When 5 words are not 5 words

We had a conference call today with one of our customers whose website we just translated into French. A dating portal. Thousands of words, but what we eventually discussed on the call with the translation team for half an hour broke down to 5. Well, no, let’s count precisely. Education level question: 3 words. Claim: 5. 8 words in total.

But these 8 words were crucial.

3 words: Within the dating website you had to tick your level of education. What if the German system hasn’t got anything to do with the UK, the French, Spanish or US system? It doesn’t, I can assure you. Will we leave the lonely hearts out there because they don’t know what to tick in this section? No. We need to make a decision.

Similar but not the same for the claim which appears on the landing page. It has to be catchy, respresent the target audience, they have to feel at home here.

We provided 5 examples with the back translation and one of our options convinced the customer. As it was targerted to the right generation, wasn’t a direct translation but conveyed a romatic feeling of the past. That was it. 5 words.

5 words of transcreation. According to the reasearch done by CSA, 15 years ago, only 3% of the translation buyer had heard of this concept. Today, about 43% are aware and embrace the idea of transcreation as a service. © CSA – Reaching Markets Through Transcreation

The Ceiling

Monday morning: Hey, how was your weekend?

My German speaking colleage asks. Well, not much going on, all quiet – and I now write in English just for the sake of it: the ceiling was falling on my head. If you are English you probably look a bit puzzled now. If you are German and speak some English you may have a good laugh. Because it is a German saying so literally translated into English that it HURTS. What it actually means is that you were bored stiff. This is not what translation should be. It should reflect the feeling, the message, not the word. The translators have to be familiar enough with the message behind the word and be talented enough in their native language to get this message across.

With the same meaning but probably different words. But what if this “ceiling” was part of a marketing campaign with its marketing collateral all based on this picture. Then we’d have a problem now and it would have been good to be involved in an earlier stage.