"Just like how flowers have their own language, communication has its own rules. The goal is the same, that of connecting with other people. But it is how things are communicated that makes people want to know more about your story, your company, or your brand, and it is how it is said that builds trust and credibility, which is why the use of proper grammar, as well as the right tone and vocabulary, make a huge difference when it comes to translations", this is explained by Jamie Jenkins, a professional translator and business consultant for the flower industry.
“When a translator fails to interpret the text, it loses that desired connection with the reader. One odd sentence placed randomly in an article can actually make the reader feel doubtful to the point they will question the credibility of the context whether to continue the reading or not,” she says.
“In my experience, great translations are always done by native speakers who understand the subtleties of a language and can interpret them skillfully through a translation.
With a less than skillful native translation, the trust of the reader breaks down, and consequently, the impact of the text fizzles, along with the connection.”
“Native speakers take into account the entire context and the author’s intention. Good translations shouldn’t be a word-by-word script, nor a grammatical copy of the original. They must be thoughtfully and skillfully interpreted into the second language so as to build a connection with the audience in the way it was intended in the original text,” adds the translator and owner of the company.
How it all started
“For almost two decades now, I’ve been sharing my skills and resources as a business management consultant to help companies improve their operations and grow to scale. I got into translations because I started developing technical expertise in the flower industry as a consultant. In the beginning, my clients asked me to help them with translations as a favor. When the first results arrived, and they started seeing how that allowed them to reach more readers, I’ve added translations to my services,” explains the expert.
“My background as a consultant has allowed me to serve executives and teams across different industries and countries, including the agri-industry (flowers and cacao), primarily in the US and Latin America. I’ve also worked in other sectors such as the legal, ed-tech, and non-profit, but I always joke about the fact that if there’s anything worth dedicating one’s life too, it’s flowers and chocolate.”
“Over time, I’ve expanded the team to include professionals who are native Russian speakers, French speakers and Spanish speakers to provide the same quality of work I do in English. I supervise and give feedback to the team on the exact technical terminology used in the flower industry. We have our own internal quality control that ensures the highest standards for each language,” continues the business owner.
Jamie’s company translates into four languages (English, Spanish, French, and Russian). She has been delivering professional and technical translations to flower companies since 2018, and her work includes the translation of documents, manuals, guides, letters, emails, subtitles, presentations, and scripts for digital graphics.
The value of good translations in building trust and relationships
“What I love about working in the flower industry is how much importance is placed on relationships. I think this is also because of the sector. Flowers are ever-present during the most special occasions, which is when people are connecting meaningfully with one another. I see this kind of relationship also among operators in the sector. Personally, I value connection and authenticity, and this is something I see and appreciate in the flower industry,” says Jamie.
“We communicate because we want to connect with other people, and there’s always a reason behind why we do it, whether you’re trying to inform, describe, impact, or even persuade the people with whom you’re communicating. As a matter of fact, take a look at what I’ve just mentioned. I said, “For instance, maybe the goal is to inform, describe, impact, or persuade the people with whom you’re communicating.” Most people don’t speak this way in their everyday life. When was the last time you heard someone say “with whom” out loud? Probably never. However, grammatically, it is the right way. As the rule goes, never end a sentence with a preposition. This more grammatically accurate and formal tone will allow you to create credibility and connection with a professional audience.”
“Instead, a technically incorrect but more common phrase can reach another kind of audience. The example: “For instance, maybe the goal is to inform, describe, impact, or persuade the people you communicate with.”
“While technically this phrase is grammatically incorrect, it’s ideal for a casual audience. Hence, with them, it will create more connection,” explains Jamie. “I share this example because most translators may get the right words on paper in the right order with total precision. And yet, they can still fail to interpret the context in a way that helps their client connect with the reader in the way they intended.”
Translations can make or break business relationships
For Jamie, when you speak to your audience the way they speak, which means as a native speaker would, the communication is going to be much more effective.
“Maybe some folks think that professional translations aren’t always necessary. I agree. However, having a professional translation makes a huge difference in creating that impactful connection you wish to establish with your reader. When a person or audience receives a really important message in their native language in a way that generates a feeling of familiarity and trust, it’s a game changer.”
“You may still be able to get your point across when someone reads a text in their second or third language. Maybe the translation is even done by someone who knows the language well enough, and sometimes that’s sufficient. But when you want to persuade a reader and transfer information in a way that makes them feel emotionally involved with the concept, or if you want to make sure that your brand is seen as credible and trustworthy, the content delivered through a translation is critical,” continues Jamie.
How a translation can lead to making or losing money
“When choosing between a skillful translation over a less professional one, choose wisely. For instance, consider getting professional translations by native speakers for documents that can make or break business relationships and partnerships. Those that are related to creating value in the value chain (certification manuals, for instance). Also those that are directly related to marketing & sales. These particular ways of communicating really matter because they’re all about relationships and ultimately lead to making or losing money.
If the translator isn’t a native speaker, they may not have a deep relationship with the language. They’ll get the message across but in a way that can distract the native-language reader.
Four mistakes that happen in translations and that native readers notice immediately:
- The first is the syntax, which is just a fancy word to describe how words are put together, which can distract and lose the reader’s attention.
- The second mistake is not taking a step back to understand the original intention of the author and instead sticking to the original text. As a reader, you notice this happening when you understand the text at an intellectual level, but there is no emotional connection with it.
- The third mistake is less about the translation and more about the translator. It happens when the translator doesn’t check in with the client to understand how the text was interpreted. Because a translator has to make a choice in translating or interpreting the author’s intention into a new language, I’ve found it useful to highlight these sentences with a comment that shows a few options about how it can best be translated. I personally also let them know how these different options can be perceived by the reader. Then, together with the author, the translator can decide what is the most accurate version according to the intention and the context.
- Finally, there are mistakes around the tone. The best wording and phrasing basically mimic the way we speak. Think about it. Readers, such as yourself in this moment, use their own voice in their head to read the text. It’s like reading it out loud, but internally. If a text sounds differently and doesn’t resonate with the way we talk to ourselves in our head, it can actually block the overall understanding and connection that the text is meant to create. Writing, in general, and translations, in particular, should be as close as possible to the way we speak, in whichever language we are communicating.
“Understanding the flower industry shows up in the quality of the documents we produce because we kind of know where the author is coming from and understand their intention clearly,” concludes Jamie.
Expo Flor Ecuador
Eager to meet Jamie Jenkins? She will be attending the Expo Flor Ecuador in Quito next week, from October 5-7.