LinguaLinx and International Translation Day 2014

Today is September 30th, meaning that it is International Translation Day! Last year, we talked about the history of this day, and how it came to be. Each year, this day has a theme. This year’s is “Language Rights: Essential to All Human Rights.” On their website, the International Federation of Translators (FIT) says “Most people have never heard of language rights. What does this mean specifically and why is it important?

The goal and mission of International Translation Day is to promote and celebrate the work of translators and language professionals worldwide, and the work that we do in breaking linguistic barriers so that people can communicate with one another. This includes language rights. Anywhere in the world, if someone cannot speak the dominant language, it is the role of language professionals to present this information to them in a way in which they can understand and communicate effectively. This is very true in many circumstances in government, healthcare, legal, social services, tourism, and so much more! In these critical areas, a language barrier can lead to negative results, and it is our job to prevent these results from happening.

It is today that we celebrate our industry and reaffirm what our mission is at its core: to help people communicate across cultural and linguistic borders. In talking about language rights, our goal is to promote and educate people on this topic and why it is truly important.

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Chinese Website Translation Tips

“If you’re going to San Francisco…” is the opening line to a 1960s song by Scott McKenzie. It is also the perfect segue into talking about Chinese language websites. Why you ask? San Francisco International Airport is the first U.S. airport to launch a Chinese-language version of their website.

The airport recognized its status as a growing hub of travel between the United States and China. U.S. Census data finds that 45.2 percent of the population in San Francisco County speaks a language other than English at home. As of the 2010 Census, there were about 172,181 Chinese Americans living in the San Francisco Bay Area, which equals 21.4 percent of the total population.

The site, pictured below, looks similar to the English version, but it is localized for a Chinese audience. The airlines are listed alphabetically using the Simplified Chinese alphabet, and a social media stream offers updates using Youku (China’s version of YouTube). Most importantly, the site is SEO-friendly and accessible in the People’s Republic of China, as it is hosted behind a firewall in country.

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What can you learn from San Francisco International Airport’s decision to localize their website? They identified a need and found a solution. Does this apply to you? Absolutely! Global ecommerce was forecasted to take off this year, in the Asia Pacific region more than ever. According to eMarketer, this marks the first year that this region will surpass North America in spending, with China taking in six out of every ten dollars spent! Another prediction is that China will surpass the United States as the world’s largest ecommerce market by 2016.

So how do you make an effective Chinese website? Here are some tips:

1. Understand the Chinese consumer

What does the Chinese consumer look like? Right now, China is the world’s second largest consumer market. And good news for global marketers; they love foreign brands! This is especially true of new products introduced to China, luxury goods, fashion and apparel, premium cars, and instances where consumers to not trust local brands, such as powdered baby milk.

One challenge in understand the Chinese consumer is brand hopping. This article in The Economist says that brand hopping is common because the economic is constantly growing and changing. Therefore, consumer taste evolves with it. It’s important to recognize this as a challenge, but with such a large consumer base, the reward is too great to ignore! The key is great global marketing – localizing your materials and web content to appeal to the Chinese consumer in creative and attention-getting ways. Speak their language!

2. Don’t get lost in translation

Do a quick search under “Chinese translation fails” and there will be ample results that make you giggle. But when it comes to your own global marketing and website content, it is no laughing matter! When creating content for your Chinese-language website, think about what region you want to reach. Are you looking to reach the People’s Republic of China or Hong Kong? This is important as they use two different alphabets – Simplified (PRC) or Traditional (Hong Kong). Using people who live in your target market to develop or translate content will help in reaching Chinese consumers effectively because they will know about the culture and correct terms to use.

3. Understand SEO in China

As of April 2014, the top search engine in China was Baidu by an overwhelming majority; “Google it” is not a part of the vernacular in China. Just like the Great Wall of China exists along China’s northern border, so does a Great Firewall of China, the Golden Shield, which affects the way people in China access the Internet. This article from Search Engine Land offers great tips, twelve to be exact, to help you succeed with Chinese SEO. Locally hosting a Chinese website will help make it move faster. Also, using a .cn country code top level domain (CCTLD) is required. Localization testing can be done to check to see if your website is SEO-friendly, the content is effective, and all images and text are culturally-relevant.

