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Translating Culture

Cultural Considerations for Translation

International translation services are, without a doubt, invaluable when it comes to helping companies market their products and services overseas. However, translating business materials that are intended for presentation to foreign audiences involves a much more complex process than simply converting words from one language to another. A significant amount of time should be dedicated to elements of localization if the translation is to be truly successful. By doing so, companies can protect themselves against their message inadvertently causing either hilarity or offence overseas.

What is localization?

Localization complements professional translation. It can be summed up as a form of modification that draws knowledge of local culture and customs and applies that to translated copy, so as to ensure it is appropriate for a new audience.

For example, if a company has an advertising campaign focused on the products users relaxing, ‘Put your feet up’ might be an appropriate slogan for Western audiences. However, in the UAE and many parts of Asia, displaying the soles of the feet is considered impolite, at best. Thus it would be appropriate for the translator to localize the copy in order to take account of this, by finding an alternative phrase that conveys the same meaning. Read more