What Multilingualism in the USA Means for YOU!

In a previous post, we talked about market research translation. Market research is key to the success or your business and organization and is essential in planning the launch of a new product or service. It allows you to get a feel for who your target customers are and how you can make your products or services connect to them. One of the important touch points that we wanted to explore further was language – not just globally, but right here in the United States. (Note: This information applies to all industries, not just market research!)

We put together this map (based on data from the United States Census) that shows the “Top 10 Multilingual States” and also the metropolitan areas nationwide where the population, ages 5 years and older, has 25 percent or more people who speak a language other than English at home.

Multilingual USA

What do these numbers mean for you and your business or organization?

Location, location, location!

  • From a market research perspective: 

    If you are conducting surveys in any of these areas, you may want to make sure your corresponding materials are translated so that your target customers can understand what they are being asked and provide adequate data. Also, their responses may need to be translated, too, so that data can be extrapolated!

  • From a safety perspective: 

    Signage, manuals, training, equipment! Any material created for the purpose of keeping the public or consumers safe while going about their day-to-day life. This can be walking down the street, shopping in a store, in the workplace, operating equipment, or driving a car! If there is a multilingual population, this information should be translated.

  • From a marketing and tourism perspective:

    A lot of cities are acknowledging their large multilingual populations and have developed Language Access Plans accordingly! This applies to citizens of a metropolitan area as well as tourists or visitors coming into an area.

  • From a healthcare perspective: 

    Access to language is very important for any patients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). Healthcare settings such as hospitals or other medical practices either work with or have interpreters (over the phone, in person, or through video.) Then, of course, there are mandates in place with provisions for LEP patients that need to be adhered to. The key to meeting mandates and providing healthcare access for all is quality translation! If you are in this industry and are located in one of these regions of the country, it is more than likely that your materials will need to be translated into multiple languages.

  • From an education perspective: 

    Similar to healthcare, mandates have been put into place to ensure that students with LEP have access to the same quality education as all students. In areas where there is great linguistic diversity, student facing and parent facing materials may and should require translation. Also, interpreters may need to be brought in to help students with testing, for parent-teacher meetings, or any similar occasions.

Good news! There is someone out there who can help you out with all of these tasks. We’ll give you a quick hint… it’s a language service provider (LSP) that works in all industries, languages, and file types! You guessed it – it’s LinguaLinx! Contact us today with any questions, concerns, or needs!

Choosing A Partner For Market Research Translation

Market Research TranslationMarket research can be defined as the action or activity of gathering information about consumers’ needs and preferences. Market research is important before launching a new product or service for a number of reasons. First, you will gain important insight about your potential new customers – spending habits, preferences, behaviors. Second, you can use those results (positive or negative) to adjust your ideas accordingly to make sure you are launching a successful product or service. Third, you can uncover new ideas for products and services based on survey findings. Fourth, you can discover ways in which to market new products or services to customers. Finally, you want your business or organization to succeed, and great success comes from planning.

In sticking with the market research theme, here are some questions for YOU to help figure out if market research translation is necessary and also to help you pick a partner for these needs!

1. What is the name of your business or organization?

2. What industry are you a part of?

3. What languages do your consumers speak?

If you are surveying customers in a global market, they may not speak English as a first language. Therefore, translating survey questions may be important in helping them understand the questions. Understanding the questions leads to quality answers. Quality answers lead to quality data. Let’s also look domestically. Note, in the United States, not everyone speaks English fluently. If you are surveying potential customers in certain states or cities, check to see what languages are spoken there and offer different language options. A great source is US Census data.

4. Do you currently work with any outsourced vendors?

a) If no, why not?

b) If yes, what qualifications do you look for when choosing outsourced vendors?

5. Have you ever considered working with a translation vendor?

a) If no, why not?

Allow us to interject. A lot of times we hear “we handle translations in house.” Being bilingual is great! But it might not be the best solutions to have bilingual employees handle translations. We make the case in a previous post: “Why You Should Outsource Your Translations.”

b) If yes, what questions would you ask a translation vendor before working with them?

We’ll help you out here. Does the vendor have experience in your industry? Do they use professional linguists? If they do, how to they test them? (LinguaLinx has a testing process in place to vet our linguists. We talk about it in one of our previous posts.) Does this vendor use the latest technology and/ or work with your file types? Do they use translation memory?

6. What goals would do you hope to accomplish when working with a translation vendor?

Interview potential vendors. Talk with them about your goals and objectives. A good vendor will want to align their goals with yours.

