30/06/2021

How to Measure the Quality of a Transcreation Project

In business, the stakes are often high. Many times, you have only one chance to nail important business objectives, such as entering a new market, and failure simply cannot happen. This is often the case with projects that require transcreation. For some business objectives, a literal or more straight forward translation can get the job done. When it can’t, that is where transcreation comes in. 

One of the main challenges of transcreation is measuring quality. Doing so can be more difficult than when handling a more typical translation. Transcreation requires a level of creativity that is difficult to measure. Addressing quality while the transcreation process is actually happening is imperative. While quality standards will vary from client to client, there are ways to work towards general quality standards during the transcreation process.

The Transcreation Brief

Before a transcreation project even begins, steps towards quality assurance must be taken. The transcreator can get a strong start on the project with a solid brief that provides context on the purpose of the content they will be transcreating. For example, a marketing campaign will have different transcreation requirements than a movie would. Understanding the purpose is key, as transcreation projects don’t require a word for word translation, but instead aim to adapt a piece of content to have a similar meaning while conveying the same feeling in another language. 

While the brief should encourage flexibility and creativity, it must give the transcreator clear guidance on what direction to take. Who will be reading the final text? What was the original purpose of the text? Why does it require transcreation? These are all important questions that require answering in the brief. A brief can also share brand values, how the client hopes their brand to be perceived in the target location, and what the desired approach to break into a new market is. 

The Timeline

Transcreation is not a project that should be rushed as it can involve a high level of research and creativity to master. Providing a transcreator with a clear timeline without expecting rushed work can help ensure they manage their time in a way that leads to a quality final project. 

The Back Translation Process

The back translation process involves giving the translated version of the text to a separate independent translator who has not seen the original text. They then translate the new text back into the original language. Their results will help ensure clients that the meaning of the source text was not literally lost in translation. 

Back translation is a quality assurance step that can be useful in certain scenarios such as when content requires a high level of control because semantic errors can have consequences. Or when a client doesn’t speak or read the target language, back translation can allow them to check the accuracy of the translation by themselves.

How to Measure Success

While the goal is to achieve quality during the transcreation process, there are post-publishing measurements that can check if the transcreator accomplished the intended effects and purpose. Pre-publishing, there are tools that can be used to measure readability. Post-publishing measurements require more collaboration though and can involve human intervention. Changes to text can sometimes be made post-publishing, so using the following methods to test quality can provide value.

  • Seeking an objective corroboration that examines sales and site traffic data. 
  • Employing a third party editor or reviewer. 
  • Hosting market surveys and focus groups.
  • Undertaking blind A/B testing. 

At the end of the day, the ultimate “quality test” can be uncovered through the feedback the client receives or the bottom line results of the project. If feedback is positive and the expected results arise, the client can have confidence that the transcreation project was successful.

16/06/2021

Spanish: A Gendered Language Seeking to be More Inclusive

In recent years, the term “Latinx” has been proposed — and begun to come into use in the U.S. — as a shift to a more inclusive Spanish language when it comes to gender. In other countries of Latin American and even in Spain, people are also looking for ways to be more inclusive. In order to understand why some people are arguing for a shift towards gender-neutral or non-sexist language, it’s important to look closer at how gender works in the Spanish language and how the language can evolve. 

How Gender Works in Spanish

In the Spanish language, all nouns have a gender. Other words used in conjunction with nouns agree in gender as well, so articles and adjectives are also gendered. Typically, masculine nouns end in an O and feminine nouns end in an A. Spanish is not the only language structured like this. Spanish is just one of many gender-based languages that defaults to a generic masculine ending. If the gender of a subject is not specified or known, or if the noun is representing a group with both masculine and feminine members in it, then the masculine ending will be used. For example, in Spanish the word for boy is “niño” and the word for girl is “niña”, but when you have a group of children of mixed genders, the word used would be “niños”. 

Inclusion of Female and Non Binary Individuals

Those who are fighting for more inclusion of women and non-binary individuals are changing how they speak and write. In many cases, they are replacing the masculine O and the feminine A with a gender-neutral E. Let’s look at how this may work in practice. The default word for the word friends is “amigos” (which is masculine). Those looking to make changes in the language are using “amigues” instead. 

Not everyone wants to see these changes made. The Royal Spanish Academy in Spain wants to leave the current gendered structure of Spanish as is. From their perspective, the default masculine plural is intended to be inclusive and represents females as well as males. 

