Translation isn’t only about words. Images that include text, such as labeled diagrams, graphs, and tables, need effective translation too. Image translation requires a sharp understanding of regional numerical values, measurements, and technical terminology to ensure conciseness and accuracy.

Only a skilled translation services company can guarantee your image files are not only translated correctly, but also that they’re done in a timely manner. Let’s take a look at two reasons why accurate image translation is important.

Image Translation Must Account for Measurements, Character Space, and Numerical Values

Because technical translation between languages will inevitably involve text expansion or contraction, the image translation will include fewer or more words, characters, or whitespace. This is especially significant, since language differences aren’t only seen in sentence or phrase length—but also in the length of individual words. For example, languages such as Finnish, Dutch, and German include single, compound words to replace a series of words in English.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see how drastically text and whitespace can change in the image translation, which can present substantial format and layout challenges. It’s also important to consider numerical values and measurements; while these can make perfect sense in the United States, targeted markets that use the metric system can be left scratching their heads trying to make sense of technical images such as graphs, tables, or infographics.

Finally, image translation isn’t just about translating words—the translation should also be clear and make sense to the end user. Investing in top quality technical translation services will help ensure your image translation is as clear and accurate as possible for your intended market.

Image Translation Must Consider Cultural Sensitivity

While high-quality, accurate translation is vitally important for getting your company’s message across foreign markets, image translation can sometimes be an afterthought.

However, otherwise harmless parts of your image design, such as colors, misspelled words, and gestures, can come off as either silly or even offensive to some audiences. Hence, just as with any other technical translation, your image translation must also account for cultural sensitivities.

For example, while audiences in North America typically associate blue with the sky and ocean and green with nature, money, or growth, target markets may have a different interpretation. In Korea, the color blue is associated with mourning, while in Greece it is used to ward off the “evil eye.”

In China, the color green may represent infidelity, while in Israel it can mean bad news. Purple is linked to death or dying in the United Kingdom, Thailand, Italy, and Brazil, while in Japan, it is the color of royalty.

Additionally, you must also consider how hand gestures in your image-based content can potentially insult or offend your target audience. Many inoffensive gestures in the United States can mean something entirely different in other parts of the world.

While the “thumbs up” sign represents a simple sign of approval in the United States, Canada, England, and Australia, this same gesture is considered offensive in Iran and parts of Latin America. Crossed fingers in the United States represent hope or even good luck, while in Vietnam, it is seen as a lewd gesture.

Hiring a professional, certified translator with localization expertise will ensure your image translation is understood the first time around, and avoid costly mistakes that can lead to retranslation or loss of business because of misinterpretation.


The Manufacturers Guide to Technical Translation

Learn all you need to know about technical document translation, key questions to ask, and critical pitfalls to avoid.