Best Practices

Translating Environmental Content from English into Spanish for Greater Impact

Environmental content has always been relevant. Today, it is more than vital. You cannot afford the luxury of a weak translation. The target text must be as compelling, clear, and impactful as the source. Your translated text needs to be as moving as the original, if not more. Let us hope the original has what it takes.
Romina C. Cinquemani
8 min
Table of Contents

Environmental content has always been relevant. Today, it is more than vital. You cannot afford the luxury of a weak translation. The target text must be as compelling, clear, and impactful as the source. Your translated text needs to be as moving as the original, if not more. Let us hope the original has what it takes.

Proficiency in Earth Sciences

Besides bilingual skills, scientific translation requires a background in the specific subject matter. If not a formal profession, topic training and extensive research are certainly crucial. Therein lies the rub. In Environmental translation, there are many important things at stake, and greater impact might engage deeper commitment to change.

You are dealing with scientific terminology, from garden variety solar panels to more complex concepts. Your background research should include knowledge of environmental issues, sources of information regarding specific regulations, and sustainability principles.

There is a fair chance that many terms in the technical jargon do not have a direct equivalent in Spanish. You have to get as close as possible. If necessary, provide short but accurate references for clarification purposes.

Always keep monolingual glossaries at hand for context and definitions. This will prove useful when facing deeper and less common concepts.

Localization More than Ever

This area involves global issues, but each region and country have their own part of the problem. Meaning, environmental issues change from one place to another. And, so does the way each country speaks and writes about the subject.

Each country has different geographies, priorities, and environmental concerns. Their approach to sustainability may vary as well. In order to resonate with your target audience, you need to be aware of these differences, and tailor the contents accordingly.

Team Effort

To complement the translator’s subject matter knowledge, collaboration between translators, experts, and environmental organizations is the smartest approach. Experts can check and make sure that the content conforms to up to date environmental standards and practices. You need to uphold integrity and promote credibility. This team effort will help you achieve exactly that.

Combined Resources

Visual and practical examples are useful to illustrate the current environmental state of affairs. Therefore, your source text might include local examples, case studies, figures, and statistics. Make sure to translate all the data accurately and localize format. You should work closely with designers to make sure that charts, graphics, and illustrations help transmit the message seamlessly. This will reinforce the main message, narrative or call to action. Words and images combined should make the content more relatable and engaging.

Adequate Tone for Each Goal

Not all environmental messages focus on the same goal. They are probable aimed at quite different readers. And they seek diverse kinds of responses. As said before, they can range from informative and educational narratives to urgent calls to action. Hence, the tone used in both source and target contents must adapt to the actual goal and audience. For example, a scientific summary about global warming with figures and data should be quite formal. And a call to action directed to young people can be more casual and informal.

A Powerful Voice in a Sea of Repetition

No one can be left out of environmental messages, and this kind of public concerns. There is more to achieving greater impact than what can be done through wording, tone, and visual aids. Your task as a translator includes trying to make the content readable to diverse audiences, regardless of literacy levels or disabilities. You can apply several resources to achieve enhanced readability: simpler language, adapted formats, and guarantying the use of technologies.

If they consider and apply all these tools, translators have a better shot at sending a powerful message that actually reaches the target audience, raises awareness, and calls to action effectively. Getting more attention than the source content itself would be the icing on the cake.

Romina C. Cinquemani
Spanish translator, writer, language lover, and constant life apprentice.
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