Foreign language interpretation is often a crucial part of legal matters – and one that many people don’t fully understand. We spoke with Emily Shearer, Director of Client Services at Trustpoint.One to learn more about what’s involved and what steps people should take to ensure a positive outcome.

What are some of the key points to understand – and some of the biggest misconceptions?
One common misconception is that the people who perform document translation and the interpreters are one in the same, but the fact is, translating and interpreting are two very different skill sets. Few people master both, so the roles are typically performed by different individuals, and it’s therefore unlikely that the interpreter in the courtroom would have had any part in translating the documents.

Further, legal cases can be fast-moving, especially during the discovery phase, and there may be hundreds or even thousands of documents to review. When a foreign language is involved, a team of professional translators with strong project management support needs to work in concert to meet strict deadlines. Since many of those translators may reside in other countries, it would be impractical – and largely unnecessary – to have that team be present during court proceedings, even via videoconference.

But doesn’t the translator need to vouch for the accuracy of their work?
Very few translators will agree to testify, especially if they know that several people have been working on the materials. The question quickly becomes one of responsibility: who finalized the documents? Who will take responsibility for the translation being accurate? Given those questions, the standard in the industry is for the language services company providing the translations to certify them. Essentially, we know the professionals we have hired and vetted for the particular subject matter and language combination at hand, so we are confident that the end-product is accurate. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that “legal translation” means many things – most importantly, that the translator has both subject matter expertise and an excellent grasp of both languages. That combination is key to a successful legal translation.

Are the interpreters certified as experts in a particular language?
Well, yes and no. The oral and written certification process only exists for about fifteen languages. For all the others, there may be an abbreviated version or none at all, so you’re not always going to see certified interpreters. This is all the more reason why you need to know and trust the company you’re working with, and be familiar with their general background, what kind of experiences their clients have had, and how many legal or court assignments they have completed.

Beyond being fluent in the language, what factors do you consider when you’re evaluating an interpreter’s level of competence?
Firstly, recruiting qualified interpreters takes time – time that many attorneys or paralegals do not have to spare. Whether it’s an unusual language combination or one that’s in high demand, your language services provider will already have a qualified pool of resources they know they can trust.

Second, competent legal interpreters must follow the Code of Ethics for Interpretation. They must understand their role in the courtroom and possess a broad range of skills including both consecutive and simultaneous interpreting as well as sight translation and whisper interpreting. Most interpreters learn some form of shorthand during the certification process, so they can quickly take notes while they actively listen – thus ensuring the accuracy of the message. They also need to be well-versed in all kinds of matters related to both civil and criminal hearings.

Whisper interpreting? Simultaneous? You gave a few different examples there – can you explain?
Example of Consecutive Interpreting 2:18 minutes
Example of Simultaneous Interpreting 1:06 minutes

Consecutive interpreting is the most common type of interpreting. The interpreter orally translates the words of each speaker after he or she has stopped speaking. The interpreter will often take notes during this process.

During simultaneous interpreting, the interpreter orally translates the words of the original speaker in real-time—while the speaker is still speaking. The interpretation is almost instantaneous, and special equipment is required.

Whispered interpreting is a specialized type of simultaneous interpretation. The interpreter is translating orally for only one or two people and speaks quietly so only they can hear it. No special equipment is required for this mode of interpretation.

Court interpreters also need to be experienced in sight translation: if the attorneys have documents that are in a different language, they will often need to be orally translated for the attorney or the client.

So what are some of the factors that can impact the way an interpretation session plays out?

Different courts often have different requirements or even legal constraints.

Remember, a court interpreter is completely neutral and unbiased. You can certainly bring your own interpreter, but in most cases, the courts will assign the interpreter. Depositions or other legal proceedings have a bit more flexibility. Both plaintiff and defendant will likely want their own interpreter present.

And then there’s the intrinsic difficulty of the effort. Interpreting is cognitively taxing even for the most experienced professional. Not only does the message need to be conveyed properly, but the emotion of that message does too. All parties need to consider the additional time that is required to work with an interpreter. Breaks are needed frequently and working in consecutive mode can as much as double the time needed to complete the proceeding. Some interpreters require that they work in partnership with another interpreter for lengthy assignments – especially if simultaneous interpretation is required. They switch and rest every 20 to 30 minutes. Lastly, many interpreters do not work more than a 6-hour day.

Is there anything else that people should know?

Professional interpreters will always request preparatory material. They need context – documentation, an explanation of the claims that are being made, information about the circumstances – in order to interpret everything correctly.

