Specialising in German to English Translations
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Don’t compromise the quality and timeliness of your business and private communications. Read more about common errors in German to English translations and let Perfect English translate, edit and proofread your documents, quickly and accurately.
Common Errors in German to English Translations
As the leading language of international business and social communication, English continues to steadily permeate local vernacular in non-English speaking countries. Often, certain grammatical and linguistic elements of the native language are applied to English so systematically, that non-native-speakers no longer recognize them as mistakes.
In German, “vital” means “healthy” and “full of life and energy,” not – as the English word with the same spelling and etymology – “very important”; the German noun “Präservativ” refers to, what in English is termed, a “contraceptive,” and the correct German translation for the English word “preservative” is “Konservierungsmittel.” “aktuell” in German, means “current” in English and not “actual” or “actually” for which the correct translation is “tatsächlich” or “eigentlich”. The English translation of “Konsequent,” is “consistent” or “determined” and bears a different meaning to the word “consequently” which in German, is better defined as “folglich.”
The use of compound words can cause confusion for many German to English translators. While the combining of two or more words is customary in German, it is often incorrectly applied in English. Whereas “Wolkenkratzer” can be translated as “skyscraper”, “Stacheldraht”, forms two separate words, “barbed wire”. What can follow is excessive hyphenation, used in German to separate successive compound words, but not effective in English. E.g., “Lohn- und Einkommensteuerberechnungen” in English, “wage and income tax calculations.”
Punctuation is another editorial necessity, which is not used as stringently in German. With the omission of appropriate commas and full stops, translations into English can lose their clarity through long run-on sentences.
More than words
More than just generating a word for word “conversion”, a good translator will take into account the background, tone, and subject matter of the communication in order to create a translation which remains true to the original text and conveys the intended message in another language, and in the context of a different cultural setting. You may be familiar with the stories of British car manufacturer Vauxhall, which had to rename its Nova for the Spanish market because “No va” in Spanish, means “doesn’t go!”; or the makers of Wash and Go shampoo who, when placing the product in Russia, overlooked the fact that “Wash” sounds like the Russian word ”vosh”, meaning louse.
In the same way your accent reveals your origin or native tongue when you speak, once you put pen to paper, the written word will expose you as a non-native. You may decide to work on a translation yourself in order to preserve your corporate identity or, perhaps, with the intention of adding “foreign” flair to your communication. While in some cases, this may be the right approach, most of the time, what you will want to say to your audience is “We're talking your language.”
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Let Perfect English translate a 200-word text or analyse a previous German to English translation for you, free of charge. We will show where some of your errors lie, and how we can help you deliver a more professional communication in English.
We have experience working in business, marketing, legal, publishing, and pharmaceutical professions in UK, US, Austria and Germany, and can help you work on your English marketing materials, brochures, press releases, letters, presentations, proposals, websites and signage, and even slogans. Business or private - no job is too small.
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