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Six Reasons to Avoid an Unprofessional Translator Like the Plague

If you’re a translation buyer, these are some of the potential issues to be aware of when you’re considering using someone who isn’t a pro. An unprofessional translator (UP) is typically an individual who has a full-time job in a completely different field and does translations in spare time as an additional source of income.

  1. Because a UP doesn’t have such thing as a professional reputation, he/she doesn’t have to bother about consistent quality. Each time you engage him/her for translation, it’s a game of chance. If you’re lucky, you might get good quality, but that’s not a reason to expect the same results next time.
  2. Since a UP doesn’t need to be proficient with the advanced translation technology, he/she might use very simplistic price calculation methods and bill you more than you should pay as a result. For example, you don’t have to pay the full rate for repetitive text, but you actually will if your UP doesn’t recognize that your text includes internal repetitions and doesn’t give you a discount you’re entitled to.
  3. A UP may accept your job without realizing he/she doesn’t have the necessary expertise. Translation is like law. One translator can’t be all things to all people. Just as a sought-after lawyer, a translation pro specializes in a few selected subject matter areas. Focusing on a few areas makes it possible for him/her to translate faster, better, and even cheaper. In contrast, a UP who doesn’t understand your materials very well is likely to produce a poor translation and bill you more for the time he/she spent inefficiently.
  4. Unless your materials for translation are in a very simple format, chances are your UP won’t be able to make the translation look exactly like the original. A pro is very proficient with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OCR software for translating PDFs, and so on. A UP who doesn’t feel comfortable with them may ruin the formatting in your files, and you’ll end up fixing it yourself. If you are a translation agency who needs translation as a bilingual file, a UP can claim he/she knows the required CAT tool, but then deliver just a clean target file or bilingual files with all kinds of problems like missing tags.
  5. A UP is often unavailable after delivering the translation. If you need to make a few changes to translation or ask a question, don’t expect a quick response from an individual who has a full-time job doing something completely different.
  6. If you have complex instructions for your translation such as strict rules for translating graphic user interface items, it’s quite likely your UP won’t be able to follow them. Because people generally don’t like instructions and instructions make things too complicated, it’s very compelling for a UP to ignore them. Some UPs may even think they know better.

As long as you’re fine with the potential issues above, using a UP for your translation needs might be fine. Otherwise, what you need is a translation professional. Learn more by reading this post about why professional translation services might be pricey, but they’re worth it.

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About the Author

Roman Mironov
Roman Mironov
CEO & Founder

As the founder of Velior, Roman has had the privilege of being able to turn his passion for languages into a business. He has over 15 years of experience in the translation industry. Roman has helped dozens of clients increase sales by making their products appealing for speakers of other languages.