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How Translation Adds Value

How Translation Adds Value

From books to movies, instruction manuals to ads, I’ve been watching, reading, and listening to translated materials all my life. I know what makes bad translation, but never gave a second thought about what makes a good one.

Since starting at Alltradis, I’ve been more conscious of what constitutes good translation. In the end, the answer was quite simple: good translation adds value. Take, for example, a cosmetic company. Many wheels must turn, and do so in harmony, to make it into a success in a competitive market. A well-made product, beautiful packaging, effective marketing—these qualities add value to the brand. So does good translation.

The ultimate goal of translation is to translate so that the brand’s words and identity resonates across all cultures.

How does translation add value? How I see it, there are three big ways:

  1. Thinking globally as the brand
  2. Translating the brand
  3. Understanding the market and the project

Thinking globally as the brand
In every language and culture, there are linguistic preferences and nuances. Even when a phrase is grammatically correct, small linguistic hiccups can disturb the fluidity or professional façade. For example, Nike is famous slogan, “Just do it.” It is memorable, and impactful. Its literal translation in Chinese, however, doesn’t carry the same meaning and impact. Translators opted for “Have sport,” which may be confusing in English, but impactful in Chinese. Knowing the languages are important, but knowing how they work is just as essential in great translation.

Translating the brand
Brand image and identity often influences the tone in which the brand communicates with its clients. While Google opts for a friendly, familial tone, Chanel remains a little distanced, professional, and reserved. The brand identity can take years to create. Its language professionals must be aware of the corporate culture and patterns to translate the essence of the brand. This only comes with years of experience with the same brand, which places importance on trust and loyalty between business and its translator.

Understanding the market and the project
Every market or industry has a certain style and speech pattern. Only experienced translators know how to navigate through the different industries, and know the linguistic nuances and linguistic preferences of the market. In the detail-oriented world of the medical and the pharmaceutical industries, a small misuse of a word ccome with grave consequences. In the creative world of marketing, however, incorporating puns, and references can be smart and funny.

All this is to say translation is more than just churning out words. Adding human elements to the work, like considering the cultural and corporate context and the market, and doing it well is what sets good translation agency apart from great ones.

A great translation agency has:

  • open flow of communication with the client (and welcomes input),
  • knowledge and experience in your market and brand,
  • a translation-proofreading process, and is open to communicate about it, and
  • (or is willing to reccomend) creative copywriters or specializing proofreaders, should your project require them.

Can you think of other ways translation adds value to your brand and to your project? And what other qualities do great translation agencies have?

 



Who are we?

Agence de traduction AlltradisAlltradis is today a key player in translation and conference interpreting.

Since its creation in 1995, Alltradis has translated over 19,000 written projects in various language combinations, organized simultaneous interpreting for the largest international conferences and gathered a long list of loyal clients. Alltradis has truly become a fundamental part of their success. We specialize in diverse industries such as; medical/pharmaceutical translation, cosmetic/luxury product translation, technical and industrial translation, marketing/finance/HR translation, legal translation, etc.

Many world leading companies trust our expertise – what are you waiting for? For more information, visit our website: www.alltradis.us


Translating Adopted Words

On any given day in my household, you will hear my mom announce, « I’m going to the super [shoo-puh]! Do you need anything? » Where do you think my mom is going?

When I asked my American friends, their guess was unanimously « superintendent » (of an apartment building). Actually, Koreans have adopted the word « super » as a shorthand for « supermarket. » While the full compound word, « supermarket, » and its common, North American shorthand, « market, » are also used, « super » is the most popular way of calling grocery stores.

This confusion isn’t limited to multilingual settings:

-I like your pants.- (2)

« I like your pants,  » I told a friend, alluding to her trousers. While none of the North Americans gave it a second thought, the Brits did a double-take. « Pants » in North America mean trousers, whereas the word is synonymous to undergarments in the UK.

Language conforms to people, not the other way around. The process of mixing and borrowing words is neither new nor uncommon. Even within one language, definitions and connotations continually change. Here are some English words that have changed definition over time:

  • heartburn
    • used to mean: jealousy or hatred
    • now means: an unpleasant hot feeling in your chest caused by something you ate
  • artificial
    • used to mean: full of artistic and technical skill
    • now means: not natural or real or sincere
  • awful
    • used to mean: commanding awe
    • now means: extremely bad or unpleasant

(see more from source)

The inevitable and continual evolution of language challenges content creators, translators, and consumers. Creators and consumers must be conscious about word choices, and consider possible discrepancies. Of course, it is impossible for one person to be aware of all literal and cultural meanings, so we must opt for the most reasonable definitions. For the content middleman (ie. translators, interpreters), there is an extra step. They must understand the original text and culture so perfectly that its translation fits into the second culture naturally.

Machines have successfully replaced people in many professions. But in the realms of translation, our ability to understand a piece of text on multiple levels has proven invaluable and irreplaceable. Vocabulary and grammar is one aspect of language and translation, but understanding the undertone and emotions behind those words cannot be taught or programmed.

The basic qualification of translators is their fluency in two languages’ grammar and vocabulary. The second qualification is the cultural understanding of places in which those languages are spoken in. Translation professionals must be up-to-date on cultural hot-words, changed definitions, unspoken rules and connotations.

Have your seen our blog post on hilarious translation fails?

 



Who are we?

Agence de traduction AlltradisAlltradis is today a key player in translation and conference interpreting.

Since its creation in 1995, Alltradis has translated over 19,000 written projects in various language combinations, organized simultaneous interpreting for the largest international conferences and gathered a long list of loyal clients. Alltradis has truly become a fundamental part of their success. We specialize in diverse industries such as; medical/pharmaceutical translation, cosmetic/luxury product translation, technical and industrial translation, marketing/finance/HR translation, legal translation, etc.

Many world leading companies trust our expertise – what are you waiting for? For more information, visit our website: www.alltradis.us