Translating a Music Site
Thread poster: frethahe
frethahe
United States
Dec 30, 2016

Hello,

I'm the webmaster for a band and we are getting ready to translate our website into the top ten languages used on the Internet. The primary language is English.

I had a question with regards to the content on our site and would really appreciate any insight a professional translator could provide.

Is it correct that we should never translate the following items:

-The band name
-The name of the song
-And when doing covers, the name of the original artist that wrote the song.

So say for example our band's name is "34 Down" and they have covered a song by Louis Armstrong; What a Wonderful World. In English, we'd title the song as

What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong - Acoustic Cover by 34 Down

The only words that should be translated to Spanish would be "Acoustic Cover by"?

And everything else would always remain in English no matter what language we translate into? Even if going into Chinese or Japanese characters?

Thank you so much for any insight!

[Edited at 2016-12-30 23:28 GMT]


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Francisco Vare
Poland
Local time: 09:15
Polish to Spanish
+ ...
Never translate! Dec 31, 2016

Those are thing we should never translate, no matter what. I cannot imagine the Rolling Stones being marketed as Las Piedras Rodantes in Spain... No, for God's sake. The translator can always add some translation along the original words/titles/names if they think it is necessary, but the original must be kept at all costs, all the more so if we are talking about a band and song titles.

I hope this helps!

Francisco


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Liza Chase  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 10:15
Member (2013)
English to German
+ ...
exactly as you say... Dec 31, 2016

Hi there,

it's exactly as you say: never translate the title or the name of the artist.

Have a great new year 2017!!:)


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:15
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
A few exceptions Dec 31, 2016

I can think of a view exceptions.

Charles Aznavour - Yesterday When I Was Young
would be
Yesterday When I Was Young (Hier Encore)
in French and
Yesterday When I Was Young (Ayer Aún)
in Spanish etc.

Cheers,
Gerard

[Edited at 2016-12-31 13:18 GMT]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:15
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
No absolutely rigid rule Dec 31, 2016

I can think of three Spanish songs, the titles of which are treated differently in English.
"Viva España" ia always exactly that.
"Quizas" is always translated as "Perhaps".
And "Los Tres Caballeros" is always "The Three Caballeros", so partly translated, and partly not.


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Texte Style
Local time: 09:15
French to English
that's right Jan 1

You never translate names.

For songs, some have an official translation. For example, "Black is Black" has been translated as "Noir c'est noir" in French and this was also recorded by French pop singer Johnny Hallyday.


I often work in this kind of domain, and in the case of a group or song that has a specific meaning I would consider adding in the meaning somewhere in the copy. Going with the example of the Rolling Stones, I might work in a reference to the proverb, in an attempt to project what can be conjured up with the evocation of their name.

Might I also point out that the website can be radically different in each language? Rather than aiming for an accurate, faithful translation, you need to make sure that the website will appeal to fans of the group.

If you were translating a website about David Bowie, for example, Japanese fans would probably be very interested in the whys and wherefores of his many references to Japanese culture (his incorporation of Kabuki miming techniques in his stage performances, Scary monsters lyrics being read out in Japanese on the first recording, etc.) so you'd perhaps want to discuss this in more detail in the Japanese version than in German or French. However, if you do mention Kabuki (as any decent website on Bowie would), French and German fans would probably need more basic explanations of what it actually is.

On a less intellectual level, French readers would be interested in knowing exactly where "Low" was recorded, while "at Château d'Hérouville on the outskirts of Paris" would probably be enough for fans in other countries

In short, you have to take into account the culture behind each language to make sure that the right amount of information is supplied, and that the level of information matches that of the typical fan base in each country targeted. The best way to achieve this is to find competent, experienced translators with a strong cultural background, then trust them to know when to flesh the text out and when to dumb it down, and let them get on with it.


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David Lin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:15
Member (2013)
English to Chinese
+ ...

MODERATOR
Chinese translation of music names Jan 2

frethahe wrote:

So say for example our band's name is "34 Down" and they have covered a song by Louis Armstrong; What a Wonderful World. In English, we'd title the song as

What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong - Acoustic Cover by 34 Down

The only words that should be translated to Spanish would be "Acoustic Cover by"?

And everything else would always remain in English no matter what language we translate into? Even if going into Chinese or Japanese characters?


Hello,

I only do English to Chinese translation and have several opportunities to translate music-related articles and websites. The usual way I do is to search for the Chinese song titles for the English originals because many songs, particulary classical music and golden oldie music, have already Chinese translations. Some pop songs too. Your example of Louis Armstrong's famous "What a wonderful world?" has also a Chinese translation by his fans, not by the official record company though.

Having said that, I usually put the English title with brackets behind the Chinese translation which is the usual acceptable presentation in the Chinese translation.

Louis Armstrong himself also has a Chinese name, but Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese have two different versions for different communities and regions.

For the band name or musician's name, you have a choice of translating it into Chinese and put English in the brackets, or just use the English original. Both are acceptable. It is a matter of corporate marketing strategy and marketing translation really.

Hope this helps.

David


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 08:15
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
There's no rigid rule! Jan 2

I’m thinking about all the songs I know that aren’t English or American originals, like Domenico Modugno’s “Nel blu dipinto di blu (Volare)” also sung by Dean Martin as “Blue painted in the blue (Flying)” or Jacques Brel’s “Ne me quitte pas” also sung as “Don’t Leave Me” by Nina Simone and Sting or the Raul Ferrão’s song “Coimbra” probably best known as “Avril au Portugal” sung by Georges Moustaki or “April in Portugal” sung by Earth Kitt, Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, or Vinicius de Moraes’s “Garota de Ipanema” sung by Roberto Carlos and Caetano Veloso in Brazilian Portuguese but also by Frank Sinatra as “Girl from Ipanema” and even by Diana Krall as “The Boy from Ipanema” or Chico Buarque’s “Fado Tropical” also sung in French by Georges Moustaki… The list could go on and on!

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 08:15
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Another example Jan 3

http://dbpedia.org/page/Dark_Eyes_(song)

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