Translation Myths, Localization and Cultural Taboos
24 Feb Translation Myths, Localization and Cultural Taboos
When needing information or media translation into another language, it is important to remember that not all cultures are alike. Here are some translation myths anyone should be aware of.
Translation myths and what to believe
In fact there are whole sections of education (Cultural Anthropology, Linguistics) that are dedicated to the study of the vast differences among people from different cultures and languages.
So what are people to do when they need something translated into another language, considering that there are so many different translation myths to be aware of?
While if we are talking about a business or a major project, it would be wise to hire some experts in this area, it is not necessary for every international company to have a person on staff with a Ph. D. in Anthropology.
Some companies would be well advised to take this step, however. Thankfully you don’t have to have a Ph. D. to know what is offensive or culturally inconsiderate in another culture, because you can ask someone who is aware of their native culture.
Having a native speaker translate any documents and filter any media is something that many people don’t bother to do. This is a huge mistake and is one of the translation myths that should be taken into account.
Translation is not a simple mathematical calculation that any computer can do. Languages are living and dynamic.
Hopefully you can find a professional company whose services go beyond translating into the areas of contextualization, localization and even cultural mediation for you.
There are companies that have these capabilities, but they are, unfortunately, not as common as one would think.
It’s a huge advantage for a company to have a contract with a professional translation company that will go over all their printed and media materials for advertising, marketing and sales. This is done to make sure that the company is not going to commit an error that will offend people or break moral taboos in the local culture. For example, in some cultures, you can never say “no” to someone or it will shame you both. Often people might say something like “I hope so, I am very busy, I will see.” In these cultures this basically means “no.”
Some translation myths to be aware of
Let’s have a look at following translation myths:
- Anyone who knows a foreign language is qualified to be a translator.
- Translating from one language to another language is the same as translating in the reverse direction.
- Anyone who raised in a bilingual family already has the required skills to work as a translator.
- Translators can translate content at the same speed that they can type.
- Human translators are not needed, and can be substituted by modern translation tools.
- There is no need for a translation agency or a professional – anyone who can speak two languages can do the translation.
- Translation is all about words – replacing words in one language to their equivalent in another language.
- Most of the people can read and understand English, so it is not necessary to translate a site or marketing content into other languages.
- Culture has nothing to do with translation.
- There is one possible translation for every text.
Knowing this kind of “insider information”on translation myths can be the difference between success and brutal failure in building strong relationships in another culture.