Here’s the next round-up of the LKTips we’ve been posting on our social media channels over the past months. We hope you enjoy them – and feel free to give us a follow on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter to find out more from us and keep up to date with the LKTeam!
English prefers verbs
Here’s a simple difference between German and English writing: German likes nouns, English likes verbs. Instead of habitually translating nouns with nouns, try converting them into verb forms in English to make your text sound more natural. Here’s a basic example:
– Diese Maschine ist für die Fertigung und Markierung von Schrauben bestimmt.
– This machine is designed for the production and labelling of screws.
– This machine is designed for producing and labelling screws.
Using words like “of” excessively can drag your text down, so this is also one way of cutting them out!
Carbon or CO2?
This LKTip is one we’ve talked about before, but loads of texts about the environment and sustainability this week have reminded us that it’s still a good one!
CO2 in German doesn’t have to be translated as CO2 in English – in fact, “carbon” is often the better option. Here are a few examples:
– CO2-Emissionen > carbon emissions
– CO2-Fußabdruck > carbon footprint
– CO2-Kompensation > carbon offsetting
Sometimes “CO2” is fine, but don’t automatically reach for it!
Check Your Capitalisation
If you work with German and especially if you translate technical texts, you might notice that technology names often appear in English in the source text – so let’s say your text refers to a Transcendental Electric Discombobulator. Since German Likes To Capitalise Nouns, you can’t always assume that the same capitalisation applies in English, so it’s important to check English-language sources and see what’s commonly used. If “transcendental electric discombobulator” is what pops up in most cases, go with that – the golden rule is to avoid blindly copying and pasting just because something’s in English!
Don’t leave your modifiers dangling
Today’s quick LKTip is a reminder not to dangle your modifiers, especially if you’re translating instructions:
– When starting the machine, the main menu appears.
– When you start the machine, the main menu appears.
(The menu isn’t starting the machine!)
Sicher ist sicher
Here’s an LKTip about that very word:
– The very basics: remember that “sicher” can mean “safe” OR “secure”, so keep your context in mind
– But you might also need to branch out – in many cases, products and services can be described as “sicher” in the sense of “reliable”
– And in references to a person’s skills, “sicher” could mean that someone’s performance is “confident”
Those are just a few examples – as always, remember to look beyond the basics and use dictionaries and thesauruses for options you might not have thought of!
What’s in a name?
German texts like press releases or interviews often refer to people using their title and surname: Frau Platzhalter, for instance.
– Ask yourself whether Ms Placeholder is also the best approach for the target text: the person’s full name without the form of address is often better, and even just their first name might be more appropriate depending on the tone of the text and the level of formality you need to achieve.
– Similarly, it may sound more natural in English to simply refer back to a person by their surname after their full name has been mentioned the first time.
The golden rule, as always, is that what works in German doesn’t always work in English!
Optimal isn’t optimal
German loves to describe things as “optimal” but there’s almost always something more idiomatic in English, where “optimal”/”optimum” can often be a bit stilted/sound “like a translation”. Instead of something unidiomatic like “the boiler optimally ensures warmth in the building”, try something like this, depending on what the German is saying:
– “the boiler keeps the building at the ideal temperature”
– “the boiler regulates the building temperature with maximum efficiency”
– “the highly efficient boiler maintains the right temperature in the building”
Whatever you choose, it’s always best to keep the message clear and simple.