Don’t deny it, at least once you have visited a free translation tool such as Google Translate or Bing (see also my post on translation tools). Even as a professional translator I’ve been there – I often find myself using Google Translate, when I have to figure out what a certain word is called in Greek or what a Greek word means.
However, when it comes to creating a good image or website in multiple languages, then you have to think twice, before using a free translation tool to translate the context.
First of all, if you want to look professional, then don’t have pages with bad language. By bad language, I refer to incorrect use of words, sentences that don’t make sense to a native and language that obviously has been translated directly or by a machine.
How often have you come across a homepage or email, where the language was so bad, that you immediately lost all trust in the sender because it seemed unprofessional or untrustworthy?
Yes, we all make mistakes, you’ll most certainly also find minor mistakes on my homepage, but there is a difference in how the mistakes come across. If it’s just a few typing errors or general bad language. Even in the newspapers, you can find typing errors. Some people even make a sport of finding errors in papers.
Secondly, if you don’t possess the language skills yourself, get a professional/native to do it or at least proofread it. It might cost a little to get a job well done, but in the end, your image will benefit.
Just have a look at my post on translations gone wrong, I sure hope these mistakes haven’t been made by professional translators! A good translator isn’t one that only knows the language in which they translate between, but also the culture, habits, etc.
Not just a spoken/written language
Thirdly, all professional translators have to go through a wide range of topics in order to earn their degree. It’s not just enough to know the language as such, as already mentioned above. Just to name a few topics; politics, culture, economy (both inland and for companies), law, knowledge of businesses and what is included herein.
By choosing a professional translator you, therefore, get a person, who possesses a wide range of knowledge and who knows, how to acquire the right information/knowledge in order to secure high quality. Many translators specialize within certain topics, either by choice or interest.
That being said, you might also come across some good autodidact translators, who either work within the field of the sought expertise or have a great interest in the subject.
Finally, always think about the picture you want to send the receiver. Do you want to compromise quality and get a quick solution that might end up cost a lot more than expected?