In a world saturated with companies all claiming to be the best language service provider (LSP) out there, it is often confusing to focus on what makes one better and more innovative than another. Are the best ones the most technologically savvy? Perhaps. But there is more to innovation than advanced technology. A really good LSP has a more holistic, humanistic approach to the process of translation, language instruction and interpretation. It isn’t just about technology. It is about humans.
Language translation is more than a document, a manuscript, or some other material that needs to be converted from one language to another. There are many layers to uncover before you can begin translation and nearly all the layers have to do with humans and human interaction. Sure, you need to know the specifics such as: its complexity, what languages are involved, and what industry-specifics are required. For example, is it a legal document written in old German that needs to be translated into English? Is it an in-depth pharmaceutical document? Or is it something less complex? From here, the LSP pinpoints the best translator for the job. Beyond that, an innovative translator knows the deliverable is not just the translation itself. It includes managing and motivating the people involved in the entire process and creating positive work environments along the way. A translator worth his/her salt understands the client’s objectives because they really listen and pay attention to the details, nuances, and the cultures involved. The result then is a cohesive, high quality product that has been polished as seamlessly as possible.
It doesn’t matter what the project is or what it entails. When you are a human translator dealing with humans, there are bound to be different desires, wants, needs, personalities and perspectives involved. Translating without balancing these crucial parts is only slightly better than computer translation and we all know how computers miss a lot that isn’t straight word-to-word translation. Computers often miss the idioms, subtleties, the expressions – the poetry of language, if you will. Even if it is a more technical document, a linguist can decipher the meaning behind a complex phrase with more precision than a computer ever could. For example, a human can more readily understand the murky world where there is no direct translation of a word from one language into another. Also, human translators can adjust and overcome any problems that may arise during the process in order to increase client satisfaction and minimize client frustration.
This is not to say that technology isn’t necessary. We all use technology every day to do work, communicate with one another, and hopefully make life easier. As translators work their magic, integrating technology is key to the work and collaborating with clients to create a quality result. It is the final piece of the puzzle that is translation. It is just not the only piece. And without the holistic, innovative human-centered aspect, LSPs would be nothing more than robot translators.
by Ilona Knudson