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Cultural Context for Translations

December 17th, 2012

Cultural Context for Translations

The globalization of businesses has led to a need for translation of various types of written material. These include translation of technical literature such as product specifications and instructions, legal contracts, e-mails, marketing material, advertising slogans, and more. Translation always involves more than just a literal or word-by-word replacement from one language to the other. This is because all words have a cultural meaning.

Different Connotations

When retaining the services of a translator, you need to ensure that the translator is aware of the cultural nuances of both the languages involved. For instance a common word such as the moon has widely different connotations in various languages. While in English the moon is associated with madness, werewolves, and evil, many Asian countries associate the moon with romance, coolness, and serenity.

Idiomatic Phrases

Many idiomatic phrases too have a cultural connotation that needs to be translated with care. A literal translation of an English idiom will not make sense in most other languages. As such a skilled translator will ensure that the intended meaning is conveyed rather than a more literal translation. Many business executives in the U.S. and England are already familiar with the Japanese interpretation of thoughts running in parallel lines as meaning “will never meet” rather than “moving in the same direction”.

Whether you are planning to write a letter (email) to the employees or a new marketing campaign, a professional translator who understands the cultural background of the recipient country or the intended employees’ background will be able to word (or use the proper tone and vernacular) the material in the correct manner.

Avoid Misunderstanding, Losses

Since such cultural misinterpretations can lead to misunderstanding and conflicts that cause losses on a large scale, a savvy business executive planning to communicate with customers, employees, or business partners in another part of the world will retain a translating service that factors in the cultural context and nuances of any written material. Such a precaution will ensure that many future problems are avoided. You want to bridge the divide, not accidently instigate a schism.

That’s where CommGap can help! Our translators are tested, trained and professional. We do the work of choosing the right translator for the right job so you can concentrate on running your business. Contact our Translation department today and let us help you bridge the international communication gap!

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