They will also be honest about their capabilities and subject matter expertise. Unfortunately, there is a lot of fraud in this industry. People pretend to be translators and interpreters, collect their fees, and then disappear or show up with no competency in the field.  So working in partnership with a reputable company is key. They know how to avoid such fraudulent applicants and already have a vetted network of experienced professionals to contact.

While working with a professional interpreter may seem costly to some, this is not an area where you want to skimp on budget. Keep in mind that just because someone is bilingual, that does not mean they have the necessary skills to interpret or provide document translation. It’s important to plan ahead and consider this cost in your budget, because a wrongly-conveyed message could result in a devastating outcome for your client.

Sum it up for us. What should people do to ensure a great experience?
First, do your research and work with a reputable firm. Second, whether you need interpretation, translation, or both, treat it like an integral part of the matter. Think of the interpreter as another member of your team, and make sure they have the context they need to do their job well. And third, plan for the effort. Make sure you understand the logistics that will be required by the particular court in question and that everyone is prepared and knows what to expect. If you do those three things well, your interpreter will be a real asset, and your experience will be positive.

Translation is a key element in healthcare communication. Millions of Americans speak languages other than English at home. When it comes to managing their healthcare, having insurance materials in their native languages is especially valuable. With a clear understanding of their benefits, they’re able to make better decisions about their health.

For healthcare communicators and marketing professionals, what to translate – and how – are two of the biggest challenges in developing materials and managing ongoing communications.

With limited time and resources, the translation of materials often comes down to seemingly impossible choices. Do you create brochures, press releases and website pages in English only? Or do you limit translations to just a few items – and perhaps only in, say, Spanish and Chinese? Should you handle translations in-house and if you do, will you have the personnel to handle it?

The good news: a full-service translation provider gives you options and flexibility.

How translation advances your top priorities

Translation is a not a simple task, but it’s a necessary component of your communications plans. Although health insurance companies have a legal obligation to translate their materials for members, there are plenty of convincing business reasons to expand your ability to translate materials.

  • Improve patient experience. Patient experience was a top priority for the healthcare industry before the pandemic, and there’s even more reason to focus on it now. As patients embrace new methods of care, there are more questions about what’s covered. In the coming months, insurers will need to clearly articulate changes to all customers, especially those with limited English proficiency.
  • Increase productivity of your customer service team. When critical documents are translated and easily available through self-service options, your customer support representatives will spend less time on the phone with your members. In addition, you’ll reduce the risk of miscommunication.
  • Meet important revenue-generating deadlines. Marketing and communications plans are often complex and tightly managed. Rolling out a new product or website requires numerous communications, and when revenue is at stake, missing a deadline has high costs.

By engaging a translation service provider, you’ll have a partner who can help you manage a high volume of content in multiple languages. Finding the right provider depends on knowing your specific needs – and what questions to ask. The following checklist will help you evaluate your options and get the answers you need to make the right decision.

What types of materials can you translate?

A full-service translation provider will have a solid understanding of the health insurance industry as well as a breadth of experience in the types of documents it can handle. Be sure to ask about their experience translating standard materials such as member letters, brochures and website pages.

Most importantly, the translation service provider should have experience working with specialized health insurance materials, including: Evidence of Coverage, Summary of Benefits, Denial/Approval Letters, Formularies, Member Handbooks, Benefit Summary, Medical Records, HIPAA documents and training, and Foreign Claims.

What languages do you support?

A full-service translation provider will offer the greatest efficiency because it can handle the translation of material into multiple languages at once. As you build your communications plan, you can prioritize the most common languages spoken in the U.S.: Spanish, Chinese, Russian, French, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole and Tagalog.

Also ask if they have native speaking human translators on staff to handle the languages you need. Native speakers provide an advantage: You can be certain the translation will capture the essence of your message and thus resonate with your members.

What is your process?

A quality translation service provider brings more to the table than simply transferring words from one language to another. You should expect the provider to provide a range of services. For example, editing and proofreading are essential for ensuring your message is clearly and accurately conveyed in every piece. Your corporate and marketing needs may also extend to other services such as desktop publishing, social media videos, eLearning localization and website translation.

What else is important to know?

Finally, don’t overlook the qualifications of a certified translation service provider. The team should offer health insurance subject matter experts, who are also deeply familiar with HIPAA compliance. Privacy and security are paramount, so ask if their platform is HTTPS secure and insist on a non-disclosure agreement.

