Three common and seemingly harmless terms pose a challenge when translating fashion material into Swedish. You’ll never guess which, so here they are:
Yes, we have the same word in Swedish, but with a more specific meaning.
In English, “smock dress” is often used to describe something like this:
However, a Swedish customer will expect a smock dress to look like this:
In Swedish, “smock” refers to a special kind of pleating, or smocking, found on certain clothes, nothing else.
Pleated skirts like the one in the picture below made a huge comeback a few years ago, and that’s when Swedes learned the English word “pleated”.
And that’s why many Swedish translators will use a very specific word, “plisserad”, when translating “pleated”. However, a “pleated skirt”, in English, might just as well look like this:
The translator must choose between several different words when translating “pleated”, depending on the look of the garment.
While it’s easy enough to translate goat suede, pig suede, etc., the literal translation of cow suede happens to be identical with the word for something completely different, also produced by cows:
Not a nice image to get in your head when you are contemplating that fancy handbag, is it? Well, luckily, there are ways to get around this. The best option might be to simply omit ”cow”.
Why correct terms are important
But what if a couple of words are mistranslated – is that really a problem? There will always be a photo so that the customer can see what the item looks like before buying, even if the translation should be misleading.
True, but you’ll want the customers to feel that your site is reliable, that they are in good hands, that you know the business.
And that is also why you should insist on providing the translator with images of your products. This will increase the quality of the translation enormously, as the translator can describe exactly what he or she sees. It should be a basic requirement, really, but many translation agencies do not want the hassle of asking the client for visuals, so they simply tell the translators to do their best. Therefore, you can increase your ROI for translation a great deal by simply providing some photos.