Many agencies and companies offer information in Spanish to their employees and customers in the United States. Yet, I find that some of those texts fail to flow and sound natural. Typos also seem to be common, and I have always wondered why so many translations are not taken care of properly.
I once spotted a mistranslation at a local business and let them know. The manager answered, “Sorry, but that is just for the cleaning team. We used Google Translate because none of us speaks Spanish. All our patrons speak English.”
Unfortunately, that answer did not surprise me as I had already sensed that they did not care much for the company’s cleaning team. Therefore, why would they invest in catering to Spanish speakers if they see them as unworthy? They will only do the bare minimum that laws may mandate!
MORE: Your Spanish-Speaking Audience
Some people may argue that a little something is better than nothing, but I am afraid I have to disagree in this case:
Translating your content into Spanish is useless if you are only doing it because it is the “right thing to do” or when it is mandated by law.
The truth is that Spanish speakers will not trust businesses and people whose translated messages are inaccurate or confusing.
When I see somebody using the cheapest and quickest option to communicate with people with limited English proficiency, my first thought is that they do not honestly care. They may think they are doing the right thing, but actions speak louder than words!
HOW TO DO IT RIGHT
If you want to meet the needs of Spanish-speaking individuals in the United States, you cannot treat them as second-class people. Instead, you need to invest in them accordingly. That includes hiring professional translation services:
Although I do not use it, machine translation is an option. If you choose it, you must hire a professional to review and edit the translation — ideally, a native Spanish speaker with credentials specializing in the subject matter, not just someone who claims to be “bilingual.”
My top recommendation is to hire a qualified human translator to ensure that your message is accurate and sounds natural. While you may not get that for free, the cost will exceed your investment because things done right and well will always help maintain and improve your reputation.
If you work in the medical or pharmaceutical industry, get in touch to discuss your needs for your Spanish-speaking clients or patients.