Many organizations put off translation because it seems complicated. But working with a reputable translation service provider ensures accurate translation of your content. In addition, working with a full-service translation provider reduces the burden on your staff. They won’t have to spend hours creating their own translation of materials. As a best practice, be sure to have a translation management plan, which will help you prioritize materials and ensure timely translation of essential documents.

Despite uncertainty in the global markets, many organizations are still experiencing significant international growth. This means localization is as important as ever, and companies need to have a translation process in place that is both efficient and accurate in order to communicate effectively with global clients and employees.

In reality, many companies do not regard localization as a core part of their global business and end up asking bilingual employees to help with the translation of business documents. Some supervise the process or handle final proofreading, but many assume the most critical role of all — translator.

Consider the following scenarios:

  • One of your products is wildly popular in France, and it’s about to be upgraded. The local marketing manager volunteers to update all of your French-language marketing brochures and sales presentations.
  • You’ve just set up a new sales office in Shanghai. To train your new employees on company policies, you ask a bilingual employee in your New York office to translate all of your learning and development materials.
  • When your company had only two international offices, you only needed internal communications translated into those languages. Now that your company has expanded, you find you’re coordinating the efforts of five bilingual staff members.

Arrangements such as these can work, but it’s usually not long before organizations begin to outgrow them. For instance, you might begin to notice inconsistencies in boilerplate copy at the bottom of every press release. Your legal team may be surprised by small tweaks that have significant implications in a localized document. You start to experience delays because your bilingual employee needs to manage a more urgent deadline related to their regular work before getting to your translation. When time is of the essence and you need a fast turnaround, delays can have a negative impact on business.

Many organizations seek to avoid the pitfalls of relying on employees for this task by working with a translation service provider. Those that make the transition find there are several advantages to this approach. For instance, a full-service agency will be able to manage translations in almost any language and area of expertise. These services have access to hundreds of professional translators and can source bilingual experts that have the language- and industry-specific technical knowledge you need. Further, you’ll always have access to a dedicated professional translator whose primary job is to focus on your translation. As a result, you can count on a fast, professional translation that is entirely consistent with prior and future documents.

What’s more, it removes the burden of this task from your employees, many of whom assume these tasks as “side” jobs in addition to their regular work. When you engage a dedicated translation service provider, your employees no longer need to spend valuable time working on a tedious translation. Instead, they can use that time to focus on work that drives your business forward.

In addition, while it may seem an effective approach, assigning translation duties to members of your team presents numerous drawbacks. For example, although bilingual employees may be confident about their ability to translate a piece, that doesn’t mean they’re qualified for the task. Most don’t have the specialized training or knowledge that’s required to produce an accurate translation. The result is a poor-quality translation, which can make your organization look unprofessional.

Another problem: Employees usually don’t have the tools or software that professional translators use for speed, consistency and accuracy. Not surprisingly, most companies don’t invest in translation memory software. That means employees must translate documents manually. This approach is highly inefficient. It takes more time, results in delays and creates inconsistencies. Also, since they may not have access to the software used to create the original content (InDesign or MadCap Flare, for example), they simply recreate it in Word.

By contrast, professional translators can employ Translation Memory to leverage previously translated content and work within the original file format to retain formatting and context. And in some cases, machine-translation with post-editing (MTPE) can be used to save time, accelerate the process and reduce costs.

Once you’ve decided to make the leap to an external translation service provider, there are four steps you can take to ensure a smooth transition.

1. Build the business case. If you’ve decided your internal process isn’t meeting your needs, take the time to document how and why working with an external provider will be an improvement. It’s common to meet resistance to this type of change but spelling out the advantages up front will help you gain buy-in from key stakeholders.

Be sure to outline how the translation service provider will help your company:

  • Save time and soft costs on tedious translation tasks being done by your employees.
  • Avoid missing big opportunities, such as responding to large RFPs or launching new products before competitors, because your internal staff cannot meet your deadlines due to other priorities.
  • Manage larger volumes of documents for translation.
  • Handle translations in more languages.
  • Improve efficiency of the translation process.
  • Obtain more consistent, higher-quality translations.

Some of the soft costs associated with translation might include:

  • A poor-quality translation of your website can discourage potential marketing leads from making contact as well as hurt your reputation.
  • The time your sales manager spends translating marketing material is time they could have spent selling.
  • Missed deadlines delay delivery of products or services to customers and may put a valuable relationship at risk.

