Why Language Specializations Matter in Translation
The type of content your company may need translated is likely to vary—everything from product descriptions, manuals, labels, spec sheets, advertisements, social media posts, human resource documents, or any other number of items.
While it may seem like having the same person translate each text would make sense for consistency’s sake, that’s not necessarily the case.
Yes, having a consistent translation team is beneficial when they are working on the same types of content (a team who always translates your social media posts, for example). But most texts are best handled by a translator who specializes in the specific content type and topic that you need translated.
Choosing a translation team with the correct specializations can make a big difference in the quality of the content they produce for your company.
What is a language specialization when it comes to translation?
By definition, a specialist is someone who is devoted to a particular branch of study or research.
Someone who is able to speak another language fluently is not always a good fit to translate your company’s materials.
Just as you wouldn’t want to ask just anyone to translate, not all translators are equally skilled with every type of text.
Specialized vernacular is a result of years of study and training, not a given for anyone speaking a language natively.
We don’t all have the same language background.
Consider your own native language. No matter what language you call your first, it’s likely you won’t be familiar with advanced terminology in all categories or fields you might be asked to write about, let alone translate.
If you studied medicine, you are probably not as familiar with terminology related to automobiles (with exceptions, of course… maybe you work on cars as a hobby, for example). If you are an accountant by trade, you probably cannot spout off specific terms related to construction.
Although we are all native speakers of a given language, this doesn’t make us experts or qualified to translate texts in any field from our second language to our native.
Just as you don’t fully know all of the specialized vocabulary about every subject in English, translators do not know about every subject in their native languages either.
Requesting that someone translate material that is over their head is dangerous. They could easily mistranslate, causing major issues for your organization. Let the experts do the translating here. That’s why they’re specialized in their respective fields, after all!
Are translators subject matter experts in their areas of specialization?
To be a specialist in a field, with the ability to translate between two languages, a translator needs a solid understanding of the topics they are translating. For this reason, many translators choose to take on work in fields where they have degrees or extensive work experience.
Even if a translator does not have a degree in a specific field of practice, they may specialize in a certain area if they have a strong understanding of the content from other professional or life experiences.
Having a strong core understanding of a topic also gives the translator the ability to research specific terms and phrases that they may not already know in the target language. This would prove difficult without the solid background knowledge they hold for their areas of specializations.
For that reason, you may find that many translators do not specialize in more than one or two areas. While a translator may take on work in other topic areas if they feel confident in their ability to produce a high-quality translation, others may politely decline to translate the material if it falls outside their main areas of specialization.
If a person has multiple specializations, can’t they just research all topics and translate anything I send them?
Although professional translators can have a variety of specializations, they will still want to see the original documents or files you need translated to make sure they are comfortable with the content.
The best translators will only take work in areas they feel most comfortable with in terms of terminology and their ability to research. This enables them to accept your projects more confidently, and it means that you are more likely to receive a quality translation.
Why you should partner with a translation agency to find the right specialists for your text
Finding the right candidates for any job can be challenging and time consuming. Even the smallest projects can require a lot of effort if you don’t already have teams you work with and are confident in.
A translation agency already has linguists they work with and trust to be able to handle the content you request, no matter the subject matter. And if not, these agencies know how to find and vet professional translators to fit your projects.
Utilizing a service like this can help ease any stress or anxiety related to the translation of your content, and it frees up time you could be spending on other projects.
Moreover, reputable translation agencies are capable of handling more than just the translation of your text. With a simple email or phone call, you can request that translation projects be handled from start to finish by a single source. The agency will do the heavy-lifting.
Are you translating content into multiple languages? No problem!
Do you need post-translation design or desktop publishing services? An agency will have teams to handle this, too.
Want to feel sure that your document has been double- (and triple-) checked for accuracy after the final product is generated? Don’t worry! Reputable translation agencies have someone in-house who can handle quality assurance in partnership with the translation team to ensure the final product is nothing short of perfect.
This peace of mind is invaluable, and it’s how you should feel each time you request a new translation from the agency you choose as a partner, without needing to worry about utilizing different vendors and individuals for each specific task.
An agency will also be able to make sure language teams are properly vetted and specialize in the field(s) necessary to handle your project correctly and professionally, no matter the content you may need translated.