Do you need an ‘Olá’ or an ‘Oi’? How to make sure you are really speaking to your target market.

Do you need an ‘Olá’ or an ‘Oi’? How to make sure you are really speaking to your target market.

Believe it or not, one of our most popular questions from clients is which languages they actually need to translate their materials into. This may seem obvious on the surface, but it can often bring up the least obvious of answers. Take a look at our top recommendations for getting your language choice right:

1. Check which languages are spoken in your target country.

Even if there is only one official language, there may be a number of co-official regional languages to consider, as in the case of Spain. You may be missing a trick if you are launching a marketing campaign in Spain and neglect to provide a translation in Catalan, for example, which is essential for capturing the imagination of a Catalan audience, particularly when considering that all important hub of Barcelona.

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Plural patterns

piggy In English, we say 1 pig, 2 pigs, 3 pigs and so on.

So, does it follow that in another language it should be
1 [insert translated word for pig], 2 [insert translated plural of pig], 3 [same again] and so on?

Nope!

Earlier this month we worked on a project for one of our clients, a customer review network, which reinforced the fact that plural usage can vary greatly between languages. For this particular project, the translation source text included two snippets of text, one of which had a variable:
1 review
Showing {{number}} reviews

As the translation was into 27 languages, we saw many different patterns. We found this really interesting, and wanted to share them with you.

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How to sell the benefits of yourself as a human translator

Reports last week claimed that 40% of jobs would be replaced by machines by 2030, and that they will be able to ‘translate and interpret text quicker than humans’.

Many companies already use machine translation to provide quick and free translations of their websites and other materials, so it is down to us as language service providers along with our team of trusty translators to explain the added value of human translation.

But where do we start explaining to a company with their eye on the bottom line why they should invest in professional translation? Here are a few of our suggestions:

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Would your SMS be over the limit?

Ever contemplated a multilingual marketing campaign that uses SMS messaging to contact your customers? Or simply wanted to practise a bit of French with your latest foreign speaking acquaintance? Then you may want to have a serious think about size. Because when it comes to texting, it really does matter.

As English speakers, we are lucky enough to be given a grand total of 160 characters per text message. These days, our mobile providers generally allow us to exceed these limits and will concatenate multiple messages into one long message, billing us for the equivalent number of messages. UK mobile networks use GSM encoding, which supports a character set consisting of the Latin alphabet, numbers, many other symbols, and some support for non-English accented characters. ‘Extended’ GSM character sets are also provided in some countries and offer additional characters, but this can vary depending on the mobile provider and handset. Often, using these characters will also subtract more than one character from your precious 160 character allowance. In fact, even using your favourite smiley or salsa dancing emoji will instantly convert your message to Unicode and reduce your character limit to 70. And if you send a special character to someone with an incompatible handset, which is tricky to know beforehand, it may simply appear as a ☐. (more…)

Guidelines for writing for translation

content_highlightedIn the translation world, we talk a lot about quality.  The first building block of a top-quality translation is a quality source text.

Writing source content with translation in mind is critical.  In addition to the standard rules for well-written English, there are specific guidelines to follow when creating source content for translation.

Keep reading to find our Top 10 Guidelines for writing for translation.

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Reviewing – invisible but important

2349632625_4eba371b56_zReviewers are to translators what editors are to authors – a very necessary part of the process without which the text would not be ready for publication.

Reviewing is not re-translation, but rather a form of editing. Reviewers don’t focus on subjective stylistic amends, but instead look at what needs to be improved to increase a text’s fluency, understanding and accuracy. It is a balancing act; a translation must accurately convey the meaning of the original whilst not sounding ‘translated’.

Language service providers know that revision is their most powerful Quality Assurance tool for delivering the best possible translation. We often refer to it as ‘proofreading’, and although it is itemized separately on our quotations, revision should only be considered optional if the text is intended uniquely for internal company use, or for the client’s own information.

Reviewing is a crucial value-adding step in the translation project. More information on types of revision, the Web-Translations revision process and the limits of self-revision can be found below.

