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The Importance of German Translation Services

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Last updated on March 11th, 2022 at 03:16 pm

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The German market is a buying force to be reckoned with.

Germany is not only the largest country and economy in the European Union, it is also 4th on Statista’s 2020 list of top 25 world economies. The need for English-speaking companies to market to German audiences has increased the demand for German translation. The same is true for other language combinations to create content like Spanish into German translation and French into German Translation.

If Germany and its citizens or speakers of the language anywhere in the world are in your target audience, quality translation services are key to forming a lasting connection. But translating into German or from German is no easy task and working in the business setting makes accuracy paramount.

The German language holds similarities to English, but this doesn’t make the task of translation easier. In this blog, we’ll examine how English and German language are similar, how they differ, and common issues with German translation services.

The German Language Worldwide

German is not just the language of Germany. It holds the honor of being the official language of six countries, including Austria, Belgium, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. Each country has its own localized version of German, but these dialects are generally very similar and easily understood by one another save for certain vocabulary words.

German is also one of the official languages of the European Union. In fact, German is the most widely spoken language in Europe, even beating out English and Spanish! In total, German is spoken by roughly 100 million people worldwide- but this doesn’t even factor in the people who speak German as a second or third language.

While modern Germany, in particular Berlin, is a hub for business and trade, this isn’t the only industry that necessitates German translations. German is a common language of literature and philosophy, particularly for works written in the 18th – 20th centuries. The German language has roots dating back to 500 B.C., and there are thousands of classic works written in one form of the language or another.

German and English Language Overlap

Both English and German developed from the same branch of the Indo-European language family. The West-Germanic branch originated in central Europe around today’s Germany during the Roman Empire. As such, the languages have some overlap, mainly lexical borrowing in the vocabulary. In fact, the languages share roughly half of their vocabulary words. Man in English becomes Mann in German, photo becomes Foto, and so on. The languages also overlap in the use of many terms, such as wanderlust, poltergeist, and kindergarten.

Both languages use the Latin alphabet and Arabic numerals, although German uses a period separator in the thousands place, rather than a comma. Despite these vocabularic similarities, the two languages have several key differences.

3 Ways German is Different Than English

1. Gender

Gendered terms are not a concept most English speakers are familiar with, though speakers of Romantic languages like Spanish will be. In German, nouns have one of three genders.

  • Feminine
  • Masculine
  • Neuter

However, unlike Spanish translations, where the ending of the noun makes the gender obvious (-o suffix for masculine and -a suffix for feminine), German words do not have these indicators. Genders seem to be randomly assigned to words, which can confuse non-fluent speakers. Additionally, the gender of the noun can impact the rest of the translation, affecting the ending of modifying adjectives, as well as the indefinite article “ein.”

There are rules for gender like

Diminutives are always of neutral gender, and they can be identified by their suffix, which in written German is “-chen” or “-lein

2. Cases

Cases are where German translations can get really confusing. The endings for both indefinite and definite articles, as well as the ending for adjectives, change according to their noun’s placement in a sentence. Each possible placement is called a case, and the German language has four cases:

  • Nominative
  • Accusative
  • Dative
  • Genitive

Each case has its own ending forms, and combined with the gender forms, there are twelve possible forms for the adjectives, indefinite, and definite articles.

3. Syntax

German syntax differs from English and sometimes requires the translator or speaker to place the verb at the end of a clause. The rules that govern this are straightforward but can be challenging for people who are not fluent.

In the translation industry, we use Cat Tools that bring segmentation of content during the translation process. It is very important during the translation into German to pay attention to segmentation do avoid the wrong placement of words

Common Challenges with German Translations

  • Compound Words

German is known for having long compound words. This is because the language does not create new words for concepts but rather combines existing words that describe the concept. This can create incredibly long, tongue-twisting words. For example, the word Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung is 36 letters long and describes motor vehicle liability insurance.

  • Text Expansion

Due to the aforementioned concept of long words, translating other languages into German comes with significant text expansion, in some cases up to a 33% increase in length. This can have a significant impact on designs, website layouts, ads, and more. If you know English to German translation is needed, design with white space and text expansion in mind. Also, plan for a linguistic review to see how the content is displaying to ensure the translated content displays well.

  • Formal and Informal Speech

German can be formal or informal, and knowing when to use each form is crucial to the success of a message. Like all languages with formal and informal options, using informal German should be done with caution, particularly in marketing settings. The translation company should ask  questions to ensure what type of Speech will be appropriate to use in each content.

Certified German Translation Services

If you’re in need of certified German translation services, then you’re in the right place. The professional translation experts at JR Language can provide certified German to English translation services and vice versa.

What is a Certified Translation?

A certified translation comes with a sworn and signed certification document from the translation agency attesting to the translation’s accuracy. Certified translations are necessary for many legal and government settings but may be required in business transactions as well.

Work with a Translation Agency expert in German translations

There are many key elements to address in a German translation project. Take your time and partner with a translation agency that has the team of linguists, designer, engineers, and project managers to manage your German translations with accuracy and knowledge.

German translation services are necessary for business in a variety of industries. If you’re marketing towards or working with a German-speaking audience, turn to the experts at JR Language Translation Services. Our professional translators not only have native-level fluency in English and German, but they also have subject matter expertise across a variety of industries. Our team makes your translation project accurate and successful!

Geraldine d'Empaire
Geraldine d'Empaire
Geraldine is a lawyer with +25 years of corporate and international law experience, focusing on cross border transactions. She is the managing director of JR Language Translations Canada.