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Does sarcasm translate?

We’ve all made that sarcastic remark from time to time and in fact it is a very British characteristic which you don’t usually notice until you’re not around British people, as I have found out on a couple of occasions.sarcasm

This time, I was texting someone from Germany and slotted in a remark, which actually wasn’t intended as sarcasm, however he misinterpreted it as such and said how he didn’t think it translated very well in a message.

It made me think – despite the amount of emoticons now available on messaging systems, how some messages just don’t translate. They are designed to work in person.

In this case, it didn’t have a major impact on our communication because it was all taken with a bit of humour, however it’s not always like that. That joke surrounded by winking faces may be all too easily misunderstood and people can take offence very easily.

Why is it that some things just don’t come out the same in a text message as opposed to in person? Surely we are capable of communicating our message regardless of the means. Texting was invented for short messages, and even though it’s come so far since then, it’s primary goal is still to get across a simple message.

Since then smartphones have made messaging through social media much easier and more geared up for longer messages with as many smileys or winking faces as you like!

Perhaps then it’s not about failing to communicate properly, it’s about picking the right way to talk. Maybe if I’d messaged my German friend on Facebook I wouldn’t have got into a pickle. It seems like a trivial point but then we have different styles of communicating depending on the purpose.

Just like you wouldn’t generally email to tell a friend you’re running late, you’d give them a call or a text. Then again there’s something behind the idea of moving communication offline as being a turning point in a relationship or friendship. Why? Maybe it feels more personal, you have a direct line to that person, not just a social media profile.

So then cutting between two different methods can be confusing and a bit haphazard. You want some consistency with that person, not several messages by text, then a Snapchat and an email. That’s a surefire way of trying to confuse someone!

Maybe now we have too much choice, we don’t appreciate the purpose of each method of communication as much. We have a contact number, so we text. Or we have no WiFi access, so we call. It’s a case of using the easiest way at that present moment, rather than the most appropriate.

For accurate translations and to relay the exact message contact us at Lingua Translations:

Does sarcasm translate?
Article Name
Does sarcasm translate?
In our digital era, are there still things that will only translate in person?

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About Sharon Stephens

Sharon Stephens is Operations Director of Lingua Translation. With a First Class Honours Degree in Translation and a University Lecturer in Translation (Masters), she is a self confessed language geek! Bringing the academic principles of translation and business together Sharon offers a quality-driven and needs centric translation and interpreting service - like no other.

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