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Article: “Translations Reflect or Ruin”
Tips for protecting your image in video translation

Sue Reager, CEO, @International Services


In Turkey, two men were killed as a result of a missing dot over an “i” in an SMS message – a letter missing on their cellphone. In a documentary, “Vietnam vet” was translated as “veterinarians from Vietnam”. In a video translation, the "Society of Concerned Scientists" was translated in German as “Society of Worried Scientists”, and in Russian as "Society of Horny Scientists". Each of the translations was correct according to the dictionary, and the video translations were by qualified translators.

Google the culture

Even 5 minutes of Googling the culture and comparison of lifestyle photographs against an original advertisement or media avoids many common faux-pas, such as the shipping company’s promotional video that promised that any 200-pound purchase will be delivered by courier, in a country where couriers ride bicycles. Or the sales promotional video for giant screen TVs depicting blond children watching a massive home entertainment center in a country where everyone has black hair and no one has an entertainment center. If your advert or media sells real estate, a bit of research will clarify that people in China cannot buy land, so neither the translators nor the viewers comprehend the basics of real estate. And countries without stock options or money market accounts are confused by translations of financial terminology.

In an HR e-Learning project, the expression “Quit upon reasonable notice” was translated as “Leave with a reasonable reason”. The text was translated by a professional translator with a PhD and impeccable English. When asked about his discrepancy, the translator stated that he had considered the (correct) possibility when translating the script, but dismissed it as being ridiculous - people cannot “just quit” in his country. His eyes widened and he gasped, “Americans can just quit their job?!!?”

Explaining “foreign” concepts

A great translator is vigilent for potential problems with script translation. Marketing a product names “EnviroMist” as the “Breath of Good Health”, falls apart in Germany where “mist” is the crass word for excrement (unprintable). A great video translator also explains concepts that are present in the marketing or media, but not encompassed within the target culture. Corporate Ethics is a great example. Russian and some Asian and Eastern languages have no pervious experience with Corporate Ethics. Many of these languages don’t even have a word for ethics.

Mirror reflection is not always a good reflection

Video script translators must pay attention to the intent, not only the words, and there is a severe dearth of “paying attention” in translation agencies these days. Attentive translators will catch product names with existing translations, and prevent the client from marketing a product named “EnviroMist” as the “Taste of Health” in Germany where “mist” is the crass word for excrement (unprintable).

It is often better to change cute to clear as personality, humor, and charm do not always translate. Video scripts written in colloquial mom-and-pop Southern dialect “might could have been acceptable” and even charming in an American English tourism video, but translate that cuteness into Japanese or German, and the tourist becomes convinced that the entire town is illiterate.

One shot at communication

Every marketer, trainer, or videographer has only have one chance to communicate, one first impression, one opportunity to be perfectly clear from the viewer’s perspective as seen through the eyes of their language, culture, desires, and life experiences. Yet so many creators take a “hands-off” approach to translation, placing entire trust into the hands of the translator or agency. The creator will be best served by handling foreign versions of their work with the same carefulness as the original language version: repeated viewing by many eyes in the target market before distribution.


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Participate and direct global sessions in almost any country right from your laptop! See, hear, talk and text chat directly into the studio. The common language is English, everyone is friendly and very professional. Direct in Paris during breakfast, in Germany over lunch, and in Beijing or Tokyo before you go to bed. Invite as many people as you wish to join you, including colleagues and clients. Just go to a web page. Nothing to download, nothing to install. Because there are no firewall troubles, large corporations can easily participate. More on global directing.

Try our Media Translation Software, at http://TranslateYourWorld.com, and for casting your foreign language voice talent.and





We make our home in the multimedia universe. @International Services has developed innovative techniques for controlling translation online and for casting foreign language voiceovers – tools and techniques that offer more possibilities than ever before.   In response to requests received from multimedia directors and producers to provide an improved way to audition foreign language voice overs , a way that will increase their success with the global projects and customers, @International Services developed a software specifically for this purpose.    The requests for support also included desire for assistance in casting foreign language voice over talent side by side with clients who like to participate in the process.   To meet these requests, @International Services created the Director Center.   The Director's Center is an online software specifically geared toward foreign language voice talent auditioning plus very special presentation materials for directors and producers to use to help them close more deals with global corporations or international clients.    

The Center includes tips on mixing the tracks you receive of the foreign language voice talent.   The tracks will be perfectly timed, to just drop into your project.   But after inserting those tracks, there are a variety of mixing techniques that may enhance your impact, plus certain other multimedia localization techniques such as music localization and special effects that may make a difference in the final impact. Combined with a fine translation of the script and screen text, you will look great in your customer's eyes.

The ability to personally direct international recording sessions around the world with your chosen foreign language voice talent is also taking a major turn for the better.   If you desire to direct or participate in foreign language voice talent voiceover sessions in any of 90 countries, @International Services is developing the online software to enable you to direct anywhere in the world – in English.   And your clients can join via the web in the foreign language voice recording session exactly as they happen “live” in their native country.   Clients can join you at your studio to watch via computer monitor, or join via their laptop.   You'll be able to comfortably direct sessions with the @international Services talents and studios located in 90 countries around the world for about the cost of a phone call to Chicago.

We live for multimedia translation, providing perfectly timed voice tracks of foreign language voice talent, subtitle edit lists and graphic files, plus lip sync recording. Our multimedia translation team translates scripts, training, presentations, Flash and subtitling. Another team records voices for technology and product demos. Multimedia translation is our passion. The experience we bring is only the groundwork from which we have all learned what works - and what does not work - when translating media and casting foreign language voice talent. Each and every one of us prefers corporate work to major media. We all see the enormous benefit that corporate work adds to the world economy. Corporate multimedia adds to global sales, to training, and to communications between leaders and branches. The combination of audio, visual and message makes our world go 'round.

Our promise is to make you look good in the eyes of your clients, employees and audience. You'll enjoy working with our professionals. You'll get outstanding customer service, attention to detail, and wise advice. We care about your success. We can work with your client's translation, or we can translate the script and graphic screen text. You choose what is best for your needs.

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