Top 5 copywriting tips for translators

Translating marketing texts can be a tricky thing. We need to relay the information from the source text and make sure it sounds beautiful in the target language at the same time. Here are our top 5 tips for good copywriting that also apply to translation.

1.    Research your audience

Before you start translating, find out who the translated texts are aimed at. What’s your target audience? Is the copy written for other businesses or end customers? What’s the age group? If your audience is young and tech-savvy, using a formal tone of voice may alienate them. If you’re dealing with businesses and professionals, writing too informally can cost you clients. Browse your customer’s website and ask for a style guide if you didn’t receive one. That way you’ll always hit the right tone of voice!

2.    Avoid nominal style

Nouns slow down the pace of your copy and your text can feel stilted. Check which nouns you really need and which can be replaced by verbs. Using more verbs loosens up the text and feels more natural to the reader.

E.g.: Terry made the decision to learn French. > Terry decided to learn French.

3.    Use the active voice

Active sentences engage the reader. Your text feels livelier and is easier to read. Passive sentences are usually longer and reveal important information only at the very end.

E.g.: The text was translated by Terry. > Terry translated the text.

4.    Keep sentences short

The rule of thumb says if you can’t quite remember how the sentence started when you’re at the end of it, it’s definitely too long. Some people have a knack for bulky sentences that span over many lines. That may sound clever in a scientific piece of research. But it will exceed the attention span of most other audiences. If you want to engage your readers, keep it short. This may mean that one sentence turns into two translated sentences.

5.    Before you submit your translations, read them out loud

It may feel a little silly at first, but this is a great way to test the readability of your translation. If you stumble over complicated constructions, or you run out of breath before the end of the sentence, chances are you need to simplify your text.

For more inspiration on marketing translation, take a look at our blog post Creative translation: Your marketing message on everyone’s lips.

Inspiring young language talent

“Mayday mayday, we are sinking, we are sinking!”

“Hello, zis is ze German coastguard. Vat are you sinking about?”

With this little commercial from a German language school (see clip above) we introduced ourselves to about 150 students at the Fowey River Academy last Friday. The motto of the day was “Languages at Work” and we were asked to present the 12 – 16 year olds with some good reasons why studying a language at school is worthwhile. We put together a colorful presentation to illustrate the relevance of languages in careers such as translating, interpreting, linguistics, language teaching, and also less obvious careers, like games testing, journalism or intelligent services (MI5). “Who wants to become a spy?”, Anja asked and a few brave students raised their hands giggling.

Yet, even without a career as a spy or translator, languages play a very important part in work life. As a journalist for example, you might need to research an international news story and a source from abroad will be more likely to reveal important information if you approach them in their language. Or think about working as an event organiser where you might have to negotiate prices for a venue abroad or speak to international delegates. Being able to speak another language will always help you to stand out from other candidates. Why? Because it means that you can potentially help your company to take their products or services abroad. Speaking a foreign language is a real asset – one which is likely to be reflected in your pay package.

For more inspiration, check out our presentation:

Brand Cornwall goes global

Long gone are the times when the Cornish economic landscape was dominated by miners and fishermen. The last Cornish tin mine finally ceased production in 1998. These days, the Cornish economy is comprised of a colourful mix of small businesses in different, highly specialised fields. The main reason for this transformation: The internet. “Fibre broadband means we can send stuff around the globe in milliseconds”. The new Hub Awards 2014 video “Exporting Brand Cornwall” gives an insight into new and exciting business ventures in Cornwall.

With the world shrinking, Cornwall has become the home and a constant source of inspiration for many creative professionals. Whether it’s fashion, design, cosmetics or renewable energies – “Brand Cornwall has grown over the last 4-5 years”, says Tamsin Harris from Truro & Penwith College. And the benefits of working from an area of outstanding natural beauty reach beyond the River Tamar. The county’s reputation for innovation, good quality, an active lifestyle and sustainable living precede Cornish products and services in the UK and abroad. “Living in Cornwall gives us a lot of credibility”, says Mark Jones, Director of the outdoor brand Dritek and Co-Director of AJT. Amanda Barlow, creator of the organic cosmetics range Spiezia, agrees: “People in London hear the word Cornwall and it gives more authenticity to my brand. It’s a real asset.”

For most people living in Cornwall is a lifestyle choice. But it doesn’t mean a lack of career. It’s not only an aspirational, but also a very entrepreneurial place and people increasingly create their own dream careers. Modern innovation centres in Penryn, Pool and Truro and the expansion of Falmouth and Exeter Universities, with many graduates staying in Cornwall after finishing their degree, are only some of the reasons why innovation is flourishing in Cornwall. The creative freedom and space to breathe motivates people to do what they love. And when people do what they love, they are usually good at it.

Tempted to live and work by the sea? Check out our latest vacancy: English to French Translator (in-house position)


HUB Awards 2014 | EXPORTING BRAND CORNWALL from The MotionFarm on Vimeo.

translation technology

AJT in December issue of Forbes Magazine

What does AJT have in common with Apple, Tesla, and GoPro? Aside from all being great companies, they’re also all mentioned in the December 2014 issue of Forbes Magazine!

To be more exact, Apple, Tesla, GoPro and co. have been listed as some of the most reputable clients of the innovative translation platform Smartling in the article “Translate Your App: How Smartling Goes Global With Apple, Tesla, GoPro And More”. And as one of Smartling’s preferred referral partners, AJT’s Anja was quoted too.

As part of their research for the article, Forbes had interviewed Anja back in November and clearly made a good choice when picking the following sentence out of the 45-minute telephone conversation in which Anja raved about the features and functions of her favorite translation technology:

The traditional tools work like a 1995 PC, but Smartling is more like Facebook or Twitter – it’s sexy,” says English-German translator Anja Jones. She expanded her own agency with work from Smartling. Jones says she onboards new freelancers in less than half an hour.

The article also elaborates on Smartling being “an early mover with more than 300 clients” and “the fastest way to help clients expand abroad”.

If you would like to know more about the Smartling technology or discuss your internationalisation strategy, please get in touch. After all, as Forbes author Brian Solomon concludes, “these days everyone wants to go abroad”. 🙂