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Culturally Sensitive Translation: Is It a Thing?

Daniel Chang
Daniel Chang
Posted in Zoom Feb 16 · 19 Feb, 2022
Culturally Sensitive Translation: Is It a Thing?

Language and the meanings within its words, syntax, or wit are closely connected to the national culture or a national personality. Therefore, a translator with cultural awareness within the respective language is an asset to provide a precise and correct translation that catches the actual meanings. To some extent, we have covered this in one of our blog entries, What Does It Take to Decode a Language for Best Translation? which caught quite a bit of interest. 

Therefore, we decided to explore this topic a little bit more. Especially in GoTranscript, we provide precise translation services brought to you by a diverse pool of native-speaking professionals with profound national and cultural knowledge of the languages they translate from and to.

Let’s explore the personalities of different nationalities. There have been quite a few researches on this topic, and they have some interesting findings. However, be aware that individual people are diverse and unique; therefore, carefully consider the ideas shared in this text. But these ideas provide an interesting illustration of how nations differ and the backgrounds that give some deeper meaning to words and phrases. 

Psychologists claim that an average personality in one country is different from the average personality. Some researchers do expose this difference between average personalities among diverse nations. For example, in research titled Personality profiles of cultures: aggregate personality traits, the authors Robert R McCrae and Antonio Terracciano investigated more than 12,000 college students from 51 cultures. The research conclusion was the aggregated scores of each for each nation per different traits. 

Just naming a few insights, the most extroverted nations, on average, were found: the Brazilians, French-Swiss, and the Maltese. The least, though, were the Nigerians, Moroccans, and Indonesians. 

Some other examples are openness to experience. The most willing to try something new are the German-speaking Swiss, Danes, and Germans here. The Hong Kong Chinese, Northern Irish, and Kuwaitis were the least likely to expose themselves to some novelty. 

Traits of neuroticism, conscientiousness, and agreeableness were also under investigation. 

It is easier to decipher the real meaning behind different words, phrases, or other parts of language having cultural awareness. Especially if a translation has to work on a text that is a dialogue or other form of interpersonal communication: can you imagine if a translator missed a passive-aggressive remark and translated it in a way that sounds supportive? That would be a significant loss of the author’s intended meaning and wholesomeness of the text. 

The bottom line, just knowing the language is not sufficient. A translator should also know the culture. We take this seriously at GoTranscript. Therefore we select and employ translators that have native or very intimate experience with the cultures respective to their translated languages. 

You can rely on us if you look for cultural awareness in translation.