Financial translation is one of the most important tasks you’ll undertake as a business professional. If you do any kind of international business, you’ll have to translate documents that deal with units, measurements, pricing, and a host of other numbers.
Trying to complete these translations on your own is not advisable since translation requires an intimate knowledge both of your target language and the cultural and financial customs that exist in the country with which you’re doing business.
5 Numeric Interpretation Challenges to Watch Out For
#1 – Numbers in Context
One important financial translation pitfall is to translate numbers out of context. If you’re talking about numbers on their own you can afford to make some mistakes and the meaning will still hold. However, within the context of a financial document, it’s important to understand the relationship that numbers have to the words around them as well as to each other.
For instance, phrases like “fourteen units” can have drastically different meanings depending on how it’s being used. If you translate that phrase literally, you could wind up talking about different amounts than you originally intended.
#2 – Tens and Ones
Another common pitfall is to translate each digit as its own unit instead of considering the number as a whole. For instance, in Spanish, the phrase “uno cinco” doesn’t mean anything. It literally means “one five”, but if you’re trying to say “fifteen” your meaning has been completely lost. Fifteen is a ten and a five, not a one and a five, so you would translate the number “diez y cinco”, or ten and five. Digit by digit translation isn’t going to get you anywhere in financial translation.
#3 – Units
Units of measurement, weight, and financial currency are all important when you’re translating financial documents. You have to make sure that you understand what you’re talking about before you try to translate it. For one thing, you have to have an understanding of currency conversion. If you accidentally translate the currency (i.e. dollars to yen) but you keep the number from your source document without converting it, you’ve made a grave error.
#4 – Processes
Aside from the numbers themselves, you also have to concern yourself with processes. For instance, if you’re trying to say that someone has to pay by check, you need to make sure that you’re translating that phrase correctly. If you do it wrong, you could wind up telling someone to use credit or to do something that doesn’t make any sense at all.
#5 – Improper Financial Terms
Finally, you need to make sure you’re using the proper financial terms. Words that you say every day can have different meanings if you’re not translating them correctly into your target language. Literal translations aren’t the only problem. In some instances, you shouldn’t translate the word at all because its meaning is so widely known that translating it would have less efficacy. Some examples of these words include computer and iPad.
Knowing how to translate financial documents requires extensive knowledge both in the financial nuances that exist within the country you’re doing business with and a native understanding of the target language itself. Working with a qualified translation agency who can go beyond translation and transcreate your document can help you impress your business associates and steer clear of translation-related problems.
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