The Effects of Culture on the Process of Business Document Translation

Translating a document means making it understandable from one language to another. That process means that you are going to need two different languages. More, it means that you will have to take what is one culture and translate it to another. The professional translator who is accomplishing the translation is required to know something about each culture and both languages in order to effectively create a document that will make sense to the other culture.

There are implications for translation of business or personal text that have nothing to do with the language used. For example, something such as body piercings which are very common in one country may be taboo in another country. Likewise a word that is used in one custom or tradition may mean something entirely different--even vulgar or insulting in another. The translator who does your business translations must be familiar enough with both areas to be able to translate not just the words, but the ideas behind the words.

Any text that is being translated requires that you consider the culture and look at any problems that may take place or may be in place before it is translated. Taking cultural changes into the translation is the only way that the business translation will be a success. The solutions must be arrived at before the translation begins in order to keep the translation change or the solution to that problem consistent across the entire document.

Our society defines culture as many different things. Some say that it is the language while others say it is language, arts, habits, even something so small as diseases or microbes in a given area. The best description that is available today is one given by the father of translation.-"the way of life and its manifestations that are peculiar to a community that uses a particular language as its means of expression."--Newmark.

A culture is more than a group of people speaking the same language. It is a group that has a language in common but also many other things. These small nuances are what make real translation so difficult and so important.

Good examples of this are the differences that are inherent between UK English and English as it is spoken in the United States. The word brilliant holds many different meanings. They are adaptive to the society who is using the word. in the United States, brilliant is traditionally thought to mean intelligent or bright as in intellect. The UK offers a different meaning, using it to express something exciting or very positive. It is a compliment or a statement of pleasure. In the United States, a translation would be "how wonderful" or "awesome." These differences can be very trying when it is necessary to translate them from one language to another. Fortunately the English translates easily for most people primarily due to expression and tone. That is not always the case between two dissimilar languages.

One example of this is that in Canada, the word email is translated as Courriel, while in the European French the word most commonly used is email. Those are very nominal differences but not all differences are so. In Europe, the word gosses is used to describe children, while in Canada that term translates as a vulgarity.

These two very minor examples can show better than anything else how easily mistakes can be made and how quickly we can wreak havoc on a business by translating incorrectly. The directions for a medical product or even for a vacuum cleaner might easily be misunderstood with the wrong kind of translation. In no time at all the business is not a positive one, but may be a laughingstock when translations are incorrect.

Keeping your business professional looking and ensuring the products and services that you are offering are well understood and correctly used is the very best reason for hiring a professional translation team for any international project.

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