When a business is entrusted to translate documents, they’re holding the financial, social, and sometimes legal future of their customers in the palm of their hand. Even in a general translation scenario that involves basic communication, the key to a good translation that leads to long-term trust is respect for the languages being translated. 

Regardless of whether the document translated is for a customer or to set up a new website in a different language, the reputation of your business hangs in the balance each and every time you decide to translate something. 

When you translate official documents, you’re being given the opportunity to establish your brand as a solid and trustworthy source in the global marketplace.

Despite the wide range of professional translation services available, many businesses are still taking it upon themselves to translate official documents. Unfortunately, those companies are destined to take the fall when it comes to small oversights that can have large-scale ramifications for your customers and your entire business. 

Below are just some of the reasons why you should not translate your own documents. 

Why You Cannot Translate Medical Documents Yourself

The ability to understand dense and detailed medical documents in your own native language is a skill in itself. So, when it comes to the ability to translate medical documents, it’s imperative that you use the help of a professional linguistics service.

Doctors use very niche terminology to communicate sensitive and private information. This includes anything from blood types and mild rashes to doses of medication and potentially fatal allergies. Things like medical texts, instructions and patient records are too important to leave up to chance. 

Working with an experienced professional to translate documents like this can quite literally save lives. It also shows international customers that you respect their specific needs. 

Why You Cannot Translate Technical Documents Yourself 

To put it simply, is it worth potentially ruining your reputation by attempting to translate technical documents yourself? 

Automated translations without the human touch can leave much to be desired in terms of accuracy. Not only this, but without a professional translator to work alongside, the buck stops with you to stay diligent. 

Below are just a small number of common mistakes that companies can make when attempting to translate their own documents: 

  • Not noticing the constant changes between plural and singular in translations
  • Making feminine and masculine forms interchangeable and impossible to understand 
  • Altering verb tenses to render the translation void of time and context
  • Translating typos and errors into words that make no sense within a translated sentence
  • Misunderstanding punctuation mistakes and making them even worse 

It goes without saying that these issues cause huge damage to a brand’s credibility. Within each and every region these oversights occur, your business can go from trusted to avoided in no time at all. 

Just like a poorly worded spam email, your business runs the risk of being associated with poor quality and a lack of credibility. 

Why You Cannot Translate Legal Documents Yourself 

Legal matters are intricate enough as it is. When you take different countries with different legalities into account as well, then attempting to translate legal documents can become overwhelming and incredibly complicated. 

Of course, any reputable company is required to use the services of a document translation specialist by law. But it’s important to understand why this is. 

Whether it’s a testament, an official statement, or a contract, accuracy is of the utmost importance. Law and linguistics require meticulous attention to detail and need to adhere to rigidly strict guidelines.

When it comes to matters that are potentially life-changing for all parties involved, there can be no room for misinterpretation. 

Is Google Translate Accurate? 

While Google offers multiple benefits for all businesses, accurate translation isn’t one of them. A Google translation is a hodgepodge of mass sourced translations from several other areas, shoved together and presented as a piece of content.

Google themselves have even added a disclaimer to confirm that their translations aren’t up to scratch and shouldn’t be considered accurate. 

The worry here lies in businesses that aim globally, only to fail at the final hurdle. Search engine translations cannot comprehend intent, and many colloquialisms are lost in the shuffle. 

What you’re left with is at best an unintentionally funny translation that makes no sense to your target region, and at worst, a poorly translated document that’s culturally insensitive and causes irreparable damage to your brand.

Document Translation: Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the more commonly asked questions in regards to when it’s best to translate documents with an experienced professional, and other general queries regarding the importance of document translation. 

Can I Translate My Own Documents? 

Legally speaking, you are technically able to translate official documents yourself. However, this translation will not be accepted or recognized in a court of law or for other sensitive matters. 

In order to have a document translated and accepted into these kinds of industries, you’ll need to gain the help of a professionally recognized translator. 

Who Is Legally Permitted to Translate a Document? 

A trusted friend or close relative is permitted to translate official documentation, and anyone with an official notary seal may oversee and notarize the translation itself. 

But certifying a document as an undeniably accurate translation of its source material can only be obtained through a professional linguistics service. In other words, if you need to translate documents for anything regarding legal, educational, medical or visa reasons, you’ll need to use a professional. 

Am I Able to Certify My Own Documentation? 

No. You aren’t able to personally witness and certify a document for yourself and this wouldn’t be recognized as certified in any legal capacity whatsoever.  

How Do I Officially Translate a Document? 

A legally qualified translator will need to officially sign the translated document. In doing so, the document is recognized as an accurate replication of the original source material. 

A notarized translation will require a notary public to witness the process in order to officially give it a stamp of approval. 

Document Translation and Your Business

If you’re serious about being considered a multinational company, you need to think from a global perspective. No consumer wants to feel like an afterthought, and nothing says unprofessional like a poorly constructed translation. 

Show your customers that you’re a strong and world-renowned brand that treats its clients the same across all borders, cultures and needs. If you can speak clearly and concisely in other languages, your entire business will be unified under one universally understood word – trusted.

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