"The original is unfaithful to the translation."
Jorge Luis Borges
I was born and raised in Argentina and when I was about 8 years old a new film came out around Christmas time: it was called: “Mi Pobre Angelito” ("My poor little angel") and it was about a little kid left at home while his family took off for a Christmas vacation.
Several years later I moved to the USA for college and while I was celebrating Thanksgiving at a friend’s house with her family, she asked me if I’ve ever seen the movie: “Home Alone”. I literally translated in my mind the name of the film into Spanish to realize it wasn’t a film I have seen but when I started watching it I soon found out she was talking about: “Mi Pobre Angelito”.
Less than 10 years after I moved again, this time to Italy, and by the time my first child was about five years old he came home from school one day saying he wanted to watch: “Mamma, ho perso l’aereo!”. I told him it was a great idea even though I haven’t seen that movie before but once again, I was shocked when I sat down with him and started watching “Mi Pobre Angelito”.
I’ve always wondered why movie titles were, most of the time, not translated literally from the original name and when I started learning about localization and adapting content to different cultures the answer became clear: it just doesn't make sense!
I haven’t studied localization in a formal setting but the more I look into it the more confident I feel saying that it has been a part of my life since I moved away from my country for the first time about 20 years ago. Since then I had to adapt to a culture and honestly, the language was just one part of the adjustment and usually the easiest one.
Even when I moved from a Spanish-speaking country (Argentina) to another Spanish-speaking country (Spain and Peru), I had a harder time adapting than I had when moving to Brazil, the USA or Italy in which the language was not Spanish.
I do believe new technology for translation is fantastic. This website and my Sportlinx360 website are in 3 different languages (English, Spanish and Italian) and I use a translator to get the first draft but then I go into each page and modify the sentences or even full paragraphs to get the "meaning" I want to communicate with the audience that page has been created for.
Travel, experience, get out there and try to learn from other cultures, other ways of thinking. Be a global citizen and get your own translation of this world.