International business could not be possible without translators and interpreters. In all its forms and sizes, good business runs on effective communication. Translators and interpreters are the key to bridging cultural and linguistic gaps, as well as making international business and trade possible since ancient times.
Professional translation services and interpretation services can ultimately help you uncover hidden potentials in foreign markets. By working with them, you can also inundate yourself with the knowledge they can offer you as a means of self-improvement as a businessperson.
What makes a professional business translator and interpreter
Having bilingual or multilingual abilities alone won’t automatically make you a language professional. You need to possess advanced language skills obtained by years of extensive study and even cultural immersion in the country of your chosen language.
Both translators and interpreters need to decide early on during their studies what language pair specialization they want to pursue, such as English to Spanish, English to Chinese, etc. Clients should often look for language professionals with a specialization, as a language professional with one or two language pairs is bound to be more dependable than a ‘jack-of-all-trades but master at none’.
While being either a language professional is hard enough, more can be said for professional business translators and interpreters. Aside from advanced language skills, they need to have the right background knowledge in financial and legal terminology since business documents and proceedings are often peppered with it. They can also choose to specialize in certain industries, such as banking, automotive, gaming, retail, tech, gaming, etc.
Now what obviously marks the difference between a translator and interpreter is their work environment and skillset application. They’re often labelled interchangeably but there are very different from each other. Translators mainly work on documents while interpreters perform live language translation.
Additionally, translators have on-site resources to aid their translation work. Interpreters can only rely on their knowledge and experience as their resource. With this in mind, not all translators can become interpreters. They need to develop cross-cultural communication skills and have the ability to handle immense pressure and remain cool in situations where even a single mistranslation can prove disastrous.
Where to get the right professional translation and interpretation services?
Some major international businesses regularly rely on their in-house business translators and interpreters. But that’s not an asset that many small to medium enterprises can employ full-time on standby.
Instead, freelancers are often used, who handle specialized and project-based translation and interpretation jobs when businesses lack in-house options. Even big-name brands rely on freelance language professionals from time to time.
When it comes to hiring a freelance translator or interpreter, your best route to contact them is from a professional translation agency. Despite their name, they provide both professional translation services and professional interpretation services. You can tap language professionals from major freelancing sites such as Upwork and Fiverr, but the trick is ensuring consistent and reliable outputs from your freelancer.
Professional translation agencies already have a pool of translators and interpreters working anywhere around the world. When it comes to projects with urgent deadlines, a professional translation agency can get a team for you to get the job done. Another advantage is that if one of them calls in sick or has an emergency, the agency can immediately tap into the next person to continue the job.
The international business arena is dynamic, and a lot of unforeseen things can pop up at the last minute. With that in mind, it would be better to rely on an agency that has global networks and a sufficient pool of highly qualified language professionals. Since business communication is very sensitive work, never rely on a free online language translator such as Google Translate. Even a single typo or mistranslation can jeopardize your documents.
How professional translators and interpreters are crucial in international business
International business lives and breathes on seamless communication. As said in the beginning, this is as relevant in the past for thousands of years as it is today. Here’s a list of a few critical areas where you’ll be needing professional translators and interpreters.
1. Local legislature and financial documents
Whether as a private individual or as a public official, you need to know the lay of the land first. Translating legal documents and financial documents requires different expertise, and you’ll often need at least two translators. As for interpreters, perhaps you’ll need two as well, depending on the situation at hand.
2. Multilingual contracts
This is an unavoidable part in international business. The majority of your multilingual business contracts will be handled by your professional translator. But during on-site meetings, you can’t depend on your translator to settle any clarifications. For that, your professional interpreter’s background knowledge in financial and legal terminology in both language pairs will prove indispensable to you.
3. Securing foreign investments and funding
When startups and businesses look to secure more financing options, they usually go abroad. Whether from foreign banks or foreign private investors, your translator will get all your documents. Your interpreter will then take care of on-site matters.
4. Negotiating with foreign partners and suppliers
Depending on your business, you might have to get in touch with foreign partners and suppliers. Your translator will take care of technical and financial documents, while your interpreter will handle on-site negotiations and even informal communication.
5. Connecting with foreign partners
Negotiating and connecting are two very different things. While negotiations are a formal aspect of any business, connections are more concerned with the informal and personal side of business.
Many international business cultures greatly value how you conduct yourself in their environment in terms of foreign business customs and etiquette. Naturally, your interpreter will have all of these taken care of. But it also pays off to know even the basics of their customs and etiquette.
Top business languages other than English
1. Chinese (Mandarin)
Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world with over 900 million speakers. It’s also a highly lucrative business language. A huge number of Chinese businesses are looking for opportunities abroad and you can capitalize on that trend. Global businesses are also reaching out to the vast market opportunities that mainland China commands.
Japanese industries are major players in the global economy in all industries. Thus, having dealings with a Japanese business could be one of your options as their sophisticated homegrown industries are hard to ignore. You will need to have a professional Japanese translator on hand to specifically handle a different version of Japanese called keigo. This is a formal Japanese speech used in business, the government, and even in retail that even native Japanese people have trouble with.
Another major Asian economic player is South Korea. Just like Japan, Korean industries are also a major player in the world market. Korean brands are key players, particularly in the automotive, technology, and electronics industry. As with Japan, you must ensure that your professional Korean interpreter is adept with business Korean.
German is often characterized as a quintessentially business-oriented language. You can perhaps see the connection since Germany has the highest GDP in Europe. Depending on your business goals, reaching out to German businesses might be your first step if you want to establish your business contacts in mainland Europe.
Compared to other European languages, Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world. It is spoken in the European continent and much of the Americas, both north and south. Keep in mind that each Spanish country is linguistically, culturally, and socially unique from each other.
The Hispanosphere is vast, and each country is bound to have its own way of doing things. So, when hiring a professional Spanish translator and interpreter, make sure that their Spanish proficiency and knowledge match with your target country.
These countries and their languages were chosen because of their economic development and strength of their industries. You can also take your chances in emerging economies such as the ASEAN region, select African countries, and select Latin American countries as well.
What you can learn from language professionals
The key to growing as a business is to keep learning as you go along in your career. Whether as a CEO or a business representative, having an open mind is what will set you apart from your competition. You can learn a great deal from the translators and interpreters with whom you associate.
Sure, they’re only with you when you need them under specific times. But that doesn’t mean you ought not to learn anything from them. Learning languages is more than just aiming for linguistic proficiency. It’s also learning about cultures and their way of life.
You become more culturally aware of the diverse ways of doing things around the world. You can use this perspective to inevitably help you as time goes along. The globalized economy we live in today is becoming more competitive with each passing day. All in all, an international perspective is what will ultimately unlock more market opportunities for you.