Twenty-two percent of the world’s Internet users are in China. This number continues to grow. It is important to remember that no two marketing strategies are the same. This is especially true with your website.

Global Marketing Spotlight: Indonesia

indonesiaDiversity is the language of commerce, and an increasing number of the world’s consumers are now located outside the United States. At LinguaLinx, we know that marketing to a global customer base may prove challenging, but definitely rewarding. Let’s take a trip to Southeast Asia to a country known for its beautiful beaches, spices, and coffee… Indonesia! There are many islands and also a lot of opportunity.

Fast Facts: Why Indonesia?

  1. Indonesia’s population is about 251 million, making it the 4th largest in the world.
  2. The population is young, growing, and urbanizing making for fast-growing consumer market.
  3. You’ve heard of BRICS, but have you heard of MINT? This is acronym that includes Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey – 4 emerging markets.
  4. Indonesia’s population is very social ranking #3 in Twitter users and #4 in Facebook users.
  5. There are about 74.6 million Internet users, expected to pass 100 million in 2015! This creates huge potential for ecommerce.

Speak the Language

What language do they speak in Indonesia? The official language of is Indonesian, declared Bahasa Indonesia since their independence in 1945. Indonesian is a dialect of Malay and pulls from local languages such as Javanese, Sundanese, Minangkabau. Of course, there are over 700 languages spoken in Indonesia due to great cultural diversity and the geography of this archipelago. Reaching every single person is always a challenge. But there are 251 million people in Indonesia – do you want to translate your marketing materials to potentially reach this massive market? As Internet penetration increases in Indonesia, so will the growth in web browsing and ecommerce. Is your web content reaching this population? Also, a lot of Indonesians access the internet from mobile phones. Is your site mobile friendly?

Localization Success Story: 7-Eleven

Did you know in Indonesia, people love just hanging out? By hanging out, we mean sitting, talking, and doing nothing. This is called nongkrong. When 7-Eleven entered the Indonesian market in 2009, they paid attention to this part of the culture and adapted their stores accordingly. 7-Eleven saw that urban areas in Indonesia lacked places for young people to hang out. They decided to focus on providing this experience, rather than just being a convenience store. They combined the supermarket and inexpensive food aspect with a customer experience including 24 hour operations, parking, wireless connectivity, and live concerts with local bands. The 7-Eleven example is a great study of how a brand can benefit from adapting to a local market.

Gaming Localization Part II: How to Ensure Gaming Localization Success

video gamesPlease note, the original post ran on Gamasutra. It is pasted for you below.

In our previous post, Gaming Localization Part I: Translation vs. Localization for Gaming, we highlighted a few important components for you to be aware of when preparing your game for a new locale. But let’s take it a step further. Here are some tips to try to ensure that your game speaks the language of gamers in each target market.

Hire gamers 

You will want to work with linguists, voice-over talent, and localization testers who are native speakers of your target language, and who are also experts in the subject matter. This is best practice in the language services industry and is paramount for gaming. Hire people who have experience playing games, and if you can, take it a step further and find people who are familiar with your genre.

Provide as much context as possible

Fact: providing good context at the start of the localization process will save time while the translation process is happening. Take the time to provide a brief explanation of what console or platform the game will be run on, who the public is (kids, adults, etc.), any potential formatting issues, gender, etc. Every little bit helps. You can write a paragraph or show and tell with screenshots or other visuals. It may also be helpful to provide translators a link to the website before the process starts to that they can review and ask their own questions.

Begin with the end in mind

You may not know from the outset if your game will be localized, but it could be localized in the future. This proactive approach will help when the time comes. For example, enlisting cultural consultants to help with the development of your game will offer insight into potential cultural issues that may occur later on. Portrayals of religion, war, or other geopolitical issues carry different meanings in different countries. Also, make sure that your source text is free of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors before sending it to be localized. A glossary of term preferences can also be useful for a linguist when translating to keep consistency.

Communicate with your localizers

Developing a testing plan is a very important phase in localization. Communicate with your localizers and plan a step-by-step QA testing plan. Define what each person’s role is in the process and different milestones to accomplish their roles. If there is a clear plan in place from the beginning, then the process will be much more organized and smooth, and will in turn, create a better product.

