The Challenges For Social Media Content Translation
Any form of content translation entails some challenges. At the very least, there are instances when no direct translation is possible. Certain words in one language might not have a direct correlation in another language. This limit could mean using an approximation that’s close enough. Or stringing together several words to convey the same meaning as one.
The Inuit language famously has several words to describe different types of snow (although far fewer than rumors imply). One such word, pukak, roughly translates to English as “crystalline snow on the ground.” Another, nilak, describes freshwater ice suitable for drinking. Direct translation is difficult because English has no single word for these concepts.
In addition, you have to consider things like slang, cultural context, and conveying meaning to specific groups of people. This consideration remains important whether you’re creating web content, blog posts, or marketing materials. These same challenges exist for social media translations. However, because of social media posts’ limitations and precise nature, you’ll face additional difficulties with content translation.
Limits on Length
When it comes to social media and translation, one practical issue many companies come up against is length restrictions. You want to utilise available space wisely, but when you start translating word for word, you may exceed limits.
The English word “sale” translates to rebaja in Spanish, verkauf in German, xiāoshòu in Chinese, and takhfid alsier in Arabic. The four characters you started with turn into 6, 7, 8, and 14 characters, respectively, and that’s just one word.
This difference might not make much difference on a web page or in a blog post. You may have to adjust your layout to accommodate longer or shorter content in another language. But you can use the correct vocabulary to convey your meaning regardless.
When you have a hard limit on characters, however, as with Twitter, the challenge becomes much more complex. You already have to display an incredible economy with word choice. And you also have to balance the desire to fill available space against the potential for translations to run longer.
This disconnect is where professional translation services can help. A certain level of expertise and comprehension is required for creative translation or transcreation services. It conveys the same meaning and adheres to space restrictions.
Accurately Translating Language-Specific Terminology
Every culture has slang that makes content translation difficult. The word “cool” might have correlating terms in other languages. But their meaning is likely related to temperature rather than social status.
Further adding to complications for commercial translation is industry jargon — essentially technical slang. One possible solution is loan words. A term popular in one language but unavailable in others can be borrowed, entering the lexicons of many different languages.
The English language uses many loan words. Everyone knows the meaning of the French word “café” or the German word “kindergarten.” They enjoy such widespread usage that we don’t even think of them as foreign words.
The same is true of words that originated in English but have been adopted by other languages. One example associated with social media is Facebook. Sure, it’s the name of a company, but words for “face” and “book” certainly exist in other languages.
However, the word Facebook has largely been accepted as is rather than translated. On the other hand, the “like” button on Facebook has been translated into other languages. So, if your content includes “like us on Facebook,” you would have to translate everything but the loan word, Facebook.
Why is this important? The more loan words you use, the more you can ensure understanding across languages without translation. You’ll also keep the character count the same for those specific words, reducing the chances of exceeding set character limits.
Creating Consistently Effective Content Across Languages
Maintaining conceptual continuity across languages is never an easy task. Distilling your core message to simple, precise vernacular is difficult enough in your native language. Writing with content translation in mind is even harder.
However, this is essential to creating effective messaging that spans multiple languages and cultures. Professional translation services can interpret content, intent, and focus, making them relevant and appealing for foreign audiences.
Conveying Brand Identity
Any content a company creates has its own purpose, but it also has to support the brand identity. It must match up to organisational values and align with the brand narrative. This tonality can be an incredibly difficult aspect of content translation.
Translating a brand’s voice and personality can be difficult, as core values and attractive traits are often tied to culture.
A good translation agency takes the emotional appeal associated with the content and translates it with culturally appropriate meaning. This approach helps provide your audience with the right impression of your company.
Trusted Content Translation
Renaissance Translations proudly serves a wide range of industries, providing content translation for all manner of digital platforms. Our expert team can also help with translation services in any language and meet your tight deadlines. Contact our project managers today to discuss your translation project!