The Importance of Cultural Translation

Cultural Translation

One of the most challenging aspects of translation is cultural translation, which requires not just being bilingual, but understanding the cultural differences between two parties. For example, it is relatively easy to literally translate what a person says, but it takes another skillset entirely to understand the meaning and convey it correctly in another language.

Cultural interpretations often require the translator to have personal experience in both the cultures they are translating between. For example, an immigrant to the United States who does not speak English faces many challenges when seeing a doctor. He or she might already be scared and overwhelmed, and to make matters worse the descriptions of their symptoms (in their native language) may have nuances, slang, subtleties or barriers that require the skills of a cultural translator.

Beyond Lost in Translation

The world already lacks qualified interpreters around the world, and current technology can only do so much to translate within cultural barriers. This is why premium translation services are so critical. Even within languages it may be necessary to differentiate among dialect differences or read between the lines. Translating has two parts: understanding the language and understanding the culture.

With written documents, the cultural part remains an issue. For example, an English-speaking entrepreneur who wants to pitch a project to a potential investor in China but only communicates in Mandarin has a much bigger challenge than merely translating his or her business plan into Mandarin. A minefield of cultural faux pas is on the line, even if the communication only occurs in writing. This is where cultural translation can play a key role.

An Understanding Approach

Superior translation services don’t simply translate word for word. The goal is clarity and understanding. This is similar to understanding cultural norms when visiting a foreign country. In some countries you may shake hands, brush feet, slightly box or kiss on the cheek. Getting a greeting correct contains seemingly endless options, so imagine the challenge in translating documents.

Seek out a translation services company that prioritizes cultural translation as well as literal translation. You need both in order to be successful and best represent yourself or your company in another language. Otherwise, an innocent oversight could lead to disastrous results. Trust your translation needs to the experienced professionals at Verbatim Solutions. Their translation skills are top-notch, and they understand the importance of all the distinctions in a thorough cultural translation.

Translation Quality Is Paramount

Quality Translation

A high level of translation quality is crucial to every business and individual who seeks interpretation services. It may be difficult for those outside the industry to understand exactly what constitutes a high-quality result, however. To further complicate the issue, quality standards vary in every translation, depending on the material, its audience and other situational factors. Although quality evaluation tools and algorithms do exist today, the most effective means of ensuring that you receive a quality translation is to select a translation service provider with high standards and provide them with the necessary information to ensure that your unique content is rendered appropriately into the desired language.

What is Translation Quality?

A translated text is evaluated on several factors. Readability is important, as is usability. How appropriate a translation is for the desired audience is also crucial. The number of errors a translated text contains is another potential factor in measuring quality. Each quality factor must be evaluated and measured in specific ways. For example, readability can be measured by evaluating the degree of comprehension and recall a test audience reports after reading the translated text. Although translation speed is often measured as a part of quality evaluation, this factor is only weighed heavily in certain circumstances.

Why Translation Quality is a Constantly Moving Target

Translation quality requirements are definitely on the move, and the value of any given translated text depends on several factors. Primary among these are the audience, the content itself and the content’s purpose. Certainly fluency with both the original and language the text is to be translated into is important, but this alone cannot guarantee a superior result. The ability to discern excellent results is also important, to provide a basis for evaluating translated texts. Unfortunately, case-specific human evaluation can be highly subjective, expensive and time-consuming.

Ensuring Translational Quality

The research shows that briefing a translator about your business, services and products is crucial, as is providing relevant terminology and vocabulary. In most cases, finding translators who are also subject matter experts simply isn’t necessary, as long as you can provide a reasonable level of detail. Providing the right information about your audience is also critical, because no one knows your targets better than you do. Communicating expectations will establish a sound basis for future outcomes. Industry specialists have developed tools for evaluating translation quality, but these tools are not practical for most clients who use translation services. The best way of ensuring a high-level outcome on anything other than a production basis is to verify that your translation service certifies their translators’ skills and abilities.

Verbatim Solutions certifies its translators using the proprietary Verbatim Certified program. You can rest assured that every Verbatim translator will deliver an optimal result, whether your project is large or small. Trust Verbatim Solutions to provide the highest translation quality in the industry.

Quality Translation with a Fast Turnaround

Fast Quality Translation

The demand for fast turnaround of high-quality translations is growing each year. As the business world becomes an increasingly global marketplace, the language barrier, which may have been avoidable in the past, now must be tackled head-on. For many businesses and individuals, rushing to hire a translator can lead to more trouble than it’s worth. It is critical to hire a certified translator or translation company that promises both quality and a reasonable timeline.