Allow for creativity

Transcreation is a fusion of translation and creation. A professional linguist will know what works in their target language. If you allow them a little creativity to localize text will colloquialisms and descriptions that will make users laugh or evoke another emotion, then it could separate your game from competitors. After all, playing a game should be as fun as possible!

Hopefully, these tips are helpful to you when localizing your game for a new locale. Coming soon: Gaming Localization Part III: Successfully Promoting Your Game Abroad.

Quick Tips for Global Content Marketing

global content marketingContent marketing is more than just a buzzword. But what exactly is content marketing? A great resource that we recommend at LinguaLinx is Content Marketing InstituteTM founded by Joe Puluzzi. On his site, he defines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

It is important to develop and disseminate valuable content, and also to define who you are trying to reach. All of these things take time and effort, and you’ll want to be rewarded for these efforts with customer engagement and increased profit. With this as your goal, it is important not to overlook the global market. The Internet and its metaphorical web bring people together from different languages and cultures. Are you reaching these people? This is the first tip – start thinking about your target market and ask yourself “Who am I missing?” The second tip is to ask yourself “What can I do so that I am not missing these people?”

Now that you pretty much have the who, what, and why, let’s focus on the how. The third tip is to translate your content using human translation. To make sure your content connects, you need translators who are not only fluent in the language, but also know the cultural nuances so that the appropriate humor, colloquial language, symbols, colors, and expressions are used. They are also better aware of any cultural sensitivities in a particular locale. Not only that, but a linguist is a native speaker so they live in that target market. They are aware of holidays, sporting events, customs, religious observances, etc. They can consult with you and help put together a content calendar centered on the right events. After all, not everyone in the world watches the Super Bowl!

The fourth tip involves some advanced planning. If you are thinking with a global mindset, why not use this mindset when creating your content? This is a very proactive strategy. By developing your content strategy with globalization in mind, you will be ready to move into new markets with minimal localization time and costs. This may sound daunting, but good news… LinguaLinx can help! Through GlobalScript™, a full-service global content strategy consultancy, we can help develop your content so that it is translation-friendly and has one voice – your brand’s voice, no matter how many authors you have working on your marketing.

A Visitor From Hungary at LinguaLinx!

Gabor (center) our visitor from Hungary, pictured here with Sean and Courtenay, two wonderful members of our Production Team, at Brown's Brewery, one of our favorite spots in Troy, NY.

Gabor (center) our visitor from Hungary, pictured here with Sean (left) and Courtenay (right), two wonderful members of our Production Team, at Brown’s Brewery, one of our favorite local spots in Troy, NY earlier this summer!

One of the great things about working with in-country linguists is that they are native speakers of the target language, and they have knowledge of cultural nuances that can help guarantee the most accurate translations possible. On the flip side, this means we don’t get to see each other in person on a regular basis. We use a variety of communication methods to work around the clock, across time zones and bodies of water to ensure that projects are completed accurately and on time.

Just recently, though, LinguaLinx headquarters had a visit from one of our favorite Hungarian linguists, Gabor. He was in New York City for an interpretation assignment, and did not want to miss the opportunity to drive a few hours up the Hudson River to visit us here in Troy!

Gabor works closely with one of our project teams that handles a large, multinational, direct selling client. Our relationship with this client began a little over 4 years ago and we handle about 20 languages for them on a regular basis, but sometimes more! We caught up with Gabor to hear his thoughts on the United States, upstate New York, and working with LinguaLinx while he was here.

In his time here, Gabor was able to explore New York City, New Jersey, and the Albany, New York area. His first impression of the United States was that it is much more colorful, well-organized, and bigger than Europe in a sense. From what he saw, he’d like to have the opportunity to explore more parts of the country. He enjoyed the views of the Hudson River in upstate New York, as well as the historical atmosphere of Albany and Troy. But of course, most of all, he enjoyed meeting the team members he interacts with on a daily basis.

“From now on, we can put a real person behind an email address, which makes this relationship more personal,” Gabor says. After all, our business is built around our passions: words, languages, people, cultures – and bringing all of that together!

Global Marketing Spotlight: Canada

Global MarketingDiversity is the language of commerce, and an increasing number of the world’s consumers are now located outside the United States. At LinguaLinx, we know that marketing to a global customer base may prove challenging, but definitely rewarding. Each month, we like to shine a spotlight on a different global market. Since we share a border that is 3,987 miles long (excluding Alaska), why not focus on Canada, our neighbor to the north? Here are some important key points to take into consideration when looking to market in Canada.

