Should we translate neologisms?

Crowfunding, hipster, friki, wearable, cookies, coworking. There are many examples of such words and they are all around us. We can find them in restaurant bills, in advertising, in technology, in the list of services at a beauty centre and in countless other situations. Neologisms are inevitable, constantly appearing and part of the natural evolution of any language. So, should we translate them? Let us explain.

Neologisms have their detractors, those who think that they harm the integrity of the language or that, simply, it is ridiculous to use a word from another language when there is a perfectly good word in their own language. They also have their fans, those who believe that neologisms are part of the richness of a language and are natural. Some people also think that not translating them is a good marketing strategy.

Translation companies often need to consider whether or not to translate neologisms. Translation and marketing need each other. The service sector provides a lot of work for translation professionals and translation is in turn a good marketing strategy, for example with the translation of blogs or newsletters  published by a company.

One of the reasons for choosing not to translate neologisms is the pressure to be fashionable and follow the latest trends. Most of us like things that are different, that sound great and attract our attention. In Spain, for example, people like to go to places that are pet-friendly, talk to the restaurant maitre and buy a gift voucher for a mall, despite there being Spanish words for these things. This can be a compelling reason to not translate neologisms used in the names of services or products that are new to the market or that already exist.

However, leaving aside this reason, which we could argue is a little frivolous, there are more practical arguments. In the tourism sector, foreigners may feel more comfortable with a text if they see words in their own language and this could help them understand it a little better. Not translating neologisms can help simplify things, as several languages can use the same word for the same product or service. Of course, those who argue against globalisation will hate this idea.

The debate on the translation of neologisms in service companies is always going to exist, due to their very nature. If your company is in the service sector and you are thinking about the best marketing strategy through translation, Okodia would be delighted to help you.