Welcome to the first blog of Express International Translations Inc. Polyglot since being conversant in four languages and owning Express International Translations for nearly 20 years, I can share with you through experience the pitfalls to avoid in translations. Most of the mistakes clients make can basically be lumped into three broad categories:
a) Saving money
b) Thinking that you know when in reality you don’t.
c) Insisting on rush jobs
I shall in this first blog address the first point and reserve the other two categories for later blogs.
Save save save…. It is hardly surprising that, in the culture of mass consumerism in which we live, that the word SAVE is pasted over advertisements that bombard us every day and that the notion of saving while shopping has become ingrained in the deepest fibers of the consumer. When picking up the phone, the first question I am often asked is how much it costs.
Starting a negotiation with the dollar figure puts me at most unease, for it puts me under pressure to lower my cost well below what I think is safe to produce a translation which meets our high standards of quality. Plus, forget about making a profit… and if one does not make a profit, what is the point of being in business? If, on the other hand, if I insist on a fee that nearly guarantees a high standard of quality, somebody may undercut me, which means that I stand to lose the client and incur the wrath of my wife for having been too inflexible.
While I can understand the saving instinct of a caller wishing to have his daughter’s birth certificate translated, the cost factor as sole discriminating criteria used by large corporations in picking a translation service is more incomprehensible to me. Sure, corporations are controlled by shareholders expecting a good return on their investment, hence putting pressure on management to control costs. But those same shareholders expect their corporations to strive on the revenue side, which more often than not means conquering foreign markets and translating their external and internal documents correspondingly. A client buying a washing machine from company X is as much deserving of respect as a local client. Attempting to save beyond reason in your communication with that foreign client, seeing the cost of translation as a necessary evil shows a total lack of respect not just for that foreign client, but also for the exporting corporation itself and for it is attempting to achieve.
Attaining the lowest costs for translations, if you are a large company, potentially leads to embarrassing translation mistakes that are most costly to fix than the saving that were originally achieved.
A bad idea.