As a translation company, we depend on professional freelance translators constantly. This article addresses nonprofessional translators and is specifically making a comparison between a nonprofessional translator and a translation company. Clients sometimes debate if they should use an individual they hear of (it could be a colleague, friend, or second cousin’s best friend’s girlfriend) to translate a document or go to a professional vendor. This article is meant to address this decision.
While you might pay less up front with a nonprofessional translator, you’ll likely end up spending more time or money than you would if you went directly to a skilled language service provider with your project. Here’s why you don’t want to go the seemingly cheapest route.
They may or may not be professional
The single biggest problem with nonprofessional translators is that you can’t always be sure how dedicated they are to their work. Will they quit your project at the first sign of a “real job” or take off for weeks without letting you know? Will they be there and ready to make edits if you update the document?
When working with a translation firm, you’ve got a certain amount of structure. You’ve got a project management system for taking your document as it is and returning it to you in the targeted language. You’ve got a point of contact who can update you at any time on where your project is in the pipeline. They respect your deadlines. And the translators are vetted, which gives you a degree of confidence in their ability to deliver.
The quality probably won’t be as high
When you work with a nonprofessional translator you can’t vouch for, you don’t know what kind of quality you’ll get. One translator might do a great job of translating lifestyle-type content, but might flail when you give her your technical medical product copy. This isn’t something you want to discover when your application to submit your products in another country is due. Also, humans make mistakes. So without an editor, some errors are likely to appear in the final version of the translation.
Translation agencies depend on a team: a professional translator, an editor, a proofreader and a Project Manager. Typically, translation companies also use SOFTWARE TOOLS to BETTER MANAGE costs, time and keep language consistent. While no two translation companies are the same, the value-add of a translation company is that they likely already went through the process of identifying high-quality professional freelance translators already.
It could take longer than you want
Nonprofessional translators could take longer to translate simply because they may be busy, or not be using industry tools, whereas a language service provider almost certainly uses all technology tools to minimize time, better control expenses and ensure full consistency. Moreover, they will always have a team of professional translators ready from the moment you approve a project. This tends to result in faster and more consistent translations.
If you attempt the translation in-house and don’t have a dedicated translator with the right tools, then you’re also competing against the deadlines on any other projects that person has on her plate.
They’ll be limited in their languages
If you only need a document translated into a single language, any professional translator with the vocabulary and time can handle it. But what happens when you want that same document translated into multiple languages? That same translator probably can’t help you. Then you have to find many translators, and you end up with multiple translations in different tones and styles, where you want consistency across all languages.
A translation agency can simultaneously work on all your projects to get them done faster.
That argument about saving expenses versus a more comprehensive approach? It depends how it turns out and whether or not you’ll ever need a translation again. With a language service provider, there are oftentimes cost savings due to the leveraged use of translation memory, legacy archives and time saved from not getting things edited or re-translated again. They’ve already done the work and found the professional translators we all rely on.