Insights May 14, 2020

Going native – is it worth it? Why transcreation is better outsourced

Living Word
By Living Word

“Why pay a translation agency when our very own Camille is French? She speaks the language – give it to her!”

Part of my job as an agency owner is to follow up on quotes, find out if we’ve been successful in securing the work, and help move the project along to the next stage. Sometimes, however, the response I get is that the quote was fine and we’ve come across really well, but the client has decided to go down a different route.

So your project manager or in-country manager is fluent, or knows someone who’s fluent, in the language your content needs to be translated into – but can native speakers of a given language really cut it when it comes to translating highly creative scripts and copy decks?

Does your PM understand brand tonality and cultural adaptation? Does the designer just happen to have in-depth knowledge of the subject field? Has the receptionist’s buddy studied linguistics at university level, specialising in translation as a stand-alone profession?

These are rhetorical questions, of course. You may speak and write business English really well, but there’s a huge difference between that and studying English at Oxford.

Native – not qualified for transcreation

Just because a person was born a native of a particular language, that doesn’t mean you can rely on them to produce a product to the same high standards and depth of creativity that a professionally qualified linguist can. The truth is that this exercise in blind faith and ill judgement could cause major problems and complications down the line. Are any savings made by using someone in-house truly worth the potential hassle from your client when they don’t like what you’ve given them?

Avoid the disaster. Approach a transcreation agency with a proven track record. Agencies, like Living Word, have large databases of hand-picked, professional linguists and will make informed decisions on which translators are best suited to work on your texts. A good agency will have a strict recruitment process in place to make sure that every translator is fully qualified and exactly right for you and your client’s brand.

So you’re under a tight budget and considering finding someone yourself? Here’s why, still, you shouldn’t give it to Camille, the French intern.

Professional linguists are worth every penny

Translation isn’t as easy or as straight-forward as it might seem. Translators are far more than just native speakers; they’re professionally qualified, creative linguists in their own right. There’s a major difference between someone who speaks French as a native of France, and a native who has studied French linguistics in the framework of becoming a professional translator.

The right professional linguist might also have a greater knowledge of the subject field, brand tonality and audience than even you do. Translators are working day in, day out on many varied subjects, and many specialise in particular fields, be it technical automotive, advertising, marketing or medical. They get to know what makes different brands tick and can quite often hit the ground running with minimal reference to work with.

Creative translators, being copywriters themselves, are sympathetic to what goes into formulating a strap line or a voiceover script in English. They understand what it takes to write good marketing copy, and that’s exactly why you can trust them to transcreate it for another market. They are natives, too – but this kind of training and experience makes them professionals.

Now, let Camille get back to her work, and let us help you find the right, qualified person to localise your copy.