Importance of Style & Tone When Translating Sites
Style and tone are two crucial considerations when translating sites. Using an appropriate style and tone when you translate your site helps you: (1) engage with your audience; (2) maintain your brand voice, (3) and increase conversions. Unfortunately, they’re also one of the hardest aspects of translation to get right! Whether you’re looking to translate a website into English or another language, maintaining style and tone is challenging.
This fact alone is enough for many businesses to use professional translation services instead of machine translation. Reputable translation agencies compete to provide accurate translations that keep your unique voice intact. Here we take a closer look at the importance of style and tone when translating sites and the methods professional agencies use to ensure high-quality deliverables.
Translating sites: Style & Tone of Voice Definitions
Before we uncover the importance of style and tone when translating sites, let’s explain what we mean by these two terms. In writing and translation, these terms can be defined as follows:
- Writing Style: The characteristics of the sentences and grammar used on your site. Perhaps you use long-flowing sentences with more complex terminology or shorter sentences with words tailored to the Gen Z population.
- Tone of Voice: The expression of the author’s attitude and the feeling they’re conveying across their website. The tone of your content helps to build the necessary emotion in your audience to engage and convert.
In other words, style and tone of voice change how you say something. Of course, there are multiple ways to communicate the same information, but style and tone make it unique to your brand. Therefore, they are a core factor in any branding strategy.
Like any global brand, maintaining brand voice when you translate your site is crucial. It helps you retain the essence of who you are across multiple languages. You want to translate your English website into other languages while maintaining uniquely you. Tone and style make this possible.
Human vs Literal Translations
At first, it might seem like a literal translation would be the most accurate solution when translating sites. However, you tend to lose key nuances that add meaning and personality when you translate your site literally. Or worse, the final copy can be confusing when the literal translation contains references that your target audience doesn’t understand.
Unlike literal translation, professional human translation services adopt a process of three stages when translating sites. These steps are used regardless of whether you need to translate a website into English, French, Spanish, or any other language, and are as follows:
- Translation: The first stage will have a professional translator to translate your website into their native language. Having native speakers translate your site makes it easier for them to understand and interpret the style and tone.
- Editing: Another professional translator will thoroughly check the accuracy of the initial translation. The editing state is crucial for assessing style and tone. Both are very subjective, so having two sets of eyes look over your website improves the outcome.
- Proofreading: The last stage will include the QA team to quality control the document in terms of language, punctuation, formatting, etc. There won’t be any further changes to style or tone here, but it guarantees you a professional finish.
How Translation Agencies Interpret Style & Tone
All reliable translation agencies use the “translation, editing, proofreading” (TEP) process outlined above when translating sites. Even so, interpreting style and tone is complex and requires a set method of its own. Below are some guidelines, requirements, and processes translation agencies might implement whenever they translate a website into English or another language:
- Translation Glossaries: A translation agency might start by creating a glossary based on your brand voice. This provides acceptable translations for certain words and phrases that are unique to a company or industry.
- Examples of Content: Many agencies require you to provide meaningful examples of the voice you’re trying to achieve in your copy, including social media, brand profiles, and – of course – your current website.
- Translation Rules: Some translation agencies may adopt translation guidelines to help prevent issues with misinterpretation when translating sites. This includes avoiding pop culture references, using simple sentences, leaving out jargon, and eliminating slang.
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 your website exciting and give it a unique personality. A professional translation agency knows how to balance the need for clarity with respect for the voice of the source text.
Translating Sites vs Transcreating Sites
Translating sites using the translation rules above does have limitations. You do take away some personality by simplifying your content and removing slang words and idioms. All reputable agencies strike a balance of clarity and tone. However, if you’re a quirky brand looking for personality-packed website copy, a better solution is transcreation.
Transcreation is short for creative translation. It is a method that can be used to translate your site that focuses on interpreting meaning and intent, rather than specific words and phrases. Creative translation is often the best way to retain the tone and message of the source. Using transcreation when you translate a website into English also carries all the below benefits:
- Ensures your content makes sense to the target audience
- Guarantees that your website respects local cultures and customers
- Maintains your brand voice and image across multiple languages
- Increases conversion by building a better connection with your audience
To better understand the benefits of transcreation when translating sites, let’s look at an example. A company might reference a famous athlete in their website copy, someone who is associated with strength, integrity, and hard work. Later, the brand might need to translate that copy into another language for an audience in a different country. It’s very important here to recruit a professional agency to avoid brand translation fails.
A direct or literal translation wouldn’t be very helpful if most people in the second country have not heard of the famous athlete. 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.
Translate Your Site with Renaissance Translations
Maintaining style and tone is one of the more challenging aspects of translating sites. As such, professional translation agency should always perform the task, ensuring your business is a hit in whichever market you enter.
With a network of over 5,000 translators, Renaissance Translations can help you translate your site professionally and accurately. We are proud to have happy and satisfied clients from different parts of the world and consider our company “a global translation agency”. Our company is member of the Association of Translation Companies in England and we are also members of SDL LSP Partner Programme. Contact us today to discuss your translation project and translate your website into English or any other language. You’ll be glad you did!