- Posted by Stephen Whiteley
- On 18/09/2019
Obtaining quality translation into Catalan is not as easy as you think
To obtain quality translation into Catalan, you must know that Catalan and Spanish are the official languages of the Catalonia region. Catalan, however, is the most widely used of the two languages. It is spoken on the streets, at home, in the school, at the workplace, used as the working language in the regional government, and universities. This is particularly true outside Barcelona, the region’s capital.
The reality is, Catalan lies at the core of the Catalonian identity and any serious business wishing to succeed or expand into the region will have to localize their content.
According to intercat.cat, about 9 million people speak Catalan and 11 million understands it. This makes it one of the languages with a larger number of speakers in the Iberian peninsula.
Here are things to keep in mind localizing your content into Catalan in order to obtain the best quality translation.
Firstly, Catalan is different from Spanish
Though, this can be quite confusing, especially, if you are not familiar with both languages. However, the fact is, Catalan is a stand-alone language from Spanish with its own fully developed grammar rules, style and syntax.
All though both languages originated from Latin just as other Romance languages, Catalan is closer to other Romance languages such as Italian and French than it is to Spanish.
Catalan: formal or informal?
The level of formality plays a role in determining the voice of the brand. Do you want to sound more formal or project a laidback brand to the target audience?
Catalan has levels of formality. The formal (second person, ‘Vosté’ often referred to as the classic voice). And the informal (second person, ‘Tu’ which is popular on social media).
If your organization is in the Business-to-consumer space using the informal variant, ‘Tu’ might work better than the formal ‘Vosté’ form.
Keep in mind too that the form of the address you opt for will impact the terms of morphology and lexical structure. This includes verb declensions and term inflexions.
So, if your audience is primarily B2B, using the ‘Vosté’ form works fine.
Grammar is flexible
Though the Catalan language uses the subject-verb-object structure, it is also flexible in certain instances. This is a considerable difference from the English language.
Also, the language differentiates between masculine and feminine forms, and between singular and plural forms. For example, the word “new” can be translated into either the feminine or masculine variant “Nova” or “Nou” respectively. Or into its plural forms “Noves” or “Nous.”
Hence, in this case, the Catalan language is flexible, especially if the word is a stand-alone term with no context.
Other things to consider in translation into Catalan
In the past, loanwords were more restricted in Catalan. The language is now more open to new words, especially in technology.
However, most of these foreign terms become Catalan to reflect the local style. One instance is the term on social media, Tweet, which becomes “tuit.”
In Catalan words like “software” are left as is. Terms like “hashtag” (‘etiqueta’) and “trending topic” (‘tema del moment’) are controversial. There is so far no consensus on the localized version.