Mjays Planet

Tanslating Website Copy

Posted in Uncategorized by Martin Spindler on March 17, 2010

Currently, I’m in the process of translating website copy for a product we want to launch in Germany.
Now mind you, I’m not a copywriter. (Unless, as many How-To-Blog-Succesfully-Blogs would have you believe, you think writing this is writing copy…)

But I’m stumbling on interesting things during the process, some of which are connected to the product, so of course I can’t tell you about it, but some of it are not.
First, it is amazing how much more space you need to say/communicate the same things in German. I never really thought about it before. And it is weirdly counter-intuitive, shouldn’t it be that German takes up less space, given all the compound words and all that. But it turns out it is way more complicated to convey a meaningful message in short German, than it is in English.
Second, you stumble across one very important problem: How do I talk to the customers. It’s fairly easy in English, because that distinction is not there in the first place, but further, the language of many web-based services nowadays seems a lot more colloquial than in the German environment. I have yet to find a reason for that.
Third, it seems to me that it is far easier to convey quite difficult concepts in understandable terms in English than it is in German. When it comes to explaining concepts, the German language usually resorts to making up new compound words to help grasp the concepts, whilst English utilizes imagery comparisons. Hence it is easier to understand complex issues, as the metaphors reduce complexity.

So there you have it. These are some of the reasons, why this blog will be written in English. (To be honest, there are many more, but most of them I cannot pinpoint as clearly as the ones mentioned above). And now I should probably get back to translating this website copy.


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