The Ultimate Shortcut to Translating Russian into English with Optimal Quality
February 3rd, 2016, Roman Mironov
Looking for a translation agency to translate Russian into English? This article explains why it is important to have your translation done by a native speaker, budget permitting.
Why a native speaker?
Translation is best done by native speakers of the target language (the one being translated into), because it requires excellent command of the language that only people who learned it as native speakers have. Learning a language as a foreign one rarely results in excellent command.
That said, when it comes to translating from Russian into English, your translation team must include native speakers of English, not Russian. More specifically, the translator’s name should be something like John Smith, not Ivan Ivanov. Now, the problem is that there is a huge supply of RU-EN translators producing low-quality work at bargain-basement rates, which makes it difficult to find the proverbial diamond in the rough in this market. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that clients sometimes succeed in buying good EN-RU translations at low rates and assume they can do the same for RU-EN, never realizing that good RU-EN translation costs much higher because of a different supply and demand ratio—there are much fewer skilled translators in this combination.
As a result, the market for RU-EN translations is segmented into at least three categories, with huge price and quality gaps between them.
Three quality categories
- The first category is native speakers of English who are professional translators. Being in the best position to translate into their native language and equipped with professional training, they deliver top-notch work.
- The second category is non-native speakers of English who are professional translators. They produce average translations that appear to follow English grammar and punctuation rules, but use language patterns typical of Russian, sounding weird to native English speakers. Such word-for-word translations are called “Runglish.” Here is an example:
Russian Runglish English Мы уделяем особое внимание нашим услугам в области устного перевода. We pay particular attention to our services in the area of oral translation. Our focus is interpretation services.
- The third category is non-native speakers of English who are hobby translators. As if literal translations were not bad enough, these folks also inject them with mistranslations, grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Often lacking essential knowledge of the English language, they fail to adhere even to basic rules, such as distinguishing between BE and AE spelling.
What do you make of these categories? Most importantly, you need to understand you quality expectations before you buy. And by all means, include these expectations into consideration, rather than make your choice based on budget alone:
- Just like medical or legal services, important translation is a service that does not lend itself to economy. You need a professional native RU-EN speaker for mission-critical content where nothing but top quality is acceptable. For instance, it makes no sense to save on translating marketing copy, because you will inevitably end up with texts that fail to sell or, worse, make people ridicule you. Here is an example of a great marketing translation from Russian into English: Bitrix24.
- For less important materials, such as documents submitted for legal reasons only or internal company materials, a professional non-native RU-EN speaker might be sufficient. If you believe that average quality is fine for a particular piece of text, there is nothing wrong with buying this kind of translation.
- Going with the cheapest hobby RU-EN translators is never a good idea. Although you might enjoy the low costs, you will end up wasting your time and money or even damaging your reputation. You may think that you are saving money, but in the final analysis, you are losing it. Think of it this way: you can spend an entire day doing something that you could have done by a professional in just one hour—you are not really saving money doing it yourself, but wasting time you could have spent way more productively.
How to ensure you get a native speaker to translate Russian into English
You can take certain steps to have your translation done by native speakers:
- Insist on a native speaker when you talk to a translation agency’s sales person. That does not mean you will get one, but still increases the odds.
- Request a sample from an agency to evaluate quality before you buy.
- Try engaging a translator who is a native speaker directly.
Another way to safeguard yourself is to outsource translating from Russian to English to folks who know these subtle differences and have your best interest at heart like we do. Contact Velior for a free quote today so that we can recommend you a quality level that meets your needs.