Why Should You Avoid Literal Translation For Your Business?
Learn how to create an easy-to-read message for your business and avoid literal translation.
What is literal translation?
Literal translation refers to any translation that replaces words from one language to another without evaluating the cultural contexts. Word for word translation is a common path while learning a language. Nevertheless, word for word translation does not help to create a correct meaning of the message in the target language.
Many online translation tools provide word for word translation. The resources are usually free, and they do not require specific knowledge of the target language or other technical skills. The translations are produced by algorithms; that’s why they sound mechanical and automatic.
Examples of literal translation
The natural translation is not that simple but requires a deep knowledge of the target language. In fact, translation plays a huge part in a business aiming to reach as many clients as possible. There are professional translation services helping businesses deliver powerful messages for their clients.
We decided to include a list of English and Italian idioms to identify the differences between natural and literal translations. In this scenario, it is particularly interesting to understand how the word for word translation does not match the true translation.
- “Tocca Ferro” (Touch Iron): The word for word translation does not give the correct meaning. The same in English is “Touch Wood” (Tocca Legno, in Italian).
- “Clothes don’t make the man” (I vestiti non fanno l’uomo): In Italian, the matching idiom translates as “L’abito non fa il monaco” (The dress does not make the monk, in English).
- “In bocca al lupo”(In the mouth of the wolf): The correct translation in English is “Break a leg” or “Good luck”. The answer in Italian is “Crepi” or “Crepi il lupo” (May the wolf die, in English)
Why should you avoid literal translation?
A literal translation does not simply sound natural. It is like a computer language: automatic and mechanical. Choosing a word for word translation can cause the risk of delivering or creating a text with a different meaning. A good translation involves understanding contexts and tones, grammar and structure, and not simply the vocabulary.
A literal translation is easy and quick but also mechanical, and often without a correct meaning. Literal translations do not consider the nuances of a language; namely structure, grammar, idioms, tone, and context. Besides, a mechanical translation deprives words of emotions and tone of voice.
What is creative translation?
Words can have different meanings, which vary according to the context and the language. This variety of expressions creates a wide range of choices for a translation. A creative translation or natural translation can keep the original meaning of the message using the right tone and context for the target language. The goal in creative translations is to maintain the content of a message, changing words and structure accordingly.
Creative translation enables businesses to engage worldwide with their audience by delivering the right tone of the message. A professional translation is a component of any marketing strategy aiming to “spread the word”.
Specifically, professional translation services are designed to create an easy-to-read text in the target language using a natural tone that keeps the original meaning of the message. Innovation and creativity, together with a deep understanding of the cultural shades in the language, play a key role in translating and interpreting the message of a business correctly.
Difference between literal translation and creative translation
- A literal translation is accurate and quick but also mechanical and automatic, without a specific tone and meaning.
- Literal translations are often automatic translations from resources online.
- Word for word translation does not consider the grammar and the structure of the target language.
- A natural translation aims to create texts ad hoc for the target audience.
- Natural translation can be very different from word for word translation because context and culture are fundamental elements.
- Creative translations are human translations offered by professional translation services.
- Natural translation applies the right tone of voice and context to the target language keeping the original meaning intact.
Follow these steps for a natural translation
In conclusion, any literal translation’s meaning lacks a deep knowledge of the target language. Creating texts that resonate with the philosophy of a business means adapting words and structure, interpreting the context, and being able to transmit the message accordingly. It is not a simple task, and a good translation can be very effective in marketing and improving sales, as professional translation services advise.
Creating a natural and engaging translation for any business is a process that requires professionalism along with some important steps that we have included here below:
Localise the content
Localising the content helps to adapt the powerful message to deliver, following the cultural context of the target audience.
Localisation plays a key role in interpreting the text. It requires a deep understanding of the culture and the grammar of a language.
For example. Spanish is the language spoken in Spain and South America, but the culture, the tone of the speech, and some vocabularies of these countries are quite different. Localising the content requires interpreting words and grammar but also the context and tone of voice. In the case of Spain and South America, localising the content will probably result in two different translations, both in Spanish.
Use the right tone of voice
Every language with its nuances can conquer the audience with a catchy slogan. Words can have a great impact on the decision of consumers; that’s why it is important to transmit the same tone and emotions, especially if requested by the business.
Simplify when possible
Copywriting and translation are essentials in a good marketing strategy. Creativity is necessary to adapt the content in different languages, and a spot-on translation maintains the core meaning of the message to deliver. If the translation of a text is too complicated in the target language, simplifying concepts and words can result in a clear message, easy to understand for the audience.
Contact Renaissance Translations for professional translation services!
To guarantee a professional translator is always available when needed, we have pooled the talents of native translators and thousands of professional linguists internationally. If you want to discuss your language translation project, please contact our project managers at email@example.com or call us on 0161 3940408.