7. Identify any concerns that you might have in working with a translation vendor for market research translation.

Price, accuracy, consistency, turnaround time. These are typical responses. We understand all four concerns. We have measures in place for you. Translation memory is a savings.  It allows you to save cost over time while also using the same leverage for consistency. All work is translated edited and proofread by another linguist to help with quality and accuracy. Also, in market research, deadlines are tight. A good translation vendor will work with you on your deadlines to make sure they are met.

These are only a few questions to ask when choosing a partner for market research translation. If you have any other questions, contact LinguaLinx and we can help you!

A Website Localization Checklist from LinguaLinx

website localization checklistTranslating your website is a big step to help reach reaching global markets. It is a great entry point to reach a target market, without having to open a brick and mortar business. When deciding whether or not to translate your website, use the following questions as a checklist to make sure you’ve covered all of your bases. This self-assessment should help align all mitigating factors with your company goals to come up with a perfect solution!

1. How much of your site do you want to have translated?

Your website probably has many components. Thoroughly research which areas of your website need to be translated and rank each component by priority. You can use website analytics to determine high traffic sections and which regions of the world people are accessing your site from.

2. Will you translate your website using translation proxy or a more traditional approach?

There are two options when it comes to translating your website. We compare them to buying or leasing a car. LinguaLinx offers both options.

Option #1: Traditional Website Translation (Buying a Car): You have total control. As a client, you own your content, you host your website, and you control the updates. Your partner LSP can either do the translation work right in your Content Management System (CMS) or work with exports of your content. If you want to be fully involved, this is the best approach.

Option #2: Website Translation Proxy (Leasing a Car): This is a more hands-off approach. As a client, you still own your own content, but your multilingual websites are hosted by a translation proxy. Your website will be crawled regularly for updates. (We talk more about this in a previous post.) Translations are still done by humans. We recommend this is you frequently update your site.

3. Are your layout and graphics localization friendly?

First, take a look at your layout. Languages using Arabic script, the Hebrew Alphabet, or the Syriac alphabet are read right to left. Therefore, the layout should be flipped, including menu and navigation bars. (Read a previous post where we talk about best practices for Arabic website localization.)

Second, assess your graphics and images. Values and attitudes vary across nations and cultures. It is a great idea to use cultural consulting. Cultural consultants are in-country native speakers who live in your target market, so they understand the language and the cultural nuances, taboos, etc.  They can tell you if images, gestures, color choices, and other components are culturally appropriate. After all, you don’t want to offend your target customers with your website! It is much easier to switch out a different image of a group of people, or to replace a graphic with a much more suitable one before any damage to your brand is done!

4. Is your website mobile friendly?

According to data from eMarketer, mobile ecommerce is on the rise in the United States. (Though it is important to point out that desktop/laptops and tablets are still very much in the lead.) Across cultures, mobile web usage continues to increase due to the growth in smartphone usage. For example, forty percent of Hispanic Millennials in the United States (ages 18-34) are mobile-only Internet users! Most importantly, Google’s latest algorithm update wants websites to be mobile friendly. For SEO and accessibility reasons, make sure you have a mobile-friendly site! Read more about Google’s update in this article from Moz.

5. Do you want localization testing?

More like, do you need it? Localization testing is always recommended. It happens before and after. Before localization occurs, LinguaLinx can assess your site to see if your website supports multilingual content, bi-directional scripts, different currencies, and other components of the user interface (UI). After content is translated and imported into the content management system (CMS), we check for functionality and in-context review to make sure everything looks good, works properly, and is culturally appropriate before the site goes live for your global customers!

Want to know more about website localization? Contact LinguaLinx to set up a call today!

Global Marketing Spotlight: South Korea

South KoreaDiversity 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. Occasionally, we like to shine a spotlight on a different global market. Earlier this year, Bloomberg released their 30 Most Innovative Countries. Guess who took #1? That’s right, South Korea.

Here are some things to look out for when focusing your global marketing efforts on this East Asian nation:

The Language

True or False, Korean is linguistically similar to Chinese and Japanese. If you say “False,” then you are correct! Here is some recommended reading: “Korean introduces new challenges to localization,” featured in the July/August 2014 issue of MultiLingual magazine. In it, the author describes Korean as a loner: a language isolate. While Korean vocabulary is heavily influenced by Chinese culture, the structure of the language is very different. Also, Korean has its own alphabet, called Hangul. Using native speakers to translate content in Korean is very helpful for localization. They will be familiar with the language and its unique characteristics, as well as the appropriate tone to use so that your content is presented to your end users in a respectful, friendly, and effective manner.