Sometimes you can anticipate the need for translation services, but not always. Don’t rely on translation apps, translators offering suspiciously low rates on Craigslist or your old roommate from college who spent a year studying abroad. You, your project and your goals deserve the best.

Consider these instances that call for translation services, and be prepared with the contact information for a reputable translation agency:

1. When you’re doing business with a foreign company

Perhaps your Palo Alto startup piqued the interest of an investor or potential partner in China. Your contact may communicate in English, but you can show much more respect, dedication and sensitivity by offering documents in Mandarin or Cantonese.

2. When you’re applying to study abroad

If you’re in a university program and are applying to study abroad in a country where you don’t know the native language, there are probably regulations and tests in place already. But take care when writing in your non-native language. Hiring a translation company ensures you won’t make embarrassing mistakes.

3. When you’re applying for a visa

Maybe you’re applying for a work visa in another country or you’re preparing documentation for a potential employer. When you don’t know the language of the country that you’re applying to work in, that can cause problems. It may be required, depending on the country, that you have certified translations included. If not, it’s still a guarantee that having no faux pas in your paperwork will allow your visa to be processed more swiftly.

4. When you’re publishing in a foreign language

Whether you’re self-publishing a novel on Amazon or have been asked to contribute to an anthology in another language, you don’t want a poor translation to butcher your original work. When a certified translator isn’t offered from someone like your publisher or editor, it’s wise to hire one yourself. Otherwise, you can’t be sure that your work will be translated well.

Select a certified translator with a fantastic reputation. It won’t only give you peace of mind, but also a competitive edge. When you need expert translation services, rely on Verbatim Solutions for professional results and a fast turnaround time.

Cultural Understanding and Translation Services

Cultural Understanding

Translation of any text involves more than just words. Cultural understanding is as important as words, phrases and context when re-interpreting a text from one language to another. Cultural translation is tied to the study of scientific principles, but involves other complex influences as well. When any company seeks to conduct business in another geographic location, cultural understanding is crucial to a successful localization effort.

What is Cultural Translation?

Cultural translation is based in the science of cultural anthropology, but it also involves grammar, linguistics, epistemology, psychology and social considerations. An effective translator requires a contemporaneous grasp on the politics, economy, arts, humanities and even the various dialects of the geographic target. A detailed understanding of the region’s history is also important, as most idiomatic phrases and colloquialisms have a historical basis. Cultural rendition between Eastern and Western cultures is particularly challenging, unless the translator has had the opportunity to become immersed in both.

Translating Culture as well as Words

Some experts suggest that successful translation between languages requires the work of a traveler as well as a translator. Although the basic understanding of any given culture can be achieved through study, social factors and influences are constantly evolving. Subtle shades of meaning are not learned in the classroom, and the same word can have divergent meanings between languages. To illustrate this concept, consider the English context of the word “milk.” Taken literally, it is the protein-rich liquid with which female mammals feed their young. In the American social context however, it may also refer to the utilization or exploitation of something or someone. Proper nouns and technical expressions can successfully convert based on words alone. Beyond those limitations however, culture must be decoded as well.

Successful Localization through Cultural Understanding

The literal interpretation of words may successfully render precision in the resulting translation, but that will not inherently make the new text easy or pleasant to read. Professional translators understand that a well-translated text may not literally mirror the original copy word for word. An academic assignment may require that approach, but for real-world purposes, effective localization demands the rendering of cultural meanings as well. Consider also the target audience for your translation. Academic-level translations may be more geared toward a highly educated audience, but a typical average consumer may have an education level well below that academic threshold.

Verbatim Solutions employs more than 4,000 certified, professional translators with specialized cultural knowledge. If basic word-for-word translation services won’t meet your needs for localizing your business services, materials or applications, contact them today for translation services that incorporate this crucial level of cultural understanding.

How Human Translation Compares to Machine Translation

Human vs. Machine Translation

Human translation has long been the gold standard when translating text from one natural language to another. Unfortunately, the human approach is relatively slow and more costly than are automated services. Without some degree of personal involvement however, it is difficult or impossible to achieve a professional quality result using technology alone. Today, the growing sophistication of machine-based translation can support and assist the professional translator in achieving outstanding results.

