Localization of the ‘World Wide Web’

Localization of the ‘World Wide Web’

Localization of the web is progressing at full speed. Online marketing and advertising, just like search results in general, are increasingly targeted to specific regions, both linguistic and geographic regions. I moved from The Netherlands to Boston three months ago, and the online experience is simply completely different – not just because the average internet speed is, interestingly enough, significantly slower in the US. When you are visiting another country you can get an idea of the differences, but when you change your country settings in all your accounts, the experience changes even more. Over the next few years more content and advertising will become local, even on the ‘world wide web’. We may be connected in a technological sense, through those mysterious cables on our ocean floors, but time zones, languages, cultural norms, geographic and environmental factors all influence human behavior. A sense of community is more important than ever for many people. Google’s Eric Schmidt wrote in his book ‘The New Digital Age‘ that the web could one day be like air space, where countries actively govern their own web and may get involved in international cyber wars and conflicts of interest. Of course, this is already the case to a large extent. In terms of marketing and customer service, however, this development can only mean that translation and localization will matter more than ever. It is the number one reason that translation is seeing the biggest job growth, according to Careerbuilder. Globalization and localization often go hand-in-hand, however contrary that may seem. Both large cooperations and small businesses need to explore ways to connect with their international...

Connotations of Brands and Product Names

‘Fellatio’, ‘pancake’ and ‘waxed mare’: it might be hard to believe, but this is what some product names actually mean in other languages. Many businesses don’t even consider the fact that something as simple as the pronunciation of a product name in a foreign language may conjure up strange and unwanted associations that are sure to raise eyebrows. Introducing product names unchecked and unmodified in another country may therefore lead to extremely painful translation mix-ups. An article from the Wall Street Journal illustrates just how important transliteration may be when translating business texts and product names. The article describes how IKEA in Thailand has its product names checked, and where necessary transliterated by a complete team of interpreters and translators. With good reason, apparently. Many businesses that spread their wings across their domestic borders make mistakes when it comes to product translations. For instance, IKEA learned that the name of one of its beds (Redalen) bears a striking resemblance to the Thai word for oral sex. The pronunciation of the plant pot ‘Jättekul’ also had sexual connotations in Thai. But IKEA is not by far the only company that had incorrectly translated its product names (or rather: not translated them at all). In China, Bing, the name of Microsoft’s search engine, was changed to ‘bi ying’. Depending on the pronunciation, ‘Bing’ in Chinese refers to pancakes and diseases. And as early as 1927, it became clear that rendering ‘Coca Cola’ phonetically in Chinese characters led to words that refer to a waxed mare. Coca Cola subsequently changed the Chinese spelling of its brand, in order to prevent any unwanted...
Glocalization; Think Global, Act Local

Glocalization; Think Global, Act Local

A concept that is becoming increasingly important is glocalization. Still, a lot of people don’t know what glocalization is. Businesses should think global, and act local. If you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense. What works in one country might not work in another. Companies don’t have just one marketing concept that works globally. Glocalization means that a product or service is distributed worldwide, but tailored or adapted to local preferences. This might have to do with culture, religion, lifestyle or other reasons that might affect the efficiency of a product or service. For example, if you look at McDonald’s, you know that they have a strong global position, with more than 34,000 restaurants. Even McDonald’s needs to adapt its menus to local wishes and preferences. Their hamburgers and fries are very popular, although in some countries the menus look completely different. In Morocco and other Islamic countries, McDonald’s has localized their menu by serving halal burgers. Recently, a friend told me that when his dad came to visit from Indonesia, they went to McDonald’s in Amsterdam. He ordered a meal with rice; not knowing that in the Netherlands McDonald’s does not serve rice. At Textcase, we focus on internationalization and we localize texts, making them appropriate for readers in other countries. When translating, we think global, but we localize stories for readers in other countries. By localizing texts, a lot of misinterpretations are prevented. When a global leader in household appliances, Electrolux, used the slogan ‘Nothing sucks like an Electrolux’, for their range of vacuum cleaners they probably haven’t thought about glocalization. Businesses must...
Which Languages Matter Most Online?

Which Languages Matter Most Online?

While Europe and North America are still dealing with the financial crisis, almost everywhere else in the world the middle-class segment is growing. More middle-class households means more access to computers and mobile devices connected to the web. The more consumers of online information, the bigger the importance and value of translation and localization. Which languages are most present on the web right now? And which languages are most interesting for you to add to your company repertoire? In this month’s MultiLingual magazine we read that if you want to reach 80% of the world’s total online population, you need at least 12 languages. However, to address 90% of global online economic opportunity you need at least 13 languages. Please consult the table below to see which languages you should focus on. We at Textcase are eager to help out and are looking forward to receiving your inquiry.   Online population   Global online economic opportunity 1 Chinese 22.7% 1 English 36.3% 2 English 21.6% 2 Japanese 10.5% 3 Spanish 9% 3 German 8.4% 4 Japanese 4.5% 4 Spanish 7.8% 5 Portuguese 3.7% 5 French 6.2% 6 Arabic 3.6% 6 Chinese 6.1% 7 German 3.5% 7 Italian 3% 8 Russian 3.3% 8 Portuguese 2.5% 9 French 3.1% 9 Dutch 2.3% 10 Indonesian 1.9% 10 Korean 2.2% 11 Korean 1.8% 11 Arabic 2% 12 Italian 1.6% 12 Russian 2%   13 Swedish 1.2%...
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