How Dialects Affect Translation

Translation, certified document translations, How Dialects Affect Translation, localization services

Many people assume that language is primarily standardized. However, there’s a surprising amount of nuance, even within the same language or in a single country. Dialects lead to variances, which can cause significant challenges when you need translations.

Ultimately, failing to account for dialects can lead to translation inaccuracies. In turn, this can create communication hurdles, some of which may come with significant consequences. If you’re wondering how dialects affect translation and what steps professional language service providers take to ensure accuracy with respect to dialects, here’s what you need to know.


Dialects vs. Accents: What’s the Difference?

Many people use the terms “dialect” and “accent” interchangeably. However, the two words have starkly different meanings.

According to Merriam-Webster, an accent – in this context – is “a way of speaking typical of a particular group of people and especially of the natives or residents of a region.” Essentially, an accent is simply an adjustment in how a person pronounces a word when speaking.

With dialects, there can be variations in pronunciation, too. However, there’s also more to it. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, dialects are “a form of a language that people speak in a particular part of a country, containing some different words and grammar, etc.” That means, along with pronunciation differences, word usage and grammar also vary between dialects.

Precisely how many dialects are present across the world isn’t entirely clear. In fact, identifying all of them within a single language is challenging. There are easily more than ten Spanish dialects alone, and that’s just if you focus on major categories. If you break it down further, there may be dozens, if not hundreds, of nuanced versions of the language.

Each dialect has unique characteristics. It’s the nuances that create challenges during translations.

How Dialects Affect Translation

Generally, accents cause limited issues for interpreters. In the end, the word usage and grammar remain consistent. Once the interpreter familiarizes themselves with a particular accent, the rest becomes reasonably intuitive.

Dialects are trickier to navigate since they involve grammar and word usage variations. As a result, they can have a significant impact on translations. 

The main reason dialects create difficulties is translators need to be familiar with a particular dialect to translate the material effectively. Suppose they aren’t aware of how word usage and grammar vary between the dialects. In that case, they may interpret the meaning of a word or phrase incorrectly or choose an improper word or phrase for the translation, leading to potential inaccuracies in the final output.

How Professional Language Service Providers Overcome Dialect Challenges in Translations

Typically, dialect-related translation challenges are avoidable as long as the translator knows the dialect associated with the source material and the dialect needed for the translation. However, that isn’t always determinable by simply reading the provided text or in broad translation requests. Instead, gathering more information becomes essential.

When you partner with a dependable language provider, service requestors encounter mechanisms designed to overcome any obstacles that may be present due to the presence of various dialects in the source material or the requested translation. For example, they may ask for information regarding where the original author is from and where the target audience for the translation resides. This helps them identify the distinct dialects involved, both the one used to create the source material and which one is needed to ensure full understanding by the target audience.

Often, the process outlined above is referred to as localization. Through localization services, translators focus on the nuances of specific audiences, ensuring translations align with local dialects, customs, preferences, and more. This results in more accurate outputs by making the target reader a primary consideration when the material is translated.

Additionally, since many language service providers employ vast teams of translators, those questions allow for the careful selection of a translator for a project. The provider can identify the translation professional on their team that’s strong in both of the dialects, an approach that also results in a higher-quality result.


Are You Looking for Dialect-Sensitive Translation Services?

Finding a translation service that can accommodate a wide range of dialects is essential if you want reliable, accurate translations every time.

At Acutrans, we understand the nuances of language, including how dialects can impact a translation. Additionally, we have a large team brimming with experienced translators who are familiar with a wide array of dialects, allowing us to find a translator that has the right skills to meet your needs.

Along with localization services, the Acutrans team provides high-quality certified document translations quickly and efficiently. Whether you need general translations or specialty services – covering the medical, legal, and technical arenas – Acutrans has options available. Additionally, we offer post-editing machine translation, ensuring you get the outstanding results you need.

If you require an experienced, professional interpreter, Acutrans has you covered there, too. Acutrans offers interpretation services – including on-site, over the phone, and video remote – in 200 languages, making it easy to cover all of your requirements through one provider.

No matter your language services needs, Acutrans can provide a professional solution. Contact us for a free quote today.