Why You Shouldn’t Cut Corners on Translation Rates
Every cliché has some truth to it. “You get what you pay for,” is often the case for translation rates. While it’s tempting to choose the cheapest translators, there are always costs to saving money. Here are some tips to save your business from cheap translations and prevent sunk costs.
Cheap Translators Don’t Care About Your Business’s Goal
Luckily, machines don’t have feelings. Some translation services, such as Google Translate, entice low-budget startups because of their free translation cost and immediate turnaround.
However, as seen in the hundreds of Google Translate fail videos and blog posts, the cheap software has serious (and hilarious) limitations.
Google Translate can barely translate phrases colloquial phrases correctly. It will translate the common Italian phrase “bagno guasto,” or the bathroom is broken, into “dead bathroom.”
What’s more, the 5,000-character limitation of the software won’t be able to handle the full articles needed to boost search engine visibility. Forbes recommends most SEO articles be 1,000 words or longer, which comes in at around 6,000 characters.
If your goal as a startup is to get you at the top of search engine results, such inefficient and incorrect translations will not appeal to search engines.
Thankfully, a study from the International Interpretation and Translation Association of Korea and Sejong Cyber University shows human translators will nearly always beat machine translations every time. But humans require a price, and the price matters.
Someone getting paid $0.03 isn’t paid enough to care if the text is supposed to increase website traffic and sales or to establish yourself as a leader in your market.
With such a low pay rate, the translator’s only concern is finishing the job and moving onto the next one. They’re focused on maximizing their efficiency, not helping your business succeed.
Whether it’s a machine or a human translator charging low translation rates, the cheap translator’s inefficient translations harm your business.
Low Translation Rates Often Mean Low-Quality Jobs
Let’s focus on human translators now.
Because of cheap pay, human translators will rarely submit error-free text. They don’t have the time or care to fix grammatical mistakes, right spelling flaws, or make sure the text flows easily.
If you’re sending in large volumes of text, your file might be broken up and sent in bulks to different people in different locations. This causes privacy concerns in addition to the blatant issues of consistency, further ruining the professionality of the end product.
What’s worse, freelancers charging low translation rates might be unequipped to fix semantic or logical errors in the translation and instead opt for the literal translation of words.
This causes mistakes like the one seen in an Iraqi hotel in 2017. The buffet “Meatball” dish labeled in Arabic was translated to “Paul is Dead” in English, according to Evening Standard.
Many of the hotel guests posted the translation fail to Twitter. Twitter user Hend Amry says the English transliteration of “meatball” phonetically sounds like “mayit baul,” or dead Paul.
The fact that no one on the hotel’s staff caught the error shows how easily bad translations can slip through the cracks.
If you use a cheap translator, you’ll be stuck with a bad translation like the one from the hotel. From there, you’ll either have to use the material as is or spend further money fixing the mistakes.
The Hidden Costs of Poor Translations
Peter Senge eloquently says in his book The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, “the easy way out usually leads back in.”
This means that if you take the easiest financial route and opt for the cheapest translator, you will never become a successful startup. The easy routes lead to future, cyclical adversity.
As seen in the Iraqi hotel, the poor translation gave the hotel some press. While all press is good press, the negative attention hurt the hotel’s brand.
Native readers aren’t dumb. They’ll notice when a company cut corners and posted a cheap translation job on their site or physical materials.
Being caught with poor translations shows a degree of laziness and inattention to detail. Such a bad image is crippling to a startup.
To combat brand damage, you’ll have to hire copy editors to ensure all translated material is logical and makes sense. Added members to your team add further costs and slow down the speed in which you post your material.
Because you’ll have to go back and fix the mistakes of the cheap translator, you’ll find yourself asking, “Why didn’t I just opt for the better translator in the first place?”
No matter what, don’t be tempted by the easiest (and cheapest) route.
Avoid Cheap Translation Rates at All Costs
Find knowledgeable translation companies who make an effort to give you the best product possible. They will cost a pretty price, but since “you get what you pay for,” you’ll be getting high-quality translations that edify your brand.