Cultural differences only a certified translator can pick
Cultural differences can be hard for the everyday multilingual person to pick up, even if you are fluent in both languages. A translator who is properly certified and has experienced both the source language culture and the target language culture first hand will be able to pinpoint these subtleties and translate them accurately. This is largely important, so the meaning remains intact. We translate a number of documents in Italian and Greek including books, brochures, tattoos, letters, contracts and surveys that have subtle cultural differences that only certified translators will pick up. Official documents like passports and birth certificates must be translated accurately and exactly as they are seen. Whilst, other documents are more open to interpretation depending on the culture in which they were written.
When translating between languages, it is important to consider how that text could be localised for a particular audience. Localisation is the process of translating a piece of text or content and translating it in a way that considers the intended audience. It does so in a way that is made relatable for the new audience.
An example of this is a social justice campaign on YouTube. Originally, this was in English and for an American audience to bring change against homophobic hate crime. Since its popularity, the campaign has been translated and localised for various audiences. The campaign contained a series of videos uploaded to YouTube with people’s personal stories. In the US, the campaign used the slogan ‘It Gets Better’ and featured videos that were very much rags to riches stories. Culturally, this represents the optimism of American culture. In the cultural context of Italy, progress for gay rights and acceptance was seen as a more gradual shift. Most of the video stories used during the Italian campaign reflected this. Therefore, they used the slogan ‘Le Cose Cambiano’ or ‘Things Change’. This goes to show that cultural differences and localisation need to be considered when translating from one language to another. A certified translator will notice and interpret these cultural differences appropriately.
In Greek society, there is a strong focus on family. It is not just about loving your family either. It is based on a collectivist ideal that everyone in the family unit ought to contribute both economically and socially. This is apparent at Greek weddings, in which you see money being pinned to the bride’s wedding dress by extended family members. Sometimes hundreds and even thousands of dollars are given by these relatives to help financially support the newlyweds. Often in Greek culture too, multi-generational families live together in one house or property in which the parents will support the family financially. This cultural difference needs to be recognised when translating or interpreting a wide range of documents. An example would be translating an advertisement from English, in which is represents a typical American family of two adults and two kids. When translating this for a Greek audience, it may be beneficial to not only translate the content or the words, but to also provide cultural context for the ad. For instance, it would have to be made obvious that this is typical in the American family culture which is quite different to the Greek one.
Another example of how important it is to consider cultural differences is when translating Greek proverbs. The Greek proverb ’Είπε ο γάιδαρος τον πετεινό κεφάλα.’ when translated literally, means ‘the donkey called the rooster big headed’. But when you consider the cultural context, it means when ‘someone criticizes another person for a fault he has himself, look who is talking!’.
These examples prove how crucial it is to hire a certified translator that not only knows both languages fluently, but has experienced and understands the cultural differences present in both contexts. Here at Language Translation Services, we have certified translators who can translate any number of documents for you in Italian and Greek.
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