The Importance of Translation in the Workplace

With 37 million native Spanish speakers in the US, the importance of translation in the workplace is increasing. This is becoming a significant part of business for certain industries such as construction, where over a quarter of the workforce is Hispanic, with 10% being in managerial roles.

Neglecting translation can lead to a lack of morale, safety issues and potential legal proceedings.

Documents to translate into Spanish

When a business looks at translating material into Spanish there are certain key documents that should be at the top of the list.

Employee Handbook

When a new employee joins a company, an employee handbook is a valuable resource for them. It tells them about the company procedures and policies, and gives them a go-to reference for when they need information. By translating this into Spanish, you are ensuring Spanish-speaking members of staff have all the necessary information.

Safety Manuals and Signs around the Workplace

Safety has to be paramount in any workplace. If a large part of your staff speaks English as a second language, then translating safety manuals and signs will protect both them and you. From safety manuals for machinery to simple ‘mind the step’ signs, there are many aspects that should be considered.

Several years ago, there was a serious gas leak at Tyson Foods when a Spanish-speaking employee misunderstood a warning label on a container. This could have been avoided if the company had invested in translation.

OSHA and Healthcare Forms

Failing to translate forms used to record injury and illness can lead to mistakes being made. If an employee does not understand the form and completes it incorrectly, legal and ethical implications can arise. This can be costly for companies if it leads to compensation payouts. OSHA estimates that $1 billion is paid per week in workers’ compensation.

Tax Forms

Only having an English version of tax forms can put Spanish speakers at a serious disadvantage. Filling in tax forms inaccurately due to misunderstanding can lead to them receiving less pay than they are entitled to, but could also result in accusations of tax fraud.

All Company Communication

Any business that has a significant proportion of Hispanics should look to translate all company communication, such as emails, memos and flyers. This will not only ensure that each and every employee is up-to-date with the content of this communication, but it will also make all employees feel included and valued.

Celebrating the Fourth Fastest-Growing Industry in the United States!

September 30 was International Translation Day – the day for translators and the translation industry as a whole to stand up and be celebrated! Translators are not always been seen as they work in the background of many industries. Yet it is thanks to them that many other industries prosper due to the ability to maximize their reach to different areas of the globe.

The history of International Translation Day

Originally a day to celebrate St Jerome, also known as the patron saint of translation. He was the man who translated the bible in to Latin. This was the beginning of the bible being translated into 636 languages, with the New Testament alone now available in 1442 languages.

Since 1953, St Jerome Day has been celebrated worldwide in order to raise awareness of the importance of translation. In 1991, the International Federation of Translation officially deemed the September 30 to be International Translation Day.

The translation industry in figures

International Translation Day calls for a look at the figures of the translation industry, which has continued to grow in times when other industries have suffered.

Reports from the Centre of Next Generation Localisation have named the translation and localization industry as the fourth fastest-growing industry in the Untied States. The industries using the widest variety of languages are software products, medical devices, automotive and pharmaceuticals.

According to the CNBC, the last seven years have seen a 24% increase in the number of operating translation companies, as well as a significant 50% jump in the number of people employed in the industry.

Technology has not replaced the need for translation

Despite speculation that technology and the advent free online translation tools could damage the translation industry, it is in fact technology that has seen the industry boom.

As the Internet has become ever present in life and in business over the past two decades, globalization has develop the increased need for translation worldwide.

Research results from the Common Sense Advisory, a translation industry think-tank, showed that “a full 63% of global brands recently reached more customers by increasing the number of languages on their websites”. Without translation agencies, this extended reach would not have been possible.

The translation industry – a facilitator of international reach and growth. That’s something to celebrate!

Translation tool privacy breach explained

A Word of Warning about Free Online Translation Tools

News broke at the beginning of the month that large amounts of documents that had been submitted to were visible to the general public.

Norwegian news agency NRK was the first to run the story, which detailed the exposure of sensitive information about Statoil, Norway’s state oil company. Contracts, workforce reduction plans and dismissal letters were publicly available to see online after the company had opted for a free online tool for their translation needs, in place of using a translation agency.

