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Boutique translation companies vs. mass-producing companies

4/26/2012 by Susana Schultz

Blog 3 of a series of 4

Mass-producing translation agencies work with hundreds and hundreds of translators. Their translator pool is always changing, shrinking and expanding according to the availability of translators. Working with so many translators affects quality. Why? Because it means that they are handling a lot of volume and a lot of volume means that they cannot edit every work that they produce. As I have told our clients over and over, the companies who choose mass-producers should know that they are publishing the mistakes of the translators. When a client has a website with one million words, like many of the home improvement stores, price is key and quality is not. They need to get the job done at the lowest cost possible so they go for the lowest quote.

I know for a fact that this is what one major home improvement chain did. They came to us for price and they went to a lot of other people. I know that they gave the job to a company in Argentina. This included their gigantic website and all the in-store signs. Whenever I am in that store shopping and I see the Spanish-language signs with errors, I have to smile and say that the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” is true. When I see the kind of careless interpretation mistakes that show that whomever translated had no idea where the signs were going to be used and what they really meant, when I see the typos that could’ve been fixed by a second set of eyes looking at the translation, I can’t blame the translator for not knowing, I blame the person at the home improvement company who ordered the translations based on price for thinking so little of the same Spanish-speaking clientele they were trying to attract…

This goes back to what one person told me when we proofed something that was going to press and found that their designer typed and not copied and pasted and created an egregious error. She didn’t want to have to fix it so she asked me: How bad is the error? How bad is an error? Isn’t the nature of an error bad enough? When is an error a good error?

The thing is, when people can’t read Spanish, errors are not important to them, saving money is. That defeats the purpose of them translating things into Spanish in the first place. Didn’t they decide to translate into Spanish because they wanted to attract the Hispanic segment of our population? Don’t they want our money? How about showing us some respect by having signs in Spanish that have no errors?

Strictly Spanish partners with clients that have similar values when it comes to offering a quality product. We are really proud of the commitment to quality that exudes everything our clients do.

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