The Gold Standard of Human

The inherent challenge in translating between natural languages is context. Most words have more than one meaning depending on the words around it. English speakers and writers are prone to using idiomatic words and colloquial phrasing, many of which convert poorly into another language. Computer-based translators have historically lacked the ability to recognize non-standard or informal usages, resulting in translations that can range from clunky to unfortunate. Personal translation overcomes these hurdles, assuming the translator has a strong working knowledge of both languages as well as more subtle nonstandard word usages.

New Models and Platforms of Machine Translation

For simple words and phrases, most people turn to their favorite search engine for a quick answer. When the copy is complex however, especially if it relates to business or technical subjects, this unsophisticated approach can result in disaster. Fortunately, high-quality machine translation is rapidly becoming more commonplace. In fact, machine translation is being used in many medical treatment settings, especially in those cases where human translators are not available. For more formalized, written word translations however, experts caution against total reliance on machine-based services if your goal is to achieve true localization. Today’s model is moving toward a combination of a human translator working in concert with a sophisticated machine translating system.

The New Hybrid Paradigm of Translation

Sophisticated new technology applications have greatly improved the role that computers can play in translation services. Nevertheless, human involvement remains necessary, at least to some degree, to ensure high-quality output. In this hybrid model, sometimes known as machine-aided human translation (MAHT), the human translator identifies proper nouns and industry-specific words, terms or phrases prior to submitting copy to an automated system. Once the computer processes its translation, the professional translator proofreads and edits, so that the nuances of natural language translation are achieved. Augmenting the process with computer-based translation applications can effectively reduce both time and cost for the client while ensuring a tightly controlled level of output.

At Verbatim Solutions, the Verbingo™ cloud-based translation management system provides a host of advantages. Clients save both time and cost with centralized file management, quality control, translation memory and reuse. Verbingo™ also allows Verbatim Solutions’ clients to track their work’s progress on their smartphone or tablet. It’s cloud-based platform allows collaboration and document sharing and even the upload and reuse of past translations. Contact Verbatim Solutions today to learn more about the ways Verbingo™ assist the professional human translation process.

3 Pitfalls of Translation Apps

Translation Apps

There’s a (translation) app for that—but is it going to deliver everything it promises? In the digital era, it might seem like everything you need is at your fingertips. Sometimes it is, but you need to make sure your app is localized to reach any and every potential market. Apps can be a lifesaver, but they’re pretty useless to your audience if they’re not available in the necessary language. You and your customers need more than a translation app: You need apps that are localized for in-demand languages.

Here’s an increasingly common conundrum for app developers: Localize your app to offer it in multiple languages or let your customers scramble for translation apps that may or may not be high quality. You’ve already created a stunning app, and you want to make sure it’s just as flawless no matter what the language. This means user-friendly interfaces, affordable pricing and localization translation that’s spot-on thanks to certified translators.

Still think your customers should (or would!) “wing it” by using both your single-language app and a translation app? Think again, because here are some of the biggest issues with third party translation apps:

1. Apps that promise the world

If an app promises that it can translate Toni Morrison to Romanian in 1.5 seconds, it’s going to fail miserably. It’s extremely difficult to accurately, effectively and quickly translate any complex and lengthy document—which is why your app itself should be localized to reflect the actual culture and context of the language being translated. There will be major errors with many translation apps. Translation apps are an accoutrement of bigger translation services and should only be used in a pinch.

2. They’re backed by a non-translator

The good news these days is that anyone can make an app. That’s also the bad news. If you’re delving into multiple languages, all apps should be created with a certified translator or translation company. Just because an app looks impressive and guarantees the world, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t whipped up by a bored 16-year-old with two years of high school Spanish. Count on a reputable translation company to ensure developers are creating localized apps instead.

3. It costs as much as a flight to Tibet

You don’t need to spend a lot for localizing an app’s language, but remember that to some extent you do get what you pay for. Is localizing your app across all operating systems going to cost more than that $0.99 translation app your customers might be tempted to otherwise use? Of course, but the experience and your company’s professionalism is well worth it and you’ll win the long race.

This doesn’t mean you should steer away from translation apps. They can be immensely helpful if you’re desperately looking for a bathroom in rural Mexico. However, as a business that’s serious about doing global business, translation apps shouldn’t be dictating what your apps are saying. With localization guiding your developers in the right direction, you’ll seamlessly integrate into new markets.

