Why native translators outperform non-native speakers

Ian Abernathy
The jury is in: native translators outperform non-native speakers with an intrinsic ability to localize content. We take a look at the advantages a native translator has to offer, and why they should be considered for eCommerce translations.

Translation is more than simply a copy and pasting of words into a generator – it is a professional craft and in some instances, a celebrated art form. Concerning online business, native speakers outperform non-natives on almost all occasions. Looking to boost your online sales? Translation is not an area to cut corners. By the conclusion of this piece, you will gain an understanding of why it is essential to work with native translators.



When it comes to translating content, especially for an eCommerce business, clarity and accuracy are key. Employing skilled native translators is of the utmost importance in helping online businesses establish a confident presence. Knowing that your company’s website, blog posts and product descriptions are written in a format easily digested by native speakers advances your business to the next level.
This is not to discredit non-native translators. Although native speakers sustain a healthy leg up on non-natives, talent and experience level are important criteria as well. Especially in the case of niche subject matter, knowledge inevitable plays one of the predominant roles in guaranteeing a quality translation.


Native speakers are those who have spoken the language in question from childhood as their first language. This is the basis of their ability to communicate verbally and in writing. These individuals offer the most accurate linguistic perspective and fluent understanding of their native language. For instance, someone who is born in France and grew up speaking French moves to America and now speaks predominantly English – this person is still a native French speaker. Despite the fact that some native speakers take other languages on as their primary mode of communication, it does not erase the foundation of their native tongue.
Native speakers are those who have spoken the language in question from childhood as their first language.


A bad translation isn’t just a bad translation – it can completely obstruct the entire message of a text or mar important characteristics of a product. Native speakers have an advantage since they are able to “localize” the language. Many dialects throughout the world use slang and jargon that exist outside the comprehension of non-native speakers and certainly online generators. These culturally accurate words and phrases ground the writing with an authentic voice.


Localizing benefits businesses by presenting content in a format consistent with your company’s product, aesthetic, etc. Non-native translators may struggle to stray from awkwardly phrased sentences laden with dictionary-style vocabulary. Localizing breathes a sense of life into translations, increasing the chance of consumers making a purchase.
Native speakers are assumed to retain an intrinsic comprehension of underlying cultural influences on language, as well as a stronghold over syntax. This is where the major difference between non-native fluent speakers and native speakers exists. Ultimately, translations aren’t just about the words themselves, but about context, flow and attention to detail.
Localizing benefits businesses by presenting content in a format consistent with your company’s product, aesthetic, etc.


To conjure up a realistic scenario of native vs. non-native translation, consider the following descriptive keyword used to advertise a product. If a text written in English intends to market a Frisbee as “cool,” you want to make sure the resulting translation describes the Frisbee’s fashionable nature and not a cold temperature. Every culture maintains a unique framework surrounding language and cultural references, making it difficult to translate regionally-specific phrases and idioms into other languages.
This example is fairly basic, but the issue of ineffectual translations extends further and becomes increasingly complicated depending on the business and products involved. This is also true concerning search engine optimization (SEO) where specific keywords hold much more advertising power than others. Therefore, it is important for translators to understand which words hold the most marketing power.


In writing, the author’s voice and tone are of paramount importance, especially when advertising or selling a product or service. Concerning e-commerce, consumers purchase from businesses where they have a complete understanding of the product being sold. Spotty translations from non-native speakers can severely detract from company credibility in the same way multiple typos on a resume would give employers pause – your target audience can tell if a translation was not done by someone native to their language.
Depending on the style of content being written, a translator’s voice is able to clarify the big picture, while honing in on specific details with assurance. As such, the writer’s voice largely influences the overall tone of the piece. Translations by non-native speakers and those forced through online generators lack real intention and urgency. Most of the time, non-native translations result in generalized content that isn’t especially unique or optimized for sales potential.
So, what is the takeaway from all this? If you are serious about your business reaching a wider, more global audience, you need the insight and localized knowledge that comes from a native translator.