How to Translate a Letter to A Foreign Language

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Accurate translations are essential for successful international business.
Accurate translations are essential for successful international business. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If your business involves international correspondence, more than likely you will be interacting with customers, vendors, suppliers, or associates who do not speak English. Unless you are fluent in multiple languages, you may find yourself in a predicament regarding written communications with international affiliates. To avoid potentially costly or embarrassing grammatical or contextual mistakes, you need to implement an accurate and efficient method of translating letters and emails to other languages.

Write the letter. Take into account that your reader is not a native English speaker. Despite your potentially elegant and sophisticated writing style, compose the letter in the simplest manner possible. Basic sentence structure and verbiage converts to foreign languages easier and with less potential for confusion or mistaken context. Get straight to the point without attempting to impress your reader with fancy words or dialogue.

Choose the foreign language in accordance with the reader's native language. In many regions of the world, several languages are spoken, making it difficult to guess the most appropriate one for international correspondence.

Upload the letter to a translation website. Visit an online translation website like Google Translate or Word Lingo. Copy and paste the contents of your letter, or upload the entire document file. Choose your settings for the output and initiate the conversion process.

Verify the translated output. Repeat the translation process on at least one other website and compare the results. If all the final documents match, it is most likely safe to send the communication.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you choose to utilize a free online translation service, double-check the website's output against at least one other service. If significant differences exist, verify the translation settings were the same on both websites and run the query again. Contact a professional translator if your results still differ.
  • If your business is of a more professional, white-collar nature, you may not want to take a chance on using a free computerized translation service. If the purpose of your letter is more than simply placing an order or discussing distribution timelines, you are better off paying a professional translator to create your letter.

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