It’s important to highlight, though, that without making formal changes to the language, there are ways to make Spanish more modern and inclusive in everyday life. It does take a little bit of creativity, but workarounds for avoiding using default masculine nouns do exist.

How Should Translators Proceed?

When it comes to translation work, should translators observe the norm or adapt? There is no one correct answer here. Who your audience is will largely influence whether or not you should stick to the traditional structures or should adapt to these modern solutions to making the language more inclusive. 

Language is a living entity that changes and evolves over time, it does not remain stagnant. There is room for change, the question is, is your audience ready for that change? While the Royal Spanish Academy may say no, plenty of young individuals are fighting for change. Take your target audience into account when deciding how you want to communicate your message. Will they be more likely to engage with your content if you make gender-neutral changes or will that push them away? Sticking with what your audience is most comfortable with may not please everyone who comes across your content, but will hopefully keep the base of your audience happy. For a translation project to be successful, you need to aim to deliver your message as effectively as possible, so consider how you can make that happen.

26/05/2021

The Translation of IEPs: 101 

Ensuring their child receives a quality education is something almost every parent strives for. This is a universal goal. Now, imagine if a parent could not participate fully in their child’s education. You can see how damaging that disconnect could potentially be. Especially if their child has a disability that affects their educational needs. This is why it is undeniably important that Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are available to students and their parents in a language they can clearly understand. Let’s break down the basics of what you need to know about the translation of IEPs and why it matters. 

What is an IEP?

An IEP is a written statement that maps out an education program that was specifically designed to meet a select child’s education needs. If a child receives special education services, they must have an IEP that will serve two purposes. First, it should outline reasonable learning goals for the child. Second, it should highlight the services the school district will provide for the student. The IEP will be reviewed annually in order to determine whether the educational goals are being met or if they need revision. 

The IEP will examine not only a student’s weaknesses, but their strengths as well. It will set goals for the student and educators to meet and ideally will help foster the success of the student. All IEPs must contain information such as: 

  • Detailed analysis of the student’s current academic performance and challenges faced.
  • Reasonable annual goals for the student determined by the school and parents.
  • What special education and other services are available to the student, such as working with a supplementary aid.
  • How often the student will be separated from nondisabled children for educational or extracurricular purposes.
  • A plan for how the student can take part in state and district-wide testing.
  • A schedule of services and modifications.
  • An assessment of how progress toward annual goals will be measured. 

Why Would an IEP Need Translation?

It is essential that Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students and families have access to properly translated IEPs. An IEP is a foundational document for students with special needs who require additional educational support. Not only should the initial IEP document be accessible to students and parents in a language they are proficient in, but other language support should be provided to them. Such as interpretation for IEP-related meetings or translated documentation throughout the life of the program. 

The Legal Responsibilities Associated with the Translation of IEPs

When it comes to making accessible IEPs a reality to LEP students and parents, we have Title VI to thank. This civil rights law determined that federally-funded school districts and state educational agencies have to provide language assistance to LEP students, as has the Equal Opportunities Act. As the United States has declared IEPs are vital to the education process, LEP parents of children with disabilities must receive proper and timely access to complete oral interpretations and translated documents when necessary.

 


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19/05/2021

How to Prepare Your Localization for Success

Navigating the localization waters for the first time can be scary. You may be launching your product or expanding your services to markets that are unknown to you. And while it can be quite challenging, the benefits and the growth that it can lead to are worth it. Having a roadmap before you embark on this endeavor will definitely give you a peace of mind. Here, we lay out some steps that will guide your localization project and ensure a smooth process.

1. Analyze the Project 

Before actually starting a localization project, it’s important that you first identify what steps will be necessary according to the specifics of your project. Translation companies can help you accomplish this and establish the right workflow for the project. It’s also advisable to analyze the target market to ensure that the translation and localization efforts would make sense. You should also study whether internationalization services are required or not. To come up with the right strategy all of these factors should be taken into consideration.

2. Select the Right Team

Everyone on your localization team will play a key role in the success of the project. The team selected should have expertise on your subject matter field and should be well versed in the language and cultural idiosyncrasies of the target market. 

You should strive to maintain a long term relationship with them. Your team will be your most valuable asset as time passes, because they will learn how to handle localization projects in line with your preferences. Ideally, your localization team should consist of a project manager, translator, editor, and quality assurance manager. 

3. Create a Style Guide 

Consistency is key! You need to specify your desired tone, style, preferred units of measurement, and other key language details so that linguists can study those preferences beforehand. That way, when they begin working they will know exactly how to translate those materials from the get go. This will help avoid spending time going back and correcting text that is not aligned with your preferences.

