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DIARY IN A HOUSE TRANSLATOR 29 JULY, 2014

American English translations or British English translations? It matters

American English translations or British English translations? It matters

Any native British English speaker like myself will be able to recall a moment while using Microsoft Word® where their carefully chosen words get automatically corrected to American English – the default setting: “The shopper stood there momentarily to analyse the colour of the garment “ corrects to “The shopper stood there momentarily to analyze the color of the garment.”

Both American and British English are dialects of the English language; the second most spoken language worldwide. This renders the language as an essential tool for somebody to express their opinions in their respective fields, particularly in the ever-increasing medical and pharmaceutical industries where English remains as the only literary language – a fact that is largely accepted within the scientific community.

English was introduced to Native Americans during the 17th century during the colonisation of North America – and the worldwide strength of the language is parallel to the unrivalled maritime strength of the British Empire at the time. From the first confirmed British colonisation of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, the English spoken in the UK and the English spoken in North America began to diverge – and this has lead to the formation of American and British English, two key dialects in the language today.

In recent history there has been more of a friendly rivalry between the North American and British peoples, and has moved away from animosity of the 17th and 18th centuries partly due to the formation of the ‘special relationship’ in the 1980s. This ‘rivalry’ often manifests itself in the way a person from the UK mocks a person from the USA (or vice versa) due to the differences in dialects – particularly in certain sayings and idioms, as well as certain meanings for words which may differ ‘across the pond’. An example of which may be the meaning of “rubber”, which in British English may refer to a tool to erase pencil, however in American English it is a common slang term for “condom”.

It would seem therefore that it is imperative for a translation company to be able to offer the choice of American English translations or British English translations by native speakers so as to correctly and professionally translate a document for the intended target audience, whether it is for the North American or UK audience.

It is just as important, if not more important to take particular care when translating a document into a specific dialect, e.g. Spanish into American English, or even translating between dialects i.e. British English into American English; an aspect of translation that is sometimes neglected in terms of its importance – particularly true for unscrupulous companies who rely heavily on machine translation with minimal post editing. Implementing the incorrect dialect could have disastrous effects for a company attempting to break into either market, and would see potential profits fall drastically. A company with publishing needs must therefore have complete trust in a translation company such as Pangeanic with specialist native American English translations or British English translations at their disposal to ensure accuracy and professionalism in document translation.

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