In our increasingly globalized society, language remains a stubborn barricade dividing the world.
On one hand, technology shortens the distances that separate us. At the same time, culture continues molding customers more than anything else. English may be the world language for business, but locals prefer their native tongue.
This is why, for companies looking to expand to and from Finland, translation is essential. English to Finnish translation opens the doors to a stable, developed Nordic economy. Conversely, many companies need to translate Finnish to English to grow internationally.
Below, we’ll review the main reasons to translate English to Finnish and vice versa. We’ll then examine the importance of native translation, and common difficulties.
Why Translate English to Finnish
If you’re taking your company to Finland, to translate English to Finnish should be your priority. Even in Helsinki, where most people speak English, average customers prefer Finnish content.
This may seem like a troublesome hurdle at first. It’s a relatively small cost compared with the considerable potential upside, though. Gaining a foothold in a new market is always a boon—especially in one of the world’s most robust economies.
Finnish Economy & Opportunities
Abutted between Russia, Norway, and Sweden, Finland tops global ranks for economic freedom. The country has a competitive corporate tax rate and extremely open markets. Foreign investment is more than welcome in the nation, providing more opportunities for English to Finnish translations.
For years, authorities in the country have worked towards deregulating foreign investment. In fact, foreign capital can qualify for financing aid, including low-interest long-term loans. It doesn’t get much more welcoming than that.
This formerly agrarian nation is now a dynamic, industrialized environment. For business, it’s full of exciting, untapped opportunities. Finns enjoy a per capita GDP comparable to the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. The average household commands an ample disposable income.
As a member of the Eurozone since 2002, the country enjoys the low volatility of a hard currency. Unusually for a European nation, ecommerce is still in its early stages in the country. Consistent annual growth is expected for years to come. There’s over 90% mobile market penetration.
Many key sectors of the economy are wide open for investment, welcoming English to Finnish translations. These range from software and telecom to travel, B2B, and consumer services. Emergent market growth in a country with developed infrastructure and political stability. That’s a rare combination.
Finnish Culture & Society
Finns are a fascinating people, with a unique culture and more than 10,000 years of history. For eons, they were a quiet, agricultural society. In the Middle Ages, the nation underwent centuries of oppressive Swedish rule. It went on up until the 18th century.
This period separated the population from much of their heritage. At the same time, it fueled renewed pride in regional traditions, starting in the 19th century. It’s the likely root of the marked local preference for their mother tongue above any other.
Curiously, that preference doesn’t extend to customer brand loyalty. Finns have a taste for foreign producers and brands, favoring businesses from overseas. This trend is particularly strong when it comes to ecommerce.
This unique combination makes English to Finnish translation a particularly effective strategy. It’s a very open society with a penchant for goods of exotic provenance, who respond best to their native tongue.
Beyond this angle, Finn culture and society have many attractive attributes for investors. It’s one of the best places in the world for women to live, as far as wages, rights, & political representation go. The population is highly literate*, courteous and polite.
Why Translate Finnish to English
Businesses on the other side of things have just as many reasons to translate Finnish to English. Successful companies in this relatively small nation naturally seek growth beyond its borders.
For most such businesses, their products, marketing and content will need extensive translation. English, as the world’s default language for business, is the most obvious choice. Furthermore, certain industries in the country can perceive significant benefits from translation.
Technology is an incredible driving force for the modern Finnish economy. Many singular tech developments in the past few decades took place on Finn soil. From the classic Nokia phone to Rovio’s “Angry Birds”, the nation is a tech epicenter.
The country is a producer in many tech-based industries, from foundational web technologies, like SSH protocols, to high-end hardware for DJs. There are dozens of tech giants in Finland, as well as hundreds of startups. To them, English to Finnish translation and vice versa isn’t a bonus, but a necessity.
Countless technical manuals for some of the world’s most advanced tools are in Finnish. This basically “locks up” valuable new tools behind a language barrier. As a consequence, their reach is significantly limited. After all, only about five million people speak Finnish globally.
