Even though corporate institutions use terms like globalization, plain language and business psychology on a daily basis, one ponders why they are still not applying it as a business principle? Corporates are often ignorant and arrogant in assuming that everyone will understand their sometimes much too complicated communication in a “jargon filled” language. This has never been truer especially during an era of disappearing geographic borders and a flattened world.
Communication is key to virtually every business aspect - from acquiring and retaining customers to improving engagement and performance. More than just the words, corporates need to understand the psychology behind the words to get their message across. Simply put: If your target market does not understand you, they will be reluctant to do business with you.
Assuming that English is the world’s minimum language or lingua franca might translate into an expensive mistake. With the accelerating pace of globalization, and the rising influence of many non-English-speaking countries, the flaws in this thinking start to show. Companies who operate solely in English (or worse even solely in American or British English) will miss opportunities to capitalize on the explosive growth in developing, untapped markets locally and abroad. These companies run the risk of misunderstanding their customers’ needs and requirements. Worse, they find themselves competing against upstarts from emerging countries who already operate in their home market’s preferred language.
The nature of business is too complicated to run the risk of getting lost in translation or not translating at all. Often clients opt for English only versions of manuals; programs; descriptions; etc. Translation is often seen by corporates as a “too expensive exercise”, not considering the Return On Investment (ROI) by unlocking potentially many new markets.
Furthermore, making the content local to a specific market is also hugely important. One cannot refer to miles in a document meant for countries who have converted to the decimal system (many as early as the 1960 where the younger generations do not even know there exist two systems). The importance of localizing your product manual; description; program is underwritten by the famous words of Nelson R Mandela:
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
The Language Inc. team
Often clients enter the global market with great strategy and huge marketing budgets, only to find their message and vision is lost in a market which does not necessarily speak or understand their language. According to the 17th edition of Ethnologue (2013), the top ten most spoken mother tongue languages in the world are:
Knowing what the biggest languages in the world are, the next obvious question any marketing or sales team needs to ask is: what is the market size for these languages? There is little indication as to which languages combinations are mostly translated into and from, but according to a study by Ferdinand Boucau (2005) from the Belgian Quality Translation Association, Western Europe (Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom) represent two thirds of the global translation market. He notes that the Scandinavian countries, the Benelux and Portugal in specific spend the most on enhancing their multilingual efforts and it is here where one can notice the weakness of multilingualism in the English-speaking countries. Norwegian, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, French, English and German have been noted amongst the most translated languages.
Projections from the Language Services Market 2012 report, states that the global industry could reach US$33.5 billion by 2015. With the language services market continuing to grow at a rate of over 12% year on year, one is often asked how it is sustainable taking into consideration the advent of new technologies, machine translations, and even crowd-sourced localization.
Our experience has shown that some factors which are driving this growth include:
- Increasingly global economy
- International trade
- Immigration patterns
- Growth of online content
Therefore, whether you are new to the industry or considering entering the industry you need to be aware that there are about 26,104 suppliers already playing in the field. You need to offer something special to your clients and excellent quality at competitive prices are what will make your clients use your services again and again.
The Language Inc. team
In computing, localization is a means of adapting computer software to different languages and regional differences by adding locale-specific components and translating text.
Translations work best when the person has cultural context to allow for slang or idiomatic expressions and language structures that are difficult to build into machine language, that's why, whenever we think about technology and Africa, the importance of localization really sticks out.
Africa is home to about 2,000 languages, equivalent to one-third of the world’s living languages. The development of any nation today depends on the level and quality of producing, accessing, and disseminating local knowledge and technologies. Unfortunately, in most African countries foreign sources of knowledge and information are dominant and mastered by only a minority that can access this foreign language.
The links between the software industry and localization are strong and the commercial potential of developing software using African languages is enormous. The key is to bring software developers, linguists, and policymakers together to turn this into a viable and thriving sector, creating jobs, enabling millions of Africans to join the information and knowledge society, and ultimately contribute towards economic growth.
How does software localization differ from traditional document translation?
Software localization is the translation and adaptation of a software or web product, including the software itself and all related product documentation. Traditional translation is typically an activity performed after the source document has been finalized.
Translation is only one of the activities in a localization project – there are other tasks involved such as project management, software engineering, testing and desktop publishing. A software product that has been localized properly has the look and feel of a product originally written and designed for the target market.
A number of points have to be considered, as well as the language, in order to effectively localize a software product or website: measuring units, number formats, address formats, time and date formats (long and short), paper sizes, fonts, default font selection, case differences, character sets, sorting, word separation and hyphenation, local regulations, copyright issues, data protection, payment methods, currency conversion, taxes.
At Language Inc. our focus is the provision of custom-made language solutions to fit our clients’ needs. When it comes to software localization, we will make sure that all the above mentioned is addressed, and that your product is completely applicable to a country other than the one it was originally created for.
Until next week,