1/16/2011

About Translating & Interpreting (Another Intermezzo)



Many of the things I learned as an interpreter are equally useful in advertising.

One such lesson is the importance of ‘back translation’ – a validation test where someone else translates your translation back into the original language.

This re-translation is the true measure of success, because it shows how well the intended message has survived communication.

Here’s an example:

Original English:

Some Japanese women believe that fairness
is more important than intelligence.

Italian translation:

Alcune donne giapponesi credono che la pelle chiara
sia più importante dell’intelligenza.

The ‘back translation’ – converting that Italian translation back into English:

Some Japanese women believe that pale skin
is more important than intelligence.

However, in the original, “fairness” refers to being evenhanded, not to skin pigmentation.

Looking back at that original, it’s easy to see how this misunderstanding occurred.

But if you only saw the Italian translation, you wouldn’t have the benefit of that context.

You’d only see this contentious statement, which could easily cause offense.

And therein lies the lesson: when it comes to communication, subtle nuances can have a significant impact.
Brand interpreters

Advertisers must navigate such nuances every day, because audiences only see translations.

They never see the beautifully crafted PowerPoint slides.

They never hear the eloquent strategic rationale.

They only ever see the ads.

And if they can’t translate the messages in those ads back to what we intended to share, we’ve failed.

So how do we mitigate the dangers of nuance?
From lesson to learning

During a particularly tough back-translation test, a colleague shared some invaluable advice:




It’s amazing how such a simple change can make a world of difference.


Adopted from:

Eskimon

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