It’s a stark comparison with the more than 1.2 billion English speakers all over the world. By translating Finnish to English, tech companies can reach hundreds of millions of people with the exact same product. It’s too good an opportunity to pass up.
Taking a successful local tech project into the global economy is easier now than ever before. Finns enjoy a very positive reputation in the digital economy. Through translation, companies can leverage that respect in untapped new markets.
Finnish Industry & Service
The industrial and service sectors are the two pillars of the national economy. Industry in the country comprises metals, chemicals, forestry, and food. Services, spanning everything from commerce to tourism, account for three out of every four jobs.
The industrial sector already has a vastly outward-facing focus. Production is overwhelmingly sold overseas. In fact, more than 90% of port traffic consists of exported industrial goods. This creates a permanent need to translate Finnish to English. From product labels and descriptions to entire catalogs.
On the other hand, the service sector towers over all other sectors in terms of scope and importance. Like in most developed nations, service sector output dominates the Finnish economy. However, local service-sector businesses haven’t yet cracked global markets.
Indeed, capitalizing on the open borders of the global digital economy is a pending item in the national economic agenda*. Many Finn service companies are looking to compete in an international setting, but few have found the way.
Both for these trailblazers and for companies hoping to imitate their success, translation is crucial. Effective translation allows service sector companies to reuse existing promotional or technical materials. This greatly simplifies the process of globalizing a business or brand.
Linguistic Nuance in English to Finnish Translation
Whether you need to translate English to Finnish, or the other way around, linguistic nuance is key. In order to achieve effective communication, you can’t simply shove content into an automated translator. A machine is simply incapable of capturing the complexities of language.
Culture & Context
Both culture and context play a core role in a successful translation. English and Finnish writing both come from unique cultural perspectives, which need to be accounted for.
For instance, English can be considerably warmer than Finnish. A literal translation of a Finn conversation may read cold or dry to an English audience. That same exchange, taken literally from English to Finnish, may seem disingenuously warm to Finn audiences.
In addition, common idiomatic phrases exist within unique cultural contexts. Only an experienced translator can accurately take each phrase within context. Gauging the most appropriate equivalent for target audiences is no simple task. Translating from English to Finnish requires intimate knowledge of both cultures.
Word-for-word vs Sense-for-sense translations
Another decisive element in a perfect English to Finnish translation is an age-old debate. Word-for-word vs sense-for-sense. For instance, with automated translations, you’ll generally receive a somewhat-accurate word-for-word translation.
Every part of a sentence will be translated right, but as a whole, it won’t make much sense. Awkward wordings and very abstract expressions will be completely lost. That said, specific circumstances may need a literal approach, such as legal documents.
Almost everywhere else, though, sense-for-sense is the most useful and desirable approach. It’s also an area where humans still have a definitive edge over machines.
Common Pitfalls in English to Finnish Translation
When trying to take content from English to Finnish (or the other way around), companies often make certain common mistakes. Each is harmful to their marketing efforts in different ways.
By far the most common issue with most English to Finnish commercial translation is using automated solutions. In recent years, automation has become an increasingly important tool. It’s rapidly worked its way into almost every aspect of modern business operations.
Nevertheless, there are certain areas in which machines simply aren’t capable of performing at human level. Professional-level translation is one of them.
Language is an unfathomably complex subject. It exists at the intersection of culture, context, geography and intention. To get accurate, poignant results, you need real, human translators. It’s the only way to capture the emotion and intent of the original content and documents.
Another critical mistake companies make when seeking translations is opting for non-native options. There’s a difference between an English speaker, and a native English speaker. The same goes for Finnish speakers.
There’s an entire dimension of cultural references and milieu to any language. Native speakers have a natural access to that background, and a connection to it. It allows them to have a much more intimate and effective rapport with local audiences.
Conversely, non-native translations stand out to local customers as unnatural or disconnected. It’s harder for them to resonate, and they may fail to communicate the emotional core of the original.