Translation is a complex process and it is tricky enough when translating one language to another, but what do you do when your target audience use multiple dialects, each with its own variations and unique words and phrasing?
When this is the case it can be difficult for even the most talented of linguists to achieve a perfect translation. But it is possible. We’re taking a closer look at dialect, how a good translator will address it, and why it matters in business.
The Challenges of Dialects in Translation
We often associate the word dialect to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors, such as social class or ethnicity. It is therefore important to consider how all groups reading or hearing it will understand your business document or website translation. You may ask whether you need to adapt this translation accordingly because of the prevalent use of varying dialects (based on education levels, social classes or ethnicities) within your target market.
Addressing dialect in translation is an issue that presents itself to translators in all areas of the industry but literary translation in particular has long fallen foul to the preference for standardised translation.
According to literature and translation lecturer BJ Epstein at the University of East Anglia, who wrote a paper focusing on the use of dialect in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, 60 per cent of Swedish translations of the novel were completed using standardised language.
This resulted in the book’s characters speaking in the same common form of the language and removed much of the charm and layers from the original book. The decision also resulted in a loss of individuality within the book, which in its Swedish form presents characters who are anti-education and anti-establishment as speaking in a standardised Swedish, as opposed to the US dialect and accents that added so much to the original.
Of course, if human translators struggle with accents and dialects, it is no wonder that machine translators are having an even harder time. Siri, the voice recognition software used by Apple products, is a reminder of this. Although not technically translation software, Siri has been programmed to understand and interpret human language, but she struggles when it comes to identifying regional accents and local dialect.
So the problem is common amongst humans and machines, but whereas a machine is forced to wait until someone teaches it a specific dialect, a human is free to evolve a translation based on new information and knowledge gathered as work progresses.
Applying Dialects to Translations
For businesses breaking into new overseas markets, this human angle is invaluable when it comes to understanding local dialects and adapting translations accordingly. Using dialects in this way can make a huge difference when it comes to translating sales and marketing material. By working with experienced translators who truly understand the target language and are aware of the local dialects that might crop up in the target geographical region, companies can convey the nuances and meaning behind their words as well as the literal translation.
Bubbles Translation always takes dialect into account when connecting human translators in businesses with hyper local projects. Our expert linguists understand that language is not just about words, but also about the variations in culture and meaning; these are only further amplified by increased locality and the dialects, words and phrasing that are unique to specific regions.
It’s about achieving a personal connection with new audiences and identifying with them on their level in the words they use on a daily basis. By focusing on this, our translators give our clients the edge when it comes to gaining influence in a new market.
If your business is expanding into a new international market, get in touch with Bubbles today to discuss your translation requirements.