Adopt “Koreanness”

Any time you enter a new market, it is important to account for cultural differences. If you align your products to suit the needs of your target customers, then you will find success. It is important to identify with the culture. The Korean population is connected, well-educated, urban, and homogeneous. Korean interest in foreign brands has taken off since the late 1980s. If you ignore Korean culture, you will end up like Wal Mart, which closed their stores in 2006. Take a page out of Starbucks’ book. Did you know that Seoul (the capital of South Korea) has the most Starbucks locations than any city in the world? Starbucks partnered with Shinsegae, a Korean company, to help with marketing and product development. Tea drinking is preferred in Asia, but Starbucks has become a status symbol and a luxury brand. They also set up their locations as places to hang out.

Get Connected

The South Korean population is very digitally connected. They are near the top of the world in smartphone usage. If you have a [Korean] website, make sure it is mobile-friendly! Also, on the web, make sure your site is set up for ecommerce. Will you ship directly to consumers, or can you partner with a third party vendor to ship your products?

Questions on Korean translation? We’ve got you covered. Contact LinguaLinx today!

Celebrate Russian Language Day!

Russian Language DayDid you know that tomorrow (June 6th) is Russian language day? In 2010, the United Nations created language days for each of their six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.  Their goal is to promote multilingualism and cultural diversity. June 6th was chosen as it is the birthday of Alexander Pushkin, the Father of Russian Literature. At LinguaLinx, we love languages. Words are our business, and our passion. In fact, our President, David Smith, holds degrees in Russian Language and Literature as well as Russian Translation! Let’s take a moment and celebrate Russian!

Currently, there are about 155 million nature Russian speakers in the world (about 2.33% of the total population.) Russian is an official language in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. It is also an important secondary language in other countries due to the influence of the former Soviet Union.

Nine Fast Facts about the Russian Language:

1. The Russian alphabet uses Cyrillic script and has 33 letters.

2. Russian is called an “International Language of Space” – astronauts must learn it on the international space station.

3. Russian is the seventh most used language on the Internet with over 87 million users!

4. A lot of modem words related to computers are borrowed directly from English

  • Example: компьютер =  computer
  • Example: чат =  chat

5. Russian has no word for the, a or an.

6. There are only about 500,000 words in the Russian language. (There are over 1,000,000 words in the English dictionary!)

7. Only about 2,000-2,500 of these words are used frequently.

8. There are three genders in Russian language: masculine, feminine and neuter.

9. Russian’s closest language cousins are Ukrainian and Belorussian.

4 Misconceptions About Translation We Think You Should Know

translate server error“It has been said that arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity,” said Ghanaian diplomat Kofi Annan.  Indeed, it seems that the goal of every business is to have a global presence; and they hope to build it successfully! There is one important component that can help any business be successful overseas – translation. In our experience, there are a lot of misconceptions about translation, and we thought we’d share a few with you!

Misconception #1 – Handling Translations In House is Cheaper and More Efficient

We covered this in more detail in a previous blog post, so we’ll just be brief. Partnering with a language service provider can help in many ways: volume, tight deadlines, and an increase in demand for different languages. An LSP, like LinguaLinx, has a worldwide network of resources that are in-country, native speaking, professional linguists have been vetted extensively. We also have technology and workflow processes in place to ensure cost savings over time, preparing for deadlines, building consistency and also for larger projects.

Misconception #2: Google Translate Solves All Problems

If we had a quarter for every time someone told us, “We can just use Google – it’s free,” then we’d have stacks of dollar bills! These online translation tools are based on algorithms and not on humans who understand context, regional dialects and other important nuances. Sure, if you need to get the gist of something, it’s very easy to plug it into Google, but not when it comes to important content. It’s not worth it to sacrifice accuracy to save a few dollars! An LSP leverages technology such as translation memory tools, to help with accuracy, consistently, time and savings.

Misconception #3: Bigger is Better

The late Freddie Mercury, front man of the band Queen, once said in an interview: “The bigger, the better, in everything.” Sure, this can apply to the music industry and live concerts, not necessarily translation. Working with a huge translation agency does not mean better quality of service. If your needs are more specialized, why not look at a smaller agency who will take the time to really allocate resources that will suit each and every one of your projects? No one wants to be just a number! Business can also be personal, and great communication and customer service can go a long way in providing quality translations!

