Tag Archives: native speaker

Screen filled with information

Behind the Scenes: Expectation and Reality

How Much Information Is Too Much?

Too much detail or do you think knowledge is power?

Do you sigh at too much detail or appreciate the clarity about what you should expect from your business partner or supplier?

A web developer colleague asked for a ballpark figure for translation in an online forum. Prices vary just as they do in your industry and so do the levels of service and professionalism. After suggesting a rough price range for guidance, I advised him to check that individual quotes included proofreading by a colleague to ensure a fair comparison.

Another forum member was shocked:

“I assumed that no (professional) translation would be delivered without being proofread by another person”

What would you expect?

When I elaborated further and explained there was translation to suit every budget but the service provided would differ, he gave me his perspective:

“From a client perspective, I just see two offers and assume the same quality from each person. The fact that one contains proofreading and one doesn’t is too much information for me personally. I want to know the price and be done with it.”

If you feel the same, that’s fine.  Just know that the services you’re comparing may not offer the same benefits. For instance: I translate into my native language – English – and include proofreading by a similarly qualified translator colleague as standard.

Not always the case

Some professionals translate out of their native language and quality assurance stops at proofreading their own work. Not only do you lose the second pair of eyes and perspective, you miss the cultural insights and idiomatic phrasing that a native speaker naturally adds. This is what can take a translation from adequate to impressive, with the corresponding results for your business.

A sprinkle of native speaker glamour for sparkling texts

Optimisation potential

Another option for non-native speakers translating into their second language is to partner up with a native speaker editor. One of my Austrian colleagues who translates into English describes my role as sprinkling some “Native-Speaker-Glamour” on her translation. I wanted the same for my newsletter so I ask my German colleague, Zoe, to sprinkle hers. That way readers can focus on enjoying the content instead of stumbling over the odd awkward phrase – written by someone who speaks and writes German on a daily basis but will still never pass for a native speaker.

As with anything in life, make sure you’re comparing apples with apples not artichokes (or machine translation) and evaluate the services on offer in terms of the results and enquiries you want to achieve.

Old family photographs of holidays and special occasions. Circle-like camera lens reads Business Through the Lens

Business Through the Camera Lens

What do you feel when you look at old photos?

I’m talking about the pre-digital age photos. Those slightly fuzzy ones in muted colours your parents took on holidays, trips, and special occasions.

Realistically, you’re looking at a piece of shiny paper with smiling faces or a slightly wonky landscape. Nothing to write home about unless you recognise those faces. Unless that landscape is the scene of your family holiday in 1988 and that image transports you back to the beach. You can taste the salty sea air, hear the seagulls and relive how the wet seaweed felt under your bare feet as you clambered over the rocks to find crabs and mussels. You remember how proud you felt creating the biggest hole on the beach as you dug deep to try and get to Australia… er, maybe that was just me?

Even those black-and-white photos of your not-too-distant ancestors make you feel something though it becomes harder to forge a connection. I’ve got a photo of my great-great-grandmother dressed up in her Victorian finery. Though we never met, I can just about find a family likeness. I imagine little Flora (my Grandma) going to visit her grandmother and playing in the garden with her cousins. There’s a connection but you have to work harder to create the meaning.

Show my photos to someone else and they’ll see a bunch of semi-smiling strangers. There’s no connection there at all.

An image only delivers emotional impact if you know the stories and the people behind it. And don’t think you can rule out emotional impact in business. That’s the extra step most people don’t take that will bring you unsolicited business.

How to deliver emotional impact in your marketing   

It’s the stories you can tell. Most people know they have to make their marketing relatable. For instance, you’d do better talking about what a machine can do for your clients rather than its technical specifications.

If you know the people that work on that machinery though, you can forge an emotional connection. The connection becomes greater if you know the stories and feelings of those other clients. People like you who use that machinery, what they use it for, how relieved they were to find a solution, and how much time it saves them so they can go home and play with their children. Whatever it is that your clients want, if you can find examples of people who have achieved that directly as a result of working with you, and you use those stories as part of your marketing… click! Capture that on your marketing camera right away.

That’s how you create an emotional connection in business, through people and their concerns, hopes, and desires. Even if your business is chemical additives.

Look at what your products do, then look at how your clients use them. Why does your product or service help them achieve their goals and how do you make it easy?

Cultural considerations

This might be different for your British clients. People are people the world over but there are subtle differences related to culture and language that mean you need to adjust your marketing.

If a British person hears a German client talking about how his life is so much easier now, he even gets to squeeze in a game of handball after work, they will attach some positive meaning. It’s clear the product or service improves efficiency. However, because we don’t play handball in Britain, the message loses a tiny bit of impact. They might think well that’s good for them but it’s different for us. And it isn’t different but that’s their perception and they’re entitled to it.

One advantage of using a native speaker is that you get suggestions on what you’re saying as well as how you say it. If I think something won’t work for the British market, I’ll let you know and come up with an alternative.

I’ll take your memory-packed holiday snap and replicate it so it could happily slot into a British photo album and evoke the same feelings.

Your holiday may be over but we’ve got business memories to make!

A litter bin next to the text “The difference a letter can make”

The Difference A Letter Makes

Tourists of the world! Do you still send postcards?

If so – and you’re visiting Britain – make sure you’re putting them in an actual post box.

The difference between your friends and family receiving your news and a scenic picture of our country depends on one vowel and some cultural knowledge.


Yes, that’s right, a colleague of mine in Bristol noticed a Japanese tourist dropping a whole bunch of freshly written postcards into a litter (rubbish) bin.

He was too far away to run and stop them and what’s worse, it’s a regular occurrence.

Bristol city council have black litter bins with gold lettering spelling out the word ‘litter’ and then the name and logo of the council. And in a world where everything looks alien to you, it’s a seemingly easy mistake to make.

He’ll never know the reason why his postcards didn’t arrive.

Silly errors have ramifications and these kind of mistakes are happening all the time in business too.

A misspelt word here or there could mean the difference between a potential customer finding you on the internet. Or not.

It could reflect poorly on your reputation for taking care of the finer details.

It could mean the difference between securing a contract or losing the business. And you may never know why.

If you’re doing your own translations, please get a second person to check over your work. Ideally a native speaker who can add a bit of cultural insight if needed. A little extra effort can make a huge difference.

Don’t do the business equivalent of putting your postcards in the rubbish bin.