The term and concept of ‘the global village’ has been about for years. If you’re not familiar with it, then it’s probably the case that you’ve never been part of the global village in the first place! A quick recap though, just in case: the global village expresses the refashioned nature of our world in the age of mass electronic communication and the internet, with these new technologies nurturing our feeling of a melded, global community that instantaneously shares news and international responsibilities among its disparate parts.
Well, this may be because the term was originally coined by a Canadian philosopher of communication theory – Marshall McLuhan – back in the 60s. A visionary, he anticipated the internet and its effects on the world by several decades. As ever, and rather ironically, the global media has since been largely responsible for latching onto the term and using it in a way that somewhat reduces the full weight of McLuhan’s thinking. However, we all get the general idea!
Whereas we may live in a global village, it’s certainly not the case that we share a global tongue. Anyone, from any country, can access the internet. Yet if your site or software application is catering for one language only, it’s not only going to make you look insular but it will also mean your business isn’t maximizing opportunities to reach out into potential international markets. In short, without localisation, you’re not participating effectively in the global community!
At dotdigital, we’re increasingly going global. Our outlook is an international one. The majority of the application interface is localized, not just our marketing site. This is all done for us by a professional translation agency, someone in whose expertise we can firmly put our trust. This partnership is crucial. After all, translation is a very tricky business. There are intricacies to be dealt with; nuances in semantics, variations in syntactical structures, and differences between cultural idioms and expressions to consider. These have to be handled by a native speaker who is ‘in the know’: not only about their own language but also about the product they are translating content for.
Some companies may choose to rely on machine – or automatic – translations of their site. This is a very bad idea and can only short change the end user. A machine translated site can be spotted a mile off – it often results in reading laughably, being bereft of a human element to correct the erratic results. This is because it’s a literal translation. There is no way a computer program can consistently apply subtle rules of grammar, let alone the special knowledge of specific cultural insight, to produce top notch localisations.
In discarding such attention to quality, a business discards its credibility. If you can’t communicate effectively with a certain audience, you lose that audience. In this day and age it’s the case that the audience is the whole world.
Let’s look at the simple example of translating “Good luck” into Italian. A quick check on Google Translate sees it return “Buona fortuna”. Sounds about right, you say? Well, it is…technically. But that’s not good enough. It may be the literal translation but it isn’t the correct expression. If you really want to communicate to an Italian on their terms, you say “In bocca al lupo!” This literally translates back into English as “In the mouth of the wolf!” Who knew?! Well, a native Italian translator would, for a start.
Our approach is that there are no shortcuts to localisation. The localisation quality and capability of dotdigital is a direct reflection on how seriously we’re taking international markets and needs, therefore translations must be of the highest caliber. There is absolutely no point having a great product if our offering of it in anything other than English comes across as just garbled gobbledygook (and yes, I had to look up how that was spelled, and no, I don’t know how it translates into any other language!).
Our friends at Freedman International agree. Here they explain the differing methods of translation:
Freedman recommends 3 main types of local copy adaptation:
Translation: is an adaptation of the source text into the target language and aims to convey the same message. Translators will be bilingual with a thorough knowledge of the subject matter and only translating into their mother tongue. Translation should be used when the source content is straightforward, devoid of idiomatic expressions and can be interpreted somewhat literally. Accurate and meaningful translations can only be created by professional translators, machine translation frequently misinterprets the words
Transcreation: Transcreators will understand source concepts and how they may be portrayed in the target language, will adapt content so that it is appropriate for the market, not write from scratch, address concerns about cultural gaps, market suitability, etc, have the license to interpret the brand as they go. Transcreation should be used when the sense of the source copy needs to be portrayed in the target language with cultural sensitivities and nuances adapted accordingly. Machine translation only looks for exact match word translations and so is not suitable
Copywriting: Ad agency writers specializing in marketing content will create copy from scratch in the target language directly, may refer to the source copy but consider it almost irrelevant, will work from a creative brief and have the license to create the brand as they go.
Machine translation can be used when the key criteria is to understand the general meaning of the source text ie. not for publishing. It can sometimes be used for certain types of technical manual translations where the importance of speed and cost supersedes grammatical accuracy and local cultural relevance, however a human proofreader should always be used. It is not appropriate for marketing copy as local nuances and brand consistency is often key. Machine translation is not offered by Freedman.
For more on Freedman International, who we use here at dotdigital, contact Carmen.Camacho@FreedmanInternational.Com
Our application interface is currently available in seven languages – English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish – but that’s just the beginning! We are ready and primed to add more, and we certainly anticipate the need to do so. We’re in a position to add most languages easily and quickly. If you require a language that isn’t included above, then please contact us to speak about it, or, if you have an account manager, please contact them to discuss any needs.
And so, after all that, back to the global village we go – and with dotdigital, we can assure you that you won’t get lost in translation on the way back!