Easy methods to Write for a Multi-Lingual Market


Everybody thought I used to be nuts to tackle the scriptwriting job a number of years in the past, doing sales-training video for the European division of a significant US automobile producer.

“You write it in English so ze boys in Detroit can perceive und approve it,” stated the German producer on the cellphone to me. “Zen I shoot the video and do one edit. Zat’s all zey vant to spend.”

“High-quality,” I ventured. “So what is the catch?”

“Zat one edit will get voiceovers in 11 totally different languages,” he continued, sniggering slightly. “Ze translations are all totally different lengths. So your unique has to work in chunks mit lengthy gaps in English, so it could possibly movement at 90 miles an hour in Greek.

“It is a bloody nightmare,” he stated lastly. “Nonetheless vant to do it?”

I let loose an extended sigh, stared at my sparse-looking financial institution assertion and stated sure.

Right here, then, is a few recommendation primarily based on my painful expertise.

Permit for various language lengths

Strictly talking, that is extra of a design challenge. However as we noticed, it could possibly have an effect on the phrases, too.

Should you intend to make use of the identical visible template for a couple of language model, be sure that your design permits for differing quantities of textual content (or spoken speech.)

Keep in mind that English is the simply in regards to the shortest of the world’s business languages. So in case your textual content is a decent slot in English, you may be method over size in lots of different languages. You want as much as thrice as a lot house for a few of them. So hold your English model brief and candy.

If accuracy is important, use the bottom widespread denominators

Sadly, figurative speech does not translate. Nonetheless, translators valiantly try to do it, typically with sadly amusing outcomes.

This is an instance from an article of mine that seems on the US advertising and marketing web site, MarketingProfs.com – “How To Write Proper To Your Prospects’ Hearts.” My unique paragraph:

“Most likely crucial a part of getting your writing proper is to essentially know what makes your prospects (or some other viewers) tick. Buyer evaluation strategies are nice for getting onerous info and knowledge. However if you wish to write so that you contact their hearts, it’s good to again up the formal data with one thing a bit extra emotional.”

The Spanish translation that appeared on a South American Website:

“Probablemente la parte más importante de escribir bien es saber realmente que es lo que a sus clientes (o cualquier otra audiencia) les llama la atención. Las técnicas de análisis de clientes son buenas para poder obtener hechos e información. Pero si quiere escribir para llegar muy cerca de su corazón, usted necesita respaldar la información formal con algo emocional.”

How Google translated it again into English:

“Probablemente the half most necessary to put in writing or is to essentially know that’s what to his shoppers (or some other listening to) it calls the eye to them. The strategies of research of shoppers are good to have the ability to get hold of info and knowledge. But when he desires to put in writing to reach carefully collectively from his coronary heart, it’s good to endorse the formal data with one thing emocional.”

Phew. Fortunate it wasn’t directions for open coronary heart surgical procedure. Had I been writing my piece for a number of languages, I’d have written it like this, with easy syntax and all figurative speech stripped out:

“To put in writing successfully, it’s most necessary that the author is aware of the shoppers (or some other group you are writing for) very nicely, and understands how they assume. It is potential to get helpful info and knowledge from buyer evaluation strategies. Nonetheless, if the author desires to attraction to prospects emotionally, emotional writing have to be added to the formal data.”

Boring, is not it? Nevertheless it would not be open to fairly so many misunderstandings.

Sure, misunderstandings will be humorous. However in a advertising and marketing or gross sales context, they are often pricey, too.

Pay attention to how different languages work

You discover within the paragraphs above that I’ve eliminated my beloved “you” in favour of “the author.” That is particularly necessary if you happen to’re writing for languages like Spanish or Portuguese, the place typically they do not speak to “you,” however to the third particular person.

I imagine that is why issues went flawed with the interpretation of that article on the South American Website. The translators have not been in a position to determine that “he” and “you” are the identical particular person.

Attempt so far as you possibly can to arrange your grammar and syntax within the English model so that they are so simple as potential. That makes it simpler for translators to get it proper.

We have all heard the jokes about embarrassing translations within the marcom area – e.g., the next edited from an inventory of supposedly true tales:

* The Dairy Affiliation’s big success with the marketing campaign “Received Milk?” prompted it to broaden promoting to Mexico. Sadly, the Spanish translation learn, “Are you lactating?”

* Scandinavian vacuum producer Electrolux used the next in an American marketing campaign: “Nothing sucks like Electrolux.”

* Clairol launched the “Mist Stick,” a curling iron, into Germany solely to search out out that “mist” is slang for manure. Not too many individuals had a use for the manure stick.

* Colgate launched a toothpaste in France referred to as Cue, the identify of a infamous porno journal.

* Coors put its slogan “Flip it free” into Spanish, and it was interpreted as “Endure from diarrhea.”

And so forth. Whether or not these are true is debatable. However the terrible factor is, they may occur for actual. And if I have been chargeable for a hefty worldwide advertising and marketing or advert finances, examples similar to these would wipe the smile proper off my face.

Advert Copy and Model Names: Solely By the Specialists, Please

There are some classes to study right here about writing for branding and advert copy in a number of languages:

1. Get the homework and background analysis finished by marcom consultants in each language market you are going to. One Spanish-speaking nation could have phrases and interpretations which might be totally different from one other. Brazilian Portuguese is totally different from the Portuguese in Portugal. Parisian French is barely totally different from Belgian French and Swiss French and Québécois French. And that is earlier than we even get began on languages within the Center East, Africa, Asia and past.

2. Guarantee that your translations are finished not simply by translation consultants in every language however by translation consultants who perceive tips on how to write advert copy. Insist on this if you rent the interpretation company. They might assume it is OK to make use of a native-speaker journalist or different skilled author who is not a skilled copywriter. That is not ok if you wish to get bang on your buck within the international advert spend.

3. It is not possible to guage the standard of translations into languages you do not converse, so get them double-checked by an applicable native speaker. Do not go away it to the interpretation company; play it protected. Ideally, get a native-speaker copywriter (maybe from the native advert company?) to run by it and tighten it up if vital.


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