Not all Hispanic translations are created equally. In fact, word-for-word translations that don’t address a specific culture’s way of expressing a word or term may do more harm than good.
A “generic” translation screams out to your readers that you probably are not going to understand them and, consequently, you can’t help them.
The famous example of such a faux pas is the highly successful “Got milk” campaign. The correct translation for those two words is “¿Tienes leche? But to a Spanish-speaking person, the milk industry’s translation asked, “Are you lactating?” One can only imagine the embarrassing if not disastrous repercussions of such an oversight!
To make sure you’re spot on with your Hispanic translations, you need to take them a step further. Transcreation is taking a translated text and adapting it to your intended audience, including their specific culture. You’re then speaking not just to Latin Americans but Puerto Rican or Cubans, depending on your target audience. This type of translation requires linguistic knowledge of the language and culture. When you get it right, your reader will instantly know it. And the same goes for when you get it wrong.
In transcreation, your translator will need greater creative license with the copy.
Words may need to be rearranged or entire phrases may need to be substituted with the proper terminology. VIA’s “Transcreation: The Next Step Beyond Translation” gives an excellent example of how knowledge of culture comes into play when translating linguistically.
In an ad for a senior assistance business, the English version says: Our organization is here to help today’s seniors live healthfully and with independence. But the Spanish translation puts a somewhat different spin on the message. In English it says: Our organization is here to help the seniors in our families live healthfully and happily.
The words “our families” were added and the word “independence” was omitted. Why? Because Hispanics don’t think of their parents as living independently. The ties between the generations are stronger than they typically are in the US. And the transcreated message appeals to the emotions of the Hispanic reader and his or her commitment to the care for parents and grandparents.
So make sure your Hispanic translations connect emotionally and intelligently to your audience by incorporating culture and linguistics into your messages. You are far more likely to get their attention, gain their respect and acquire new clients and donors.
Need feedback on the Hispanic translations that you’ve already produced? Send us an email or call 302.858.5055.