Pro audio and music are great industries. Often times, you feel like a kid in a toy store. You talk to people you have heard of many times, you visit the companies that 20 years ago appeared as some distant dream. You get closer not only to the people but to the products you have always admired and wanted to have. But the moment you say what you do, you often hear “Ah, translation. Our assistant does it.”. Or worse: “Localization? What is it? Ah, you mean translation? We have that guy for it.” or “That’s interesting what you’re saying but I thought it’s just translation – anyone can do it”. This way you come to the conclusion that there are so many mistaken beliefs about translation in the pro audio and music industry that you need to start a fight in order to immediately straighten things out. Here we go then.
Any native speaker of the target language can translate. Well, not really. Translation is not just exchanging one word for another. It’s superb knowledge of the target language (vs. what many people think – that knowledge of the source/foreign language is the most important factor in being a translator), target culture, the field of expertise in question, knowledge of processes, tools and technology that professional translation nowadays demands. Expertise and experience in professional translation for a given vertical, in this case pro audio and/or music, is everything.
Everyone speaks English, anyway. Unfortunately that’s not true and English is not enough. Actually, saying that everyone speaks English is a myth. English also doesn’t have the most users in the world. Neither is it the main online language, as it’s just one of the 13 languages that allow you to reach 90% of the world online, namely Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish. Plus other important languages, e.g. Central Eastern European ones, including Polish.
We Google-translate because it’s free and it does the same job as a regular translator would. Well, I have seen even pages of a leading speaker manufacturer or a top effect plug-in producer connected to Google Translator for automatic generation of the content in a chosen target language. But wait, have you asked your potential clients and users if that really does the same job? Because it doesn’t. First of all, it’s not meant for professional use for translating content, the creation of which costed lots of money. It’s incomparable to human translation by a professional. Apart from the legal implications of a non-disclosure nature, you need to answer one question: Do you want to look and sound like an amateur or a professional? That’s all.
Translation is enough – there’s no need to revise it. As much as everyone in the pro audio and music industry sees the great role of quality checking, when it comes to the same stage in translation, suddenly it’s hard to see how important it is. You test your audio interface website before publishing it online to make sure it works well? You test your latest DSP software to make sure there are no bugs? So you can imagine what would happen if you didn’t. Now imagine what happens when you publish the work of a translator without another linguist with the industry expertise checking it. And last but not least, there may be more quality assurance stages involved.
Most of those misconceptions seem to stem from one important factor: translation services are intangible and as such are perceived as something of low value and sometimes even considered not to be worth spending money on as they should be free. But PR or marketing services are also intangible and people are ready to spend millions on them each year. Sound itself is intangible and yet we approach it in a fully professional way. Now recall how many times you have heard that your industry is not serious because music or entertainment are nothing serious and spending anything on them is just a waste of money. Now exchange the words “sound” and “your industry” with the word “translation”…