A Bilingual Nation

Because everyone speaks English, so it’s easy, right? Wrong. Canada has two official languages – English and French – as part of the Official Languages Act. Bilingualism is practiced at the federal government level, and both French and English have equal status in federal court. French and English are taught in schools. French is the official language of the Quebec province. A recent report by eMarketer titled “Focus on French Canada: Using Digital Channels for Marketing in Quebec” focuses on this topic. It is not a good idea to ignore French-speaking Quebec if you want to achieve marketing success in Canada. To really reach this demographic, it is important to translate your materials and localize them into French Canadian. It is a great step in building consumer loyalty for your brand. This should trickle down into your customer service efforts as well.

Everybody’s Doing It!

A lot of U.S.-based brands look to Canada as their first international stop due largely in part to proximity and preexisting awareness of the brand. Also, a lot of the population already speaks English. Global brands such as McDonald’s, Costco, and Wal-Mart have done very well. Lowe’s has been very successful since its Canadian expansion in 2007, as well as Crate and Barrel in 2008. Both brands were successful due to a slow but steady gradual expansion. If you are taking a look at Canada, do some research and see what brands are already there and what they did to be successful.

But Not Everyone Is Successful…

A recent example of a brand who has had a lackluster expansion north of the border is Target. After 18 months, the company has reported losses, but they remained committed to right the ship. Target is not the only one, either. Wal-Mart has been very successful in Canada, but they had to close their Sam’s Club stores, as they could not compete with Costco. When looking to do business in Canada, remember that it is a foreign country with its own regulatory requirements. Also, the cost of doing business is higher in Canada, with higher minimum wage and different taxes. Most importantly, consumer preferences are different in Canada. Each culture has its own nuances. Sometimes, expanding too quickly may also not work our in your favor. Target took a giant leap and opened 100 stores north of the border. It is important to be aware of this to make sure that your brand will be well received and wow a new customer base upon entry!

Lights! Camera! Video Translation!

Global MarketingVideos can be a very engaging way to reach potential customers. In a digital age, the need for multilingual audio and visual media is important to being competitive. According to YouTube, the site has over 1 billion unique users each month with 100 hours of video uploaded every minute. Here’s another statistic for you; 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US. What do these numbers mean for you? It means that video is a great medium to promote your brand to a global market.

Video is an important component for promotion, how-to videos, or eLearning and training courses. Did you know that there are over 7,000 languages spoken in the world today? Of those 7,000, over 100 are spoken in the United States! You’ve spent the time and the money creating these great videos – don’t let their meaning get lost in translation by other demographics! The spotlight is on you to make it happen.

Here are some options for you to audition:

Cultural Consulting

Will your video reach your target audiences in a culturally appropriate manner? As your translation and localization partner, an LSP will check icons, hand gestures, colors, symbols, etc. and make sure that these are proper in your target market.

Script Translation

If you have a video script, then this becomes super easy! We can translate each frame into your target language. Not only is the text translated, but localized, so that the tone is culturally appropriate for each market.


No script, no problem! We can transcribe your video content right down to the “umms” and “ahhs” (if you prefer.) Then, we can take that content and have it translated and localized.

Subtitle Engineering

Subtitle engineering is a great solution for video localization. Audio/visual programs become accessible to foreign language audiences without replacing the original soundtrack. Think foreign films at movie theaters! Your localization partner can take translated narration and place it into the video file. This also involves engineering for timing, as text expansion and contraction can mess with the timing of the source language.

Voice-Over Narration and Dubbing

Another option is to have your video dubbed with multilingual audio. Dubbing refers to the replacement of the voices of the actors shown on the screen with those of different performers speaking another language. You can help choose the right voice from a selection of samples, and then, with some time synching to match the English, you’re ready to go!

That’s a wrap! If you have any questions about how LinguaLinx can help you with your video localization solutions, contact us today. We’re ready for our close up!

Gaming Localization Part I: Translation vs. Localization for Gaming

Global MarketingThese two terms are popular in our industry; they are related, but not interchangeable. Translation involves expressing the sense of content (words, texts, etc.) into another language from source to target. Localization takes it a step further. It takes material created for one locale and makes it appropriate for another locale.

