German Translation Tips

Caitlin Nicholson

german translation tips

What are types of challenges do you encounter when translating from German to English or English to German? We’ve identified a few challenges and a few solutions!

Germany has the highest population and largest economy in the European Union. The country has also brought us famous inventions such as the automobile, the Christmas tree, and book printing.

German is an official language in six countries – Austria, Belgium, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. There are 95 million speakers worldwide, plus millions who speak German as a second or foreign language. In addition, German is a top ten language for world Internet usage. These ten languages make up 77 percent of world users! German is also one of the official languages of the European Union.

As a provider of German translation services, LinguaLinx is here to help with a few German translation tips and facts!

German Translation Tips

Tip #1  – Long Words

German language is known for their long compound words. Why? Rather than invent a new word for a new concept, the language takes a description of the concept and turns it into one word. A simple search for “long German words” provides lists of some of these words and their descriptions. Our favorite? Bezirksschornsteinfegermeister. This translates into “head district chimney sweep.” What does this mean for translation? There will be a lot of language expansion. See the next few tips for some examples.

Tip #2 – For App, Software, and Website Localization

Keep  expansion in mind for software localization, mobile app localization, or website localization. A tightly-designed user interface (UI) may present problems down the road. In today’s global business environment, we always say design with translation in mind. Design a flexible UI that can expand or contract. Doing so will help ensure functionality and also better design. We also recommend linguistic and localization testing before launching your software, website, or app.

Tip #3 – For Design and Layout

Similar to Tip #2 due to English to German expansion. Make sure you leave plenty of white space in your layout. This will allow plenty of room for German translations in your design and layout file. A multilingual desktop publishing (DTP) team can ensure that the translations read properly within a layout file. We also recommend post layout review by a German linguist to make sure the text falls properly and looks culturally and linguistically appropriate.

Tip #4 – Avoid Too Much Exaggeration or Comparative Advertising 

Apply this to your marketing content. Advertising campaigns can over exaggerate the benefits or abilities of a product or service. This does help build trust for your brand in Germany. In addition, pay close attention to your use of comparative advertising. Such a practice cannot be misleading or falsified. For example, “our product is the best at ________,” or “our product is better than ________’s product.” For guidance, take a look at the European Union’s Directive on Misleading and Comparative Advertising. An in-country German linguist will have knowledge of these laws and will be able to work with you on localizing your marketing content so that it resonates with a German audience.

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