Misconception #4: Feedback from Bilingual Employees is Adequate for Quality Reviews

How does your organization measure quality? It is not uncommon for clients to have internal employees or Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) review translations. It is typically encouraged by LSPs as it helps us to gauge our quality, depth of resources, and allows us to improve. However, it is important to be cognizant of who is reviewing your translations. We’ve covered more thoroughly in a previous post: “Who Is Reviewing Your Language Translations?” There is a big difference between a Subject Matter Expert and a bilingual employee who may know just enough, but not quite enough to provide relevant or valuable feedback.

The Importance of Translating Safety Materials

Safety TranslationSafety is very important, whether it is in the workplace, out and about, or at home. Providing quality safety instructions are very important, whether the end user is a construction worker operating heavy machinery, a family using a brand new grill, or a parent reading instructions on a child’s new toy.

At LinguaLinx, we know know how important safety is in the workplace and in day-to-day life. This is why we partner with clients in the Environmental, Health and Safety (EH&S) industries to ensure their content meets in-country laws and regulations for companies both domestic and abroad.

Each company has their own safety procedures such as OSHA regulations, MSDS, corporate safety procedures, training videos, eLearning courses, regulation and compliance documents. It is important that all communications are available for any employees who speak a language other than English.

It’s important to keep workplaces safe, and consumers, too! If you are exporting your products and services overseas, be aware of any requirement for selling a product. Most countries legally require that safety information must be included with the product at the time of sale.This information may have to be available in the country’s official language (or languages)!

safety 2015Talk About Safety Translation With Us!

LinguaLinx is returning to the ASSE Safety 2015 Professional Development Conference & Exposition. The Expo will be held on June 7-10th in Dallas, TX. Two of our team members, Nicole Savage and Colin Melanson, will be at Booth #3045 to discuss this topic further!

Spotlight on Multicultural Marketing: Part III

asian american marketingIn a previous post, we looked at Hispanic Americans and the impact that they have on marketing in the United States. With marketing, it is important to reach people in such a way that they feel connected to a product or service. Typically, brands that use multicultural marketing are very successful. This is because they are showing each demographic that they care; their product or service connects with them in some way. As we look at the dynamic landscape of the population in the US, let’s focus on another demographic: Asian Americans.

The Profile of Asian American Consumers – Getting Started

Of course, there is great socioeconomic diversity among Asian Americans. But, when talking about the population as a whole, we can make a pretty general statement: Asian American population is growing! In fact, a 2012 Nielsen report said that this group is “the fastest growing multicultural segment of the United States population.” The report also points out that Asian Americans have a higher median household income than the total population. Half of the population over age 25 has Bachelor’s degrees. What does this tell you? It tells you that this group is educated, informed, and offers huge potential for spending.

Speaking the Language

The Nielsen report also says that 77 percent of Asian Americans speak a language other than English at home. What languages are we talking about? Data from the US Census points to Vietnamese having the largest increase. Also, the percentage of Armenian, Korean, Persian, and Tagalog speakers has doubled since 1980. Chinese takes third place behind English and Spanish, with 2.9 million speakers and counting. What do these numbers mean for your business or organization? Research from Common Sense Advisory (See “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy”) points to the fact that customers are more likely to buy a product or service if it is presented to them in a way in which they best understand. In previous blog post, we talked about San Francisco International Airport and the launch of their Chinese website. This is a great example of an organization that is aware of their customer base, identified a need, and then addressed that need.

Including Culture

Beyond language, let’s look at culture, too. It is important to take elements of a host culture and native culture and blend them together. The identity of an Asian American is a mix of Asian and American influences. Advertisers have made strides in using Asian actors in commercials. Of course, Asian culture is not uniform – there are many ethnicities that fall under the umbrella group of “Asian Americans,” but there are a few common values. One is the focus on family. Homes are usually comprised of two married parents. Family influences education. Respect for elders is very important. Focusing on a unifying theme will make it easier to reach Asian Americans rather than focusing on the differences.

Be Online

Let’s continue quoting the Nielsen report: “Asian Americans spend an average of 80 hours surfing the internet each month.” Their site preferences are similar to the rest of the population (Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, YouTube, and Twitter). It is important to point out, though, that they are very interested in technology and consumer electronics products and are more likely than other groups to buy products online. They are also very active on social media and blogging sites. What do all of these numbers mean? Basically, if you want to reach Asian Americans, it is important to have a solid presence online (website, social media, mobile friendly sites).

