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You may have heard the phrase “Think global, act local.” That is a wise guideline when doing business in a global economy. At International Language Services, Inc., we’re taking that to the next level with highly specific content localization for your business translations. You may have a global company, but you still need to translate for every local market in which you do business. 

So, if your company needs to “Think global, act local” in its document translations at home and abroad, what does this content localization look like? How does it affect your document translations? 

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What is Content Localization

The basic aim of content localization is ensuring every translation project is a close fit for its target market. But it isn’t as simple as it sounds. It means that your translated materials are carefully produced to be accessible, easy to understand, and as friendly as possible while communicating your message in the target language in a compelling way. 

Going global but thinking local means that everything in your translated material is appropriate for your target audience, and is relevant to their needs and culture. This includes printed materials,  text in graphics, the graphics themselves, websites, software interfaces, safety, and warning labels, and much more. 

Content Localization Considers Dialect 

Some languages, such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Chinese, and many others, have important local or national differences in how these languages are used. These variances offer unique challenges for content localization in translation. This is known as dialect, and they can vary widely by region. 

For example, both Mandarin and Cantonese share the Chinese alphabet and are tonal languages. This means that the intonation of a word dictates its meaning. Regions that speak Cantonese have up to nine tones, whereas Mandarin has only five. Mandarin and Cantonese are used in different regions, although Mandarin is the official language of China. Most people living in the Cantonese-speaking regions have a working knowledge of Mandarin, but it’s considered impolite to rely on the non-local dialect. 

Simply put, using the wrong dialect (or choosing to use the official language to save translation costs) risks offending your prospective customers and harming your chances of being successful in that region. 

Content Localization Considers Culture 

Content localization takes cultural references into consideration. In fact, the consequences of misunderstood meaning in technical, consumer-facing, or marketing translation can be significant. Cultural mistakes can be taken as personal insults. For example, In Japan, the use of honorifics is always expected when addressing customers, like adding the gender-neutral suffix “sama” in both messages and interactions. 

Other cultural nuances can cause a company great embarrassment, and even greater expense to correct the mistake. In some cases, the insult or embarrassment remains attached to the company long after corrections are made. Ford Motor Company mixed the meanings of “body” in a campaign to emphasize its excellent manufacturing processes. However, “Every car has a high-quality body” was understood by Belgian consumers to mean, “Every car has a high-quality corpse.” 

Content Localization Requires Experienced Native Translators 

In order to obtain the most accurate and reliable content localization, your translation service provider needs to rely on native translators with special expertise in your specific target market. These native translations help to guarantee that your grammar, spelling, and word usage is aligned with local norms and expectations. 

When left as an afterthought or rushed as a last-minute part of the process, your important document translations can result in mistranslated messages that insult or offend your target audience as well as embarrass your company. Add to that the expense of having to repeat the translation and localization process with reliable native translators.  

ILS is a professional translation services partner that’s familiar with many different dialects of over 180 languages. Our content localization services optimize your translation outcomes for a global market. When it comes to getting it right in any locale, trust ILS with your important business translations. Contact us today to learn more.

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