How to translate your nature-related and wildlife texts.

I'm pretty sure you've ever tried to translate your texts into another language to reach a new audience. In this article, I tell you how to distinguish the diverse types of text you'll encounter and how to cope with them.

Let me show you the four typical types of texts that can be translated in your nature company for your new audience to feel at home when hiring your services. It’s advisable to understand each type of text and translate it with its own “needs”. I’ll tell you how.

Translate the informative texts of your ecoresort

If you own an accommodation or a restaurant, you may need to inform your guests or diners about rules, what-to-do information, or a welcome brochure. This is important as it lets your clients understand the importance of displaying exemplary behaviour or understanding how something works.

Terminology: the body of words and expressions used with a particular application in a subject of study or profession, for instance, names of birds, their body parts, their routines, etc.

In my opinion, these are the most manageable texts as there isn’t any terminology, any marketing text… but keep in mind that they’re essential. How to translate them?

  • You can follow the general structure step by step.
  • You can translate sentence per sentence (don’t miss the message, though!)
  • Typically, you won’t find any technical word. For technical terms, go to the next section.
  • It’s advisable to hire a professional translator to proofread the final text.

Nature technical translation (shall I say adaptation?)

It’s pretty common to talk about technical matters when in nature. You’re eager to tell and explain what you see to others, whether they’re clients or employees. And words matter.

For instance, you’re leading a marine birdwatching route, and your clients aren’t familiar with the terminology because they aren’t experts, just a group of people interested in watching nature. They come from Spain, and so they have never seen birds like the oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus).

You speak little Spanish, and you’ve distributed some brochures or guides in Spanish so that they’re able to understand. How to translate or adapt these guides?

The bird’s name

Be careful with the vulgar name. Many birds and plants names vary from European to American Spanish. You need to know where exactly your clients come from or adapt these names to the different Spanish realities. Spanish is a rich language; try to keep this richness.

The scientific name

This is universal, so don’t worry about it.

Add similar birds

Add similar birds they can see in Spain or Latin America. This is rather an adaptation, not just translation. I’d recommend adding this because people want to connect what they see with what they already know. Even more, if they aren’t experts.

Add a short story

Add a short story of the bird connected to the Spanish culture or the Spanish-speaking countries’ nature. This is also an adaptation that will make your clients trust you and have a high-level experience.

Etymology

It is optional adding a short story of the birds’ etymology as stories charm people.

To sum up, every time you cope with a technical text, think of adapting the content to your client’s reality. Adapting instead of just translating. The same with plants, other animals, natural processes, and so on.

Transcreation for your website marketing texts

Every company has texts to sell. Not all these texts are necessarily ads. Do you know what your most crucial marketing text is? Your webpage. However, you can write more texts to sell:

  • Brochures
  • Newsletter
  • Ads

For these texts, you’ll probably need transcreation instead of a standard translation. What’s the difference?

Translation: conveying text from one language into another. It focuses only on the meaning of words and sentences and tries to find appropriate interpretation closest to the original term.

Transcreation: it’s made out of two words: “translation” (of course, as you convey the text into another language) and “re-creation” (a sort of re-writing). It focuses on the complete message intended behind the text. Aspects: language, emotions and cultural and socio-economic factors (target audience).

It’s the target audience that changes, as well as the focus of the translation.

Transcreation is an adaptation to the target audience. It also involves two languages, like translation. However, instead of just changing words into another language, you adapt the text to the new context and the new audience. You also play with emotions, as ads’ texts do.

In transcreation, things may differ from translation. Usually, these texts are intended to sell. If you want to sell, it’s advisable to adapt to the target audience. It’s not information; it’s not technical or scientific words. It’s about selling. Then the target is the king.

I took an example from Ecoresort Cerdanya, because its webpage is clearly adapted to the language and the person who is reading.

Context: The pandemic has shrunk tourism. International tourism is still very difficult, but national tourism is possible. This is the home page:

English: We are looking forward to welcoming you.

Catalan: #JoEmDesconfinoAlPirineu

[When lockdown is removed, I’ll go to the Pyrenees]

On the first hand, they understand that English-speaking people may not travel in months and don’t know the Pyrenees. That’s why they use these words combining nostalgia and hope.

On the other hand, they genuinely know that Catalan people may have some periods without lockdown when they will be allowed to travel within the region and that they’re familiar with the Pyrenees. That’s why Ecoresort Cerdanya encourages them to visit the Ecoresort when they’re able to.

This is an excellent example of transcreation. Keep in mind that this needs to be done after a target-audience investigation has been carried out.

Translate your nature-related stories and theatrical routes. Embrace literature.

We all love stories. But “literature” doesn’t necessarily mean a book or a poem. It can be a story for kids, a theatrical route, and so on. What to keep in mind when translating this kind of texts?

  • The register used.
  • Metaphors and other figures of speech such as rhymes.
  • Idioms and proverbs.
  • If the target readers are children or adults.

It’s more important to adhere to the standards set by the register and figures of speech than to translate word per word. This is literature!

Conclusions

To sum up, there are four types of texts that you’d have to cope with. Every text has its own characteristics, so try not to translate everything in the same way.

Two questions to reach the end:

Which one(s) do you think is the most important?

Which one(s) do you think can be more easily translated with online translators?

Remember that, either you use online translators (which is not recommended) or translate yourself, it’s advisable to contact a translator to proofread the final text.

I’m looking forward to reading your comment.

About the author

Hi, I’m Llorenç Crespo. My purpose is to help ecotourism and nature-related organisations raise their voice, spread their purpose, and expand their borders. It’s about changing the world, a challenging mission, but the fruits of hard work are sweeter than the sweetest of nectars.

If you want to take the first step on this path through letters and trees, I strongly recommend that you download my freebie “5 tips to engage more responsible travellers with your positive impact. Using just words and a bit of great design.”.
If you’re among those people who have little time to spare, but you’d like to keep on this track, you can hire my services.

I’m a nature lover, but I have my shortcomings too. Every little step in my life led me to found Flumen Ecolinguistics. You can read my story here.

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