Translation is not just substituting words in a foreign language for English ones and vice versa. If it were so, machine translation won't be such a nonsense.
When a business goes global, being properly understood in other languages becomes crucial.
There is another aspect as well. If the translator doesn't take into account peculiarities of the particular culture, a web resource for this audience is doomed to failure. Wrong (for this culture) approaches to the addressee, negative (in this culture) associations can ruin all the entrepreneur's ambitions for doing business in this country.
When writing some text, say, Web content or a document, you keep in mind WHO you are writing for - and you are quite right. Your goal is to inform, to appeal, to persuade, to prove… It remains the same when you are addressing a foreign audience. The difference is that sometimes you should use different means to achieve this goal.
In poor translation (and word-to-word translation is always poor) the means typical for one language and culture are mechanically transferred to another one - in a naïve hope that they will work the same. Well, they won't.
To translate a text means to re-create it - by means of another language. If translated well, the text seems to be originally written in this language; it conveys the same thoughts and evokes the same feelings as the original. It perfectly fits in the context of another culture as well. Traditions, habits, customs, rules of etiquette, moral principles, even stereotypes and superstitions of the target audience may differ from yours - and this DOES matter if you are going to convey some message to these people or to communicate with them. The process of adjusting your website to the requirements of the audience with other mentality is called “localization".
Website localization is a complex process which needs both technical skills and linguistic/cultural knowledge. The aim is to make a website look natural for the target audience and be user-friendly. The visitors shouldn't waste time guessing how to, say, type a date or a phone number into a form (such things vary in different countries). It is likely that in the target language words are longer than in English - allow more chars to be typed into the fields.
If you are launching a website in a foreign language, the changes you have to make depend on the differences between two cultures - the target culture and your own. Sometimes a good translation is enough, but it's not always the case. Be ready for changes - you might need to make new photos and illustrations, redo the graphics and even alter the whole style of your website if necessary.
Even such a work takes time and effort, it will pay in future.
Alexandra Gamanenko is a senior translator and editor of the Literary Translation Department, which is a part of a Web design studio. It offers localization and translation of websites into Russian and Ukrainian, as well as lots of other useful services.
Learn more - visit the website http://www.clever-crayon.com