How to Properly Approach Multi-Language Corporate Projects

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Companies with overseas investors or seeking overseas investment and which, therefore, need to present their opportunity on a multi-lingual basis should consider adopting a transcreation rather than a translation strategy for the shareholders communication and external facing financial documents. This is how Managing Director at Asian Absolute, Julie Giguere puts it, as she explains to CEO Today the factors companies should consider when embarking on a multi-language transcreation project.

Transcreation is recreating a message (or a document) in a new language. Companies have often committed enormous amounts of time and money on the development of investor prospectuses, carefully crafting documents to appeal to and convert prospective investors. However, sometimes messages do not translate well into a new target language. If you are targeting a market where your potential investors have different cultural touchstones and contexts and even different regulatory rules applying, then your proposal could be misunderstood.

If you are targeting investment on an international basis – or even creating a marketing campaign to run in multiple languages – it is always best to think about how your messaging will be received in its various target markets from the outset. Trying to create a single unified approach will almost certainly not be possible especially if you want your documents to appeal and convert equally in every market. But by at least bearing in mind how your messaging might play out across different regions when you’re strategising, you’ll remember that you need to do the same thing for every region to ensure that your brand and messages have the same power as they do in their domestic market.

The temptation for businesses may be to opt for a simple translation or a machine translation solution, as the costs are lower. However, they would be better advised to investigate what the best solution is for them based on the content they have, the target language they need and the context and subject field. In some cases, opting for transcreation, which allows for more creative licence, greater awareness of the cultural sensitivities of individual languages, and a change of tone or text to ensure that what you are doing will work best.

More often used in marketing, transcreation is recreating a message (or a document) in a new language so that its original concepts, style, tone and intent are retained, even if the message itself needs to be completely rewritten. Your content will be rewritten in a way that your audience will understand and relate to. Transcreators, though, tend not to be just simple translators; rather, they’re writers who start with a brief before a project instead of just reading your copy. They want to hear your concept and they want to know the response you want to get from your target audience. It is sometimes known as “creative translation”. It will, for example, remove any information that may be unnecessary for a particular audience for cultural or regulatory reasons.

But, why is creative translation important? If your audiences not only speak different languages, they will likely have completely different cultural touchstones and societal contexts. So, for example, a well-placed popular idiomatic expression that is a common phrase in your home dialect may have a very different equivalent somewhere else or have none at all. Similarly, metaphors are very challenging to directly translate. Comparing one thing to another may make perfect sense in one language or region but have vastly different connotations elsewhere. They might require substitution, translation into direct language, complete deletion or a different approach entirely depending on your situation. Similarly, dependent on the project, puns and cultural references don’t always translate well either.

It was once noted that language is one of mankind’s greatest inventions, but it is also one of the biggest barriers when communicating your ideas with others. Effective transcreation gets over that barrier and connects you more effectively with your existing and potential investors.

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