Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Importance of Cultural Elements in Content Translation


It’s the translation is that makes us understand ideas from other cultures of the world. Therefore, it’s critical that the translation process should take into account the different considerations.

Although there are various viewpoints on the relationship between culture and languages, they are definitely interconnected. Culture not only influences the language but also art, literacy, religion, ideologies, and various other things. 

As you might know, translation also comes in various types. One example is localization. In localization, when a global business wants to target a new market, it’s the translator’s job to consider all the cultural differences between the two regions. 

Say, you run a website that targets U.S. markets. Now if you want to focus on Canadian consumers, you will still have to adapt your content. Although both nations speak English, you will come across a plethora of words and expressions that are used entirely differently. 

The above case will require small tweaks in the messaging. However, if you want your same website to enter a completely different culture like Iran. It will require a whole lot of effort as your content may need an in-depth overhaul. Why? Because both cultures differ from each other quite significantly in areas like marriage, family, education, personal space, and much more. 

In Iran, the concept of marriage is not the same as we have in America. It has nothing to do with romance. Hence, if your marketing message involves such things, you’ll need a professional Farsi translation to adapt your content. For instance, you may ask the vendor providing Farsi translation services to change the images or omit a certain section of the video. Negligence to such cultural preference, otherwise, could be a fast track to disaster for your business. 

Cultural considerations in content translations

Cultural norms differ between different places, groups, and markets. No matter how small or big. Like the way, we explained this thing above. 

Between the US and Canada, these differences were small. But it’s the complete opposite when you go to the US and Iran cultures. Therefore, you must always be very careful in your translations.

This can happen even within the same country. A native American will be more sensitive to healthcare and medical practices than other Western cultures present throughout the United States.

This is also an issue in interpreting work. It’s essential for an interpreter to learn about cultural differences when providing interpreting work. They must be mindful of particular ways in which individuals from different backgrounds use the language. 

3 cultural elements that need careful consideration

i) The concept of “saving face”

In countries like the United States, people generally like making fun of each other in good taste. But this way of making fun of others does not, however, apply to nations, especially in Asia. The problem with Asian countries – like China and Malaysia – is that they strictly follow the concept of “saving face”. They think it’s extremely important to treat people with the respect and dignity they deserve. Like they will give each other a different level of respect based on their position in society or family. 

There are many people in China and South Korea who observe Confucian values such as humility, loyalty, and obligation. These values may be lost when we go to other cultures of the world, particularly those placing great emphasis on dynamism and entrepreneurship.  

ii) Family values

The concept of family is another area where cultural norms can conflict with each other. In Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, the term family can refer to extended families connected by blood or marriage. But in Western cultures where gay marriages have become legal now, they will consider a gay couple as a family. Now, if you’re translating an advertising copy to target Saudi people, things can get quite tricky. Your internal staff probably would be unable to produce a professional Arabic translation that can avoid such cultural mishaps. In fact, you will have to hire an agency with years of experience providing Arabic translation services. Only they might be able to help adapt your content in a safe manner. 

iii) Color

If you’re using color as a visual element then it also needs significant consideration. In China, red is generally related to happiness. In the UK, the same red can mean love and even danger. For people in Japan, it symbolizes energy, vitality, and power. In Egypt and Iran, it’s a sign of luck. In India, it’s associated with spirituality. Similarly, red is the symbol of death in Africa and alludes to aggression in countries like Nigeria.

The same thing goes with green color. It represents health, nature, and vitality in the West. While, in the UK, it can mean jealousy. People in the Middle East will consider this green color as the color of luck and wealth. While it symbolizes death in countries such as South America. 

Bottom line

Hence, if you’re trying to translate and localize your content for such countries, you must have a true understanding of country-specific cultural practices and beliefs, etc. Such consideration can prove to be extremely vital for any business looking to enter international markets.

David Hudson
David Hudson
David Hudson is a dedicated content writer with three years of experience in the business niche. His ability to produce high-quality content, infused with industry knowledge and expert insights, has made him a sought-after writer. With his exceptional writing skills and expertise in SEO, David continues to drive good content on websites, helping businesses thrive in the digital landscape.


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