Slator, a translation industry news site, investigated further and reported similar findings for other companies and industries, including documents such as email exchanges, late payment notices, tax matters and termination letters.

Reaction from governments and institutions was quick and abrupt. The Oslo Stock exchange instantly blocked access to

Translation tool privacy breach explained offered a full and detailed explanation of how this privacy breach occurred, stating that the documents in question had been submitted via a system that ceased to be used two years ago.

Up until the end of 2015, used volunteers to translate documents submitted to the site. These documents were stored on the cloud so that all volunteers had access to them. This also meant that they were publicly available online. defended their system choice, stating that it had issued clear warnings on their homepage. The point was also made that the free service was not appropriate for business use involving sensitive data, and that a private, protected and payable enterprise service would be better suited.

An apology was offered, together with a strong warning to remove private data from documents that are submitted, including names, addresses and phone numbers.

Why translation agencies are a safer option

 When employing the services of a translation agency, you can rest assured that your data will be treated with the utmost privacy. Reputable agencies will have non-disclosure agreements that are signed as a matter of routine to ensure 100% confidentiality.

Using a free online translation tool may be an appealing way of saving money, but is it worth the risk? Exposing sensitive data and information could cost your business much more than money. You could lose your hard-earned reputation and client base.


Proofreading a text

How to proofread your own translation

A common belief is that translators can proofread their own texts due to their language and linguistic skills. However, this is often not the case as translators become ‘blind’ to their own mistakes. No matter how many times they read a text, they may not spot every error.

Working with a translation agency will probably mean that another translator or proofreader will check your translation. However, if you work with direct clients, there may not automatically be another pair of proofreading eyes.

Proofreading your own translation

Whether it is you or someone else who is going to be doing the final proofread, you should always make your target translation text as error-free as possible. Some tips of the trade below should help you proofread your own work:

Take a break

The first rule of proofreading your own translation is to take a break before doing it. Proofreading straight after you have completed a translation will heighten the risk of you missing your errors. You need to leave the text for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes.

Different format

Reading the translation in a different format can make you see mistakes that you haven’t noticed on screen. Printing out a hard copy and marking up with a pen is one option, but changing the size, color or font of the document is also useful.

Don’t rely on spellcheckers

Spellcheckers will only pick up on spelling mistakes, but won’t highlight when you have accidentally used a wrong word. ‘Fact’ can easily become ‘fat’ and ‘from’ often becomes ‘form’ when typing quickly.

Search and replace

The search and replace function is an effective tool for finding a variety of errors. All translators make the same repeated mistakes, often in the form of a typo, writing ‘teh’ instead of ‘the’ or adding in spaces to words turning ‘to this’ into ‘tot his’. Using search and replace is a good way of finding your common mistakes, as well as highlighting double spaces, and also checking any numbers, digits, place names or business names that must be 100% accurate.

Using Playback

Using a program to play back your text to you is an excellent option. Mistakes that you have not spotted will become very clear to you when you hear them out loud.

Point at the words

If you decide to print off your work to proofread it in hard copy format, simply pointing your pen at the words will focus your eyes and brain more and will make it easier to pick out any problems.

Reverse reading

Master the skill of reverse reading – literally read each word from the last to the first. This will make you concentrate on the words rather than the content.

Find a proofreading buddy

Teaming up with a fellow translator as a proofreading buddy is a cost-effective way of having someone else look over your work. A reciprocal arrangement will mean you both benefit.

Highlight errors in the source text

Having studied a language for many years, you will be able to spot any errors in a source text. Make a note of them and highlight them to the client. It’s a nice touch and will make them more forgiving if a couple of your errors do slip through!

Not all the above techniques will work for all translators, so the best way is to try a few out and find which ones suit you. Proofreading is an essential part of translation and these tips will help towards you creating error-free texts.


Which industries are most in need of translation services?

Translation is becoming key in so many industries, it may be easier to answer the question of which industries are NOT in need of translation. With the global market expanding before our eyes, translation services are becoming more sought after by an ever-growing variety of industries.

Here, we will look at which industries are seen to most need translations services.

