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Many language providers offer English-to-Korean translation. However, even the best translator working alone cannot deliver a good job on every project. This is why a team approach is best.
To ensure that a Korean translation reads naturally, the translation and editing of English texts into Korean should be performed by native Korean speakers. However, Koreans may misunderstand obscure meanings in English. Therefore, an additional review by a native English-speaker linguist ensures the fidelity of the final product.
This article covers specific aspects of the English-to-Korean translation process. Read this short overview to understand what makes the language pair unique. You can become a knowledgeable buyer of English-to-Korean translation services.
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ENGLISH-TO-KOREAN TRANSLATION SERVICES OVERVIEW:
Get more value for your translation investment with best-practice English-to-Korean translation services!
In the Hills Along the Seomjin River
Photo by Steven S. Bammel
Along Section 14 of the Chirisan Doollae-gil (5 of 5)
ARTICLES FROM THE KOREAN TRANSLATION BEST-PRACTICES SERIES
- Translating the Korean Housing Market Stabilization Plan of December 16, 2019 into English (「12.16 주택시장 안정화 방안」을 영어로 번역한다)
- Client questions about accuracy and pricing
- Answers to Your Questions about “Korean to English”
- The Definitive Guide to Getting Results in Korea with Korean Business Cards
- Five Workflows That Leverage Korean Machine Translation
- Select the “Best” Korean Translator for Your Project
“The translation went over well. I will be in touch with more work in the near future.”Travis Murray (British International School Shanghai – Shanghai, China)
Major document types
In our English-to-Korean translation work, we come across materials in five broad subject-matter areas.
Major client segments
Both Korean and non-Korean clients make up the market for English-to-Korean translation. However, our work in this language pair is exclusively focused on non-Korean clients in the following several fields.
Non-Korean companies selling to Koreans
The Korean economy has grown dramatically over the last half century, and millions of Koreans have emigrated around the world, forming important markets in places like the US West Coast. Companies around the world seek to sell their products to these lucrative markets and require the translation of marketing materials, user manuals, legal agreements, business communication into Korean in order to develop those opportunities.
Public organizations around the world providing services to overseas Koreans
From school districts in the US with large numbers of Korean students to public welfare agencies serving Koreans overseas, the need to communicate with Koreans is everpresent. We regularly translate materials that allow these organizations to communicate key information to their constituencies.
International pharmaceutical companies doing research with Korean subjects
The Korean health care industry is well-developed, and Korean hospitals are leading participants in clinical research and patient treatment. As a result, Korean patients frequently serve as study and treatment subjects. We frequently translate patient marketing collateral, clinical trial protocols and consent forms, and research results and communications from English into Korean.
Multinational companies providing in-house training and other information to their Korea-based staff
Many multinational firms operate branch offices, subsidiaries, and manufacturing plants in Korea. They are also carrying out ethical, transparent, and globalized management practices. As a result, companies must convey important company-wide information to their Korean staff. We translate codes of conduct, messages from headquarters, company regulations, and other critical documents into Korean. Our translations allow clients to communicate effectively with their workforce in Korea.
Investment firms seeking investments from Koreans
Well-funded Korean companies, public organizations, and individuals are searching for investment opportunities overseas. Meanwhile, global financial funds and promoters need to present their opportunities to Korean investors and ask me to support their efforts. My team and I have translated many financial presentations. We are not afraid of the complicated terms and concepts. Our Korean translations draw in millions of investment dollars for our clients.
“Steven, We received the banner and posters and they look fantastic! Thank you for your patience with us, your flexibility, and the quality of work you provided for us. You, Dennis, and Catalin truly went beyond the call of duty in getting this done in such a professional and timely manner. We look forward to working with you again in the near future.”Marc Skeist and Mark Barker (Spellman High Voltage Electronics Corporation – Hauppauge, New York)
Unique translation issues
People who speak two Western languages cannot easily understand just how different Korean and English are from each other. Not only is the sentence structure different, but seemingly similar words often carry significantly different nuances. The following are three areas in which an English-to-Korean translation team must overcome the language barrier to produce Korean text that communicates in the way the original English author intended.
Levels of respect and social hierarchy
The structure of the Korean language reflects cultural concepts of rank and respect that seem to be completely absent in English. It’s not that English and Western culture don’t value these concepts; however, the emphasis is different and the language doesn’t explicitly include it. Therefore, a translator of English to Korean must first grasp the implied hierarchy in the English and create the Korean translation around that. This sometimes requires a nuanced understanding of the English, and is not something that can be taken for granted.