2. Involve your team. Many organizations find the loudest objections to using a translation service provider come from their own employees. Some aren’t eager to give up the responsibility, and few believe the quality of the agency’s translation meets their standards. One way to build trust in the translation service provider is to give the employees on your team – especially those who have been translating documents – a role in the transition. During this period, they can work alongside the agency, providing guidance and ensuring accuracy and consistency. They can help build a company-specific glossary and also transfer their knowledge about company style.

3. Communicate the benefits to your employees. Be clear that the switch is a business decision made both for the overall benefit of the company as well as your team. Some employees may take the change personally. Engaging a translation service provider means that all employees previously involved in day-to-day translations will have more time to focus on their main job responsibilities and advance critical projects. And if they’ve been working after-hours on translations, they can now spend more time with family and friends and on personal pursuits. If they seem reluctant to the change, seek to find the underlying reasons why.

4. Strive for consistency. It’s important to work with a translator who is not only fluent in the required languages, but who is also a good match for your organization’s tone and writing style. A good translation service provider will allow you to test two translators during the transition period so you can find the right match. During this period, you and your team will have the ability to communicate directly with the translator. The goal here is to collaborate and learn. Translator consistency allows you to move the process forward and not get stuck in an endless cycle of trials.

Making the switch to a translation service provider is easier than you think. The steps above will ensure your transition goes smoothly. With the new process in place, you can be confident professional linguists are providing quality translations of your global communications.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, 21% of corporate counsel in a recent survey said they’d experienced an increase in cross-border litigation. Recent global events, ranging from Brexit to tariff fights, all but ensure this trend will continue – and with it, the need for businesses to have a multilingual eDiscovery strategy.

In releasing its findings, the authors highlighted the expected impact of COVID-19, which the consulting firm believes will drive commercial disputes because it’s “threatening supply chains, challenging contracts and changing how companies are doing business.”

Such macro events affect both the urgency and scope of cross-border litigation. So it follows that attorneys who deal with international commercial disputes will be pressured to manage multilingual eDiscovery as efficiently as possible.

That’s no easy task. Cross-border litigation and eDiscovery are dauntingly complex, especially when matters involve intricate aspects of law and span several countries. For instance, a seven-year investigation of Walmart Inc. involved subsidiaries or affiliates in four countries: Mexico, Brazil, China and India. And Uber recently faced challenges to its operations in several non-English-speaking countries including Germany, the Netherlands and Austria.

In cases like these, the scope of discovery forces legal teams to contend with a vast store of documents, in addition to all of the usual challenges that go along with preparing for negotiations and court. On top of dealing with different formats – such as Word documents, emails, text messages and spreadsheets – legal teams also must cope with material in multiple languages. It’s not unusual to find records of digital conversations in more than one language. For example, executives in a France-based firm might email their British colleagues in French and receive their answers in English.

How can legal teams navigate multilingual eDiscovery, especially when dealing with large and complex datasets? While one approach is to engage bilingual contract attorneys, organizations can also leverage technology like machine translation to accelerate document review. In fact, artificial intelligence can do much of the heavy lifting, as it can handle three times more work than a human can. Combined with human translation, this approach can shorten the process and allow lawyers to focus on only relevant documents. It’s often more economical, too.

Best practices for multilingual litigation

If you think your organization may be at risk of cross-border litigation, act now to put best practices and systems in place. This way, you’ll be ready for any potential actions even before the need arises. Understanding the steps involved in multilingual eDiscovery is a good place to start.

Step 1: Expect the unexpected

Ask about languages during the custodian interview phase. Is it possible the documents that will be collected may be in more than one language? Once you’ve collected your data, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re dealing with. More often than you’d think, collections include documents in multiple languages. For instance, you might expect your collection to be entirely in Russian, only to discover it also includes documents in French, Georgian and Italian. Even within a single document, you may find content in two or more languages.

Step 2: Use language tools to structure your hosting environment

A language detection app, which is a common but not always used feature of processing software, will help you identify both primary and secondary languages within your document set. Translating your key search terms into the appropriate languages will ensure you don’t miss any important documents in, for example, French, even though you’re searching in Russian.

When it comes time to review foreign language documents you should consider running a machine translation test to see if the English output files are good enough for a first-level review. If so, this can save time and money over the traditional method of staffing a review with bilingual contract attorneys. And machine translation may be the best choice for less-common languages, as bilingual contract attorneys fluent in these languages may be harder to find.

