Catalogue translation is an extremely specialised field and is in great demand among companies operating in the international field.
Catalogues allow brands to achieve a range of objectives, such as advertising products in detail and presenting an overall brand image and set of corporate values.
They may seem somewhat perfunctory, but catalogues are powerful marketing tools that need to be translated with the utmost precision.
Translating catalogues does not (only) require technical skills
Product catalogues mainly comprise a series of technical specifications inherent to a particular product or product line.
Given the use of product specifications, translating catalogues does involve some technical work, and maximum attention must be paid to the accuracy of the terminology used to describe characteristics and features, taking care to choose terms that align perfectly with the original text.
In addition to technical aspects, some catalogues also contain introductions and descriptions that serve to introduce a product range. Product specs often contain both technical data and a short description which, depending on the type of catalogue, may need to be poetic, captivating or persuasive.
To complicate matters further, it’s important to bear in mind that catalogues vary enormously from sector to sector and in most cases, they are intended for an expert audience. Manufacturing companies often use sector-specific language that is rich in nuance, something a translator must be able to master perfectly.
Using specific language and jargon can bridge the emotional gap between companies and their potential customers, which is often a decisive element when it comes to making a purchase.
(The art of) translating art catalogues
Art catalogue translations are often very demanding and are generally assigned to specialised translators.
This decision is mainly due to the fact that the art sector uses rich and complex sector-related language. Furthermore, the quality of the catalogue greatly affects the perceived quality of the products illustrated inside.
Descriptions of artworks featured in an art catalogue must convey both their meaning and the artist’s intentions, in order to involve the reader as much as possible.
Paying maximum attention to descriptive and discursive sections is incredibly important when translating art catalogues and care must be taken to convey the same “atmosphere” evoked in the original text.
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