Why Free English to Spanish Translation is Bad Business

Many American and Canadian companies who do business in Mexico use free translators such as Google Translate. They figure that their Mexican counterparts speak English, so there is no reason to pay for professional translations.

However, that’s not a profitable strategy in the longterm. It might save you a few pennies, but you could lose thousands of dollars. Here’s why:

Not every employee in Mexican companies reads English.

The directors and middle managers may speak English, at least a bit. However, if you’re dealing with a Mexican supplier, your directions may be performed by employees with no English abilities. In those instances, your communications and requirements may be delivered orally—perhaps by someone who doesn’t understand the project at all. Or, the workers may just be handed your e-mails and left to figure it out on their own.

Such practices lead to production errors, delays, or materials that do not meet your specs, all of these will cost you money and time. And the worst part is that you may never know the true reason because no company will tell you, “The material is offspecs because my employees didn’t understand your e-mail.”

Your client’s client may not speak English.

If you are working with a Mexican retailer or distributor (rather than a supplier), your products are likely to be used in Mexico by Mexicans. American products that are technological or mechanical in nature typically arrive with instructions or a manual. Having a well-crafted manual in Spanish—translated by someone who understands your technology—will reduce complaints, returns and customer service inquiries in Spanish.

Machine translators make mistakes.

Some e-mails are pretty obvious and easy to translate. Others are not. Getting a free translation from an online translator can mangle your message and make you say things you didn’t intend. Consider that a structure or word in one language can mean the complete opposite in another. Translations should make things clearer rather than more confusing for the reader.

Free translations have their place and they can give you a rough idea of what you’re saying or being told. However, they are not reliable enough to use for business.

If you’d like us to translate your literature or website, send us an e-mail at: info@spanglish.info.

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