Why loyalty and other old-fashioned values are still needed in the language industry

23.02.17 05:22 AM By eloy
The world moves faster than ever and in their pursuit of short term profits, some companies might be missing the bigger picture and forgetting that true partnerships with translation vendors should be based on trust, fairness and loyalty. Overlooking these timeless values might lead these companies to make wrong strategic decisions for the long term. 

Companies operating across language borders need to buy translations and software localization services. These language services may be seen as just another expense, with some procurement executives increasingly buying such services and only considering the cost. From their point of view, translations are just another commodity with any translator or translation company being fit to do the job of rendering the meaning from the source language into the target language. To this mind-set, vendors that provide the lowest price should win the tender. 

But the reality is that specialized translation and localization services cannot be treated as a simple commodity. What’s more, going for price alone can be a dangerous strategy which can backfire and make many people unhappy: from the marketing and sales people in the target countries who will need to rewrite all the translations instead of using their time more profitably, to the unhappy end user who won’t understand the local operation manual. 

One of the difficulties of translations is that every industry has its own specialized set of terms. Understanding these terms and using them appropriately takes time. Any well-educated translator will learn the meaning of specialized terms and will use them correctly in the translated texts, but this as said takes time. When a new translator enters into a new realm, s/he needs time to learn the industry specific terms and the customer preferences. These can only be acquired by research and from the feedback provided by both the proof reader and the customer. 

Thus, in order to build a team of specialized translators who understand the jargon and the preferences of the client, who are able to write to the required high level right from the start, the first word that comes to my mind is loyalty.

  • The client must be loyal to the translation vendor, and should understand that quality needs time and long term commitment.
  • The translation company should be loyal to the translators who are passionate about their work and strive to produce high quality texts.
 And though I too am at times confronted with another reality whereby our language services are bought as any standard commodity, I think those old-fashioned values such as loyalty, fairness and love for a job well done are still key for translation projects to run smoothly in the long run. And would we not all agree that companies managed with these good old values in mind also help make the world a better place to live in?