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Pre-localisation preparations

IMG_1024

Before localising a website, there are several key things to consider:

Design
If your site runs off a popular CMS, or if you have static HTML, localisation will be straightforward. Bespoke systems may also have been designed with localisation in mind.
• Consider whether all the elements of your design are editable. If you have images with embedded text that you have created in another program, the same program and file will be needed to create localised images.
• Ask yourself if the design is going to work if you don’t translate all parts of your website, or will there be an empty space on the French site where the “online chat” function is in English?
• Look for other potential spacing issues, such as the insertion of a dropdown language menu or currency selector.
• Find out if you can export/import content for translation. If not, would you prefer to provide us with access to your site, or would you handle all the content yourself?
• Can you provide server access to an external IP should this be necessary?

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Is it a pain parisien or a baguette?

tesco bread

Using little-known foreign words in advertising can make a product appeal to a certain clientele who understands the word or at least associates it with a particular culture. It can distinguish the brand as global and trend-setting.

Languages incorporate ‘foreign words’ all the time. At first, the use of a new word may be only between speakers of the source language who know the word, but at some point they begin to use the word with those to whom the word was not previously known. To these speakers the word may sound ‘foreign’. At this stage, when most speakers do not know the word and if they hear it think it is from another language, the word can be called a foreign word. There are many foreign words and phrases used in English such as bon vivant (French) and Schadenfreude (German), as well as many types of foreign food, such as pain parisien (French).

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Does a second language open the door to business success?

Following news that the popularity of language learning is declining year on year (The Telegraph), it’s clear that less young people are considering modern foreign languages to be an important consideration for their future careers. Yet ongoing research consistently suggests that this doesn’t match up to the needs and expectations of UK Business.

Back in 2013, the British Council published a report in which they pinpointed ten languages that would be crucial for the UK’s long-term prosperity, security and influence, using various indicators such as export trade, emerging markets and diplomatic concerns. The results were as follows (in order of importance):

1 Spanish
2 Arabic
3 French
4 Mandarin Chinese
5 German
6 Portuguese
7 Italian
8= Russian
8= Turkish
10 Japanese

The report found that 75% of the adults polled were unable to hold a conversation in any of the languages highlighted, and the British Academy declared the UK to be trapped in a ‘vicious cycle of monolingualism’ whereby Brits would become excluded from international negotiations and business opportunities. (more…)

How to Avoid a Branding Blunder

Following the decision of a Judge in France to prevent parents from naming their baby girl ‘Nutella’, this has sparked debate over words that should be deemed suitable, and indeed unsuitable, to be used as a name. In this case, the French courts deemed that the name would ‘lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts’ (BBC News) due to its association with the popular hazelnut spread.

This certainly isn’t the first case of its kind, but brings to mind an interesting point regarding our word associations and the power held within language. There are few instances where this becomes more apparent than in the translation world. (more…)

Will 2015 be the Year of Instant Translation?

Back in November 2014, Skype launched a preview of Skype Translator, which will aim to provide real-time translation of conversations in over 40 languages. Hot on its heels, Google has now updated its own app to include an instant interpreting function using voice recognition, as well as an impressive translation feature which utilises a phone’s camera to automatically translate text viewed through the lens.

Long gone are the days of trying to decipher the unusual looking dishes on foreign menus – now all you have to do is hover your phone above the page and receive an instant translation. Here at Web-Translations, we’ve given the app a quick road test using three major tourist preoccupations: warning signs, tourist information and those all important menus. Take a look at how we got on below. (more…)

Join the Crowd – is crowdsourced translation the future of multilingual online content?

I first stumbled across the concept of crowdsourcing a few years ago, when a small globe symbol appeared in the bottom right hand corner of my Facebook profile. Intrigued, I followed the link to Facebook Translate, an application that enables any user to contribute their own translations of the ever-expanding site content. In an impressive feat of translation ‘by the crowd’, Facebook was translated into French in a 24 hour period by a group of 4000 volunteers in 2008. But what implications does this open call principle have for the translation industry? (more…)

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