Exporting and working with foreign languages can be a minefield

Exporting and working with foreign languages can be a minefield article image

On many occasions clients come to us for language translation guidance and assistance but only after their self-inflicted wounds are about to turn gangrenous.

It pays to get it right from the start.

While keeping your eye on the main prize – and rushing to land that big sale – it is very easy to forget about a whole collection of smaller (but vital) matters such as contract interpretation, contract law practices in foreign jurisdictions, potential health and safety liabilities and deciphering sometimes complex debtors/creditors arrangements in another language. These are among other translation issues.

Dismissing language translation is often like walking through a minefield. Just because you can’t see the mines doesn’t mean they are not there just below the surface ready to blow up in the face of the careless or unwary.

Here are two examples of how professional language translation can assist your export business.

Professional presentation

Many Australian export organisations start off on the wrong foot by leaving all product and contract documents in English. The majority of these documents are filled with marketing jargon, slang and “cool-speak” that are not easy for international customers to understand.

Some words and phrases may not even translate into another language or no equivalent exists.

Some try as hard as they can to look unprofessional by using an entry level tourist phrase package to translate complex technical and legal documents into other languages. 

The outcome is not pretty as we later have the job of being asked to tidy it all up and assist in solving some of the fallout from needless language misunderstanding with the international customer.

Using our extensive experience in language translation we language audit and then re-write the clients documents so as to ensure and smooth and clear translation.  That is, we make your documents “translatable.”

Always remember a decent number of words in English may not even exist in other languages.

Language nuances

Accordingly, we provide a comprehensive understanding of the nuances of various languages and their context which are needed to effect clear and meaningful translation.

Professional presentation in the language of your international target market shows you are serious and professional players and not to be sniggered at when your back is turned.

The second and equally important matter is accuracy and user friendly readability in English as well as the other language.   

Technical documents and documents where legal interpretations may apply fall into this category.

Contract agreements

Examples include a user or maintenance and repair manual, diagnostics and troubleshooting as well as contract agreements encompassing distribution and payment schedules.

Any business cannot and should not run the risks associated with overlooking or delaying these language translation issues for too long.

Governments at federal and state level – and sometimes local governments – offer conditional incentives and rebates to exporters which may cover as much as half the cost of professional documentation and language translation.

If applicable, we can work with our clients and assist in lodging the relevant rebate and export assistance claims. 

David Gray is lead consultant at BizTechWrite a company specialising in translation services, including technical documents. For an obligation free review of a sample of your documents contacted David on 0458 701 990 or at


Leave A Comment

Spinning icon Saving your comment, please wait...
Spinning icon Saving your comment, please wait...