The importance of culture in translation

Published on 26/12/2022

Different cultures have different values and norms. And it is not just a question of the language they speak. The culture of origin also affects the translation and how it is perceived by the target audience. For example, in Western cultures, we are more direct in our communication styles than people from Eastern cultures. In order to properly translate the content of a specific culture, it is necessary to understand its values and norms, as well as its expectations of a good translation.

1. How cultural context affects translation

The meaning of a word or sentence can be altered by the cultural context in which it is used. This is because words are not universal and can have different meanings depending on where they are used. When a word in one culture is used in another, its meaning may change. For example, the word “party” in the United States means something different from what it means in France.

Something similar happens with Spanish. There are a lot of words that are very context-dependent and we cannot translate them into English or German in the same way, because we have to give the cultural meaning to the word. That is why, when hiring a translation service, it must have professionals trained in specific languages. This way, a translation appropriate to the cultural environment of the text reader is achieved.

2. The value of using a cultural expert in a project

A professional can help you understand the cultural nuances of a specific region, which is important when working on international projects. Cultural experts are also very useful when you are working on a project that involves a specific culture, for example, if your company wants to launch a product in China. The cultural differences between East and West should not be a handicap, but it is a challenge to provide the right translation that takes into account the cultural background.

When dealing with a translation of a certain complexity, the translator will most likely have to resort to several sources, or rely on external help in order to resolve the text as desired. Even within the same country, there are significant cultural differences that can change the meaning of the translation. For this reason, it is necessary to take several precise sources in order to achieve a translation adapted to the specific cultural context.

3. Understanding the source culture to ensure accurate translation

The conclusion is that the more accurate the translations are, the easier it is for people to understand the message. This is because they do not face any confusion or misinterpretation of words, phrases and sentences. Understanding the source culture is one of the most important factors in ensuring accurate translations. One of the ways to research the source culture when translating is to consult a cultural anthropology peer reviewed works. One of the keys to ensuring accurate translations of materials is to understand the source and target culture.

Some tasks, such as translation, cannot be entrusted to inexperienced people, and certainly not to machines. The value of a tradition lies to a large extent in how the cultural context is interpreted. This is something that can only be done by a professional translation agency that has a global vision of how to work.We frequently use all possible means to achieve these goals.
In an increasingly digitalised and globalised world, business relations between different cultures is our daily bread. Getting our message across in the right way involves the expertise of qualified people capable of shaping this text. And that can only be done by a translation company with a firm commitment to accuracy.

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Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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