5 Things to Look for in a Certified Translator

Certified Translator

When looking for high quality translation, a lot of the legwork has been done for you: You need and deserve a certified translator. The institutions that grant these certifications vary country to country, state to state, and even specialty to specialty (for example, medical translators are governed by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters as well as state-related agencies). A high quality translator or translation company is quick to highlight the certifications they hold.

There are a few things to consider when looking at the certification, training and background of a professional. Many types of certifications require at least a bachelor’s degree in the language of choice, but that’s just the foundation. Here are the major things you or your business should consider when hiring a translator:

1. Quality of their degree

Not all degrees are created equally. Your translator should have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution—you may prefer that they attended university in a country where their translated language is the native language (that’s your preference). Many translators also have advanced degrees in fields like linguistics.

2. Certification

Only you can determine which certification you require and/or prefer. One of the most popular is the American Translators Association exam. Research the certification types to determine the best fit for your needs. Your translator should also be happy to explain what their certification consisted of.

3. Experience

Education, training and “proving” yourself with a certification is important, but nothing trumps experience. You may not want a translator who’s using your project as their first official, paying gig. On the other hand, maybe you want someone with the kind of ambition and passion that only comes with newbies.

4. Critical skills

Different translators have different niches and critical skills, such as business, speaking skills, listening or writing. Ask your translator what they consider to be their best skill and weakest. You should aim to match your needs with your translator.

5. Tech skills

Tech skills are increasingly crucial in a virtual environment—there’s a good chance you’ll never meet your translator face to face! If you really need them to be highly skilled with a certain software, operating system or be available for video conferences, this is crucial to check.

Most importantly, remember that it’s not just about the language. Your translator should also have a firm understanding of the culture in which you’re doing business. This can make a difference in how they translate (such as the level of formality).

5 Benefits of Being Multi-Lingual


Certified translators can tell you there are a lot more benefits to being multi-lingual than being able to score a job as a translator. Of course, you know the biggies like making travel easier, having more effective global business relationships and being able to show off to that good looking out of country-er you meet at the sidewalk cage. However, the benefits of being multi-lingual go much deeper than you think.

For starters, those lucky enough to learn more than one language at an early age enjoy more intellectual growth and it has been shown to enhance mental development. This means students develop more thinking flexibility, take advantage of higher language sensitivity and generally have a better listening ear than others. However, you don’t need to start as a toddler to get all the benefits.

Here’s why multi-lingual speakers might be leaving others in the dust:

1. You’re less likely to develop dementia

According to research conducted by Dr. Thomas Bak, should a person develop dementia, multi-lingual speakers delayed the onset by 4.5 years when compared to mono-lingual speakers. The reason? The demands of switching between languages is a form of natural brain training. Brain training is something anyone can indulge in, but it’s often put on the back burner—unless you’re multi-lingual.

2. You can multi-task better

Unrelated studies have recently shown only a smidge of people can actually multi-task—but they’re probably multi-lingual. According to researchers at the University of Granada, switching back and forth between tasks uses a very similar brain function as switching back and forth between languages.

3. You’re more sensitive and open-minded

The Financial Times reports that multi-lingual people are naturally more sensitive and open-minded than their mono-lingual peers. It’s the result of seeing from someone else’s point of view, and the innate knowledge that there are all kinds of perspectives.

4. You have better focus

Neurologist Judy Willis reports that multi-lingual people have better focus and don’t fall victim to distractions as easily as others. They’re also more responsive to feedback and make decisions faster than others.

5. You’ll do better on tests

There’s evidence that multi-lingual people perform better on tests (likely because of all the benefits listed above!). Their thinking skills are stronger, and when it comes to making quick decisions—like with timed tests—there’s no doubt that people who speak more than one language have an advantage.

The good news is that it’s never too late to learn a new language. Yes, it’s “easier” the younger you are but that’s no excuse. However, until then, rely on quality translation services instead of a quick and dirty “solution,” like Verbatim Solutions, for complex translations.

What Does Google Say the Next Must-Know Language Will Be?

Most Requested Languages

When it comes to top requested languages, Google knows a thing or two. Google Translate might be one of the most popular solutions in a pinch, but it doesn’t come close to competing with a certified translation agency. However, if you want to figure out how to say, “You’re cute” to that out-of-towner on a dating site, Google can probably deliver.

