Cheap vs Fit…

We all shop around when we want to buy something, we all search for the cheapest deal. Let’s face it, life is hard for everyone and we all need to look at the budget. Translation is no different …

If you need a document, website, or anything else to be translated, you will also shop around to find a translator who offers you a cheaper price. And there is nothing wrong with that, but there is a few things you should be aware of before you make a decision.

First of all, make sure that cheap is also fit to translate your document. Sometimes, you see people putting themselves out there as translators, when in fact they are far from it. When I was living in Portugal, I often saw high school students “doing some translations, to get some extra cash for the holidays“. Most of them assumed that having good grades in English qualified them for this job. Well, let me tell you, not even living in an English speaking country per se does …

Being a translator requires a lot of skill and responsibility. You have to be properly qualified to do this job. You got to know your source and target languages, and the variants those might have. Because at school, you usually learn the main variant of a language, for example for the English language would be British English, but this is not the only variant of the English language, so you have to know the others to be able to understand what you’re working with. A qualified translator knows that,  and they are properly trained to identify language variants and translate accordingly.

Be sure that you require a proof of qualifications, a CV and references. A qualified translator will be very happy to provide that for you. Be aware of your target, it is important that the person who translates your document, translates it to the language your audience uses, otherwise it might create some problems.

Be sure that you require a proof of qualifications, a CV or references. A qualified translator will be very happy to provide that for you. Be aware of your target, it is important that the person who translates your document, translates it to the language your audience uses, otherwise it might create some problems.

Taking Portuguese as an example … the Portuguese language is spoken in several countries from Brazil to Africa and East Timor. Each of these countries has their own variant of the language. So, if you hired a Portuguese translator to translate a document that is going to be read in Brazil, you will find that your audience will see the difference and, in some cases, won’t understand it. Same would happen if you hired a Brazilian translator to translate a document for Portugal. This is very important.

A cheaper unqualified translator can bring you a lot of heartache. Even if it’s something as simple as an article on a magazine you want translated so you can read it. Each country has its own costumes and culture, so traces of that culture may be present in that article, if the person who translates it doesn’t that, the message will be lost, and you will probably get something totally different from what the author said. Even qualified translators need to research a lot to find the best option for each case. For example, when I was studying for my exam, I had a few Exam Papers to translate, as training, in one of those Papers I had the term “heathery moors”, which are a type of typical British landscape. I searched in the dictionary and I found a translation for those words separately. However, my colleague, who lives in England and is familiar with this type of landscape, told me my solution was wrong, and she explained what in fact that expression meant. It was a very simple thing, but had I written that in my Exam Paper or in a paid job and I would be in trouble. Same happens when an unqualified translator does a job he or she is not prepared for. If it’s a simple letter for a relative it won’t get them in trouble but if it’s an official document for a company or an individual, it might get them and the client in serious trouble.

A simple word improperly translated could change the all meaning of a sentence. Can you imagine such thing happening in a legal document, for example?

Ultimately, I guess it’s common sense, you won’t see a plumber to treat you from a flu, as well as you won’t see a doctor if you need a pipe fixed in your house. So, why would you see someone else rather than a professional translator if you want something translated?

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