Why Style And Tone Of Voice Are Important In Translation
There are many reasons why people opt to use professional translation services instead of machine translation. For this reason, reputable translation agencies compete to provide accurate translation with timely results. One challenge that many professional translators face is retaining a source’s style and tone of voice within the final translation.
How Are Style and Tone of Voice Defined?
Style and tone of voice describe how you say something, instead of simply what you say. These two components are a big part of branding for many businesses. Like any global brand, you want to translate your brand’s voice to an audience in another country. Here, it’s helpful to remember that professional translation services can help you in two primary ways.
The first goal is to provide a technically accurate translation. If your English product page on your website indicates your shirts are available in red or white, you would want the Spanish product page to say the same thing. Professional translation services should double-check all content for accuracy.
Secondly, the best professional translators need to be creative and flexible to match your tone and style. This helps to protect the image of your brand across all of the audiences that you hope to reach. In marketing copy, a creative translation is just as essential as an accurate translation.
Perhaps your product page has a lot of personalities. For example, it says something like: “Are you sick of flimsy T-shirts that can’t stand up to a day of work? Our tough guy tees are made to last. Whether you’re into extreme sports or extreme work, our tees can stand up to the challenge!”
With a professional translation services provider, your translation should keep that rough and tumble brand voice. Using phrases that match the target language can create the desired voice. Rather than translating a phrase like “tough guy tees” word for word, a professional translator will understand the need to adapt the phrase to match the intention or thought. Without a translation agency, a brand can easily lose an essential part of the message that they want to communicate.
Why Do Professional Translation Services Avoid Literal Translations?
At first, it might seem as though a literal translation would also be the most accurate translation. However, literal translations tend to lose key nuances that add meaning and personality to text. Worse, when professional translators are too literal, the final copy can be confusing. This happens when the literal translation contains references that the target audience doesn’t understand.
Unlike literal translation, professional translation services adopt a translation process of three stages. The first stage will have a professional translator translate a document into her/his native language. Second, another professional translator will thoroughly check the accuracy of the translation. The last stage will include the QA team to quality control the document in terms of language, punctuation, formatting, etc.
How Professional Translators at a Translation Agency Interpret Tone and Style
Tone and style of voice are very subjective, so how do professional translation services interpret these elements when they work with your business? Ideally, clients should provide meaningful examples of the voice they’re trying to achieve in their copy. For example, a translation agency might start by creating a glossary. This provides acceptable translations for certain words and phrases that are unique to a company or industry.
Some translation agencies may also adopt translation guidelines that help to ensure more accurate translation and prevent issues with misinterpretation. This includes:
- Avoiding pop culture references
- Using short, simple sentences
- Leaving out jargon or explaining it clearly
- Eliminating slang or idioms from translation
These practices can help to ensure that style and tone aren’t lost in translation. However, rules like these can also eliminate elements that make translation interesting and give it a unique personality. A professional translation agency knows how to balance out the need for clarity with a respect for the source text’s voice.
Maintaining Brand Voice with Creative Translation
Creative translation is another solution. This is an alternative method to providing word for word and literal translations. Creative translation is a form of transcreation. This is a way of translating text by interpreting its meaning and intent, rather than focusing on specific words and phrases.
Oftentimes, creative translation is the best way to retain the tone and message of the source. For example, a company might reference a famous athlete in their ad copy, someone who is associated with strength, integrity, and hard work in the country of origin.
Later, the brand might need to translate that copy into another language for an audience in a different country. If most people in the second country have not heard of the famous athlete, a direct or literal translation wouldn’t be very helpful.
This is where transcreation comes in handy. Rather than using a confusing reference, the translator would replace that famous person with a more relevant reference—such as a familiar celebrity from the target market.
Creative translation offers many benefits, including:
- Translations that make sense to the target audience
- Respect for local cultures and customs
- Maintain brand voice and image
- Increased conversions
Professional translation services use content transcreation skills to determine when the original style and tone would be inappropriate. For example, suppose a company has a brand identity that is decidedly young, sarcastic, and irreverent. Their content may be full of references to pop music, tongue-in-cheek remarks, and edgy humour.
Now, what if that company wants to market its products in a country where these things aren’t culturally acceptable? The best approach is usually to alter the style and tone to make it more palatable for the new audience.
With a translation agency understanding of the purpose of your translation (and the aid of professional translation services), you can reach new audiences in effective and creative ways.
Renaissance Translations’ Professional Translation Services
With a network of over 5,000 specialist translators, we can help you translate your content in any language and at any deadline. We are proud to have happy and satisfied clients from different parts of the world. In fact, that’s why we call our company “a global translation agency”. Contact us today to discuss your translation project!