The Nitty Gritty

Under Blog | Posted by Richard Ochab

Translating Gritty
Gritty via Twitter.

The new mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers, Gritty, has taken over the National Hockey League, major news outlets and office coffee talk (meet Gritty).  With our global headquarters in the Philadelphia metro-area, we thought it was time to jump on the Gritty bandwagon.

One of the things that is endearing (is that the word?) about Gritty is that his name, “Gritty,” is the embodiment of an athlete that lacks talent, but makes up for it with dogged determination, courageousness and effort.  He (is Gritty a he?) has “true grit” in English.

However, how would his name translate to other languages?

We recognize that in many translations the name “Gritty” would remain as is, as opposed to the lowercase adjective of gritty, but our hope is that you’ll take this as a fun way to explore translation.

Gritty Translated

In Italian, for example, there are many words for gritty, but only one renders the most accurate description of Gritty the mascot: grintoso.  Other words, such as coraggioso (courageous), determinato (determine) and ostinato (obstinate) would all be considered synonyms for gritty, yet they are not completely accurate in this context.

In Polish, the closest translation of gritty in this context could be niezłomny, which means unshaken or firm.  However, it may not necessarily fit as the name of the mascot since it refers more to having faith or decision making.

There is not a Chinese or Korean translation for the name “Gritty.” Sometimes English names are translated into Chinese characters by following/mimicking the same pronunciations as in English.  However, many Chinese sites are keeping the mascot name “Gritty” in the English form.  While the Chinese word 坚韧不拔的 means “tough, with dogged determination,” it should not be used as the translation for the name of Gritty rather only to describe the mascot.

Similar to Chinese, names in Korean are typically transliterated on how they are pronounced, and rarely are brand names translated.  In addition, when creating a name in Korean, adjectives/adverbs are not used directly as a name per se.

Machine Translation of Gritty

Machine translation further complicates things.  The raw output of a machine translation of “Gritty” from English into Chinese might use the entirely wrong definition of “gritty.”  For instance, machine translation might translate the mascot’s name into 多砂的, which means “with lots of grit/sand,” and definitely is not accurate in this context.

This is an example of why our recommendation is that all machine translations be post-edited by a professional, human editor.

Gritty Take-Aways

By looking at ways to translate names as opposed to adjectives/adverbs there are several key take-aways:

  • Paragraph/page context accuracy is an important marker of translation quality
  • Translations can differ greatly per language and sometimes require transcreation and localization to make sense
  • Machine translations should always be post-edited by a human editor
  • Translation accuracy is best achieved by using professional, human translators and editors that are native-speakers

Thanks, Gritty!

For more information about our translation and machine translation services, please contact us at info@cetra.com or 215.635.7090.

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