In terms of gaming, the goal of localization is to prepare your games for new locales. This involves many components. I’ve caught up with some of our translators to put together a comprehensive list of all of these components so that you are aware of what goes into localization.

  • Linguistic and cultural localization involves translating text and cultural references in such a way that the overall feel of the game remains the same, but it is still appropriate for each locale. This involves everything from the text on the box of the game, general marketing and PR materials for the game to spoken dialect of the characters through dubbing or subtitles. This involves script translation and also finding voice talent.  Some languages, such as Arabic, are read from left to right, so things like menus may need to be reformatted to read properly.
  • Hardware and software localization involves making sure hardware and software is compatible for each locale. Such things to consider here are color encoding systems; does your target locale use PAL, SECAM, or NTSC? There is also localization of the user interface and remapping of hot keys.
  • Legal localization comes into play since each country or world has its own age rating systems.  For example, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) regulates ratings in the United States and Canada while countries in Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Oceania all have their own video content rating systems.
  • Graphics and music localization are always important. Graphics may contain characters in one language that may need to be localized into another. A lot of games allow players to choose their avatar, and these options might need to be localized to different regions to allow them to do so. Music preferences also vary across different regions of the world, as trends are different from place to place.

We’ve only scratched the surface! Stay tuned for a Part II: How to Ensure Gaming Localization Success.

25 Language Facts That You Might Not Already Know

Global MarketingLanguage is all around us. From birth, we are taught to speak the language of those around us in order to communicate. Some of us might learn another language, or several, later on in life. We spend our lives using languages day after day, but there are so many things about them that we do not know. While there are hundreds of facts about languages, some jump out as particularly interesting or very unique.

Since language is our business and our passion at LinguaLinx, we wanted to share some of these facts with you.

25. Khmer, the official language of Cambodia, has the largest alphabet with 74 letters.

24. The most translated document is Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written by the United Nations. It has been translated into 321 languages and dialects.

23. In the United States, there is now almost 7 times the number of Vietnamese speakers there were in 1980.

22. Mandarin and Cantonese are spoken dialects of Chinese. Traditional and Simplified are written forms of the language.

21. South Africa used to have 2 official languages: English and Afrikaans. Now, there are 11: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.

20. The name of the Irish language is actually “Irish.” Gaeilge (Gaelic) refers to the name of the language in Irish. Irish is the name in English.

19. The Constitution of Bolivia recognizes 37 official languages, aside from Spanish, including the languages of Bolivia’s native indigenous nations. This is the most of any country.

18. The literal translation of the German word Kummerspeck into English is “grief bacon.” However, the meaning is the excess weight gained due to emotional overeating.

17. In Japanese, Tsundoku describes “the act of buying books and not reading them, leaving them to pile up.”

16. There are 381 languages spoken in the United States; about 169 are Native American languages

15. Persian is also the same as Farsi. There are so many former Iranian nationals and their descendants living in Los Angeles that it is sometimes nicknamed “Tehrangeles.”

14. In Vatican City, the directions for ATM use are in Latin: “Inserito scidulam quaeso ut faciundam cognoscas rationem.”

13. There is a single word in Russia, Zapoi (Запой) to describe a drunken bender.

12. Swedish was not the official language of Sweden until 2009. The usage of English became so prevalent that the government wanted to strengthen the status of Swedish!

11. It took the Greeks nearly 200 years to decide which official language – Demotic Greek or Ancient Greek (katharevousa) – to use. Demotic Greek won.

10. The popular phrase “Hakuna matata” (meaning “No worries”) from The Lion King is from Swahili.

9. Papua New Guinea has no less than 832 different languages!

8. The number 5 is pronounced “ha” in Thai, so 5555 is Internet slang for LOL.

7. In Indonesian, “Jayus” is a slang word for someone who tells a joke that is so bad, that you laugh because it is so unfunny. Such a word does not exist in English.

6. The word for turkey in Turkey is Hindi, which is an official language in India.

5. David Peterson, inventor of Dothraki and Valyrian for HBO’s Game of Thrones, is known as a professional ‘conlanger’- someone who has been hired to create languages.

4. There are 6 official languages of the United Nations.

3. Pope Francis tweets in 9 different languages.

2. There is no official language of the United States.

1. There are about 7,000 languages in the world.