As the world continues to shrink, with people, companies, and documents moving between countries more than they ever did before, translation services have become essential. They are particularly critical in certain fields: financial, technical, legal, and medical. A mistranslated word or phrase may make the difference between profit and loss – or, in the last three fields, quite possibly life and death. There are a myriad of documents that can be translated within each of these four fields, but allow us to briefly illustrate the importance of a few subgroups for each.
Regulatory Requirements: Multinational companies need to be cognizant of the requirements in each country where they set up shop, so to speak. In February of 2014, Fiat and Chrysler formalized their union with a new company registered in the Netherlands, headquartered in the US and Italy, with an address in the UK for tax purposes, and with production facilities all around the world. Maneuvering through all of the red tape, filling out all the necessary forms, and hopping over the hurdles in each country can be laborious without a clear understanding of the rules. Accounting Practices: Quarterly statements, annual reports, sales forecasts, business plans—all of these are important to keep the shareholders informed and happy. A good translation of these products not only gives clarity to the numbers, but keeps the message and the direction strong. Banking: Whether it’s a bank dealing with leveraged buyouts for a Fortune 500 company or one providing mortgages for the couple down the street, it’s essential to come across as a company that’s not only competent with all of the multiple financial options available for growing wealth, but one that projects a good face to its potential clients—like the friendly teller of a largely bygone era.
Engineering Specifications: Will your widget work as intended? The bill of materials, the CAD drawings, and data sheets all have to be spot on. Moving technical data from country to country means translating with a target audience in mind—making sure chemists in Belgium can communicate with chemists in Sri Lanka, or avionic engineers in Spain can send accurate data to avionic engineers in Russia. Math may be a universal language, but the presentation of mathematical data across borders requires a strong translator. Guides: Whether it’s the factory worker or an end user at home, knowing how to operate the technology is key—and usually a great source of frustration. Operating manuals, user guides, websites—they all need to be coherent. It is said that there’s a right tool for any job—in the case where your product is an import or export, a good translation service is always the right tool. Marketing: This is an instance where it’s not just important to accurately describe the product. It’s important to excite potential customers, and a good translator can find the right words for the product. Not just the literal translation, but a lively translation.
Business Contracts: It’s often said: “beware the fine print.” For a contract that is essentially pages and pages of fine print, better make sure that both parties are in complete agreement. When phrases in English in a contract signed by two speakers of English can lead to years of litigation just because of a disputed interpretation, think about how much more essential it is to arrive at the right meaning for speakers of two (or more) different languages.
Patents: When so much of business success has depended on “building a better mousetrap,” it’s certainly a good idea to make sure that your brainstorms are detailed accurately enough that they don’t open themselves up to being legally exploited. Conversely, it’s a good idea to make sure that you understand similar foreign patent filings enough that you don’t open yourself up for a lawsuit by building the same “mousetrap” and mistakenly positioning yourself as the first one with the concept.
Courtroom: With so many legal decisions hanging not just on the burden of evidence but also on the procedures through which that evidence is presented, it’s crucial that translation not stand in the way of justice. A translation error could mean the difference between freedom and prison just as much as a clerical error could.
Daily Life: Immigration visas, travel documents, wills and trusts, adoption papers – there are a great number of everyday documents for the general population where small translation mistakes can mean big headaches for the individual in question.
Communication Between Doctors: Doctors share a very precise language; layman terms like “fever” or “pain” have already been translated to more definitive terms so that doctors can share information that is both accurate and timely. Skilled translators know the glossary of similar terms for a hospital in other countries, ensuring that medical knowledge and ideas can be transferred just as accurately and just as quickly. Health Care Providers: Denial of benefits is one of the major talking points of those who decry the failings of the heath care business. It is in the best interest of both patient and provider for plan options to be presented in a clear fashion, and for applications to be less confusing than they need to be. When coverage can be denied simply for filling out a form improperly, make sure the application questions are asking what they should be asking, and that the applicant’s responses are saying what they should be saying. And when coverage is granted, the billing process needs to accurately reflect the services provided. Patient Care: Whether it’s the chart hanging in the operating room during emergency surgery, or the instructions for taking prescription drugs at home, there can be no misunderstandings. It is in moments like this that translation is most critical. A doctor has the power to save a life of a patient from another country, but only if a translator has made sure that all the necessary and vital information is at that doctor’s disposal.