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Audio Translation


In a truly global society, we are all connected. The rapid advance of technology and growth of the internet, particularly over the last 15 years, means that it’s never been easier to speak to an international audience. Today, there’s more demand than ever to communicate to multicultural audiences, but along with that demand comes the expectation of high quality, accurate and locally-nuanced foreign language audio translation services.

In this collection of blogs, we’ll explore:

  • How to work with foreign voice over talent when you don’t speak their language
  • Mistakes to avoid when you’re sourcing audio translation
  • Why ‘retranslation’ is a crucial part of the process
  • 2019’s most requested languages for audio translation

... and more.

English is the third most widely spoken language in the world, with over 450 million globally speaking it as their first language. (Chinese languages take the lead, with Hindi-Urdu running second.) If you allow for people who speak English as their second language, the number grows to 750 million. Yet only 1.2 billion of the world’s population of over 7 billion speak any English at all, with the rest speaking a mix of approximately 7000 different languages.

So now if you’re asked the question ‘‘does everyone speak English?”, you’ll know the answer!

However, there are 14 key languages that are understood by 80% of the online world. So, if you’re translating a website or creating a video for a global audience, you don’t need to translate it into thousands of languages for it to be widely understood.

As Nelson Mandela famously said:

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

A high quality foreign language voice over talent will help to localise content and engage with an audience across linguistic and cultural borders. Provided the voice is a native speaker of the language, they’ll have a grasp of the subtle nuances, dialect and tone that the audience will resonate and engage with with - resulting in clear, genuine communication. However, as in any audio translation, a voice over talent can only be as accurate as the script they are reading which is why it’s crucially important to use a reliable, high quality translator.

Script translation is often mistakenly outsourced to ‘a colleague who can speak the language’ or worse, on online translation app to save costs. However, in our experience, accurate audio translation always needs an experienced, professional human translator. Translating for a voice over can be different to translating for the written word, and an experienced translator knows the subtleties and language differences required for both.

However, once the original script has been translated from English, before it’s recorded, there’s a critical step in the process that we’ve found is non negotiable. It’s called ‘retranslation’.

Retranslation is the process of engaging a second, independent translator to check the original translation, comparing it to the source material. Any errors or queries can then be marked, discussed and altered as necessary to ensure the translated script is accurate. If this crucial step is left out, the accuracy and true intent of the script may be jeopardised. (Have you ever read a poorly translated appliance instruction manual? You’ll know what we mean!)

Whether you require audio translation for Mandarin, Urdu, Spanish, Arabic, German or any other language, we can help. Our audio translation service has been refined and developed over the years, and if you’d like to read more before speaking with our team please check out the blog posts.