We blogged about legal translation services in the context of machine translation.
Foreign language translation services for businesses are becoming more common in smaller, regional dialects, according to a recent article in The Economist magazine. Traditionally, language translation in Europe has focused on the FIGS (French, Italian, German and Spanish). Now, the European Union has 28 members. And this requires all European Union materials to be translated into 24 languages, including Bulgarian and Czech.
Many people assumed that machine-language translation would replace professional human translation. Google developed Google Translate, and Skype, the Internet telephony company, has created a machine translation program for Spanish and English. There are also a host of other companies that have developed machine-language technology. While machine-language translation is a powerful tool, it can only do so much. For instance, it cannot understand deeper cultural and institutional meaning into language translation. On top of that, it is limited to the larger languages around the world.
But, as the Economist article notes, some companies are finding it economically beneficial to translate products into less common languages, even though 90% of online spending takes place in 13 languages. For years, Japanese, Korean and Chinese were the only Asian languages where translation services were available. Now companies are looking to have their marketing documents translated into Vietnamese, Indonesian and other Asia languages. In Africa, it is believed that there are between 1,500 and 2,000 distinct languages.
Companies have found it advantageous to translate packaging inserts into some of the lesser-used languages in Africa. Microsoft has focused on localizing its documents, having even translated some information into Mayan and Luxembourgish.
For these projects, a human foreign language translator with distinct knowledge about each language is required. Many times, the translator is a native speaker of the less common language and has learned French, English, Japanese, or other commonly spoken languages.
Professional foreign language translators bring their cultural experience and understanding of the native language into the process, which can be especially helpful when marketing a product or a legal service in a different language.
The Economist concludes that even with machine translation products, in today’s language-diverse economy, people and companies must increasingly rely on traditional human translation, especially for legal and business matters. A legal contract or marketing brochure is too important to depend on machines. The process may be slower, but the resulting foreign language translation will be more accurate. And it will guarantee that the meaning is correctly conveyed in the foreign language.