E-Commerce Industry

The e-commerce industry in the US grew by 15.6% in 2016, reaching a total of $394.86 billion. Any online business that wants to sell their products or services internationally should consider translation services. Anyone clicking onto a website who doesn’t speak the mother tongue of the country that business is based on will soon click away if they do not see those magic flags in the top right hand corner of the home page, signaling a translated website.

Finance and Legal Industries

As international trade booms, large financial transactions take place every day. Contracts, reports, correspondence all have to adhere to legal standards and trade and market laws, and the only way to accomplish this is to ensure accurate translation of these documents.

In addition, any company wanting to do business outside of the US needs to show willing to strengthen client relationships by employing specialized translators to facilitate communications and legal matters.

Medical Industry

Internationally and within countries such as the US where Spanish is the first language of a large proportion of the population, translation in the medical industry is paramount to safe practice, for patients and doctors alike. For more information see our articles:

A Guide to Translating Health Care Materials into Spanish – First Part

A Guide to Translating Health Care Materials into Spanish – Second Part

Travel and Tourism Industry

The travel and tourism industry is all about communication between people from different countries, who speak different languages. Be it booking websites, brochures, destination guides or even online reviews, the more material that is translated, the more successful the industry will be and the larger the gain for the country’s economy.

Human Resources Industry

No matter what the industry, any company that has a significant proportion of employees who speak another language should consider translation services essential. This is of particular importance in the US, where many companies have a growing presence of Spanish-speaking workers.

Translation of human resources documents protects both the company and the employees. In the event of an altercation being brought to court, a company who has translated employee manuals, safety documents, policies and procedures into Spanish will stand up much better in front of a judge.

And of course, the translation industry is also in need of translation! A translation services website that is translated into the language of its target audience will attract much more traffic and business.

A Guide to Translating Health Care Materials into Spanish – First Part

Consider for a moment what it would be like if you broke your arm on holiday in Mexico. One minute you’re enjoying soaking up the sun in your resort, the next you slip on your way to the pool, and you’re on your way to hospital not understanding a word anyone says around you. From start to finish you don’t understand questions that are asked of you, never mind being able to answer them, and you realize that this communication barrier puts you at risk.

The situation is no better for the health care professionals at the hospital. As a doctor or nurse, treating patients you cannot communicate with is far from ideal. On the one hand, they are injured or sick and require treatment, but on the other hand medical treatment requires understanding and consent; proceeding without this is a risk to the patient and to the doctor´s reputation and career.

This exact situation is why producing and translating materials into different languages is an essential part of health care.

Why provide health care documents in Spanish?

Spanish is the second language of the US and 900,000 Hispanics live in North Carolina alone, which is nearly 10% of the state’s population. There is a considerable part of this population that has limited or even no English. Providing health care and medical documents in Spanish aids communication, but these translations need to be accurate and appropriate in order to achieve the following goals:

  • to ensure understanding of diagnosis, treatment and medication schedules, as well as any other educational or informative materials.
  • to eliminate the risk of patients unnecessarily attending services such as the emergency room. For example, a patient with sunstroke may just need rehydrating, but if the source of the problem cannot be communicated, the patient will end up taking up emergency resources.
  • patients will retain medical printed materials if the translation is of a high standard. Badly translated materials or materials in unknown languages are quickly discarded.
  • to protect medical professionals from legal proceedings as a result of miscommunication due to lack of professionally translated information.
  • to eliminate time being wasted trying to communicate in unknown languages.

Remember: Poorly translated medical and health care materials are as much of a risk as having no translated materials at all.  Only accurate, professional Spanish translations will help communication with Hispanic populations.

Recommended steps for health care translations

There are certain recommended steps that should be taken when planning health care translations.

Preliminary planning

Spend some time investigating whether the information you want to translate into Spanish already exists in your organization. If translated materials are already available, consider how you will evaluate them. The level of accuracy will need to be checked thoroughly as mistranslated information makes the purpose of a translation null and void. The reading level will need to be assessed to ensure it is of the correct level for the target audience, in certain situations a simplified text will be more appropriate.

Evaluating existing Spanish materials

When there is a sudden need for health care materials in Spanish, medical settings may use existing translations without evaluating them first. However, the evaluation step is crucial to ascertain if the material is accurate, appropriate and therefore usable.