Creating a translation style guide can help improve the quality and speed of a translator’s work and will encourage consistency.

4. Create a Glossary and maintain terminology 

Alongside a style guide, creating a glossary (also known as a termbase) is a great way to ensure consistency and can benefit both parties. With a termbase, linguists can work faster knowing that the terminology included is already approved. A termbase is a database where terminology is managed and published and it contains words and expressions that have specialized meaning. The terms included — that may be prominent in any customer-facing materials — can be technical, scientific, market-specific, or political. 

You can ask the linguists to build the termbase with the important terminology or you can select the terms and work with them to find the most accurate equivalents in the target language.

5. Use technology to your advantage 

When it comes to localization, technology is on your side. Both CAT tools and quality assurance tools can make a localization project more streamlined, more accurate, and more effective. Select a CAT tool so that your team can make the best use of them while translating. CAT tools segment the text that requires translation and then present the segments in a way that is easier and faster to translate. Using a CAT tool has many benefits, as they can help increase productivity, catch mistakes, achieve consistency, and eliminate repetitive translations. 

For an even higher level of quality control, you can utilize a quality assurance tool, such as Xbench and Verifika, that instantly performs quality checks of bilingual files or translation memories. Many quality assurance tools can check for the accuracy and consistency of the following elements: spelling, grammar, number or tag mismatches, missing translations, formatting, repeated words, double spaces or punctuation marks, untranslatable terms, and inconsistencies throughout the text.

6. Maintain a Translation Memory

Once you’ve picked your CAT tool, it’s time to start building and maintaining a translation memory that stores all the translated material. A translation memory is a database that can store text that was previously translated and can help support the localization process by improving the quality and consistency of a translation project and making the work faster to complete. 

7. Define and Measure Quality

It’s important to identify what quality means to you, so you can set clear expectations that the localization team can strive to meet. Understandably, accuracy will be an important factor, but accuracy doesn’t guarantee quality. The final text must reflect the meaning of the source text accurately, have the same intended effect, and should accomplish all project parameters. When it comes to localization, accounting for cultural differences is important as well. All clients will have different ideas of what quality means to them, so it’s important that you lay out your expectations before beginning a localization project so your translation team knows what standards to work towards. For example, a commercial project that is customer facing will likely have much greater quality needs than internal documents will. 

8. Handle Queries and Avoid Miscommunication

One of the best ways to ensure that throughout the whole process you have open lines of communication that lead to the best results is to communicate effectively with your team. Query sheets can be a great tool to achieve this. A query sheet acts as a centralized location where those working on complex translation projects can organize any questions and comments from all parties involved in the project. Doing this can not only help ensure accuracy and efficiency, but it can help keep the client and the translation team on the same page.


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05/05/2021

Hispanics, Latinos, and Latinx — Are They the Same?

We live in a very big world that is full of diverse and rich cultures, places, and people. There are many differences between our many cultures that we should celebrate, but far too often overlook. One such example of letting lines blur too easily, are the terms Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx. All three of which tend to be used interchangeably and incorrectly. These three terms are not the same and necessarily don’t represent the same groups of people. Let’s explore what each of these terms means and the one unifying factor that links these different groups together. 

Hispanics vs. Latinos vs. Latinx

Before we look at what unites these different groups, let’s look at how they differ and where some of the confusion about their differences may stem from. In many cases these terms overlap, but they do mean different things. 

Hispanic. The term hispanic is used to refer to those that come from a Spanish-speaking background and does not reflect their geographic location. 

Latino. This term does in fact relate to location and not to language. In order to classify someone as Latino, they generally need to come from the geographic region of Latin America. The term Latino includes people from many areas in Central and South America, alongside the Caribbean. In many cases people identify as both Hispanic and Latino, as both terms apply to their backgrounds. For example, someone from Brazil is a Latino, Latina or Latinx because they are from Latin America, but their language is not Spanish, it is Portuguese. Whereas someone from Colombia is both a Latino, Latina or Latinx and also Hispanic (because they speak Spanish).

Latinx. While the term Latinx is relatively new, it is becoming an important term used in conversations about gender equality and inclusion. Spanish is a gendered language, which means words are associated with the female or male gender. A Latin American woman is a Latina and a Latin American man is a Latino. Latinx has appeared as an alternative to be inclusive of people who don’t associate with either gender. Essentially, Latinx is a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina. If someone is Latino, they are also Latinx and vice versa. The primary purpose of this term is to be inclusive of people who don’t consider themselves to be female or male.

