Customer Experience

Exploring the Different English to Portuguese Translation Services

Discover the different English to Portuguese translation services and ensure you have a plan to translate your content into Portuguese accurately and efficiently.

Jessica Rivera's avatar
Jessica Rivera

December 14, 2022


With over 250 million speakers, Portuguese ranks among the top ten most spoken languages worldwide. The official language of nine countries, it opens up a wealth of opportunities in Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia. But before you can reach these audiences, you need to translate your content.

Translating English to Portuguese: What Are Your Options?

Advances in technology have made translation faster and more affordable than ever. In fact, technology has come so far that translation buyers are left with a dilemma: which method is best for a project? Below is a brief overview of six common methods along with the pros and cons of each.

  • Human translation. As the name states, professional translators are hired to adapt text into Portuguese. Because they have in-depth knowledge of the language and culture, they can produce the most accurate translations. However, this method is more expensive than others.
  • Neural machine translation. This type of machine translation (MT) uses artificial neural networks to generate passages of translated text. It’s fast, affordable, and can be performed with free tools such as Google Translate. Yet despite advances in technology, it’s still less accurate than human translation.
  • Translation API. This programmatic interface integrates NMT into your website to publish Portuguese content. It automatically submits new content to your translation vendor, so your website stays up-to-date. However, it does have infrastructure requirements that require IT support.
  • Translation proxy. This is a set of integrated technologies that instantly serve a localized website. It’s easier to use than an API because it doesn’t need to be configured for your system. The drawback is that it can slow down your website’s load time.
  • CMS connector. This is a preconfigured interface developed by your translation service provider. It integrates translation connectors, plugins, and APIs with your CMS. A connector gives you full creative control over translations and makes them easier to manage, but it’s more expensive than an API or proxy.
  • Hybrid translation. This combines the speed of machine translation with the knowledge of professional Portuguese translators. MT is used for content that doesn’t require as high of a degree of accuracy (e.g., customer reviews). And human translators adapt content that is either brand-sensitive and/or must be error-free. This allows you to balance costs and time constraints with the need for high-quality translation.

Now that you know more about your options, let’s take a look at some common translation projects and the key considerations for each.

Portuguese Website Translation and Localization

Website translation involves adapting the site's written text from one language into another. Localization, on the other hand, involves adapting the entire website to the local language and culture of the target market. This may include:

  • Translating content to the local language.
  • Altering images and other design elements.
  • Adjusting page layouts
  • Changing time and date formats, address formats, currency, and units of measurement.

Here are a few other factors to consider when translating English to Portuguese:

  • Language variations. There are three major dialects of language: European Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, and African Portuguese. Each one has variations in vocabulary, grammar, and cultural norms. You should always choose the dialect that matches the target market.
  • Text length. A Portuguese translation can be up to 30% longer than the original English text. For example, “Portuguese translation service” translates to “serviço de tradução português”. This means you may need to adjust the formatting to ensure there is enough space for the text.
  • Headlines. In Portuguese, only the first word of a headline is capitalized. If you capitalize the first letter of each word, visitors may assume your website is poorly translated.
  • Time and date formats. Time is represented using a 24-hour format and dates are written in a day/month/year format. Months and days are capitalized in European and African Portuguese, but not in Brazilian Portuguese.

As far as translation solutions, we often recommend a hybrid approach. This allows you to save on translation costs for lower traffic web pages while maximizing your budget for brand-sensitive content like your homepage.

Portuguese Translation Services

Document, multimedia, and desktop publishing (DTP) translation all fall under the "translation services" umbrella. Like website translation, the process begins with choosing the right dialect for the target audience. Yet each service also has its own unique considerations. Let's take a deeper look at each:

Document translation is the process of converting written information from one language into another. Key considerations for Portuguese document translation include:

  • Accuracy. Certain types of documents such as legal or medical require a higher degree of accuracy than other translations. In these instances, machine translation may not be a suitable method. Instead, you may need to hire a certified translator who has demonstrated his or her linguistic and subject matter expertise.
  • Certified translations. Official documents typically require a certified translation. This is a statement that verifies the translator’s qualifications. A certified Portuguese translation service can prepare your documents to ensure they’re accepted.

Multimedia translation is the process of adapting multiple forms of communication such as text, audio, and video in a single project. Key considerations include:

  • Length. Because Portuguese is longer than English, the content may need to be modified slightly in order for voiceovers, dubbing or subtitles to match the original audio.
  • Visuals. In some instances, you may want to localize images or videos to better connect with the target audience.

DTP translation is the adaptation of digital files for the target language. Key considerations include:

  • Length. The Portuguese translation will likely result in a longer document. You may also need to adjust graphics, text boxes, and page breaks to preserve the layout.
  • Visuals. Graphic and image files can be corrupted and may need to be corrected.

Portuguese Software Localization

Software localization is the process of adapting software to both the language and culture of the end user. This involves:

  • Translating content to the local language(s).
  • Adapting the design and user experience (UX).
  • Changing currency, time and date formats, and other units of measurement.
  • Continuously localizing updates.

Commonly localized software includes mobile apps, PIMs, and marketing automation platforms. Here's a brief overview of the challenges of localizing each:

  • Mobile apps. Due to the smaller interface, mobile apps have significant space restraints, which makes translation more difficult. Apps also have regular updates that need to be localized. In addition to technical challenges, you need to consider local preferences for operating systems. In Brazil, for example, 85% of smartphone users own an Android.
  • PIMs. Product Information Management (PIM) systems centralize and manage product information for eCommerce businesses. When a company updates a product listing in English, it must also be updated in Portuguese.
  • Marketing automation. This type of software automatically manages marketing campaigns across multiple channels. Every time a brand launches a new campaign, it needs to be localized.

A translation API can ensure your software is continuously updated in Portuguese. It sends content to your translation service provider programmatically to get it translated.

English to Portuguese: Words That Don’t Translate

Another consideration? Not every word has a direct translation in the other language. For example, Portuguese words that have no English equivalent include:

  • Saudade, which expresses feelings of nostalgia or longing.
  • Gambiarra, which is an improvised solution to a problem.
  • Cadê, which is a contraction of “where is.”

Untranslatable words pose a challenge because translators must decide which word or phrase will best convey the same message in the target language. Doing so requires an in-depth understanding of both English and Portuguese.

Ensure Accurate English to Portuguese Translations

As you can see, translating content from English to Portuguese is no easy task. Fortunately, MotionPoint ensures you complete every project-accurately and efficiently. When you partner with us, we work closely with you to find the translation solutions that meet your needs and goals. From website localization to document translation, we have the expertise you need to get your message across.

Want to learn more? Contact MotionPoint today.

Last updated on December 14, 2022
Jessica Rivera's avatar

About Jessica Rivera

Jessica Rivera brings an expert understanding of global business, executive leadership, and holistic team and culture building to her role as MotionPoint's EVP, Global Sales and Corporate Affairs. She has over 15 years of experience collaborating with C-suites at leading SaaS and fintech companies.

Jessica Rivera's avatar
Jessica Rivera

EVP, People & Performance / Chief Legal Officer


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