This evaluation can be carried out by a Spanish speaker within your organization, or you will need to employ the services of a Spanish-speaking proofreader or editor who will be able to compare the content to the English version and check the quality and accuracy of the translation.

Other points that should be thoroughly checked include whether the text is culturally appropriate, whether it targets its audience in the appropriate way and finally whether it reflects your health care setting’s recommendations and provides up-to-date information.

Remember: Ordering pre-existing bilingual materials from a catalog or agency is no guarantee of quality and very few medical organizations have their own evaluation procedure.

How to present Spanish translated materials

Another important step when considering translating medical materials into Spanish is how they will be presented. There are various options to choose from:

  • having two separate versions: one in English, one in Spanish.
  • having one document with both languages. For one-page documents the English could be on one side and the Spanish on the other. For longer documents the translations could be separated into different sections, or the Spanish could be set in a block next to the English text.
  • including the Spanish under each line of English. However, this method tends to be used more for forms, as it looks untidy and can be hard to follow in extended pieces of texts.

In our next post, we will discuss how to recruit qualified translators, negotiate terms, the development phase and how to review and proofread translated materials.

When choosing a translation agency is the right choice

The translation agency versus freelance translator decision is an important one for any company that is in need of translation work. As money is a key issue for any business, some companies automatically lean towards a freelancer, thinking they will be the less expensive choice, but is that always the right choice?

Advantages of translation agencies vs. freelance translators

Although at first glance, a translation agency may be a little more expensive, in the long run many companies find that it is far more time and cost effective to go through agencies than deal with a private freelancer.

Project team

One of the main advantages of a translation company is the fact that they have a team of translators, overseen by a project manager. This means that the correct translator for your specialized area will be chosen, ensuring high quality of work. Freelance translators generally only have one or two specialties.

In addition, a team means that there is always somebody to cover the work if a translator falls ill or becomes unavailable at the last minute. Choosing a freelancer means that there is a high risk of delay if anything unexpected arises.


In the event that you have a very large translation project, multiple translators will be assigned, meaning that the work can be turned around in a very short timeframe. The project manager will deal with all communications between the team, saving you time and making the whole project much more time efficient.

Proofreading and quality verification

Proofreading your own work is almost an impossible task, as however dedicated a freelancer is, it is very difficult to spot every typo or grammar error when you have written the text yourself. Most translation agencies provide a proofreading and quality verification service, meaning that translations are checked by a second translator, and when multiple translators are used for high volume projects, the work will be standardized to ensure consistency. Remember to check with the translation agency if revisions are made by a different translator than the one that translated the text

Other advantages

Other advantages of using a translation agency over a freelance translator are that there are generally more payment options available with agencies such as credit cards, and they are also more likely to have more advanced translation technologies that remain unaffordable for many freelancers.

Time is money

The reason we say that it can be more cost effective to go through an agency is that, quite simply, time is money. How much is you time worth? If you are spending time communicating with multiple freelancers, proofreading work and essentially project managing the translation project yourself, how much is that actually costing your company? Your time could be spent elsewhere. The difference in cost between an agency and a freelancer is often surprisingly negligible, especially when you take into consideration the above points.

Is Being Bilingual Enough?

Parents of different nationalities who are raising their children to be bilingual are often met with comments that their children will grow up to be translators. This begs the question though of whether being bilingual is enough.

Whilst a child may grow up to be able to speak two languages, if they have been immersed mainly in only one culture, they will not necessarily be bicultural.

Here lies the question: does a translator need to be bicultural as well as bilingual?

Bilingual vs. Bicultural

Looking at The Oxford Dictionary for the definitions of bilingual and bicultural, we find the following:

  • Bilingual: Speaking two languages fluently
  • Bicultural: Having or combining the cultural attitudes and customs of two nations, peoples, or ethnic groups


Being bicultural is a lot more involved than being bilingual. Many people can become bilingual: university graduates, people who use a second language in their job, children of parents with different nationalities, and basically anyone who is willing to put in the hard work it takes to be able to use more than one language proficiently.