Step 3: Add the human element for more polished translations

Once the review is complete, you may need to produce a subset of “hot docs” for court. Though machine translation is very efficient, it isn’t always able to handle some of the specialized language used in legal documents. For this reason, “human-like” translations need to be reviewed and polished by real people. Human translators will review and correct for specialized language, capture nuance, and deliver a polished translation that’s acceptable for court. Be sure to work with a professional translation service that can provide a Certification of Accuracy.

In conclusion, when it comes to cross-border litigation, it’s best to have a “language management” plan in place. Identify the languages of the documents you have collected, separate them for processing, translate keywords for searching, use machine translation where appropriate, and finish the process with high-quality professional translations for court.

Communication, compliance, and compassion during the pandemic

Translation and localization are important aspects of modern business. In fact, they’re arguably the foundation of global industry, and yet even the largest, most culturally-diverse company can easily overlook the necessity of localization, unwittingly impacting important projects and even damaging employee morale.

The key is to remember that translation and localization, while closely intertwined, can mean very different things. Translation ensures that the meaning of information in one language can be accurately understood in another, but localization involves a more holistic effort: everything from adapting graphics to reflect cultural norms to appropriately addressing local laws and regulations. Localization also applies to things like currency units, paper sizes, date formats and expansion or contraction of text when going to or from English.

Localization Requires Cultural Fluency

Successful localization efforts require people who are fluent in the language, but also familiar with the regional and cultural nuances, dialects and speech patterns. Even among language variants such as American, Australian, and British English, there are subtleties: use of z versus s, putting the period inside the quotes or outside, and a host of slang expressions and colloquialisms. To create materials that are truly localized, companies must fully understand and accommodate such subtleties.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made proper localization an even more pressing issue for global companies in all industries, in ways that many of us never anticipated. Now that so many professionals are working remotely, it’s imperative that organizations’ policy and procedure documents accurately convey new standards for compliance and accountability.

Comprehension is More Critical than Ever

Companies have an ethical obligation to ensure that employees fully understand how they’re expected to work together and interact during the pandemic. Remote work implies a broad range of new behaviors, and employees will likely require additional training and support to adapt. Using video conferencing for meetings is the most obvious example, but submitting reports, filling out time cards, and collaborating with team members must all be done differently when the employee is not on site. Clear and timely communication that has been properly localized is crucial for their success. Additionally, firms must be mindful of how they communicate about the pandemic itself. For example, in some cultures, standards for professional behavior have long required people to come to work even when they’re sick. Given the insidious nature of this virus, it’s especially important for companies to fight those norms with explicit and correctly localized instructions, especially for essential employees who cannot work from home.

Further, organizations should take steps to help all team members be aware of cultural differences and the nuances of dialect. For example, the Mandarin phrase for “social distancing” means “send far away” in the Wuhan dialect. And in India, where people speak more than one hundred different languages, the term is frequently used, translated, and understood in different ways. Clearly, HR and leadership should understand these differences when developing corporate communications, but ideally, awareness should extend to individual employees so that day-to-day conversations are as smooth and effective as possible.

Leverage Localization to Support Employee Wellness

Finally, most companies are doing their best to provide encouragement and support to employees who are juggling work and family life as well as a range of emotional challenges, from anxiety to boredom to plain old “cabin fever.” Employee Assistance Programs, or EAPs, should involve localization efforts to support effective communication and ensure that employees genuinely benefit from them. Further, HR and leadership should craft messaging to take cultural nuances into account. An expression that’s meant to be uplifting and inspiring may not have the same impact or meaning in every language, and there may be traditional, culturally-influenced ways of communicating solidarity and compassion that the company would do well to leverage. For example, the German version of a memo about the employee wellness program might mention Kummerspeck, a uniquely Germanic word that literally means “grief bacon” but actually refers to gaining weight due to stress and emotional overeating.

Effective communication is critical to the success of a business, and even under the best circumstances, global organizations face significant challenges when communicating with a geographically and culturally diverse workforce. During these trying times, it’s more important than ever to understand and execute on the subtleties of localization, and do our best to support understanding as well as comprehension – for the good of our teams as well as that of our companies.

Marketers have enough to do to manage their websites and campaigns in one language, let alone several. When it’s time to reach other audiences around the world, the effort can quickly become time-consuming and overwhelming.

Website translation, especially, can get a bit tricky. Websites are more complex, often involving embedded technology and images. Keeping up with constant content additions and changes adds another layer of difficulty. Many content management systems (CMS) recognize this problem and offer tools to help streamline the process. Even so, complications often arise that make it challenging for your team to effectively manage and maintain the translation process on their own.

