Translation costs can be considerable even for large organisations, so how do you ensure you get the best return on your investment? Even the largest companies are buying translation on a budget, so how do you maximise value?

An aspect of translation which you should consider, is what we would term “pre-translation”. It is very typical that a potential client approaches us with a large amount of text. They then simply ask for a translation quote. Have they first considered whether the text is ready and appropriate?

Do you need to translate it?

Our first question may seem obvious, but do you need to translate it? If you were translating packaging for India, for example, did you know that English is an official language of the country? If you choose to translate into a single Indian language, you risk alienating speakers of other Indian languages. The safest approach is to either translate into a number of Indian languages, or simply leave the text in English. The choice will depend on your specific requirements, and target audience.

Website translation

With websites, you may have a large site in English, and feel that you need to have exactly the same information in the target language. Whilst you should certainly translate your principal content, do you really need a full 600 pages? Of course we will happily translate the lot. However, you pay proportionately based on word count. You may therefore feel it prudent to build up content over time. (This is good for search engine optimisation anyway). Alternatively, you could “dip a toe in the water”, with some well targeted key content first.

Sales and marketing translations

With sales brochures and marketing materials, consider relevance to your intended reader. For example your exact location, map details and local information are great for a UK audience. However, they may be meaningless for a Spanish website visitor who is considering buying online. On our own site for example we have a specific page targeted at a local audience, on Nottingham translation, but we don’t have the same page on the international versions of our site, because it isn’t as relevant to the website visitor.

Localising your message

Is information given correctly localised for an international audience? It is surprising how often UK 0845 phone numbers appear in international advertising. The problem is that someone trying to contact you from another country, can’t access you using an 0845 UK code. They will need a geographic number, in the international format.

Style and tone

These types of considerations are really important. As is using appropriate style and tone of language. A formal style may be great for one country, but not suit another. In general, simple sentences will be easier to translate, and will read better in the target language. Complex compound sentences, are both a pain to translate, and a pain to read.

Summary, and conclusions for translation costs

In summary, to get best use of a translation budget:

  1. only translate what you need to
  2. ensure the text is appropriate to the target language
  3. ensure the tone and style are culturally relevant
  4. prioritise translating the most important text
  5. work with your translation provider, and consider pre-translation issues

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