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  • Writer's pictureSarah Hudson

How to avoid German to English marketing translation mistakes

Writing marketing content in another language can be challenging. There are some pitfalls that should be avoided to ensure your brand is presented in the best possible light. This blog post highlights some common mistakes that can occur when translating marketing texts from German into English.

German verbless sentences

Sentences without verbs are often used in German marketing texts, which is uncommon in English. In such cases, it is necessary to reformulate the sentences and add verbs where necessary to make the text more appropriate for English readers. For example:

Zeitgeist und Stil – durch Qualität, Innovation und Herkunft

A literal translation in English like "Spirit of the age and style - through quality, innovation and heritage" would sound very stilted and vague. It is therefore necessary to completely rephrase the sentence such as:

Contemporary style and quality grounded in innovation and heritage values.

Watch out for Germanisms

There are special phrases and words used in German marketing texts that cannot simply be translated literally into English. One example is the pronoun "Ihr" meaning “your”, which is often used in sentences such as "Ihre Vorteile" or "Ihr Team". Translating these sentences literally sounds awkward. Instead, it is better to omit the pronoun or choose another solution. For example, "Ihre Vorteile" could simply be translated as "benefits" or "Ihr Team" as "the (name of the company) team", for example "the Adidas team".

Shorten or omit for clarity

Experienced translators know that it is sometimes necessary to deliberately omit certain linguistic elements in order to achieve a clear and stylistically appealing translation. Literal translations of these elements would often only cause confusion and not add anything meaningful. In the original German text these words or phrases may have been used as linguistic embellishment or to improve the flow of the sentence, but in the English version they are superfluous. Here is an example:

Unter dem Begriff VICHY versteht man in der Textilsprache verschiedene gewebte Muster.

A literal translation would read as follows:

The term VICHY represents different woven patterns in the language of textiles.

A better solution would be:

The term VICHY refers to a special type of chequered woven fabric.

The phrase "in the language of textiles" is superfluous and creates an unnecessarily wordy sentence. It is important to put yourself in the shoes of the English reader and to keep the translation simple and clear.

Review by qualified native speakers

Although it may be tempting to have the translated text checked by a trusted member of staff within your company, there is no guarantee that they have a good enough command of the English language to spot any errors. It is therefore advisable to hire a professional translator with expertise in copywriting to ensure that your marketing content is accurate and engaging.

Translating marketing content from German to English is a challenging task that requires expertise and a solid understanding of linguistic nuances. There are many strategies and techniques that can only be acquired through practice. That’s why it’s so important to work with qualified language experts who can ensure your brand image is safeguarded at all times. After all, good translation is an investment in your company’s global success.


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