German Translation Services
Whether you are looking for a German translation for something technical, legal or medical, or simply a letter, we can help you.
We will equip you with knowledge and methods, enabling you to communicate in the correct written German form, whether you are targeting an audience in Austria or Berlin, we can help. Remember not to pick the wrong one!
We offer a professional German to English and English to German language translation service, and more. Here is some information which you will find useful as the German language is full of interesting facts and essential tips when you are looking to communicate effectively in German speaking countries.
Location: Western Europe
Population: 80 million
Language Family: Germanic
Related Languages: Dutch, English, Flemish, Afrikaans, Luxembourgish
Number of Global Speakers: 95 to 100 million as mother tongue (13.3% of all Europeans)
German Speaking Countries
- Variations of German
Getting a document translated into German is not as simple as it sounds – there are many different varieties of German and selecting a translator who can work into a specific dialect is of paramount importance depending on your target audience.
Variations of German
Each country where German is spoken has its own regional variations and dialects which must be taken into account when having your document translated. The three major standard versions are German German, Austrian German and Swiss German. To get a rough idea of how they differ, you could compare the differences between these variations of German to the language variations that occur between the English spoken in England, Ireland and Wales.
Due to the country’s shared political and cultural history with Germany, Austrian German remains relatively close to the standard German spoken in Germany, with any differences mainly being in vocabulary. Some words used in Austria include Jänner instead of Januar for January, Stiege instead of Treppe for stairs and Erdäpfel instead of Kartoffeln for potatoes.
Swiss German is a little more different, and people from Germany have more difficulty understanding it. This is due to Switzerland’s political separation from Germany and the influence of French (as Switzerland is a multilingual country). The main difference is that the use of local dialects is a lot more widespread, which historically dates back to the Second World War, when speaking German became unfashionable due to its associations with Nazism. With regards to written Swiss German, “ss” is used instead of the German “ß”.
- Use a German Translator, because you can’t ‘just get it translated’ by anyone
A successful German translator or interpreter needs to have a comprehensive and expert knowledge of their own language, and as you can see from the above information, it’s not at all easy! This is why German and interpreters and translators at Lingua Translations are qualified to at least degree level, have at least five years’ professional experience and must show proof that they have expertise in their chosen field. They also only translate into their native language and must be living in-country, because this is the only way of ensuring that they keep completely up to date with the conventions of modern language. Contact us today and one of our Project Managers will be happy to advise you on your German translation and interpreting requirements.
- What about the REALLY long words?
Oh, you mean like ‘Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz’? That means ‘the law for the delegation of monitoring beef labelling’, if you were interested.
And what about ‘Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften’? That’s ‘insurance companies providing legal protection’ to you and I.
German grammar allows for words to be strung together to form one longer word when there is a need to add a new word or concept to the lexicon. To some extent, this trait exists in a multitude of languages, but the German language tends to employ this method more than most. There are certain words in German that would be divided into four or five separate words in English, which can obviously be somewhat problematic for a translator.
- Differences between German and English that affect translation
There are many differences between German and English in terms of word order, punctuation and choice of tense which can present translation difficulties even for experienced translators.
• German does not have a continuous tense form, and so with a sentence like Ich fahre mit meinem Fahrrad, many fall into the trap of saying ‘I ride my bicycle’ instead of ‘I am riding my bicycle’, for example.
• Germans also use the present simple where the English would use the future, leading to problems such as with a sentence like Ich sage dir Bescheid, wann wir uns sehen können, which literally translates as ‘I tell you when we see each other’, instead of ‘I will tell you when we see each other’.
• Similarly, in spoken German, it is typical to use the present perfect to talk about things that have occurred in the past. Whereas in English you might say, ‘I went to school’, in German this would become Ich bin zur Schule gegangen, or literally ‘I have gone to school’, which could cause potential confusion if literally translated this way.
• Nouns in German are always capitalised. Were this aspect of the language translated into English, it would appear that random words had been capitalised for no reason. What would you think if you saw a sentence like, ‘I take the Bus to School every day’? You may think that there must be some kind of importance attached to the bus and the school, which could cause a lot of confusion!
• There are also a lot of punctuation differences between English and German. There are two different types of speech mark, one of which tends to be used in writing, newspapers and printed documents and looks „like this”, and the other of which is used in modern books and looks «like this».
• German is a lot stricter with the use of commas. Whereas in English, they tend to be used wherever a natural pause in speech might occur, in German there are more clearly defined rules about when to use them. For example, commas must be inserted between main and subordinate clauses, even where English wouldn’t have a comma. For example, ‘He was young but he was clever’ would become Er war jung, aber er war schlau.
• German word order can be very complicated. Depending on the situation, the verb can come in the same position as in English, or it gets moved to the end of the sentence. Knowing where to position the verb in the sentence takes a lot of knowledge and experience!
- Where is it spoken?
German is an official language in seven countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and parts of Italy and Belgium). It is also one of the official languages of the European Union. As well as those German speakers living in Europe, there are around 5 million native speakers of German living in the US and 1.5 million native speakers in Brazil. As German is the most widely spoken language in the European Union, and the language has a strong worldwide presence, German translators and interpreters are constantly in demand and there is a constant flow of translation and interpreting work.
Germany has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over 2.7 trillion euros and is the largest economy in Europe. As one of the fi