Introduction Most businesses today enter into collaborative ventures with overseas partners, export goods and services to clients in many different parts of the world, and in doing so, have to exchange correspondence, negotiate and sign contracts drafted in a foreign language they have no knowledge of. This calls attention to the importance of translation services in such situations, and the reliance these enterprises will have to place, on quality providers of translation services. Machine translation versus human translation A vast number of websites offering translation services have sprung up in recent years, a clear indication that there are volumes of text to be translated into different languages. Text books, technical journals and historical reference materials are also increasingly being translated into different languages, as the world is becoming a truly boundary-less community in recent times. It is also possible now to generate instant translations of text between different language pairs at the press of a button, thanks to the many free software applications offered on different websites.
However, the translations obtained in this way have serious limitations, and will just be a literal or direct translation, sometimes sounding like gibberish. Consider, for instance, the following sentence in German: "Wie in Frankfurt besprochen, sind wir mit der Realisierung eines ersten Projektes unter gemeinsamer Führung auf der Basis eines Gemeinschaftsunternehmens einverstanden" When translated to English using translation software, it would read as: "As discussed in Frankfurt, we agree with the realization of a first project under common guidance on the basis of a joint undertaking" Clearly the above sentence does not conform to the rules of proper sentence construction in English, and the casual reader would be hard put to make sense of it. It would be more appropriate to say: "As discussed in Frankfurt, we are open to the undertaking of a first project as a joint undertaking under shared guidance, based on an agreement in writing.
" The humorous side to translations Translation goof ups can have serious consequences at times, and may even lead to lawsuits and financial burden if things were to go wrong and failure to deliver on some terms of the contract happen to be contested by the affected party. However, there are occasions when translation errors can bring a smile to the reader, as in the following cases: Notice displayed in a Czechoslovakian tourist agency: Take one of our horse-driven city tours - we guarantee no miscarriages. A signboard in a Vienna hotel reads: In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the hotel porter. Found in a hotel lobby in Bucharest: The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.
A Swiss menu bore the legend: "Our wines leave you nothing to hope for. A campaign launched in Italy for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into 'Schweppes Toilet Water.' When the Parker Pen company marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were meant to read: "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you". A faux pas (the translator thought "embarazar" was Spanish for embarrass) led to the ads reading: "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant." Business terminology Every business has its own stock terms and phrases. Banking, insurance and the financial services have a complete glossary of terms entirely their own, and the same is true of any other field of business: health care, building construction or real estate services, the hospitality industry or virtually any other field.
When documents are translated, it becomes very important for the translator to capture the essence of the business terms used in the source language and deliver the perfect equivalent, not a literal one. Otherwise, the intent of the communiqué may get lost in the process, and the translated version is no longer meaningful to the user. Conclusion Choosing the right translator or interpreter is of vital importance to the business in the seamless, globalized world we live in today. The speed of communication by email and mobile phone technology must be replicated even when document translation is done, to effectively remove the last remaining barrier of language to doing business and staying competitive. Identifying a good service provider to render translations that effectively capture the letter and spirit of your documents is integral to the success of the business relationship.
About the Author:
Armando Riquier is a freelance expert translator and writer who works in collaboration with Tectrad, a translation agency specialized in financial, legal and business matters. See how Tectrad superior translation services will help you maintain a professional corporate image by accurate rendition of your documents or websites in French or other European languages.