Translation Tips: Knowing Your Audience

Translation Tips: Knowing your Target Audience

Readers of this blog would likely be aware that translation is far more complicated than simply replacing source language text with the equivalent text in the target language. Text must be written to pass along the meaning of the original text, not just a word for word translation. Part of this process is establishing the target audience of your translation. The style of the translation will largely be dictated by the group of individuals that the text is aimed at. Here are some items to keep in mind when translating a document or when you are sending a document off to a translation agency:


The tone of your translation should not be difficult to determine, but it is paramount that it matches that of the original source document. If the original is a business related document, you will avoid using any sort of colloquial language that would not reflect a professional tone. If the document is a letter between two individuals who are friends, you would not utilize a professional tone.


This facet of translation can fall through the cracks from time to time, and this can cause major issues in delivering the right message to your audience. To provide a properly translated document, you must utilize language that is neither too advanced nor too simple for the target audience. Suppose you have been tasked with creating a pamphlet with safety tips aimed at lower income residents of a third world nation. Providing a pamphlet with overly verbose language will not serve any purpose and will likely confuse the readers. This pamphlet should instead use simple text and phrases to pass along the meaning of the text.


Text should conform to the cultural norms of the target audience, especially in services like website localization. Proper date and time formats should be utilized, and terms and phrases that would be considered offensive should be avoided unless vital to retaining the meaning from the original.

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