The 9 Secrets of Good Content Translation

Blog The 9 Secrets of Good Content Translation
22nd July, 2020

For brands to be truly global, their written words must be understood in every corner of the world. They need localisation campaigns that focus on the most spoken global languages. With its talented pool of freelance translators, greatcontent understands this and offers copywriting services in more than 30 languages. Follow these tips for great global content.

Know your language

1. The source content

Don't dive straight in. Stop - read the entire source text first. With an overall idea of its content, translating is easier.

2. Being literal never works

Literal translations deliver texts that are annoyingly out of context or unintentionally funny. Online automatic translation tools are great, but use sparingly- they can be way too literal. What we want is naturally flowing content in the target language while keeping the original context. Use automatic tools sparingly. They're no substitute for in-depth target language knowledge.

3. Know your syntax

Having a vast store of words and phrases is no good if you can't put them in the right order. If you're translating into a language that isn't your own, double-check your syntax before hitting 'submit'.

4. Be a grammar freak

Nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, they're the semantic backbone of any language. Some languages have similar grammatical constructions, others differ widely. The use of the possessive apostrophe in English is a prime example. Being a grammatical expert is absolutely necessary to convey the meaning of the original content while avoiding ambiguity.

5. Avoid the humour

Who doesn't love a joke? But translating one is tricky even for highly-skilled second-language speakers. Idioms are a good example - in England and Castilian Spain, 'it rains cats and dogs' while in Catalan Spain, 'it rains barrels and casks' and in France, 'it rains ropes'! If humour is involved when translating, invest time in researching local context.

The nuts and bolts

6. Who knew there were so many ways to write numbers!

Little things can trip you up. There are many ways of writing dates and numbers! Getting them wrong loses credibility and possibly money. Check style guides to see how numerals, currency and dates etc. should be written. For example, is 09/07/2021 the ninth of July or the seventh of September? If you've got a launch deadline, getting it wrong could be disastrous. Putting a comma or point in the wrong place when translating large currency amounts can lead to expensive mistakes!

7. Tidy it up. Tighten it up.

Never finish a translation and immediately press 'send'. Read it again and tidy it up - eliminate typos and grammatical errors. Read it again and tighten it up - keep sentences short and sweet (20 words or less), using the active voice rather than the passive. Check the original and read your translation once more - out loud.

8. Make use of tools 

Whether on the desk or online, good translators should have to hand:

  • bilingual dictionaries

  • encyclopedias

  • dictionaries of idioms, slang and colloquialisms

  • a thesaurus and

  • maybe translation memory software

9. Specialist translators

Translation and interpretation are very different skills. Sometimes interchangeable but often not. Both involve adapting one language into another but the written word is much more permanent. Accurate translation and localisation take time and specialist knowledge. Never assume that just because someone can speak a language fluently, they can write in it.

Helping you make the right choice

At greatcontent, we know that translation is about striking a balance between a faithful recreation of the source text and the meaning and readability of the target text. It's about knowing which nuances are relevant - what must be rendered faithfully and what can be altered for a different audience.

We help clients prepare content that suits an international audience and then we link them to translators who can deliver in their chosen target languages while maintaining their unique brand voice. See the full list of languages and language variations we offer. If you want greatcontent to help your brand reach a global audience or if you want to join our valued translation team, then contact us now.

Text: Leonie Yeates

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