Our job is not to take the place of the creatives who imagine and design these layouts, but rather to recognize the creative intent that has met the customer's needs and make it as relevant as possible, whatever the target market. For us, content is visual and graphic material, that conveys a message in its form, always in line with our client's brand image.
The visual experience of words
If graphic adaptation had to be summed up in a few words, they would probably be these: while our language managers are busy producing texts that are as natural as possible for a native speaker, our graphic designers are dedicated to conveying the customer's message beyond the words, from the very first glance at the publication.
Some languages can be tricky, especially translations into Asian languages and Arabic. Rather than creating a "bizarre" adaptation of the source text with no real meaning, it's sometimes better to keep things simple. In the luxury sector, the Arabic or Chinese reader may look favorably on untranslated graphic elements: it will be perceived as a "made in France" signature.
From a more "microtypographic" point of view, for European languages, it's in the "fine-tuning" of the text that a good adaptation is made. When translating into German, for example, we'll make hyphenation compulsory for justified running text, as this language is fond of long words, and these words support hyphenation very well. The German reader is used to these settings and doesn't notice them: reading remains fluid regardless of the number of hyphenations. This is also why we work hand-in-hand with our language managers to fine-tune these graphic adaptations.
Our ambition is to create our own typographic codes for our main working languages, thus linking the constraints of language, content and container.
On the shoulders of our designers
We gradually create these codes to set down on paper the rules specific to the world of "beautiful printed matter" in the target countries, and also the deviations to be accepted, the cultural habits in the field of graphic design. These working documents are not an exact science, but a bias that we want to share with our customers and validate with their subsidiaries. Always with the idea of transcending content, for all language adaptations.
These codes inform both macrotypographic rules (the overall appearance of the translated document) and microtypographic rules (affecting reading comfort). If we take the example of hyphenation for German, we agreed with our linguistic managers to adopt it to avoid the appearance of sometimes large white zones between words. Without hyphenation, the text is visually uninviting, as if stained by these empty spaces. In addition to the visual work, we make sure that the reader can savor every word. That's what makes the job of graphic adaptation so difficult, but it's also what makes it so rewarding, and a challenge we love to take up!