A Diverse Presence in the US

The US Census Bureau counts anyone who says they are Hispanic as Hispanic, which allows residents to choose how they identify. As cultural norms evolve surrounding what it means to be Hispanic, Latino, or Latinx in the US today, this enables those self-reporting to identify as they see fit. As of July, 2019 it was estimated that almost 61 million Hispanics lived in the U.S. accounting for 18.5% of the nation’s total population. 

What Unites Them

Ultimately, all of these terms are labels and very wide labels at that. Within each label, there is so much diversity and many countries of origin that fall under them. Sometimes, the only thing that unites these groups is a shared language — Spanish. In the US, many Hispanics from different countries are united by their shared language. Because all these Spanish speakers of different nationalities coexist in the US and interact with each other and with English speakers, the language has and continues to evolve and adapt. The Spanish language one can hear in the US is known as US Spanish.


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28/04/2021

Microlearning 101: What It Is and What the Benefits Are

With countless schools and offices having to operate remotely in 2020, and people spending more time at home than ever before, e-learning can provide invaluable education opportunities. Whether a college student needs to finish their course requirements, a retiree wants to pass the time learning a new skill, or a business wants to train their employees, e-learning can come in handy. Even once social distancing comes to an end, our very digital world can greatly benefit from e-learning tools. To make the most out of these tools, there are techniques like gamification and microlearning that course creators can take advantage of. Microlearning for employee training in particular has some benefits worth examining. 

What is Microlearning?

Before looking at the benefits of utilizing microlearning in training, it’s important to understand what microlearning is. Microlearning is a short format for content that is intended to drive a specific learning outcome. Most often, microlearning is seen in e-learning platforms hosted on smartphones, computers, and tablets. One of the goals of microlearning is to make the content learner-centric, easily accessible, and quick to consume. 

Essentially, this is an educational approach that focuses on providing small learning units that only include the necessary amount of information required to help the user meet a certain learning goal. 

What are the Benefits of Microlearning?

Before adapting microlearning techniques for e-learning content creation, you may want to know what the benefits are. The three main benefits are better engagement, retention, and saving time and money. 

Regarding engagement benefits, the numbers don’t lie. From the get-go, employees are more likely to be engaged in microlearning. According to Software Advice survey, 58% of employees stated they would be more likely to utilize online learning tools provided by their company if the content was broken up into multiple smaller lessons. 

When it comes to engaging with the content, shorter e-learning modules can help take advantage of an employee’s focus limitations. The University of California Irvine found that on average employees work for just 11 minutes before they typically become distracted by outside stimuli such as emails or phone calls. During those 11 minutes, employees tend to work on very short and quick tasks that last about three minutes. Microlearning can provide busy employees with the option of making e-learning work for their hectic schedules and environment. Not only can microlearning allow the user to engage fully in a lesson for a short period of time, but because the lessons are easier to complete, they can retain the content better. 

Saving time and money on e-learning content is a nice perk. According to the author of 3-Minute E-Learning, learning architect Ray Jimenez, PhD, microlearning can actually decrease development costs for training courses by 50% and can increase the speed of developing them by 300%. This is because this digital form of digestible content is much easier to reuse and refresh than more traditional in-person training. Another benefit of having shorter bits of content is that it can make it faster, easier, and more cost effective to localize your training to your employees’ native languages. Being able to adapt e-learning content to different languages and cultures through localization can create a better and more effective e-learning experience.


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14/04/2021

Localizing Games Effectively for Latin America

In March of 2021, Terra Translations’ CEO Marina Ilari moderated a panel on “Localizing Games Effectively for Latin America” at the Game Global Digital Summit. One major topic the industry experts on the panel covered was the peculiarities of the Latin American market and how to address them. Let’s take a look at some of the valuable insight the panelists shared!

Celebrate Diversity 

Connecting with players in a new audience requires adapting to their cultures, religions, and history. Games can celebrate diversity by including music, outfits, and home designs that a wide audience can relate to. During the localization process, you can make references to popular shows and create events that celebrate the new audience’s holidays. Gamers want to feel heard, seen, and included. Kassi O’Connor of Glu Mobile expressed the importance of not just emphasising diversity, but of implementing it the right way. “We want to make sure we represent them in a respectful and truthful manner,” O’Connor said. 

Prioritizing diversity is especially important in Latin America, where people are united by the same language, but separated by it at the same time. Games will resonate with players if they receive a culturally relevant experience. For example, in trivia games, as Ulises Uno of Etermax explained, this means asking questions about their immediate context. 

