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How to approach content translation services: An expert guide
As companies expand their reach across international markets, the need for accurate and culturally sensitive translation has become paramount. It’s not just about translating words; it’s about conveying the meanings, emotions, and subtleties of one culture to another. It all starts with strategy, and properly using content translation services.
1: How to approach content translation services
A key part of formulating a company’s language strategy begins with recognising the target audience. This is followed by identifying where content translation services are needed. Are you reaching out to non-English speakers or those who prefer content in their native language?
The right service must align with your content type, audience, industry, and other unique requirements. Whether it’s human translation for literary works or machine translation for bulk content, selecting the proper service is crucial.
How do you make that decision? By understanding the subtleties and nuances of your content and matching them with the services available. And if you’re not sure which services you require, a project manager will typically guide you as you embark on your journey.
2: Types of content translation
Choosing the right type of content is a core component of any business’s language strategy. You should ask yourself:
- Where and how does my business currently communicate?
- Where do my stakeholders engage most with my business?
- Is my business accessible to all my relevant target audiences?
Text translation is the process of converting written content from one language to another. Whether it’s a blog post, a simple email, or an elaborate legal document, text translation involves not just linguistic skills but also an understanding of context, idioms, and cultural nuances.
Audio translation involves converting spoken words into another language. It is typically used with mediums like podcasting, online video, and blog post accessibility. And it might include interpreting a speech, translating an audio file, or subtitling a video. The challenges here lie in understanding dialects, accents, and spoken idioms.
When it comes to graphics, images, or visual media, translation isn’t just about the words the graphic contains. Graphical translation considers the symbols, colours, and images that carry specific meanings in different cultures. A colour that represents joy in one culture may signify mourning in another. Such intricate details must be handled with care.
Did you know? In Russian, the sky is described as “goluboy” (light blue), while the ocean is “siniy” (dark blue). These two shades are as distinct to a Russian speaker as pink and red are in English. The difference is significant.
3: Importance of cultural sensitivity
Cultural consultancy is a core component offered by major language service providers, which should be reflected in your language strategy. To ensure meaning is conveyed with its original intent is to help minimise any consequential negative impacts. This factor is multiplied when entering new markets.
Context is the backbone of translation. Misinterpretation of context can lead to awkward or even offensive translations. Understanding the social, historical, and cultural background of the content ensures that the translation resonates with the audience.
The beauty of language lies in its subtleties. Idioms, expressions, and proverbs often don’t have direct translations. The challenge is to convey the intended message without losing the flavour of the original text. It’s more an art than a science.
Gestures and symbols
Some gestures or symbols may be acceptable in one culture but offensive in another. A ‘thumbs up’ might be a positive gesture in many Western countries but could be perceived negatively in some Middle Eastern cultures. Such cultural considerations must be kept in mind while translating content.
4: Machine translation Vs. human translation
When it comes to technology, cost is often a consideration on whether it’s required for your strategic planning. There are several factors to consider each with its own benefits and drawbacks:
Both machine and human translations come with their unique benefits. Machine translations are usually quicker and less costly, suitable for large-scale projects. Human translations, on the other hand, offer depth, understanding, and cultural sensitivity that machines may not capture.
Machine translations can lack nuance and may not understand idioms or colloquial expressions. Human translations may be more time-consuming and expensive. Understanding these drawbacks helps in choosing the right method for your project.
When to use each
When accuracy and cultural sensitivity are paramount, human translation becomes the preferred choice. If you’re looking for quick, bulk translations where context is less critical, machine translation might suffice. The best approach often lies in blending the two, allowing machines to handle the bulk work and humans to refine and contextualise the content.
5: The future of translation services
Artificial Intelligence, Neural Machine Translation, and automation are shaping the future of translation. These language technologies are enhancing efficiency but also raising questions about the human touch in translation. Look out for providers that maintain synergy between humans and technology.
The translation industry is expected to grow, with a rise in demand for specialised services like cultural consultation, localisation experts, and multilingual content management. Staying ahead of these trends ensures that you are prepared for the future.
Understanding how to approach content translation services is a multifaceted journey. From the basics of translation to industry-specific and technological challenges, it encompasses a wide spectrum of knowledge and skills. Engaging with professionals, investing in quality, adapting to technology, and being culturally sensitive can lead to successful global communication.
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