Things that Matter in Translation

Happy International Translation Day!

Today I would like to talk about attention to detail. This skill is a must for translators, and I often see how many of us claim it.

Yet, the truth is that I have come across too many translated texts where attention to detail was lacking.

And here is an example that illustrates it perfectly:

Someone recently told me on LinkedIn that these “minor things” I write about numbers, currencies, and date formats do not really matter.

That person said that when translating, it is best to stick to the words and respect the punctuation and formatting of the source text.

Besides being appalled at that statement, I thought I would tell you why that approach is not a good idea!

Although I am American, I am also a native Spanish speaker born and raised in Spain. In Spain, the norm is to use the dd/mm/yyyy format and currency symbols after numbers (e.g., 500 €) and separated by a non-breaking space.

If I came across a text in Spanish addressed to Spaniards with dates using the mm/dd/yyyy format or currency symbols placed before numbers (e.g., €500), my first thought would be that whoever wrote the text does not really care.

When your customers sense that you do not care about them, they will stop buying your products or services.

Therefore, not only do you need to write or translate your content adequately, but you must also localize it.

And to do that properly, you need to know your audience!

What localization fails do you know about? What would you have done differently?


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