8 Point Primer to Foreign Language Productions

4. Translating the Script

Translating the ScriptThe translator needs to be someone who is a national of the country concerned, not an English colleague who happens to speak the language, or you may end up with the proverbial school French.

The translator should also be a professional, ideally someone who also works as a voiceover artist and knows how to write the spoken word.

Give the translator a copy of the English video, so they can see what they are talking about and can get the timings right, so their version will fit.

Avoid mechanical translation software.

This is a useful aid to professional translators, who then rework the text into proper language. Don’t take the results literally.

Here is a short section of English voiceover from a Studio Rossiter construction safety video:

“What that means is we don’t walk away from the project, once it’s built. We’re here to stay. Not only do we want to put up a good building, one that’s going to work, we want to do it in such a way that we get known as good neighbours.”

And here is the same text after it has been through translation software, into Swedish and then back to English:

“What as is those aid, is, goes we not in road from project era, when that man built. We are here to the brace. Not only, we desire to puton a good building, an as men that goes to function, ourselves desires that will do the in a such the ourselves sheep long familiar as good neighbours.”

Where did the brace and the sheep come from?

Also remember that your industry will have its own jargon and preferred words and phrases.

So before anything is recorded, be sure to bounce the translated script off your agent or other overseas contact, to check that it reads as if it were written by a local industry professional.

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