Language is not simply a collection of words, phrases and sentences strung together to offer meaning, but they are written in such a way that the culture of the language user is also embedded in the language. It’s called cultural language and people recognize each other by the use of shared cultural language.
When a language represents a culture by the way the language is strung together, it elicits certain responses from those who are communicating using it. It’s imperative that a translation service doesn’t misunderstand these codes when preparing a translation.
Some Cultural Differences
Many people think that May 5th or, in Spanish, Cinco de Mayo is a Latino festival. In fact, this isn’t the case at all. Its origins are as a Mexican festival which commemorates Mexico’s victory in 1862 over French forces. If a theme on Cinco de Mayo was presented in materials targeting any Latino group, it may well be seen as highly offensive. Latino groups take considerable pride in things to do with national heritage. Basing the assumption on all Latinos celebrating Mexican holidays would not go down well in countries like Panama, Puerto Rico and Cuba. This is when it’s important that anyone involved in writing and translating materials needs to be culturally sensitive to the market they are targeting.
By coming up with stereotyped judgments to do with culture, errors can be made by translation services that could risk a campaign when marketing a product and turn it into a public relations disaster. The audience may simply have no idea what the campaign is trying to push and may even be offended if inappropriate cultural references are made unknowingly by your translator in the advertising material.
Editing can Help to Correct a Translation
Once a translation has been completed, it’s wise at least to pass it onto an editor who has particular knowledge about the culture of the targeted audience. This will help to correct any likely misunderstanding in advertising material before the information is publicly released. It’s virtually impossible for any online translator to have any idea of the cultural relevance of a text and will never be able to correct any information to ensure it suits the targeted audience.
The key to the avoidance of cultural issues in translations is to make sure the translation team from the translation services is not only fluent in the languages to be translated but understands the culture of the targeted groups as well.