Leverage the Common Ground 

For Priscilla Bermea of Riot Games, Latin American players have more similarities than differences, so they try to leverage that common ground in their games. Latin Americans are known to be very competitive and passionate. From the publishing standpoint when it comes to diversity, Bermea said that “Our vision for LATAM stems from one simple truth, but it is a very powerful truth, that Latin American gamers have more similarities than we have differences.” This creates a unique challenge to try to find common ground while also highlighting unique experiences. 

Partner with a Team of Localization Experts 

Hugo Miranda of Blizzard recommends game developers work with a well-structured localization company with linguistic expertise, whose translators are diverse and have knowledge of the entire region. In order to avoid falling into any kinds of regionalism, a good practice to follow is to have a translator and reviewer of different nationalities work together. This way, they can collaborate and discuss any terms that generate confusion or that may be misconstrued across different nationalities. 

Encourage Feedback 

Receiving feedback is always valuable and you should encourage the linguistic team to speak up if they have any linguistic concerns regarding a particular term, feature, or other key element. This way, you avoid uncomfortable outcomes after the game’s release. “I can not stress how important it is to empower that team to provide feedback and be part of that process,” O’Connor explained.

Outside feedback can also provide valuable perspective. Pursuing player feedback can be extremely useful as in the end, the game is for them and their suggestions should be taken into account and analyzed.


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07/04/2021

The Importance of Language Access Surrounding Vaccine Distribution

Vaccines can save lives and the massive importance of vaccine distribution has been magnified by the coronavirus pandemic. When it comes to public health issues, language access is undeniably important. This is especially true for vaccine distribution. In order to make sure proper language access occurs, it’s important to take medical translation seriously. 

Why Language Access Matters

Language barriers can become even harder to break through once you begin to involve complex scientific and medical terms. This lack of understanding can lead to devastating results. During the coronavirus pandemic, researchers found that communities with high populations of non-English speakers had more cases of COVID-19 than English speaking communities and as a result, higher amounts of COVID-19 related deaths. Coronavirus incidence rates were as much as 14.3% greater in communities with high populations of non-English speakers. Some experts worry that this is because of language barriers that make it hard to understand the public service announcements that share important public health guidelines surrounding social distancing, masks, and other strategies for avoiding contracting the virus. 

A Disservice to Vaccine Distribution

In order to properly, and safely, distribute vaccines, the proper distribution of information is necessary. Language barriers can discourage consumers from feeling comfortable getting a vaccine and understanding what the risks are, as well as how to get one if they do want one. 

Language barriers are leading to low vaccination levels for hispanics in North Carolina. Even though Hispanics make up 10% of North Carolina’s population, only about 2.5% of all coronavirus vaccines administered in the state have gone to Hispanic recipients. Enrolling to receive a vaccine online may be causing problems for non-English speakers who can’t understand the website and the enrollment process. Even though many health departments offer phone assistance in Spanish, a lack of staffing can lead to long wait times and a lack of assistance. A properly translated website could easily increase access to vaccines for the hispanic community in North Carolina. 

How Human Translation Can Help

When it comes to translating medical information around complex topics like vaccines and their distribution, there seems to be some confusion as to why unsupervised machine translation tools cannot get the job done. As advanced as that technology is becoming, terms and phrases that are more nuanced often end up literally getting lost in translation. For example, recent mis-translation related events in Virginia caused mass confusion. After utilizing Google to generate a translation of the Virginia Department of Health’s website, their Spanish-readers were under the impression that the COVID-19 vaccine was “not necessary.” Why? Because the website showed a translation of “the vaccine is not required” as “la vacuna no es necesaria”, which in Spanish means “the vaccine is not necessary.” 

It’s easy to see how this faulty translation caused misunderstandings that can have a life or death impact. Working with a human translator can help avoid any misunderstandings caused by syntax choices. Translators not only take word choice into account, but cultural and historical influences that can impact how a translated work is perceived.

31/03/2021

What is International SEO and Why is it Important?

SEO. Three little letters, a whole lot of potential. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is a super valuable tool for anyone who wants their website to be discovered by potential readers or customers. Many businesses have their websites and content SEO optimized, but when it comes to localizing a website’s content into different languages, it’s really easy to forget about carrying SEO optimization over into the newly translated version. A simple translation of the website is not enough, international SEO is necessary.

What are the Benefits of SEO?

