Why Close Isn’t Good Enough When Translating Measurements

  |  May 9, 2018

Close isn’t good enough when translating measurements.

At International Language Services, close isn’t good enough no matter what type of translation service we’re providing. From the initial assessment to the editing and return of your documentation, we stand behind the work we do 100 percent—and we have the quality certification to demonstrate it.

But it’s not just about translating words. When you’re translating technical documents, like medical device documentation, measurements are often involved. And translating measurements requires a keen attention to detail.

That’s why when it comes to translating measurements, it’s vital to hire an expert. Without an expert by your side, how can you truly know that what is on your website and in your written materials is correct?

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What Projects Require Translating Measurements?

More documents than you might think require the translation of measurements. That’s because we take measurements in our own language for granted.

Length, mass, volume, area, and even temperature are a few of the most common metrics. It’s important that these be translated correctly.

Money is an often forgotten aspect of translating measurements. There is no universal currency. Money and the mathematics involved with financial documentation are an important area of translation that is sometimes overlooked.

Many businesses have offices in multiple countries, with a home office responsible for overseeing the company’s global financials. These documents often require translation, and mistakes or discrepancies can cost the company significantly.

Sometimes, you don’t have to be as quite as precise as you might expect. For example, when your business provides documentation to employees who operate heavy machinery and offers recommended distances away from the machinery, being exact isn’t an absolute.

However, that is not the case for most purposes.

Translating measurements is especially important for documentation involving medical instructions. Even in the English language, something as simple as putting a decimal point in the wrong place can cause serious issues. A mistake with a number can have dangerous or even deadly consequences.

Knowing when to be precise and when it’s alright to round is one of the most crucial details of translating measurements properly. This is a combination of common sense, time and dedication, complete mastery of the languages and cultures, and an expert knowledge of translating measurements.

Why Translating Measurements Matters

Have you ever used measurements in a way that would have serious consequences if done incorrectly, like giving medication to a child? If you answered yes, you’ve used measurements to help make your life easier or achieve a goal.

Over 95 percent of the world uses the metric system, with the United States being one of the few countries that doesn’t use it. In fact, the U.S. is the only industrial country to use the imperial system as a form of technical measurement.

In the English-speaking United States, this is an especially important concern when translating materials for audiences in other markets. Expert translation is absolutely vital to retain the integrity of your measurements.

For example, let’s say that your business has a message to get across about your product or service. Usually, this message is about how to solve your client’s problem—and how your goods or services are the solution.

Without the properly translated verbiage, your messaging will be lost, and your audience won’t know what you mean. This can have lasting consequences for your business, your brand, and your clients.

Not only are there language barriers to take into account, but there may also be major differences in how units of measure are communicated.

Any project that involves measurement—from basic recipes and directions to important instructional booklets and messaging on websites—requires extra consideration when translating between languages.

Translating measurements is necessary for many aspects of international business. Improper translation can have serious consequences and could require re-translation, adding costs and time to your budget.

The experts at ILS pay close attention to your documentation translation and are experienced at metric translation. If your documentation requires a keen eye and an expert level of multiple languages, contact ILS today!