How creative translators really are?

With the improvements of Google translate, more and more people believe that translation is as easy as clicking a button. However, true and accurate translation is very difficult to create. Only educated professional translators can convert the meaning accurately into another language.

One of the articles published by The Economist highlights how difficult translation can be and how ingenious translators need to be to make sure the text is understood. (CLICK HERE)

The article focuses on translation of technological terms being translated into languages whose users have limited exposure of computers. For instance, Firefox’s translation team working on Fulah (language spoken by 20 million people from Senegal to Nigeria) had to be very creative to come up with translations that would be understood by the target audience, such as:

“Crash” became hookii (a cow falling over but not dying), or

“timeout” became a honaama (your fish has got away).

Only human ingenuity is able to come up with a phrase such as ‘hookii’ to describe a situation with a crashing software. In this case translators showed their true and thorough understanding of the target audience. Only thanks to their understanding of language and culture they were able to create appropriate text.

These examples show the extreme cases where translators need to invent new words or assign new meaning to existing words in order to convert the messages into target words.

Furthermore, even translation between languages whose cultures are relatively similar needs to be done carefully. There are always cultural differences and context that translators need to take into consideration during translation.

Creative translation is also required for projects with marketing translation. Marketeers often use cultural references and slogans that might not easily convert into another language and another culture. 

So, translators use their creativity and ingenuity to convey the message in the target language and at the same time create copy that resonates well with the target audience. 


If you are working on projects where creative translation could help, please do get in touch.



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