Some music inspires listeners without a word said, but other times lyrics are the critical component to convey feelings. Songs can resonate with large audiences, but only if the intentions and meanings behind the words are understood.

One problem is that words can often be ambiguous and interpretable in many ways. The complexity of these ambiguities increases when translating words to different languages. Phrases, idioms and connotations often cannot cross language or regional barriers.

Translating meaning into different languages is already a difficult task. Having to translate meaning while keeping certain rhyming and cadences may seem impossible, but this is one of the best ways for an artist to grow their potential audience. Let’s jump into some tips for translating song lyrics.

10089657 - young asian businesswoman with headset on at her deskOriginal meaning

One of the most important parts of translating a song is making sure the original meaning stays intact. Songs often use similes and metaphors to communicate meanings without directly saying them. In the case of translation, it may be helpful to first write down the meaning of the song without any ambiguity. With a clear definition, one can start translating and thinking of metaphors in the new language.

Consult with a native speaker

Rhyming and musical cadence are not necessarily the same in all languages. The same goes for similes and metaphors. Something that seems touching or deep in one region may come off culturally awkward in another.

That’s why it is important to consult with people, preferably musically gifted people, from the desired demographic. They will have the exact knowledge you need to properly convey your meaning while keeping the lyrics musically sound.

Consider cultural differences

It can be easy to insult people without having any ill intentions whatsoever. This becomes even truer when dealing with different regions and languages. Many regions have deep, historic cultures, and certain words, phrases or concepts may have significant meanings. It’s important to research by reading insightful literature and talking with people to gain a better understanding of the regions.

Avoid literal translation

It may be tempting to do a literal translation or hire someone to do one. Unfortunately, this is going to come off very clunky. Both meanings and musical patterns will not come across, and the song will retain none of its originality.

Translating music is a particularly difficult task. Contact International Translating Company for help in translating lyrics or facilitating cross-language conversations. International Translating Company has native linguists in over 230 languages.