Translation May Not Be What You Need

Just like being able to speak English is not enough to be the next Oscar Wilde, not every job that involves a foreign language can be allocated to a translator. There are times when a translator is the wrong person for the job.

To come up with a snappy slogan or a memorable acronym, you have probably delegated the task to a skilled person within your marketing department or even hired a professional copywriter. Many translators can be fairly creative when necessary, but copywriters they are not. You need a capable copywriter for each language you wish to translate your slogan or acronym into because such words or phrases are beyond the scope of standard translation. The whole concept will need to be reworked from scratch. An acronym cannot work in other languages since it works like a pun, i.e. there are 2 parts to it: the initial letters forming a word, and each letter standing for another word. Once the words behind the letters are translated, you necessarily end up with different initials, so the acronym no longer works.

There are copywriters who offer a multilingual service. They can also advise you on your company name or the name of services that you wish to export to ensure that any name or acronym that you use in your source language does not mean or sound like an embarrassing word or expression in the target language. Translators can spot such issues and make you aware of them, but they are not the person to come up with an alternative. This is beyond their remit and typical capabilities. Some translators offer other services, and in some cases these might include copywriting, but be aware that this is a different task from translation and will be charged differently too.

Language teachers transfer their linguistic and cultural knowledge, translators turn your text into another language as faithfully – and idiomatically – as possible, and bi-/multilingual copywriters work from a detailed brief to transform your concepts and ideas into a pithy, catchy line to sell your brand. Although all work with languages, they apply them through very different sets of skills.

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