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"That really sucks. Or does it ?" Why robots and solo-translators can't always advocate your cause as you would yourself.

4 minutes de lecture

Have you ever wondered why translation robots aren't exactly perfect yet ? Or why translation matters so much for your business to get ahead ? Read Anne-Louise Lamontagne’s article on why a team of human specialists might be worth your while, rather than the “easy way out” : trusting AI.

Here is a testimonial from Anne-Louise Lamontagne, the founder of Business Communications, translation agency and language consultants. Anne-Louise is an American ex-pat who has been living in France for 30 years. She started her company in Compiegne in 2001, at the dawn of the Euro which launched French business into a world market.

"As a small-business owner, I have often thought myself: “Why bother translating my website? How will anybody ever find me on the World Wide Web?” It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack. And besides, do I really want to work with partners on the other side of the world? I like the human contact of a smile. A handshake and a coffee can go a long way.

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But it’s inherent in my business to be connected to other cultures and foreign partners. And, I have to admit that relationships develop even just through e-mails and phone calls. I may never have met many of my clients face-to-face, but the contact is authentic, human, and mutually respectful.

Everything goes fast nowadays. Working by e-mail is ultra-efficient. Our customers send me their request by e-mail, and I get back to them almost immediately with costs and deadlines. The advantage of working with a translation agency, rather than a random freelance translator, is that we are a team. So if someone is already on a big project, I can count on someone else to cover a new assignment, in order to deliver the translation on time. The other big “plus” when working with an agency, rather than a lone freelancer, is the quality control. A project manager, like me, can select the best person to handle your specific context from a whole team of specialists (ex: in marketing, legal text, or scientific reviews).

Regarding website translations specifically, the content is not the only text to translate. Think about your keywords for SEO (search engine optimization)! Of course, it may seem like an impossible battle to be recognized in the search engine jungle. How to choose the right SEO words? The choice of words, and sometimes local slang, is ever so important! We are not computer specialists which is why we count on the know-how of digital communications experts like Graffiti to guide us for SEO and other “magic ingredients”.
Of course translating your local French website into English is a first step. Everybody around the world can understand English. But you also need to think about other languages, at least for the search words. What words will a potential customer in China or Poland use to find the product or service he’s looking for?

One last word of advice: Watch out for robot translations. No robot has the “style”, nuance and humor you may want to reveal. I can think of lots of funny stories about bad translations and how the message got misinterpreted. I remember a vacuum cleaner ad. The original catch phrase in the manufacturer’s local language was that the vacuum cleaner could “really inhale”. However, it was translated into English as “it really sucks”. If you’ve ever been to the States, you know that something that “sucks” is something you definitely DON'T want.

There's really no excuse anymore to limit yourself to your local French market. Contacts can be made on-line, linking you to a world market. Delivery of products is simplified, as are monetary transactions in our digitalized world. So what are you waiting for?

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