fix the translation, redo it, or clean things up.

Looking for ways to check that your translator is a good bet? Ask about qualifications, like from the Ordre des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Quebec. Professional training and good reviews from trusted sources also go a long way.

Don’t Choose a Translator Who Specializes in Something Completely Different From Your Task

Even for an experienced translator, if they don’t have the extensive knowledge you need, they may not be able to provide you with the result you want. Medical documents, for example, are best translated by a language professional with medical knowledge or prior experience in the field. Legal documents require extraordinary attention to detail and understanding of the content matter.

Don’t Provide Poor-Quality Source Material

If your source material is riddled with errors, discrepancies, and unclear language, guess what? Your translated material will likely not be stellar. The better quality material you give your translator, the higher your chances are of getting back a result you’re happy with.

These are just a few ways translation can go bad, even with the best intentions! Do your research, think through how to choose the best translator for the job, and remember that a good translation will provide a great return on investment!

Key Takeaways

  • Spend more money up front – by avoiding machine translation or bottom-of-the-barrel prices on translation services – to save money in the long run.
  • Make sure your original content is in good shape before turning it over to your trusted language professional. Your translator is not a miracle worker… even if they’re close to being one!
  • Look for the right translator for each specific job. A translator with experience in literary works may not be the best bet for your next legal document that needs translation, and vice versa.

Planning to localize content for the Quebec market? We’re here to help. Get in touch to learn how Rossion can support your company’s transition and adapt your industry-specific content to French.


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