There are many benefits of using SEO techniques, primarily working towards helping a website get as many eyes on it as possible. Some of these benefits include using SEO to:

  • Help internet users find the answers and solutions they are looking for
  • Increase website visibility and traffic, as well as brand discovery
  • Provide growth opportunities for businesses
  • Grow traffic and sales through targeted searches

Why Machine Translation Can’t Do the Job

Translating a website into a new language can give businesses the opportunity to vastly grow their audiences and brand reach. However, their efforts have to go past a straightforward translation and must take the proper keywords for each specific market into account. Even if the internet users are searching for the same thing, they may not search for it in the same way. 

While it may be tempting to use machine translation because it is time and cost-efficient, the truth is, it can not assist with international SEO needs in the same way a human translator can. Having a list of translated keywords is not always enough to gain the same SEO traction. To properly take advantage of international SEO, there has to be research into the target market and a high level of cultural insight in order to be truly effective. The ideal keywords can change greatly when working with a new language and location. In effect, translating SEO keywords is more similar in nature to transcreation, as you can’t directly translate keywords and instead need to come up with new keywords that suit the needs and habits of the target audience. 

On top of the nuanced SEO requirements that Machine Translation can’t handle, Google recently updated their Quality Guidelines to state that using automatically generated text that is translated by an automatic tool is no longer allowed unless it undergoes a human review before publication — a process known as post editing.

How a Linguist Can Help

A linguist can step in where Machine Translation cannot thanks to having a diverse skill set and a deeper understanding of cultural context and the target audience, as well as SEO and marketing best practices. A linguist with a strong grasp on all of these elements can research which search engines are most popular in a target market, they can complete a detailed keyword analysis, and they can leverage SERP analysis and the ranking factors search engines utilize. 

Alongside understanding the needs of international SEO, linguists specialized in this field also have web writing skills and can create content that is engaging for the audience and utilizes SEO keywords to their advantage.


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24/03/2021

The Translation of Humor and Its Challenges

Whether you want to admit it or not, most of us love a good pun. Puns can be hilarious. In fact, we even frequently use the word “punny” to describe puns that make us chuckle. While this made up word may be hilarious to fluent English speakers, it would leave countless people around the globe scratching their heads, even if it was translated into their native tongue. This not-so-funny issue brings us to the translation of humor and its challenges. 

Why the Translation of Humor Is So Difficult

Humor touches many areas of our lives. From entertainment to advertisements to business relationships. Because movies, products, video games, and educational tools can have a global reach, the translation of humor is often necessary. 

Humor presents a challenge as it is often tied to very niche cultural and linguistic contexts. Some humor is universal, but some is very culturally dependent. This can leave translators with the task of translating humor that is impossible to translate without risking reducing the intended meaning of a joke. 

The Top Challenges

Word play is one of the main challenges that translators face, as many jokes rely on it, yet word play can be lost upon translation into a different language. As mentioned earlier, puns present a particular challenge. Puns use words that sound or are spelt similar, but may have different meanings to humorous effect. For example, the below pun is funny to native English speakers, but would be lost in translation as the word “knights” is being replaced for the word “nights”. In another language, these two words may not have a similar enough spelling or sound to make this joke work. 

Q: Why was King Arthur’s army too tired to fight?

A: It had too many sleepless knights.

There are four types of puns that can cause difficulties in the translation of humor. 

  • Homonymy: identical sounds and spelling
  • Homophony: identical sounds and different spellings
  • Homography: different sounds and identical spelling
  • Paronymy: slightly different spelling and sound


Puns are not the only roadblocks translators may encounter. Allusion, verbal irony,  subtle uses of humor, and cultural references can all fall flat after being translated. Cultural references can cause particular difficulty as pop culture figures, books, movies, or everyday phenomenons may be misunderstood by a foreign audience, making a direct translation not the most advantageous path forward. 

How Translators Overcome These Challenges

For translators tasked with translating humorous text, there are steps they can take to get the job done well and keep the laughs coming. When it comes to jokes that have a cultural divide, a translator may invent jokes that cater to the new target-culture. This can be more effective than simply translating the original joke. Similarly in cases of word play humor, a translator may have to rewrite the wordplay in a way that works in the target language. To successfully translate a joke, it is more important to capture the essence of the original joke than to directly translate it. 

The translation of humor is not a quick and simple task. It can require multiple drafts and countless edits to nail the intended tone and effect of the original jokes. However, it is the role of the translator to bridge differences between cultures and languages. With the proper skill set and work ethic, translators can get their job done and elicit a laugh or two in the process.


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