The best way to solve this common struggle is to work with a language services provider that specializes in website translations. An experienced vendor can deliver a turnkey solution for any CMS, giving your marketing team the option of participating as much or as little as they like. 

For instance, let’s consider the impact of this approach for businesses using WordPress. This open source software is the most popular CMS, powering 38% of the world’s websites, including well-known brands such as TechCrunch, Sony Music, and Rolling Stone. Marketers can use its multilingual plugin to streamline the translation process, but they can save more time and improve the process further by working with a translation provider that specializes in WordPress WPML deployments.

Getting started with website translation

Your marketing team may find themselves in a number of scenarios as they consider how to approach website translation:

  • You’re considering or starting a website redesign project. This is the perfect time to add languages to your new site.
  • Your website may be partially translated, and translation needs to be completed or expanded.
  • There may be new content that has been added to your website that requires translation into one or more languages.
  • Perhaps your website has been translated, but the translation process isn’t integrated into your workflow, requiring manual copying and pasting of content.
  • You may even have a fully translated site with a relatively efficient process in place, but the person in charge of website translation has left the company.

Regardless of your situation, the WordPress WPML Plugin is often the first solution multinational companies leverage to solve the translation dilemma – and for good reason. The WPML Plugin is designed to make it easy to build multilingual sites. It’s a tool that allows companies to translate website pages and posts, and it can be compatible with every theme or plugin that uses the WordPress WPML.

However, there’s still a lot of setup and maintenance work involved for your marketing team. After the plugin is installed, there are many steps required to complete the translation process. You need to configure the layout for the languages and address all of the items – both static and dynamic – on the site including:

  • User Interface
  • Pages
  • Blogs
  • Images
  • Menus
  • Categories
  • Multimedia content
  • Downloadable content
  • Widgets and third-party content
  • SEO
  • And more

Depending on the volume and complexity of your site content, the process can quickly become overwhelming. If you have questions during the process, it can be hard to get immediate assistance. Maintenance is another headache altogether, especially if new content and images are added to the site on a regular basis. The complexity of both setup and maintenance grows with the number of languages being added.

It becomes all too easy for your marketing team to get pulled in other directions, and their plates are probably already full. As a result, the translation process falls off the radar. When this happens, you can’t reach customers or employees in their native languages, thus losing business and possibly not complying with certain regulations. Fortunately, you can spare your team this headache and fast-track the translation process.

Partner with a WordPress-savvy translation provider

When you work with a language service provider that specializes in WordPress WPML deployments, all of the heavy lifting is taken off of your marketing team’s shoulders. You can remain involved in the process as much or as little as you like, with the option of a complete turnkey solution in which the translation provider manages the initial and ongoing processes for you.

Your team only needs to purchase the WordPress WPML Plugin and determine the content requiring translation. Your language service provider will handle the rest, including:

  • Assisting with the setup and configuration of WPML
  • Processing source XLIFF/XML files
  • Creating glossary/style guide
  • Translating, editing, and proofreading
  • Implementing your subject matter experts’ translation feedback
  • Uploading translated XLIFF/XML files
  • Completing website quality assurance (proofreading via testing/staging)
  • Updating glossaries and Translation Memory
  • Performing final User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

Throughout the translation process, the bilingual subject matter experts on your team have the option to be involved in such tasks as the creation of glossaries or style guides, and side-by-side translation reviews. After the translation vendor has completed the QA process, your marketers can participate in the final website review process. Since they’re closest to the original content, they’re in the best position to identify any content issues or errors. However, participation in the review and editing process is entirely optional, giving your team the opportunity to focus on their other obligations.

A translation provider with proven expertise in the WordPress WPML Plugin will help your marketing team avoid getting bogged down in the details of website translation. They can take on the heavy lifting, allowing your marketers to spend more time on developing campaigns that drive business growth.

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Artificial intelligence is transforming machine translation (MT). Deep learning and neural networks have evolved into a new model – neural machine translation (NMT) – that has made MT faster and more sophisticated. But the future of translation lies in combining this new technology with human translators. Machine translation with post-editing is a rapidly developing service, and it heralds a swath of new opportunities for companies with a global footprint.

What Is Machine Learning with Post-Editing?

In 2014, researchers introduced the concept of neural networks to machine translation. Rather than memorize “windows” of words in sentences as previous models had done, neural networks look for the whole context of a particular translation. As a result, NMT produces a higher-quality translation in a shorter amount of time. What’s more, it continues to “learn” and improve.

