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Guidelines for translating marketing text
Thread poster: Roy Williams

Roy Williams  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 00:57
German to English
Dec 9, 2008

Does anyone know a good source of information for translating marketing text (articles, general rules/guidelines, books...)

Thanks in advance!


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:57
English to German
+ ...
University Dec 10, 2008

There is no recipe. There is a bit more to writing marketing texts.

If you study marketing and advertising at the university you will have regular and highly intense classes in psychology and sociology.

Writing marketing texts properly has nothing to do with a particular writing style and that's it.

Any "recipe" is bogus.


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Roy Williams  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 00:57
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Re: marketing text Dec 11, 2008

Thanks Nicole. Though I'm primarily a technical translator, I often get small assignments from the marketing department where I work. There is always intense disscussions about some of the word and structural choices I make and it's hard to make my reasoning clear to the other party. I thought maybe there was some general guidelines i could reference to gain a better approach.

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:57
English to German
+ ...
Some common mistakes Dec 12, 2008

Hi WilRoy,

Sorry that it took a while, I am booked up to my eyeballs.

At times I am editing texts that were written by translators who don't work in this field on a regular basis.

What I see mostly in my language pair EN>DE:

- Long and nested sentences
- Literal translation
- Absolute lack of care who the text actually is intended for
- Slavishly sticking to the source text and ignoring any need for localization

I had to edit theater play scripts that were translated like a business letter.
I had to edit a CEO's motivational speech to shareholders that was translated like a patent text.

Some tips:
- Write like it was your own product. This means that you want to sell it. When reading your own translation, ask yourself: "Would I buy it?"
- Get into the mind of the targeted reader (i.e., the potential buyer)
- Speak, don't write. Then write it down.
- Advertising texts are fast-paced. Your readers are most likely to read your text diagonally. Within seconds they will filter if the text is worth reading at all. For this reason, there is one trick: Place important key words at the beginning of a sentence.

Again, there is no recipe. Having independent readers read it over, is a good idea.

HTH and greetings,

Nicole


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Stephen Gobin
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:57
German to English
+ ...
Amazed Dec 15, 2008

Hi Nicole

I'm amazed at the kind of errors you see in your editing work. A mere glimpse of a text should tell any translator what kind of document he/she is up against, even before the client/PM has given specific instructions.

How is it possible to translate a theatre script like a piece of business correspondence??


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 23:57
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Don't be amazed Dec 15, 2008

Stephen Gobin wrote:
How is it possible to translate a theatre script like a piece of business correspondence??


One way might be to give it to someone who spends most of his time translating financial reports

I was once asked to recommend a translator to handle some legal documents. I know a very good one who also happens to be a German attorney. I recommended her specifically for legal work and warned my client not to use her for marketing. Well, of course they ignored my advice, and a few weeks later I got an irate call complaining about a translation done by the person I had recommended. "Our sales brochure sounds like it was written by a lawyer!" exclaimed the communications assistant in charge of coordinating translation. "That's because it was," was my only reply.


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Roy Williams  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 00:57
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
As it so happens... Dec 19, 2008

I'm a technical translator at a tech company butI often get work from the marketing dept. As you can probably guess, there is always much debate over my choices of words and structure. The problem is that it's difficult for me to know if I've written in simple enough style that can be understood over various levels of english but not overly simplified that a native speaker would find it wordy.

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:57
English to German
+ ...
Simple enough? Dec 19, 2008

I don't understand, I am afraid. Why would you want to simplify the language?

You want to sell something (technical, I assume). Why would you want to address the decision maker for a million dollar equipment investment with 4th grader English? Your text should be targeted at the people who are supposed to fork over a lot of money, not at their little niece.

In your field you are most likely dealing with experts. This means that you have to respect them. After all, you want their money.

Topic: Non-native speaker

The most understandable English is brilliant English. This goes for all languages.

Besides, as a translator you are not supposed to change the tonality or linguistic level in any way.

As long as you are not selling bogus diet pills, male enhancement pills, or get-rich-quick schemes, it is very dangerous to underestimate your target group and consider them, uhm, ...uninformed.



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