Which languages are the most difficult to translate?
“What do translators do? Do they actually do any ‘real’ work? They simply translate words from one language to another! What’s the big deal?”
This is what many people think about a translator’s job. They have a notion that translators do not perform any ‘real’ task.
The truth is that translators perform a very important task in the process of business marketing, advertising and promotion in today’s times of globalisation, when almost all businesses look forward to expand beyond the political boundaries of their states of origin!
Translators have to bear the onus of translating content from one language to another without changing the original essence of the text or message! Even a word that is translated incorrectly can change the entire meaning of a slogan, a tagline or a message, and can bring embarrassment to a business unit! Grammar rules too sometimes drastically differ from one language to another; as such literal translation of a sentence can play havoc!
One such example of a global enterprise facing utter embarrassment is that of PepsiCo!
When American Giant, PepsiCo, ventured into Chinese Market with their popular beverage, Pepsi, they must not have imagined that their tagline which reads as “Come alive with the Pepsi generation” in English would be translated to “Pepsi brings your relatives back from the dead” in Chinese, and the Chinese would take an offence thinking that it was an insult to their dead ancestors. Chinese is indeed a very difficult language to translate from English or even from any other language to.
Let us have a look at some of the most difficult languages in the world to translate!
- Mandarin Chinese:
Can you believe that Mandarin is a language with over 80,000 written characters, and that each character has to be spoken in a different tone and it has a different meaning? Now, you can imagine how difficult it must be for a non-speaker to understand or learn the language, let alone translating content into it from English or any other language without having thorough knowledge of it!
Like Chinese, Thai too is a tonal language, and each tone conveys a different meaning. Thailand is a country which never was under any foreign rule, and hence it’s language, Thai, is not influenced by English or any other language. Very few people from Thailand are fluent in English. Grammar rules in Thai differ drastically from those in English. Thai has 44 consonants and 18 vowels.
In Thai, there are no spaces between words. A space is used only to indicate end of a sentence. There are no genders and no plurals. Instead of verbs, adverbs indicate tenses.
Now, can you imagine how difficult it must be to translate text from English to Thai and vice-versa.
Korean is an isolate language, that is, it does not share its roots with any other language in the world. It is hardly spoken outside Korea, or we can say, apart from the state of Korea it is only spoken by the Korean community settled abroad. This makes it very difficult to understand the language and translate text from English to Korean or vice-versa.
There is one similarity between English and Hungarian: both have only 26 characters. Thinking that it’s easy to translate content from English to Hungarian?
Think again, and again, and again!
Hungarian is a language, grammar rules of which differ to a great extent from those of English. Unlike in English where pronouns indicate possession and forms of verbs differ with tenses, in Hungarian, suffixes are used to demonstrate tenses and possession.
Arabic is a language in which the flow of a sentence is from right to left adding to the complexity in understanding it by non-Arabic people or communities. English speakers first have to understand that the direction of flow of a sentence is exactly opposite to that of sentences in English; secondly, the dialect of the audience is of utmost importance while translating from English to Arabic, since there are innumerable dialects in Arabic that vary from region to region. Moreover, many words have multiple meanings.
Just like Mandarin Chinese, Japanese has thousands of characters. There is Kanji which means feelings or sense or impression. Kanjis when used separately or combined convey different meanings. Translators have many steps to follow while translating from Japanese to English and vice-versa.
We, at TransChamp, pay utmost attention to the meanings of phrases and sentences, of taglines and slogans, etc. Grammar rules of each language are taken into account while translating content from English to any language around the world or vice-versa. Similarly, dialects of a language that differ from region to region within a town, city, state or country are given attention to while working on any project of translation.
Translation errors are almost nil, since we use only tried and tested applications and softwares for translation.
Looking forward to an opportunity to help you with reliable translation of your precious content! Feel free to contact us in case of any requirements, you can click here to receive a free consultation from us.