October 2010
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Taking Your Website Worldwide

Website Translation After a great deal of hard work, your website is on the path to success. What's the next step in turning a dynamic website into a worldwide web presence? The key is preparing your site to meet the needs of a global audience, so the audiences you want to reach can find your content and interact with your site on their terms.

The internet is increasingly global, and as a player in the global marketplace, you need to know and understand the realities of today's web users.

  • More than 30% of today's internet users are from Asia.
  • More than 25% of today's internet users are from Europe.
  • Nearly 75% of internet users speak a language other than English as their native tongue, with Chinese following English as the web's most spoken language.

Taken together, these facts chart a path toward a valuable opportunity for companies looking to expand into international markets. The key is to offer your web content in the language of the markets you are seeking to penetrate. This involves three steps:

  • Identifying and researching potential international markets.
  • Translating existing website material into those markets' languages.
  • Adapting that material to the customs and culture of the markets you are entering.

To create a successful global web presence, you'll need a dedicated website or page in each of the languages spoken by the audience you want to reach. This will help you to connect with your potential clients and customers in the language they understand best, building good will and drawing in new visitors who may not speak any English at all.

But you must do more than simply present your English website in Spanish, Mandarin, or Swahili. You need to adapt the material you have placed on that website to the specific cultures you are attempting to work in. This process is known as localization.

October 2010

2010's 4th Quarter has officially begun, and for companies that follow a Roman fiscal calendar, this season marks the last chance to pull in big numbers. Translation and localization are a great way to reach out to new sales opportunities.

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In This Issue

Taking Your Website Global
What you need to know about reaching out to other cultures with your online presence.

The Value of Hiring a Professional
Why amateur or software translation can hurt, rather than help, your bottom line.

Client Spotlight: Mercedes-Benz
The international auto maker knows how to reach a global market with translation.

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  • Localization requires a native understanding of the culture you are targeting, including their feelings, beliefs, and ideas—not just their language. Remember, you want to appeal to them just like you would English language users, not just communicate to them. You need to make them feel like you know and care about them.
  • Localization means understanding how your audience speaks. You may need separate sites to target Latin American Spanish speakers and Iberian Spanish speakers because those languages are different. Similarly, the Arabic spoken in Tunis and on the Tigris can be very different.
  • Localization means considering such nonverbal cues as colors, symbols, pictures, and other graphical elements that can mean very different things across cultures. In some cultures, certain animals are considered taboo and should not be depicted on the web. Some colors have negative symbolism that could put off your audience.
  • Localization means considering how your audience will view your site. English sites are designed to be read left-to-right, top-to-bottom. However, Hebrew and Arabic are read right-to-left, and many Asian languages are read vertically. This can pose design challenges that must be considered.

As you can see, the process of taking your website worldwide is both theoretically simple and also fraught with considerations and speed bumps. A reputable website translation and localization firm like Technovate Translations can provide you with the expertise you need to navigate the tricky world of website localization so you can take your site global and attract new audiences and build your international web presence.

The Value of Hiring a Professional Translator

Professional Translator To prove a point about translation, the 19th-century humorist Mark Twain once retranslated into English a story of his that had already been translated badly into French. The embarrassingly poor results demonstrated that to have the reader convulsing in laughter, as intended, The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County—or the duller-sounding The Frog Jumping of the County of Calaveras, as it became once translated into French and back again—needed to be read as originally written, and not in a poor translation that "simply mixed it all up."

Translation is more than simply identifying equivalent words in a dictionary or using an online translator. Rendering a phrase or paragraph one word at a time without understanding the language is a recipe for a translation disaster.

A hotel sign in Japan reportedly invited guests to "take advantage of the chambermaid." According to legend, the soft drink slogan "Come alive with the Pepsi generation" became "Pepsi brings your dead ancestors back from the grave" in China.

While these examples are at least funny, sometimes the results of mistranslation are simply excruciatingly mangled, such as the Turkish airline notice mentioned by the New Yorker: "Bodram Airlines is not able to cary out flight schedule if an unusual thinks take place like bed weather, NOTAM, float, fire, eath queke, war, gone of elefricity, natural disaster etc."

The consequences of poor amateur translation range from unintentional hilarity to outright offense, and ultimately the loss of the message you're trying to get across. Why risk the damage to your message, your brand and your reputation?

Auto-translation tools may seem like a convenient way to translate, but no computer technology has yet come close to duplicating the complexity of human language. Even as simple a word as "board" has 10 meanings in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Some of those meanings have up to seven sub-meanings, and only a person intimately familiar with all the nuances of both the source language and the target language knows how exactly how a word is being used. In other words, a well-qualified, experienced professional translator.

Fumbling through a foreign dictionary might also appear a shortcut to translation, but no dictionary can replace the experience of a speaker who knows just how words work in practice. Dictionaries can make generalizations about word-meaning, but only speaking and experiencing a language first-hand gives a person the skills to communicate with precision, clarity and creativity.

A professional translator also brings valuable cultural knowledge to the task of translation. A barely adequate translation job might get the gist of the message across, but it will never capture the right tone—and avoid the perils of offending cultural sensitivities—that an efficient, professionally trained human translator will.

Bad translation gives your business a bad reputation. Clear, professional translation instils confidence in your customers and clients, sending a message that you respect them, that your product or service is for them, and that you care about the basics of good communication.

Client Spotlight Mercedes-Benz

Translation and Localization It's difficult to point to an automobile manufacturer that's more international than Mercedes-Benz. No matter where you are in the world, people know that the name stands for quality and class. Although you may think of Mercedes-Benz as a European company – the reality is that they have become worldwide.

Their mandate of providing high quality trucks and cars to people and businesses all over the world makes Mercedes-Benz a dream candidate for excellent translation services in multiple languages. Spending some time on their international website, jumping from one localized site to the next, shows that Mercedes-Benz understands the value of translation and localization not just on a communication level, but on a product level as well. They've taken the time to understand and cater to the needs of their international customers – and that is what has made them such a global success.

Technovate Translations is proud to be a translations service provider to Mercedes-Benz.

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