Still, the technology has limitations. Though it’s suitable on its own for some use cases – such as getting the “gist” of an email message – it falls short when greater precision is required. That’s why machine translation with post-editing is one of the fastest growing services in the translation industry. The process is simple. Content is initially translated using NMT. Then, a skilled human translator reviews the output and edits for clarity and precision. The result is a better-quality translation – in less time.

This process is also highly efficient, an important consideration for businesses that need to translate larger volumes of content. For instance, as the internet has expanded access to a more global customer base, marketing teams must make social media and digital advertising content available in local languages. This is not an insubstantial task, especially as six in 10 international marketers don’t have support in all the local markets in which they operate, according to data from eMarketer.

However, machine translation with post-editing streamlines and simplifies translation projects. This process allows organizations to:

  • Handle large volumes of content. Many translation projects involve hundreds or even thousands of documents or pages. Examples include website pages, product support documents, human resource materials, and litigation documents used in the discovery process.
  • Accelerate turnaround time. Using NMT for the initial translation means human translators can focus on smaller sections of content, enabling them to deliver a high-quality translation in much less time than if they’d started the entire project from scratch.
  • Achieve greater precision. Though it is fast, NMT has its limitations. While it produces significantly better translations than statistical machine translation, it isn’t yet adequate for specialized text. However, when human translators conduct post-editing on machine-translated output, they can clean it up faster while ensuring creative and nuanced text is precisely translated.
  • Improve efficiency. By providing a foundational translation from which to start, NMT helps human translators be more productive. For instance, one longtime translator estimated that a good quality machine translation improves his productivity by 30 to 40%.

Working with Machine Translation with Post-Editing.

When evaluating a project for machine translation with post-editing, be sure to consider the following.

  • Languages. Because of the large amount of training data needed for NMT, the technology serves some languages better than others. For example, English, Spanish, and Chinese are more widely spoken and thus will require less post-editing and time to produce. Other languages will require a native speaker to produce a higher quality translation, extending the post-editing time.
  • Specialized text. Machine translation with post-editing will become more common for standard translations, but specialized content will still need the involvement of human experts. One of the limitations of neural machine translation is domain adaptation. The technology performs best in general use cases, but it’s not quite ready for specialized use cases, such as patents or healthcare.
  • Sector expertise. In order to ensure the subject matter is accurately represented and is compliant with government regulations, you need sector expertise. Certain disciplines such as life sciences and manufacturing have their own shorthand and terminology. Precise translation of this type of content is more difficult for artificial intelligence to achieve, making post-editing a critical step in the process. The American Translators Association recommends working with a translator who knows your subject inside and out.
  • High-stakes communications. What happens when more is at stake? Legal advisers can’t afford to misunderstand text as they determine how to proceed in a significant lawsuit. Products may not sell if the translation misses the cultural mark. Precision is essential in high-stakes communication, and the cost of errors can be high. For example, literal translations can lead to serious misunderstandings, especially in domains where words may have different meanings. A skilled linguist can ensure cultural accuracy.

When to Use Machine Translation with Post-Editing.

Machine translation services such as Google Translate are valuable for personal use or when “a sense of the content” is an adequate outcome. For example, Google Translate is ideal for tourists who want a quick translation of foreign-language signage at places they visit. Businesspeople conducting first-line research may value speed more, if they only need to get the gist of the news covered in an online article.

But for large scale projects that need to be completed quickly and accurately, machine learning combined with post-editing produces the best results. Artificial intelligence offers an efficient, cost-effective way to handle the large volume of content that businesses need to translate. However, human translators are better at capturing style, cultural nuances, and context than their machine counterparts.

To learn more, download our white paper: “How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Machine Translation and the Global Language Business.”

Two-thirds of companies say it’s challenging to be sensitive and adjust to local culture and communication styles, especially across multiple geographies, according to Globalization Partners. They can simplify the process by working with a translation partner that thoroughly understands these challenges.

The following checklist makes it easy to determine which content should be a priority for translation.