Spotlight on Multicultural Marketing: Part II

At LinguaLinx, we are always getting inspired. Two weeks ago, an article on the changing dynamic of the U.S. population really got us thinking: what impact does this shift have on marketing? The goal of marketing in its purest form is to match a company’s products and services to people who want and need them. In order to do this effectively, creative strategy is employed. It is all about reaching people in such a way that they feel connected to the product or service.  In Part I of our spotlight, we introduced our thoughts on multicultural marketing. Now, we’re going to take it a step further. Let’s take a look at the fastest-growing minority group in the United States: Hispanic Americans.

Connect with Language and Culture

Spanish is the second most widely-spoken language in the United States, by far. Of course, the use of English increases with second and third generation Hispanics. Latinos in the United States are not only bilingual, but also bicultural. “Speaking the language” does not simply mean “speaking Spanish.” It is about creating and using content that represents Hispanic ethnicity, but also framing the Latino population as a part of a greater whole. All of this really helps connect a brand to consumers. Target nails it with their recent “SinTraducción” ad campaign. The ad connects with the bilingual and cultural identity of Hispanic Americans and the back and forth between language and culture. One of the ads is shown below:

Don’t Be Literal

Directly translating a slogan from one language into another does not always work. The most infamous and relevant example was the California Milk Processors Board’s decision to use a literal translation of “Got Milk?” which became “Are You Lactating?” in Spanish. But, let’s give the Board some credit; they redeemed themselves with this 2014 ad for milk. The ad does a great job telling a story while also correctly using a bilingual approach. “Toma leche” translates into “Drink Milk.” It promotes and supports the idea that drinking milk before bed leads to positive dreams and quality sleeping.

Online Video is HUGE

A Nielsen report showed that Hispanics spend over 90 minutes longer than the U.S. average each month watching online video. Universal has the right idea with its own YouTube Channel for the Hispanic audience in the United States.

Universal Latino - YouTube - Google Chrome 4202015 42239 PM.bmp

Mobile is Important

Forty percent of Hispanic Millennials (ages 18-34) are mobile-only Internet users, according to ComScore data. This statistic is significant because it shows that having a mobile advertising strategy is paramount when looking to target Hispanic consumers. The challenge, as this article in AdAge points out, is “when consumers go mobile, their ethnicities become largely invisible to advertisers.” They point popular social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook as well as music streaming sites and digital publications as great places to buy ad space to reach your targeted consumers.

Media Channels

Let’s get back to the ad mentioned above. The Target ad will run on Spanish-language television networks such as Univision and Telemundo. They will also run ads online on YouTube, Hulu, and People En Espaῆol. Target recognizes that a lot of Hispanics are online, so they are continuing the conversation on social media. Hashtags are instrumental with creating conversation, so #SinTraducción will be used. The goal of this conversation is to get people talking about traditions in their culture. The idea is to get people excited about a brand and how people in a particular culture use and relate to it.

In short, the Hispanic audience in the United States is one that is connected, retro-acculturated, proud, and growing! Take a look at some of the examples we provided as a guide when looking to market your products and services!

Celebrate English Language Day!

english language dayToday is April 23rd. It’s also English Language Day! In 2010, the United Nations created language days for each of their six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.  Their goal is to promote multilingualism and cultural diversity. April 23rd was chosen for English Language Day because it is the birthday of William Shakespeare. At LinguaLinx, we love languages. Words are our business, and our passion. Let’s take a moment and celebrate English!

There are 360 million native speakers of English in the world, making it the 3rd most widely spoken. English is the official language in 67 sovereign states and 27 non-sovereign entities. A lot of this is due to the former British Empire. English does not have official status in the United States (there is no official language in the United States). Due to its status as “The Language of Business,” English is learned by many worldwide as a second language.

Ten Fast Facts about the English Language:

  1. There is no word in the English language that rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.
  2. English is the official language of the sky – all pilots speak in English on international flights.
  3. “E” is the most commonly used letter in the English language.
  4. Nigeria has more English speakers than the United Kingdom.
  5. There are 24 different dialects of English in the United States.
  6. “Pronunciation” is the most mispronounced English word.
  7. The word “checkmate” in chess comes from an Arabic phrase, “shah mat”, which means “the king is helpless.”
  8. More words start with “S” than any other letter.
  9. Eighty-nine percent of people in Sweden speak English.
  10. Two of the shortest completed sentences in the English language are “Go.” and “I am.”

Now that you have some random knowledge to wow your friends and use for Trivia Nights, go forth and love your language!