Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Using the right words

When people first find out that I speak more than one language, I often get asked "Don't you get confused?"

It's as if the fact that I speak two languages is a hardship. Actually, quite the opposite is true. It's a gift. Having a second vocabulary opens up the world to me, it doesn't shrink it.

I admit, when I was a kid, I did sometimes mix my languages.
Notice I didn't say mix UP.
I combined them not, because I was confused, but because I was choosing just the right word that fit the meaning I wanted to convey. And sometimes that word happened to be in a different language than the one I started my sentence in!
Luckily, my parents pretty quickly made it clear: "Finish your sentence in the same language you started it in!" It was another exercise in finding the right word in the particular language I was speaking in.

Now, some languages are just more precise in certain concepts than others are. Take the Inuit who have over 200 words for our word "snow," describing all its different facets.

So what does this have to do with Voice Over?
A lot actually.
As a voice over artist, I work with words every day.
All types of words: silly words, sales words, medical words, technical words. They all convey a meaning.

My job is to bring that meaning to life.
As voice talent, we're not just reading, we're telling a story, and to do that well you need the right words.

This is not as obvious as it seems, especially when you're dealing with a script that was translated incorrectly.

I often record bilingual scripts - one version of the script in English, the second in French. Sometimes the translations leave something to be desired.

So here's my advise: If you need to have a script translated, use a professional translator.

Do not use "Sophie in HR" who happens speak French. Or "Maria in A/R" who happens to speak Spanish.

I speak French fluently, but when it comes to translations, if a client asks me for that service, I provide it by working closely with a professional translator to make sure that my client gets the best and most accurate script possible.

Yes, it makes my voicing of the script a lot easier.
But, more importantly, using the right words will make my client look and sound good to their clients. And happy clients are always a good thing!


Some Audio Guy said...

So funny,
It really speaks to how mono-linguistic we've become as "melting pot" Americans, that people would worry about being confused by "all the extra words" in your head. Kinda like 'Amedeus', "Just too many notes".

The translation tips are excellent. I can't tell you how many Spanish Radio spots I've had to audition off of babelfish translations. Bad news...

Liz de Nesnera said...

Thanks for stopping by!
If only I were as talented as Mozart! ;-)

OH! I agree, those computer translations are the WORST!!!! Computers are great, but just like VO, translation is as much art as science, and machines haven't "quite" gotten there yet! ;-)