The short answer is NO. Here’s why.
On paper, the idea of saving money on anything seems to be a good idea these days. 2-ply toilet paper instead of the more comfortable 3-ply. All-in-one printers that can scan, fax, copy and print versus stand-alone types. Smaller turbo-charged engines or even electric hybrids versus American muscle. The list can go on and on, and it can be a good thing.
You get what you pay for
While saving money should be at the forefront of everything, sometimes the risk of getting an inferior product or service far outweighs the initial cost. Take your everyday smartphone for example. Ever since Apple came out and changed the world with their iPhone, every manufacturer has tried to copy it. There are virtually iPhone clones made in China that look exactly like the iPhone, but runs on a skinned Android.
If your run a website or blog, translating it to another language has a lot of obvious benefits: reach more people, grow your brand, increase sales, etc. and it’s pretty obvious that you need to do it at some point in time if you want to expand your reach. Having people across the globe reading and appreciating your content is cool, and it’s a great revenue booster as well.
Nothing is free though, and while it’s OK to save money on some areas of the business, skimping on linguistics is just not feasible, and it will cost you more in the long run. Sure, any schmoe who remembers the lessons in college Spanish can do translation with the help of the all-new Google Translate, but the end result would be a laughable and insulting take on the language that will leave local readers disgusted that you murdered their Spanish.
Translation is a Different kind of Beast
When it comes to languages, nothing can get lost in translation if you want your message delivered in it’s entirety. An amateur can do a pretty decent job verbally interceding between a speaker and a non speaker, but when it comes to translating written text, the job gets harder. There are many complexities at play here.
Have you ever tried writing re-writing something from an English source? Many people fail to realize that it’s somewhat harder to rewrite something versus writing from scratch. You have to take into consideration the overall message of the piece. Context. Point of view. Intent. And this is for an English to English rewrite!
Imagine the layered difficulties of translating a document to a different language. You would have all of these, plus colloquialisms, language nuances and other quirks that can only a native speaker and a local would know. Everything has to be regionally correct, with the right use of spelling, hyphenations, subject-verb agreements and other localization techniques.
Always Go Pro
For website translation, as much as it’s cool to DIY or hire a college graduate to do it for you, you simply can’t do it for all the reasons stated above and more. How Professional Translation Services Work – that’s the real key here – so you can’t waste your time, energy and resources trying to find out how it’s done. You need to hire a professional or an agency specializing in translation and localization if you want to succeed in your globalization efforts.
Hiring an agency is usually better than an individual because they have a deeper pool of translators on call to help finish the job faster just in case the lead translator falls ill or whatever. Plus, agencies have translators with varying skill sets, coming from different backgrounds and bringing their own local flavor to the table, because not all languages are the same everywhere.
There you have it. The long answer as to why it’s not a good idea to save money on website translation. You can choose to save resources in other areas of your business, like transportation or toilet paper, but please leave translation to the professionals. Your reputation and your wallet depend on it.