Do’s and Don’ts When Translating Songs

Do’s and Don’ts When Translating Songs

(Last Updated On: September 11, 2020)

Music and Translation:

There are a few things that cannot be stopped by man-made borders. But even if two people can communicate with each other through the internet despite the physical distance between them, they will have to do something about the linguistic barrier. However, there are some things that can affect everyone despite the linguistic barrier, and music is the best example of this. Over the years, many musicians have inspired foreigners. It is not only the music itself that helps singers connect with their audience but also their voice and the passion with which they sing. But this doesn’t mean that songs cannot or should not be translated. Many songs ended up becoming more iconic after they were translated and sung by foreign singers.

Translation services are important for all of us in different ways. Some of us need it for individual conversations, while others turn to it to get help with immigration. No one can deny the importance of translation and the role it plays in our lives. From business and healthcare to legal and education, it is important for every industry, and it brings positive changes in our lives every day. It has also made it possible for people to enjoy foreign movies and TV shows. But not everything can come with subtitles. And when it comes to songs, people want to be able to enjoy the melody and lyrics and not have to read the translation on the screen at all times. Fortunately for us, there is a solution, and that is the translation of songs.

Music and Translation
translating songs

Do’s and Don’ts When Translating Songs:

Translation is a complicated process in itself, but it becomes even more difficult when it has to deal with poetry and lyrics. There are some things about poetry that cannot be translated as it is. They also have a rhythm that might get lost in translation. A lot of things need to be considered when getting the translation of a song. Linguistic experts need to understand which practices they should follow and which ones they should avoid completely.

Things to Do:

Here’s what you should do when translating songs:

  1. Keep the Singability:

The one aspect of a song that it should never lose is its singability. It is the aspect of the song that makes it easier for an artist to sing it. It is the phonetic suitability of the resulting text. If the lyrics lose this feature, then the result will be prose and not the kind of poetry that can be sung. The linguistic expert must keep the melody in mind and make sure the text matches it.

  1. Rhyme:

Another important feature of lyrics is rhyming. If the lyrics aren’t rhyming, then they will just be sentences. No artist will be able to sing lyrics if they don’t rhyme. Although not all the lyrics rhyme, some of them do. A qualified linguistic expert will be able to figure out which rhymes to keep and which to lose.

  1. Naturalness:

One thing that can get lost in translation is the naturalness of a song. If the linguistic expert decides to do a literal translation, then the result will not be a natural flow of sentences. The singer will have trouble using the lyrics in a song. And even if a song is created, the listeners will not be able to enjoy it.

  1. Keep the Meaning of the Original Text:

It is important to keep the meaning of the original text. A linguistic expert might get carried away while writing the lyrics. Although they don’t have to translate the text word to word, they must keep its meaning; otherwise, it will become a new song.

Things to Avoid:

In their attempt to be accurate, linguistic experts can make a lot of mistakes. They need to understand that entertainment content is different from official documents. This is what they should avoid while translating songs:

  1. Literal Translation:

Avoid translating the text literary at all costs. It is better to keep in mind that the text you have can be sung. The resulting text should also have this feature. But if you go for literal meaning, you won’t be able to achieve the desired results.

  1. Ignoring the Melody:

There are situations when the translation is needed only as a subtitle because people are familiar with the melody. In such situations, ignoring the melody is okay. But when the resulting text has to be sung by an artist, then you cannot ignore its melody. You must make sure that the words you have written sync with the melody that was composed by the original artist.

  1. Keeping Idioms and Cultural References:

Your job is pretty much explaining the lyrics to the target audience in their language without losing the rhymes and the rhythm. But you can’t do that if you keep the cultural references of the original text. You must replace them with culturally appropriate references. Idioms should also be changed according to the target audience’s needs.

Translating something as complex as songs can be very difficult, but those who have been handling such tasks for years know just how to do it properly. They understand the problems and can come up with the right solutions. These are the people who make it possible for others to enjoy entertainment content, regardless of its original language. They assist us in getting over the linguistic barrier and enjoy songs created by our favorite artists.

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