Before you think of getting anything translated, you have to seriously think what you need to translate and why you want it translated. Generally, despite huge advances in automated or computer-generated translation technology it cannot be relied upon for anything other than amateur translation requirements.
For example, say you want to visit somewhere in Germany, or another German-speaking country, and want some more details about accommodation, transport, health facilities etc.
There is nothing wrong in compiling your request in English then feeding it into a free English German translation tool (there are plenty available on the Internet!) than emailing the request to the individual or agency you want a response from. Nine times out of ten, you will probably get a response in English! Whether the standard of the English is any better than the German your free translation tool spewed out is another matter!
Maybe the person you sent the email to guessed that you were an English language speaker from the terrible German translation and automatically sent an email back using a German English translator. More likely their familiarity with basic English is much better than your familiarity with basic German. It doesn’t really matter as you will soon find out whether the meaning of the message you sent was understood and whether the response answered your questions adequately or not.
The bottom line is that if you want something for free when you need to translate something it is best to stick to short, not too important; messages that cannot easily be misunderstood when translated and be prepared to get a certain amount of misunderstanding anyway.
For just about anything that involves important communication across a language barrier, you should stick to using a professional translator. Yes, it will cost you or your business money, but generally, it will be money well spent.
There are many reasons why professional translation is important for legal, scientific, medical, business, literary and marketing translation. Did I leave anything out? Here are just a few reasons why you shouldn’t use free English / German translation tools for anything other than an individual, amateur uses.
1 Poor Translation could Lead to Ridicule
Your communication will appear amateurish to the very people you are trying to impress. For example, if you are marketing a new product for the first time in Europe, you will need to get professional translators and proofreaders to translate your marketing messages as well as any E.U. conformity information and manuals into German. If you don’t, you run the risk of having your product remain uncertified by the E.U. anyway or at least become the butt of jokes by native German speakers.
Think about all those products you used to buy in the past that were manufactured in China or another big manufacturing country whose native language wasn’t English. It was common to have trouble reading the instructions. That is far less likely these days as those companies take the trouble to pay professional translators to have their product information translated correctly.
2. Misunderstanding could Lose you Money or Business
Business communication across borders must be accurate. If left to a free translation tool, it will certainly seem to help the budget, but if it loses a contract or delays a business deal then the savings may be rapidly outweighed by the a much more significant loss in potential earnings.
3. Free Translation Tools could be Dangerous.
Medical, technical and scientific documents and text are very specific. They use specialised terminology. If a document is not translated accurately, preferably by a translator specialised in the field the document is in, it could lead to injury or even death.
4. Professional Translation is a must for all Legal Communication
You really cannot afford to play with accuracy if needing anything to be translated that is an important legal document. From wills to marriage, divorce and birth certificates, applications for patents and contracts, affidavits and court proceedings, these should all be translated by professional legal translators. Many of these translators have a good grounding in both the legal systems of the source and target languages.
In conclusion, you get what you pay for, as the old saying goes. Don’t bother with paying for a translator if your translation needs are not very important and you can afford to get a bit wrong or struggle with a response. For anything else that is too important to get wrong, pay a professional translator to do the job for you. Of course, you can still look around and choose a translator who is a good value for money as long as they have the skills.