Cultural Considerations for Language Translation

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The importance of cultural considerations for a company’s reputation


Effective language translation does not solely refer to the lexical word-for-word translation. Instead, cultural considerations have a large role to play in contextualising language translations.


What may be acceptable in one country or region can end up being an embarrassing faux-pas or more serious breach of legality in another. For instance, consider the careful nature in which the mention of civil statuses, sexual orientation, contraceptives and religion must be handled. The miscommunication of any of these, for a company in particular, can prove disastrous.


Hence, when conducting any language translation it is key to consider all cultures that may come into direct contact with your translated material. Your translation then must be localised and diversified to meet all of these cultural requirements. This is a key step in ensuring that your language translation makes a positive impact.


What is Localisation? And how does it affect language translation?


Simply put, language localisation is a form of modification that adapts a translation to fit local customs, culture and expectations.


As mentioned above, any language translations dealing with religion in particular must be taken through a rigorous localisation process. An obvious example of this is any translation that deals with clothing and women’s clothing in particular.


Where women in today’s Western world are free to clad themselves in whatever garments they choose, (save perhaps slight social judgement) in Eastern regions – notably in the UAE – women have very strict rules to follow. Rules that when broken, can result in huge legal implications as opposed to just a jibing comment from a snooty neighbour.


As an example, if a company was running a car campaign that focused around spontaneity, the use of the phrase “feel the wind in your hair“ would need localisation. In many Eastern cultures it is necessary for women – and in some religions men too – to have their hair, head and/or face covered. Thus, any language translation that mentions, promotes or even implies the avoidance of adhering to these rules must be modified. In this case, the language translation would need to use an alternative strapline that still communicated the same meaning of opportunity, freedom and satisfaction.


Contact Kwintessential


At Kwintessential, localisation is part and parcel of every language translation that we undertake. We ensure that transcreation and localisation play a key role in guiding every one of our services. This means that we translate messages and meanings rather than simply lexical considerations.


Our rigorous localisation methods mean that messages are not diluted or inappropriate when broadcast globally, instead they are strengthened as they are allowed to strike a chord in each region they land.


Although we offer significant services for corporations, at Kwintessential our language translation also covers those smaller groups who are also looking to communicate internationally.


To find out more about our professional and accurate language translation services, get in touch today on 01460 279900 or email us at

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