The Challenges of Being a Multilingual Website Translator

By Chiara Grassilli
In Web Translation
Jul 6th, 2015

What are the 3 main challenges of Being a Multilingual Website Translator?

Two major trends over the last decade have meant more work for multilingual translator,
especially the translator who specialises in website translation. The first trend is more or
less a continuation of what has been going on for a long time and that is the fact that many businesses are expanding their operations away from their home base and operating
internationally. This is part and parcel of an ongoing globalisation trend. The second trend
is the desire to shop online rather than look to purchase something locally.
Both these two trends mean that there is plenty of potential for any multilingual translator
to find work helping businesses adapt their marketing material, especially their website
content for a new, international market.

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Despite the obvious demand for competent multilingual translators there is still plenty of competition out there and there are several challenges that confront the translator or translation agency, some of which are discussed below.


Challenge 1: Communicating with your client

Assuming that you have been contacted by a company or organisation that wants you to help translate their website content, the first challenge is to set up a good working relationship with the client so that you understand exactly what the client wants and who their intended market is. This is not just a matter of translating material in a standard language, but understanding the cultural background of the market. This will be your guide when it comes to using culture specific language in your translation. You will often find that the website owner whether a business or organisation will be relying on you, the translator, to make sure that the language you use in your translation will match who they are intending to sell their products to.

Communicating with your client also means getting to know what it is that they are selling or advertising on their website. Does it involve a well known brand or brands? Are there any slogans or concepts that the client wishes to retain when the information is translated so that consistency is maintained? Are there cultural sensitivities which have to be taken into consideration which you are aware of because of your knowledge of the culture of the intended market which perhaps your client is unaware of. Communication needs to go both ways.


Challenge 2: Knowing your limits

It is almost impossible to be equally competent in every language you are capable of translating. It is best to be realistic and concentrate on the language or languages you are not only fluent in but are comfortable with the culture as this is so important when it comes to translating marketing material, in particular. What are you capable of specialising in? Do you have a legal or medical background or are you comfortable with technical terminology?

Rather than trying to be a Jack or Jill of all trades in a translation sense it may be preferable to focus on being better than your competitors at what you can do best.

Multilingual Website Translator

Challenge 3: Expanding your knowledge

If you are to keep ahead of your competitors as a multilingual translator and establish a reputation in translating website material for instance which pleases clients, don’t expect to stand still. There will be a number of ways you can benefit by learning more about the work you are doing. This might include learning more about your client and its products. It may involve learning more about the language or languages you will need to translate.

There may be terms that you still don’t know but need to use when translating website pages. What about the intended readers – how much do you know about what makes them tick? Are there are any new expressions being used? This is especially important when it comes to selling to a young audience as their preferred language can change quickly from year to year.

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About "" Has 116 Posts

Since an early age I have been passionate about languages. I hold a Master's degree in Translation and Interpreting, and I have worked as a freelance translator for several years. I specialize in Marketing, Digital Marketing, Web and Social Media. I love blogging and I also run the blog

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