Translation can be the key to an unlimited amount of information, or the access to new markets, or the solution to communication issues. Easier said than done? Not really because nowadays there are several methods to get translations. We have listed four ways in this blog post: translating yourself, using machine translation, outsourcing to a professional translator and crowdsourcing. Let’s discuss these in more details:

1) Do It Yourself

“I can do it quickly and effortless by myself.”

This option requires that you speak and understand very well both the source language and the target language. The output of doing the translation work by yourself depends heavily on your own skills and resources. If you have the required language skills and the project is relatively small, the translation can be done quickly and smoothly.

But if the target is to get perfect translation and if you have any doubts about your ability to produce flawless text, this method can be quite risky. If you’ve ever studied a foreign language, you probably know that it can take an eternity to produce text with limited language skills. However this is not a problem if you master the language as well as your project requires.

In addition it is good to be aware that some translation projects require technical skills. Web pages can be written in HTML, for example. If you don’t know how to translate files like those, it’s better to abandon this method.

2) Use Automatic Machine Translator

“I could do it by myself but I don’t have the time or the patience to do it manually.”

Machine translation is a potential tool if time is a limiting factor. Machine can beat human in translation speed because machines don’t get tired, bored or frustrated like we humans sometimes do. If your translation project consists of text which is easy-to-read, ie simple sentence structures and common vocabulary, most machine translators are able to produce good translation quality. If your project involves plenty of special terms and rare expressions, machine translation may make more mistakes requiring more resources in proofreading and fixing.

Depending on the desired outcome and the wanted quality level, you should be able to read and understand the target language at some level. Machine translators won’t be able to produce totally authentic text and thus proofreading is a mandatory. Again it is reasonable to take a look at your project and determine what is the wanted quality. Sometimes it is enough that the core message will be understood.

If you consider using machine translation make sure that your text can be translated automatically with good quality (check our guidelines for writing machine translation friendly text) and that your situation is suitable for machine translation (check our guide for using machine translation).

3) Outsource Translation Work To A Professional Translator

“I cannot do it by myself. I don’t know the language nor have the skills.”

Professional translator is able to produce high quality text efficiently. In an ideal case the translator is a native speaker of the target language. Native speakers usually have a remarkable advantage in understanding the nuances and tones of the language which can be very difficult to learn by “an outsider”.

The challenge in this method is to find the best translator for your project. Time, quality, subject and context can set their own restrictions and limitations. Money is also an important factor because, up to some point, better quality and faster delivery can be purchased. However nowadays an increasing amount of translation service providers offer a service combination of machine translation and human proofreading with a lower price than pure human translation. This makes translation services available for wider group of potential customers.

4) Crowdsource Translation Work

“Let’s do it together! I want to give my community a chance to participate the project.”

In some cases none of the aforementioned methods is suitable or profitable. It is possible, for example, that you don’t have the language skills to do the translation by yourself and that you don’t want to or don’t have the required resources to hire a professional translator. Instead you might have a social media community with wide fan or customer base. The idea behind social media is to enable cooperation and involvement. Even Facebook and Twitter have tried crowdsourcing.

Committed people are willing to give their effort to your translation project because the output is in their interest or just because they want to take part; to be part of the group. Software development is a good example of crowdsourcing with all the open developer communities and application innovations. Modern technology enables easy and simple crowdsourcing even without special technological skills. For example MOTO is an efficient and fast tool for crowdsourcing.

+1) Mix and match all these methods

Naturally you can mix the best parts of these four methods to find the most suitable combination for your project. Do what you can do by yourself with the help of a machine translator. Crowdsource the rest of the translation work. And finally let a professional translator proofread the outcome.

This list of ours is not totally comprehensive. What other ways are there to get something translated?

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