  1. Business-critical Documents
    • Mission and vision statement
  2. HR Materials
    • HR Manual
    • Employee benefits packages
    • HR forms
    • How to conduct a performance evaluation
  3. Internal Communication
    • Newsletters
    • Email messages
    • Corporate presentations
    • Employee handbooks
    • Company intranet
  4. Training Materials (scripts, training modules and quick reference guides)
    • HR training
    • Risk, regulatory and compliance
    • Organization leadership and development
    • Safety training
    • Anti-bribery/anti-corruption/ anti-trust
    • Workplace harassment
    • Cybersecurity training
  5. Ethics and Compliance Policies
    • Code of conduct
    • Regulatory compliance
    • Export compliance
    • Ethics hotline, posters & brochures
    • Procurement & supply chain
    • Ethics investigations
  6. Health and Safety
    • Safety data sheets
    • Manuals
    • Risk assessments
    • Occupational health and safety training
    • COVID-19 guidelines and reopening plans
  7. Salary and Payment Documentation
    • Compensation plans
    • Sales incentives

As you prepare to translate critical internal communications, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Define important terminology: Some words and phrases have different meanings in different languages, so they need to be clearly defined.
  • Account for local variations in languages: Regional dialects can have a big impact on a translation’s accuracy. Make sure you consider these nuances during the translation process.
  • Quality is key: Translations must be accurate, so a formal quality control process is necessary. Errors can result in misunderstandings and even injury.
  • Don’t forget revisions: It’s all too easy to translate a document once and then forget about it. If you revise the compensation or benefits package, be sure translated versions are revised too.

A reputable translation services vendor can work with you to ensure accurate translations of critical internal communications and help create a more inclusive, diverse environment across all locations.

With operations spread across multiple countries and continents, it can be challenging for global companies to engage distant employees. Companies with a global workforce face many challenges when it comes to employee engagement. After all, communicating company news and policies in multiple languages can be complicated.

However, research shows diverse and inclusive company atmospheres deliver tangible benefits. According to Gartner, they accelerate innovation and improve the bottom line. Meanwhile, a recent survey by Globalization Partners found that embracing multilingualism helps organizations achieve better results overall.

At the same time, though, Globalization Partners discovered that three in 10 employees don’t feel a sense of inclusion or belonging in their organizations. Just as translation of marketing content helps companies connect more effectively with customers, translation of critical internal documents helps global businesses make all workers feel as if they’re a part of the same organization.

6 Reasons you Need to Translate Internal Communications

It may be tempting to simply declare English as your official company language. It can certainly be a faster and less complicated way to disseminate information. Yet, there are many reasons why global companies should, and in some cases must, translate internal communications.

  1. Foster Diversity and Inclusion: According to Gartner, 75% of organizations whose frontline decision-making teams reflect a diverse and inclusive environment exceed their financial targets. Translating critical documents ensures universal understanding of, and higher engagement with, your organization’s mission and vision.
  2. Promote Ethical Behavior: While no organization is immune from corruption or misconduct, global corporations are especially at risk. Almost half of companies have experienced economic crime and fraud, according to a 2018 PwC survey. In addition, problems are more likely to occur in subsidiaries or joint ventures far from headquarters, writes Mary Jo White, former chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, in Harvard Business Review. Leaders, more than compliance programs, set the tone for ethical behavior, White noted, underscoring the need to translate both messages and policies.
  3. Ensure Legal and Regulatory Compliance: In some countries and states, the law requires certain internal communications to appear in the employee’s primary language. The best way to avoid legal issues is to err on the side of caution and translate all important communications. For additional insight on the types of workplace language laws in various countries, the Association of Corporate Counsel covered a number of examples here.
  4. Attract and Retain Better Talent: Global organizations can’t be sure the best employee for a given role will be a native English speaker. When they fail to provide internal communications in a preferred language, employees are more likely to feel undervalued and misinformed. That makes them more inclined to look for a job somewhere else. Also, companies risk missing out on hiring future top performers if compensation and benefits materials aren’t available in local languages. Simply put, a person who can’t fully understand what comes with the job is less likely to accept it.
  5. Reduce the Risk of Misunderstanding: When companies provide materials in the staff’s preferred language, everyone is sure to understand the organization’s goals and expectations. When they know what to do and how to do it, employees are more productive.
  6. Improve Worker Safety: If employees can’t understand your safety procedures, they’re at much greater risk of on-site injury. Such incidents not only lead to downtime, but could result in lawsuits or possible legal penalties. While safety should be top of mind for all organizations, it’s especially important when employees are working in factories or operating machinery of any kind.

A reputable translation services vendor can work with you to ensure accurate translations of critical internal communications and help create a more inclusive, diverse environment across all locations.

A Fortune 200 global manufacturer was transforming their Human Resources (HR) platform so that the workforce would be able to carry out activities previously handled by HR team members. The goal was to engage employees and their managers in making decisions swiftly, without requiring multiple levels of approvals. They determined this change would require translation of hundreds of documents into the eight languages most frequently spoken by 90% of their workforce.