June 7, 2021
Maria Joaquina Marques

The answer to the question of whether to localize names, idiomatic expressions, and puns often varies depending on the type of translation required, as well as the target audience for the product/service. In audiovisual translation, idiomatic expressions or puns are often lost in translation, as the required technical parameters and guidelines often do not allow a good localization of those terms.

For instance, if a comedy video or a corporate presentation has many local-specific jokes or regional names, the translator and the client need to discuss beforehand which terms must be localized. Naturally, a localized joke might sound off to those who understand the source language and have good general and cultural knowledge of the country of origin, but for those who do not, adapting and localizing the expression or joke is essential for their understanding. Likewise, localizing certain names allows the final consumer to know exactly what are they buying.

As the use of social media for business increases, so does the need for this type of translation. As corporate videos are a quick way to reach your client/consumer, their content must be thought out and treated professionally. Machine translation will never fully convey the nuances or puns; it also fails to impart the tone (be it scathing, witty, or passionate) of the original. This is why hiring an expert audiovisual translator is always an advantage: they have expertise in a wide range of subject areas and the skills to overcome the challenges of localizing idiomatic expressions and puns.

But this issue is not exclusive to the audiovisual market: it is observed in many other areas, and must be duly addressed by the client and by the translator. Localization is often difficult, and experience dictates what must be localized. Do not leave this task in the hands of amateurs. The price to pay may be ridicule among peers and clients, making you lose potential business.