María Palomares Tarí
THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA LANGUAGE ON TRANSLATION
There can be no denying that social media has a significant impact on the ways that we communicate, so consequently, they have influenced our language.
Platforms like Instagram, Facebook or Twitter have altered our vocabulary: new words have been created and there’s been a huge growth in ‘text-speak’-- just think how often we use acronyms to shorten a phrase to just a few letters, such as “OMG” (oh my god). Even shorthand writing takes the form of emojis most of the time!
The influence of social media sites and platforms on our language, then, it is a true phenomenon. And that, of course, affects translation directly. Social media now plays a large part of a brand’s digital marketing strategy, so let’s see what you need to consider before starting translating your social media posts.
Now that emojis are used in many social media posts, it is essential to be aware of cultural sensitivities when translating them. That’s why if you want your post to be successful and achieve your objective, you may prefer to work with a professional translator who is aware of the cultural nuances your publication may have.
What you may think acceptable or humorous in your country could be offensive or distasteful in another. Symbols and gestures can present problems in other cultures -- in Africa and the Middle East, the ‘thumbs up’ signal can be seen as rude.
We use idioms in every day, and of course, they are usually a big part of social media posts life. Idioms like ‘sell like hot cakes’ (quick sellout), ‘cut corners’ (doing something in an easier and least expensive manner) or ‘keep an ear to the ground’ (staying informed and updated about everything) may appear in any post. But do they have an exact equivalent in other language?
Idioms may work well in engaging a particular group in your own country but localizing colloquial phrases across languages and cultures may not elicit the same response. In some cases, you may even offend potential customers in the market you’re targeting. Only someone with deep knowledge of the source and target language and culture would get them right!
Acronyms & Slangs
Slang can also be troublesome when localizing your content. These words are difficult to interpret in other languages as they are unique to individual cultures.
Consider expressions such as ‘Lit’ (used to describe something that’s “happening”), ‘squad goals’ (a term used to describe something that you would like your group to become or achieve) or ‘It me’ (used when someone can relate to something, usually a quote or meme). Do they translate the same in other language? Do they have an equivalent? Or just consider the simple acronym DM – Direct Message. Everything needs to be considered when translating and pay close attention to detail.
Localizing words like these into an entirely different language could also spell disaster for your campaign in non-English speaking markets.
Using professional translators means that your message will sound natural in the target language, as they will be aware of cultural and grammatical nuances!
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