Adapt your translation for a better understanding of Interculture

the impact of translation on new york city

Adapt your translation for a better understanding of interculture

The quality of communication is something really important, whether in a private environment or even in professional life. Translation’s culture continuously shapes the language over time. It is, of course, a pointless argument to try to determine which culture or language first appeared. Cultural traditions play a major role in the creation and propagation of a language across geographical and temporal boundaries. Foreign language expertise and multicultural experience are resources for our market work on translation and interpretation. Knowledge of fundamental cultural values further strengthens the work of the translator by supplying it with keys to locate web content or to promote an interpreted message's comprehension.   According to some studies, the cultural perception of a language can influence our behaviour. According to Naira Ramirez-Esparza, a social psychology professor at the University of Connecticut, the results of personality tests vary according to the language studied: "Language and its cultural values are inseparable," she says, "and the cultural values of the language you speak are a prism through which you see yourself. If these general characteristics do not define the personality of each speaker of a given culture, these are effective guidelines for improving communication across cultural boundaries. In fact, adapting your message to your audience allows them to better understand its meaning and purpose.

High and low context cultures

In sociology, cultures with strong and weak contexts refers to the opposition between languages where communication is based on explicit or implicit messages. This concept of cultures with strong and weak contexts was developed in the 1970s by an American anthropologist and researcher in intercultural communication: Edward T. Hall. As part of his theories on proxemics (the study of non-verbal communication and the perception and management of personal space in different cultures), Edward Hall has tried to better define and describe the different modes of cultural communication in the world. The use of language in high-context cultures High-context cultures are more implicitly based and common customs, but also local history, play an important role in professional relationships and interpersonal communication.   In high-context cultures, such as France, China, Japan or Latin America, for example, social significance and emotional connection are generally given greater importance. They focus on ways, emotions and relationships rather than on negotiations or data as such. In these high-context cultures, an oral agreement has more weight than a detailed written contract and past experiences and relationships are preferred. For these crops, reaching an agreement through the back door is much more satisfying and stimulating. In messages aimed at speakers of these cultures, translation professionals can add more detail and reveal more emotions. The use of language in low-context cultures Conversely, in low-context cultures such as the United States, Germany, Australia or Scandinavian countries, people prefer to get to the point and messages tend to be short, clear and precise. The current case has much more weight than past relationships a common history. In such cultures, facts, figures and written contracts prevail over any relationship or past relationships. The same applies to exchanges where the stated aim is to reach an agreement quickly. To translate or interpret for people from these cultures, it is best to be concise by focusing on the facts using simpler language.

Individualistic and collectivist cultures

Another level of nuance in translation can also be adopted depending on whether the speaker comes from an individualistic or collectivist culture. In general, so-called individualist cultures emphasize independence, personal success and competition, while collectivist cultures, on the contrary, value social ties and cooperation.

Communication in individualistic cultures

In individualistic cultures, such as Australia, the United States, Germany, Ireland, South Africa and most of Western Europe, the individual takes precedence over the group and social behaviour tends to follow the attitudes, rights and preferences of the latter, which are considered more independent and autonomous. Individualistic people tend to be more welcoming to strangers and feel less bound to respect their past heritage, whether good or bad. Individualistic identity is not bound or limited by social networks, but coexists with them. The main values for people from individualistic cultures are success, strength, confidence, personal goals, initiative and personal responsibility for decisions. They believe that everyone is equal and able to make their own choices. Translators and interpreters within an individualistic culture can try to address group members to better involve them.

Communication in collectivist cultures

In collectivist cultures, such as Russia, Eastern Europe and Asia, harmony, cohesion and social cooperation take precedence over individual needs. In this perspective, people from these cultures may be more willing to sacrifice their personal needs for the good of the group. They are more dependent on social networks and turn more easily to family and friends when they need them. Collectivist people may also be more closed to foreigners, whom they view with scepticism. They also tend to see their social networks and heritage as an important part of their identity. People from collectivist cultures promote harmony and cohesion and decisions are made in the interest of the group, in concert with their network, which shares responsibility for the decision. Collectivist cultures are hierarchical and make decisions accordingly within their groups. Translation professionals working in collective cultures can guide group themes towards greater acceptance and engagement together in a working group. All these cultural aspects add a new level of depth to the languages in translation and interpretation, which can help a qualified translator or interpreter to adapt his translation to more specifically each type of audience for a more nuanced expression, understanding and involvement. At Universalis Translation we are experts in the accurate rendering of any message in all cultures and languages of the world. Contact us today to find out how we can enhance your multilingual, international or intercultural translation and interpretation projects!

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