What Google lacks in quality, comprehensive and customized translation it makes up for in research—that’s where the search engine leader really shines. Google doesn’t just choose which languages will be added to their program willy nilly. It’s based on demand, and there are constantly new languages being added. Currently, the available languages hover around 90, but you can tell a lot from what the most recently added languages are.

Consider this a heads up for which languages you might be requesting from your reputable translation service soon. The sooner you know which languages are in hot demand, the sooner you can secure a translator who can take care of those documents for you.

1. Chichewa
In Malawi, 12 million people speak Chichewa. If you haven’t heard of it before, you’re clearly not tuned in to the Voyager interstellar probes. It’s one of the 55 languages used in the greetings that travel the galaxy on the Voyager.

2. Malagasy

A whopping 18 million people speak Malagasy, mostly in Madagascar, and it’s the official language of this country made famous to kids from the beloved movie of the same name. A unique language, it places the verb first in sentences, with the object and subject following.

3. Sesotho

The third African language recently added, Sesotho boasts six million speakers. As the national Sesotho language, it’s one of only 11 official languages featured in South Africa.

4. Malayalam

Malayalam is one of the most popular languages in India with 38 million native speakers. It’s also considered one of just six classical languages on the subcontinent. For Google, it’s been “one of the most-requested languages” in recent years.

5. Myanmar

The Burmese language is the official Myanmar language and has 33 million native speakers. This is a tough one for auto translation according to Google—which is yet another reason to go with a certified translator.

6. Sinhala

This Sri Lankan language has 16 million speakers and was recently the “star” at the inaugural Sinhala Translate Week.

7. Sundanese

The Indonesian island of Java is where you’ll find most Sundanese speakers—all 39 million of them (not all at once, of course). Sundanese is commonly written in both the Latin alphabet and the native script.

8. Kazakh

Kazakhstan citizens speak Kazakh, which encompasses 11 million native speakers. There’s also Kyrgyz, which Google says is on their to-do list.

If you plan to do business with speakers of any of these languages, make sure you’re speaking their language—compliments of a certified translator when possible. Talk to Verbatim Solutions today for your exotic language translation today.

4 Emerging Markets Demanding Quality Translation


Quality TranslationThe top requested languages by translators are changing at an astonishing speed. As the global market becomes, well, more global, it makes sense that businesses are prioritizing not just translations—but quality translations. If you don’t offer documents, communication and data in the native language of your audience, you’ll lose that audience. The US is no longer the power house it used to be, as countries such as India and China continue to develop into world leaders.

Here are the major emerging markets that are demanding high quality translation. With millions of business leaders speaking a variety of languages, make sure your business is keeping pace:

1. India: Hindi (and hundreds of other languages/dialects)

Yes, many people in Indian metros speak English—but often as a second, third or fourth language. By far, the most “popular” language in India is Hindi. Many of the other languages and dialects, such as Gujarati or Marathi, are also similar enough to Hindi that text can be understood. If you know exactly which language or dialect a business requires, get certified translating in that language. Otherwise, Hindi is a relatively safe choice for Indian businesses and clients.

2. China: Mandarin and Cantonese

According to reports, China overtook the US in economical power in 2014. This means if you want to do business with one of the now-strongest economies in the world, it’s in your best interest to offer Mandarin and/or Cantonese-translated documents. Mandarin is by far the native language on the mainland, but Cantonese is the leader in Hong Kong and Macau.

3. South Korea: Korean

Bloomberg Business reports that South Korea is slated for a GDP growth of 22.9 percent by 2017. Many South Korean businesses have some level of English proficiency, but this is largely in metro areas like Seoul. Otherwise, the language of choice is Korean, and (just like China) having a non-Roman alphabet can be extremely challenging. That’s why only a certified translator will do.

4. Japan: Japanese

Geographically small, Japan packs a huge punch when it comes to securing a top place in the global market—especially in the tech and hospitality sectors. Of course, the national language in Japan is Japanese, yet another non-Roman alphabet. Particularly for tech-based corporations and startups (but really for any company doing business in Japan), it’s nice to know that there’s a decent sector of Japanese citizens/residents who communicate to some degree in English. However, to show respect, business savvy and seriousness (not to mention making things easier), it’s best to offer documents in Japanese.

These are just a few of the up and coming emerging markets. Russia, Namibia, Hungary and the Philippines also top the list. Communication is the foundation of business. Are you sure you’re offering it in the right language?