Fair Trade Human Translation: Everything You Need to Know

June 2, 2022

Translators play an important role in bringing nations together, facilitating dialogue, and sharing knowledge, understanding, and collaboration – all while building a global business relationship, world peace, and security.

Translators are also at the heart of the localization industry. This is why we believe fair trade human translation gets better outcomes for our clients.

Why fair trade human translation gets better results

Fair trade translation means fair and on-time payments while generating opportunities for engagement and development for professional linguists. It also means building transparent and trustworthy long-term relationships based on trust and mutual respect. Beyond being the right thing to do, fair trade human translation gets better results – not just for us and for our clients – but translators and the industry as a whole. Treating translators with respect is a win-win situation for everyone and is possible to scale for efficiency without compromising human value. Here’s why:

People always do better work when they feel valued.

Every linguist should be engaged and involved in the business side. It’s important to make them an extension of our team. This results in better linguistic quality, better support for project managers who know they can count on language experts to provide, and – ultimately – better service for our clients and a better experience for their customers. We need to make them feel treated as human beings and not as a commodity.

Once we appreciate longevity in our relationships, and it pays off with higher engagement from the most experienced freelancers.

Skilled linguists, especially in marketing and creative content, have choices about who they will do business with. It’s both unethical and truly short-sighted to dismiss them as expendable. A freelancer’s longevity with an LSP is a sign that they feel valued and contribute to their work. In the same way that buyers use employee retention rates and reputation ratings as an indication of a company’s success and stability, translator longevity is a sorely missed metric that many buyers would do well to pay more attention to.

Human translation is an investment, but one that pays by producing higher quality and better results.

Localized marketing is about getting people to take action. If you are human marketing to others, the only way to go is to value and connect with human talent in the marketplace. Putting translators into the team with client-specific onboarding and production models results in better quality work. Translators are part of evolving feedback cycles that involve clients at their discretion. Giving clients a choice in who sits on their teams creates buy-in, gives them control over their content, delivers results, and often decreases the pressure around a budget. This ultimately helps enhance the value of language as a whole in the industry.

Final thought

Language is the ultimate human connector. It has the power to bridge division, motivate people to take action, and keep the world informed. Even in a high-tech environment with automated processes, human translation is still the best way to connect those dots and should be valued as such. Translators and language themselves form the backbone of everything we do in the industry. And while technology is dramatically vital to our work, it isn’t the end. Language technology is only effective when human talent works with it.

From the business side of the language industry, we have responsibilities to ourselves to promote and retain the value of human talent, as well as technology, in the providing of our services. That’s an obvious choice and always has been. Success in marketing localization is best achieved with outward thinking, sustainable, inclusive business practices, and long-term partnerships with people who feel valued and passionate about the contributions they make.

Today, the community of translators is very active. They talk together, they compare their rates, they help each other in their business. We can all learn a lot from our experience and background if a company puts effort into a sharing culture. In a time with huge divisions and uncertainty, that sharing culture and human connection certainly become even more important.


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