Translating content through the cultural lens

The Cultural Lens – Translating is a challenge

There is a great deal at stake when translating, as much can be lost when it is not done correctly. When you try to reach global audiences, it is very important to take into account not only the language itself, but also the cultural background of your target audience.

Translating a slogan to different audiences can be tricky

Big brands spend fortunes on creating enticing advertisements, but it’s all money down the drain if the cultural meaning is lost or misunderstood. For example, the McDonald’s ‘I’m lovin’ it’ slogan is not translated the same way in every language: while you may read “Me encanta” in Spanish, and “C’est tout ce que j’aime” in French, the German “Ich liebe es” is sometimes left in English in German-speaking countries like Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Why does one of the best-known concepts in the world such as love need to be adapted according to the target audience?

Wouldn’t it be easier to just replace the source words with the target vocabulary?

Try asking a native Spanish speaker to imagine the McDonald’s slogan as “Lo amo” instead of “Me encanta” and you will see why: the look of perplexity he or she gives you will speak for itself.

The goal of translating is to convey the original meaning as well as the purpose that guided the author when using those precise words. That is why culture is an essential element and cannot be ignored when we attempt to impart meaning – when we have to “carry it over”, as the etymology of the word translation itself states.

That said, how do you ensure your target audience gets the real meaning and purpose of the text they are reading? The answer is simple: 
Choose the right partner to translate your words and their related meaning.

A good place to start is to narrow down the selection of language experts to those who, in addition to being native speakers, actually live in the country where the target language is spoken.

Cultural lens

This may not seem important if we just stick to the general perception of the concept of translation.

However, the importance of cultural knowledge comes clearly into focus when we put on a pair of glasses fitted with the right cultural lenses.

The big deal of translating

A country’s language is the linchpin of its cultural system. How can we get an effective translation if the translator has no knowledge of the target culture? At Xplanation, we believe that using mother-tongue translators living in a country where their language is spoken is the key to translation quality.

Language experts at your fingertips

Are you looking for someone who can transfer the meaning of your text while bearing in mind the target audience and cultural differences that might prevent people from fully understanding its content? Then look no further.