German Translation

Despite being related (they both share Germanic roots), German is a very different language from English in many ways.

Word length

One particularly striking feature is the difference in word length. German is a language of looooong words – compared with English, anyway.

Where else but in a German speaking country would you find a store called Fussbodenschleifmaschinenverleih.

That takes three words in English: Floor Sander Hire. And it’s still so much shorter in English. (Thanks to @Andrea_Wulf via the Guardian blog for that one.)

Formality

Another feature of German is that it tends to be more formal than English. Especially when it comes to marketing or website copy. And that’s something that doesn’t wash in English copy. So our German translations will reflect this.

Read this for more information about translating marketing copy.

And read this for more information about having your website translated.

Cultural and stylistic differences

In technical journalistic texts, for example, recent research (Barbara Sabel, 2014) shows that German articles rarely contain idioms or padding that sets the scene, whereas English articles are full of them. A German article gets straight to the point:

     Fast. Powerful. Strong. The latest combine harvester cuts your crop in 30 seconds per metre…

But English articles pad and use cultural devices that only a local would recognise:

     There hasn’t been a new one for ages. Then three come along at once. We check out these spanking new workhorses.

These are just some reasons why a straight translation from German to English doesn’t always work.

Long sentences and paragraphs

Because of the grammar structure in German, sentences – and therefore paragraphs – in German copy tend to be quite long.

This is an absolute no-no in English-language marketing and web copy. People’s attention span is short on the web! So the message has to be brief and concise. With very short paragraphs to make it easier to read.

Different look and feel

That’s why the translation we produce for you may well look and feel different from your German source text.

Because we want your text to be as effective as possible for your English-speaking readers.