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Common translation phrases explained: Direct Translation

We understand that when you’re looking for professional translation services for your business, it can seem a bit baffling. Which translation service should you go with? What makes one better than another?

When you read each translation agency’s selling points, you might come across some unfamiliar terms and phrases like machine translation, transcreation, creative translation, marketing translation, localisation, and so on.

Well, as translators our job is to clarify, not confuse, so we’re here with this multi-part guide on some of the common words you might come across on your search for the right translation agency for you.


What is Direct Translation?

The most commonly available type of translation service, straightforward translation. You send them your words in your source language, and they will translate them into your target language.

The advantages of direct translation

It’s quick

Most translation agencies have many translators they can call on, so your work can be turned around within 2 days or less and ready to publish immediately.

Your copy is translated by a human

Comparing translation services to machine translation, direct translation removes an element of risk. Machine translation can’t always catch errors or misspellings, and it will certainly struggle with informal speech, idioms, or puns.

The disadvantages of direct translation

Cultural references may be lost

Your assigned translator may only know the language, not the culture. So local references, slang or dialect may be overlooked.

The quality of your translator is difficult to assess

Without knowing exactly who is translating your work, you may not be aware of the real accuracy of their work. They may not have a background in your business area, or any particular training as a marketing copywriter. So your translated words may make sense, but lack any flair.

Marketing Translation vs. Direct Translation - what’s the difference?

We’ve talked before about the importance of copywriting to sell your product or services, and if you’re reading this, the chances are you’re fully on board with that.

Marketing translation takes your polished text, which has been written in your source language, and rewrites it in the target language. It will be specifically written to fit your brand, your messages, your tone of voice, your sales pitch – but using the concepts, ideas and emotions that will appeal to your target demographic. Those might vary not only by language, but by region.

So even if your directly translated words make sense to your audience, they might hit an emotional tone that’s off-key. For example, even basic emotional words have deep nuances that vary across language and culture. One study identified that even base emotions like ‘sadness’ or ‘anger’ can be expressed differently depending on the language.

In Indo-European languages, words for ‘anger’ are closely linked to the emotion of ‘anxiety’. But in languages like Vietnamese and Khmer, words for ‘anger’ are related to ‘grief’ and ‘regret’. Northeast Caucasian languages such as Chechen link 'anger' to ‘envy’, while Austronesian languages like Tagalog and Maori connect anger to ‘hate,’ ‘bad’ and ‘pride’, reflecting a cultural stance on anger as an emotion of power and strength.

Look out for our other articles on common translation phrases. If you’d like to find out how we can help you write copy that connects with your audience in multiple languages, get in touch.



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