Sentence order transformation
English is based on a subject-verb-object word order. However, the basic Korean structure is subject-object-verb. Once all the complicated clauses and phrases are added on to create complex sentences, it can often seem that Korean text reads completely backward from English. Transforming the English sentences into Korean often requires that the translator to keep a large amount of information in short-term memory while reassembling all the parts into a new, cohesive and accurate sentence. It takes a great deal of analytical skill to pull it off, a skill that is often underestimated by those who have not actually had to practice it in a professional context.
Implied sentence elements
Just as Korean is built on structure of respect and hierarchy, so it has to leave some stuff out that is found in English. One of these ways is to leave certain sentence elements out when their meaning can be implied easily from context. This includes subjects, articles, pronouns, and plurals. While these can all be expressed in Korea (except for articles (i.e. “the,” “a,” and “an”)), their use is often restricted to cases where their inclusion is required. Since English grammar is built around including these sentence elements more frequently, the translator of English texts to Korean must be constantly balancing the need for correctness against the requirement for Korean text that reads idiomatically.
“Steven, I hope all is well. My trip was extremely successful and thoroughly enjoyable. I am falling for Korea a little (despite Korea’s best efforts to baffle me). I gave my presentation in English but offered Korean hand outs and a digital copy for those that requested one. This was seen as respectful and professional and definitely helped my cause. The service from Korean Consulting & Translation Services was outstanding. Firstly it was on time and I was regularly updated on the progress (avoiding the need to chase, which I loathe) and secondly, a Korean colleague that knows my research intimately confirmed that it was extremely accurate and helped convey my story. I would not hesitate to recommend you or use your services again. Regards, Ben”Ben Perrins (Principal, Ben Perrins Business Consulting – London, United Kingdom)
Skills and processes of the translation team
Because of the vast difference between English and Korean, the Korean-to-English translator starts the process with a larger gap to bridge than a translator between Western languages does. This means that producing a good Korean translation from English can be more difficult than other language pairs. Therefore, the following are the recommended best practices in high-quality English-to-Korean translation.
Inclusion of a native English-speaking linguist in the process
There are some grammar, terminology, and stylistic patterns that consistently confuse translators of Korean texts to English. This is why I personally handle the quality assurance step on the work that my team and I do together. With some workflows, I check the translation word for word; on others I handle the QA checks and spot check difficult passages. Either way, even working with an excellent team of linguists specialized in difficult technical translation fields, I still consistently improve the work that we deliver. We truly deliver what we say we provide and do so without taking shortcuts.
Separation of tasks
Translating English to Korean is already hard enough without also asking the translator to work through formatting issues and other distractions. We have implemented a uniform workflow that allows the translator and editor to focus only on the linguistic aspects, and to push the file preparation, QA checks, and formatting tasks to the initial and final states of the work. This badly prepared source texts are cleaned up first, and that the final concern with tags, fonts, text placement, etc. is pushed to the end, after the hard work of translation is complete.
Single native-English speaker, but Korean-linguist point of contact throughout
In our workflow, I interface directly with our non-Korean clients on every stage of the process. This ensures that nothing “gets lost in translation.” I have been working in this field now for over twenty years, on over 20,000 projects, and I have seen just about everything that could come up. I make sure expectations are aligned with you, the client, up-front, and monitor and supervise the work through final delivery. I do not make my clients deal with time-change delays, non-fluent English communications, incomplete expectation setting, delivery delays and excuses, and poor follow-up support.
“Hi Steven, Thanks again for your help with my recent project. After having several problems with other larger and well known companies I was very pleased with your fast, efficient and friendly service. The price you quoted was very competitive and it was excellent that your team also checked my website after it had been completed by my web designer. Out of all the services I have used in building my start-up business Korean Consulting and Translation Service has undoubtedly been the best in terms of professionalism and friendliness and I will definitely be using you for further work in the future.”Craig Gammack (President, Lion’s English Solutions – Dungermline, United Kingdom)
Easy and fast translation workflow for you
English-to-Korean translation is one of the two language pairs under the category of “Korean translation” that my team handles (the other being Korean-to-English translation). As described above, there are many challenges to doing a good job, and based on long experience, I ensure that we consistently deliver to our clients exactly what we promise, even as I provide ongoing and readily accessible client support.
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