There are all sorts of reasons to need a translation. Authors have their books translated to market them to foreign audiences. Researchers want to share their findings with colleagues in other countries. Filmmakers need voice-overs and captioning. E-commerce business owners need their websites, and other content translated when they expand into foreign markets. Students need transcripts and other educational records translated when they enroll in foreign universities.
Emigrants who want to establish residency in a foreign country must have all sorts of documents translated. Large enterprises who intend to set up shop in a foreign country face a host of legal and other documents that must be filed, along with internal company documents for local operations and employees.
Obviously, translation needs vary greatly, from informal to highly formal and technical. It’s important to know, then, which documents will require fully professional translations and which can be handled by translators without professional backgrounds and qualifications.
Some pieces will demand professional document translation if they are to be recognized in foreign countries as valid. And when mistakes are made in translations, the consequences can be huge.
Defining Professional Translation
Professional translation refers to individuals or agencies that perform translations meeting certain criteria:
- They have backgrounds and expertise in the specific fields for which they provide translations (e.g., legal, medical, business, scientific, etc.)
- They are fluent in the source language and native to the target language
- They perform human, not machine, translations
- They are members/associated with certifying organizations, as well as hold notarization licenses
- For complex projects, there will always be a second native expert to review the translation
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Documents that Demand Professional Translation
It’s always good to use a professional translator/agency, because you will get the accuracy, syntax, and local phraseology to resonate with your foreign audience. But certain documents demand such professionalism because of their very nature:
- Contracts between individuals and businesses. These are legal documents which must hold up in a foreign court. It will be critical to have a native-speaking translator with legal background and expertise.
- Scientific research and journal articles. Scientists around the world collaborate. For researchers in one country to replicate the research of others, the translation must be perfectly accurate.
- Medical protocols. These include medication ingredients and instructions, surgical procedures, and other medical procedures and/or research. Again, a native expert with a medical background is critical.
- Instructional manuals. When companies establish manufacturing facilities in foreign countries, they must have their employment manuals translated. These include HR as well all-important safety manuals. There is just no room for error here.
- Personal documents. Birth, marriage, divorce, medical, and other documents must be translated and notarized by native experts, especially for those who intend to establish residency in a foreign country.
- Educational records. Students who wish to enroll in foreign schools must submit accurate transcripts and other school records for admission. Again, accuracy, especially in the titles of courses, is critical.
- E-commerce businesses. While such translations do not need certification or notarization, moving into a foreign market means translations of websites, blogs, social media posts, and more – translations that must be localized for the target culture. More than one major enterprise has made a mistake in the translation of marketing materials. A native-speaking translator can provide not just engaging and accurate translations but ensure that all wording, images, etc. are culturally appropriate for the audience Given all of these needs for professional translation, it is easy to wonder what pieces don’t need professional care. The answer is that there are many (literature, personal letters, scripts, and such), but still good translation should be the goal of everyone.
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Choosing the Right Professional/Agency
This will require research on your part – research that can take time and an understanding of what to look for. Unfortunately, most in need of translation do not have the time for this and, even then, may make an error in judgment, without adequate knowledge. Enter IsAccurate a translation service review company that has the resources to dig deep into translation agencies, evaluate their professionalism, and then write up summaries of their findings. Reading their reviews will help you choose an agency that can provide the type of document translation you will need.
Don’t go into document translation needs with a “blind eye.” Make sure that any individual or agency you use can provide the professionalism you must have.