Becoming bicultural is not as straightforward as, generally speaking, it means somebody has to have lived within a certain community, experienced everyday life, eaten with them, taken part in traditional celebrations. Basically, they need to have lived and breathed the culture in the same way they have their native culture.

Why is Being Bicultural Important as a Translator?

Turning to the Oxford dictionary again, the definition of translation is ‘the process of translating words or text from one language into another’. Surely being bilingual should be enough if we take this definition literally, so why is it important for a translator to be bicultural too?

In reality, a translator needs to understand so much more than just the words and grammar of a language to be able to produce a true and accurate translation. Being bicultural as well as bilingual means that amongst many other aspects, the nuances, allusions and idiomaticity of a language and culture are understood; basically the information that a dictionary cannot always convey. Without this, a translation risks being stilted and awkward.

Bilingual is a Gateway to Bicultural

It is believed by some that being bilingual is a gateway to being bicultural. A person can be bilingual without being bicultural, but it would be very hard to be bicultural without being bilingual. Without language, it would be very difficult to enter into a community with enough depth to gain sufficient understanding and knowledge and meaning to be counted as bicultural.

How can you lower your translation costs?

Everybody who has ever needed to translate a document knows that translation costs can be expensive. There are several ways in which you can make your translation cheaper. In this article, we discuss tactics that can help you lower your quote by a good margin. All translation buyers can adhere to the following tips, and cut costs

: The cheapest format is a plain text. If you have resources for formatting your document, email a Word document as formatting will need DTP and costs more. By doing so, you can get the translation done for cheap and then format it the way you want.

Target audience
: Instead of opting to translate your document for a specific audience, you can choose to translate it to reach a broader audience, by translating it to Neutral Spanish. By doing so, you can even pay less for your translation as it takes longer to search for a translators for a specific audience. Care has to be taken to make sure that when translating to Neutral Spanish terms that are easily understood by any Spanish speaker are used.

Certified Translation
: It is highly recommended that you only request for a certified and/or notarized translation only if you have to present the translation to an institution or organization that requires a certified translation as the translation will be more expensive.

Turnaround time: Urgent translations are charged higher. Provide time for the translation to be completed in order to avoid the extra costs charged for an urgent translation.

: Some agencies provide discounts for high volumes. It is advisable to send all the documents you need for translation when you require a quote or inform the amount of words that you expect to translate.

By following these tips, you can be sure to save a good deal and at the same time get your translation done in an efficient and reliable manner.

Calendar of translation events – June 2016

Being a Successful Interpreter. Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland

Panel on Natural Language Processing (NLP). Women in Localization, San Jose, California USA.


Symposium on Corpus Analysis in Legal Research and Legal Translation Studies.Transius,
Geneva, Switzerland


ABRATES VII. Brazilian Association of Translators (ABRATES), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


2nd annual Bread Loaf Translators’ Conference. Middlebury College. Ripton, Vermont USA


LocWorld Dublin. Localization World, Ltd. Dublin, Ireland


When Translation Meets Technologies. University of Portsmouth & Institute of Translation and Interpreting, Portsmouth, UK


4th International Conference on Game Translation and Accessibility. TransMedia Catalonia Research Group, Barcelona, Spain


10th Summer Institute of Jurilinguistics. Network of Jurilinguistics Centres, Montreal, Canada


Ukrainian Translation Industry Conference. InText Translation Company, Orlivshchyna, Ukraine


Audiovisual translation: dubbing and subtitling in the central European context. Constantine the Philosopher University, Nitra, Slovakia


Localization for the eBay Global Marketplace. The International Multilingual User Group (IMUG),
San Jose, California USA


Eighth Asia-Pacific Translation and Interpreting Forum. TAC, FIT, XISU, Xi’an, China


IJET-27- Japan Association of Translators, Sendai, Japan

PAPTRAD’s 1st International Translation and Interpreting Conference. Portuguese Translators & Interpreters Association (APTRAD). Porto, Portugal


SDL Translation Technology Insights. The future of technology within the translation industry. Online event.


Localization unconference. Localization unconference Team, Heidelberg, Germany


MLA International Symposia: Translating the Humanities. Modern Language Association,
Düsseldorf, Germany

29-July 1

Critical Link 8. Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies, Edinburgh, Scotland