What’s It Like to Be Translated? — The Business POV

For many businesses, there comes a point when they face a big decision: “Should I expand my services to reach other countries or not?”Translation1

While many German business owners and independent consultants are fluent English-speakers, they often use the services of German-to-English translators for written communications, proposals, websites, and marketing materials.

Because I have never had any of my writings translated into another language, I wanted to find out what it was like, from the perspective of a business owner who has been translated. So, I asked a few of my translation clients about their experiences:

  • Prof. Dr. Nicole Jekel (NJ), Professor for Management Accounting at Beuth Hochschule für Technik Berlin (I translated text for her app, “Jekel or Hyde: The Game of Management Accounting.”)
  • Thorsten Jekel (TJ), Founder & CEO, jekel & team (I have translated a variety of business documents, handouts, and short website texts for his consulting business.)
  • Sabine Osmanovic (SO), Consultant & Trainer, SO! Sabine Osmanovic (I have translated a variety of business documents, handouts, and blog posts — as well as the entire website — for her consulting business.)

Those of you who may be considering having your own business texts translated into another language may find their responses enlightening.

Q. 1 – Has knowing that your work will be translated changed the way you write in your native language?

NJ: No. All of the questions and answers for my app were on the subjects of key metrics, marketing and sales management, cost accounting, finances, investment accounting, performance management, and other related topics. There was no reason to write differently just to be translated.

TJ:  No, but this is an interesting question for me to think about.

SO: After receiving the first translations from you, I started to write shorter sentences in my German texts. I’ve gotten the feeling that my texts have improved a lot since working with you.

Q. 2 – What was easier about the process than you expected?

NJ: Your translation process went a lot more quickly than I had expected, and you were very conscientious throughout the whole process.

TJ: The work with you was super uncomplicated and your understanding of what I intended to write was even beyond my already high expectations. I was always able to reach you and you were extremely flexible, especially with short deadlines. It was also a bonus that you could work directly with the provided documents.

SO: You easily understood what I wanted to say, even though you had to translate texts about topics you had never heard of before.

Q. 3 – What was harder about the process than you expected?

NJ: Sometimes it was not possible to have a direct 1:1 translation from German into American English. However, it was a pleasure to work with you to find a solution that made the most sense for the text.

TJ: The hardest part was to think about giving the translations to you earlier so that you did not have to rush, but there was nothing else harder than expected.

SO: There was nothing hard. Working with you was easy because you’re an absolutely reliable person.

Q. 4 – Was there a top “lesson learned” or anything that you would do differently?

NJ: I would not do anything differently. You are the translator I would choose, and I would unconditionally recommend you for translating and proofreading texts aimed at English speakers.

TJ: I would and will use you in even earlier stages of my translations because your ‘by scratch’ translations are far better than my first drafts.

SO: To be honest, I should have started working with you earlier to translate my website and other materials into English to reach out to the English-speaking market. Not only did it save me time but my texts also improved a lot.

For those of you who are considering reaching out to English-speaking markets with your business, what has held you back so far? Are you more angst-ridden about the thought of the “process” of being translated, or at the thought of expanding beyond your current capabilities?

Share this post on Twitter using the button below and tag me @bernadettegeyer to let me know what’s kept you from having your business materials translated!

Bernadette Geyer provides writing, copy editing, and translation services for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and writers. Examples of her translations can be found here. Geyer likes being a small fish in a big pond, and enjoys helping others move to bigger ponds themselves. Subscribe to her monthly news from the big pond if you’re interested in professional growth.

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