Butter by the Fish: How Accurate are Your German-English Translations?

Posted on April 21, 2016 · Posted in German Translations

Butter bei die Fische is an interesting expression that pops up every so often in German. If you’re looking for an honest answer or want to motivate someone to try harder, this phrase may come in handy.

One of the reasons this phrase is so interesting lies in its idiomatic nature. You can’t derive its meaning by taking the words at face value. Unfortunately, idioms don’t translate well to other languages, and English native speakers wouldn’t understand “butter by the fish” at all unless they also spoke German.

This expression highlights the importance of German-English translations for your Florida Business. If you include accidentally translate German idioms into English, then you might confuse, confound, or possibly offend your target audience. This includes telling them that you “only understand train station” or that something not particularly interesting is “sausage to you.”

Professional translators and machine translation are completely different with respect to translating idiomatic phrases. While the former will find the appropriate phrase in your target language, the latter may not pick up on the hidden meaning. That’s how you get embarrassing translations that compromise your professionalism.

In addition to preventing worse-case scenarios, professional translation can also help you interact better with your target audience. Using the right terminology shows that you understand and can relate with prospective customers.

Although they’re not the same thing, translation is an essential aspect of localization. This Imonomy blog explains why you can’t just use, say British English terms in a Florida marketing campaign:

“Obviously, one of the most important aspects of localization is language.  That doesn’t just mean using English in English-speaking countries, either.  First, there are regional dialects and spellings to consider.  If you want your audience to feel at home with your content, you need to ensure that it’s accessible and is communicated in a familiar manner.  There’s much more to that than translating into a national language.”

Localization requires a complete marketing strategy, but it’s not possible without professional translation. Awkward phrasing is the first thing consumers will notice in your marketing efforts.

Besides cultural misunderstandings, professional translation also plays an integral role in technical marketing practices. A recent article published by the European Parliament explains how translation factors into search engine optimization and search engine marketing. According to article, misusing terms will stop Google from giving you a good site ranking:

“This is not only a linguistic and cultural blunder, but it also keeps search engines from pointing to a website. There’s a real lack of understanding and the translation and terminology have not been taken into account again in terms of international marketing.”

Search engine optimization is a challenging task even for native speakers. If you don’t get your keywords exactly right, you may not make any progress with respect to your SEO campaign.

Any business that expands to a foreign market will face these challenges. Businesses expanding to markets in Florida, however, have to consider additional difficulties due to the large Spanish-speaking population. Depending on your goals, you may also have to translate your content to Spanish to maximize your market reach. The same rules apply here, except the possibility of making a mistake is much greater since there’s less German-Spanish online translation material than there is German-English.

The solution to this problem isn’t any different. When you work with professional translators, it doesn’t matter what your original or target languages are. You just explain what your translation needs are and they’ll take care of everything else.

From cultural relations to search engine optimization, there’s no substitute for professional translation in regard to your marketing campaign.

To talk more about German to English translations for your Florida business,  contact us today.

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