The process of translation may seem like a mere exchange of words and phrases from one language to another but as any quality freelance translator will tell you, there is a lot more to it than that. A good translator will use a variety of translation techniques and methods depending on the language it’s being translated into and the target market it’s aiming to reach.
In history, the translation of writing goes back as far as the Mesopotamian era and is believed to have started with the epic Sumerian poem, The Gilgamesh, which was translated into a variety of Asian languages around the second millennium BC. The need for translation began to increase with the development of religious texts and theories. The word translation is derived from a Latin term that means “to bring or carry across”. The word metaphrasis in Ancient Greek, which means “to speak across” created the word metaphrase which was the first term for a “word-to-word” translation. As translation and translation studies became more common, defined techniques and methods took form.
J.P. Vinay and J.Darbelnet were pioneers of translation studies as they created and published formalised translation procedures in 1958 with their book titled, Comparative Stylistics of French and English: A Methodology for Translation. It was one of the first times translation methods had been categorised and since it has become the basis of technique for modern multilingual translation services.
While a translation method can be applied to an entire translated text, translation techniques and types of translation vary based on what elements will be translated. Vinay and Darbelnet detailed seven different techniques within two methods of translation.
This method is used when similar concepts and structures of the source language can be used in the translated language. Languages need to be similar in a variety of ways for these techniques to work as these types of translation techniques are not able to capture a lot of nuances found in language.
Borrowing examples: sombrero, café, kimono, hamburger, kimchi
Calque examples: gratte-ciel in French is a calque of ‘skyscraper’. An ‘Adam’s apple’ is calque of the French phase pomme d’Adam. Beer garden is a calque of the German biergarten.
This method is most often used when languages and cultures are substantially different, such as English to Chinese translation. This method will usually change the structural or conceptual elements of the text to preserve its meaning.
Transposition example: Rendering a French noun with an English verb, Je l’ai vu avant la rentrée can be directly translated to English as “I saw her before school started”, this changes the noun la rentrée into a verb.
Modulation examples: Lebensgefahr in German means danger to life, whereas in English we would say “danger of death”. A literal translation of this phrase from English to German would sound odd and confusing to a German person. Another example is how French speakers refer to the top floor of a building as dernier étage which translates as “last stage” in English. A literal translation of this phrase from French to English would baffle many prospective English apartment buyers and renters.
Equivalence/reformulation examples: The English phrase “It’s pouring,” which refers to a downpour of rain doesn’t translate into German but the meaning can be altered to give the same effect, es regnet in Strömen (It rains in streams).
Adaptive examples: Baseball or NFL football in the US 🡪Football in England
Out of these basic and common techniques, how do you know what translation tools, translation techniques or methods are the best for your business or localization strategy? Every business, strategy and approach is different so the best way to get a return on your investment is to use certified translation services. Quality translators will assess your documents, software, website, eLearning platform or eCommerce software to ensure that your business successfully reaches your target market and audience.
Into23 offers high quality translation services in any language your business needs. Contact us today for a free quote so we can help your business enter new global markets and enterprises.
Chinese is one of the most important business languages. It is second only to English in terms of being the most spoken, so here are a few important things to know while creating your localization strategy.
With a large population and a growing number of middle-class consumers, the Chinese market has been a new hotspot for businesses. The Chinese market can be a successful market for your business if it’s done right. It’s easier than ever to crack this market with the growth of technology, online shopping, eCommerce translation services, and eLearning platforms. However, there are some major points to consider if you want to localize for a Chinese area or region, as there are many pitfalls when localizing to Chinese.
Chinese is an old and diverse language. In mainland China alone, around 70 million people belong to 55 different minority groups, each with their dialect and some that don’t even have a distinguishable written form. However, with the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Mandarin was chosen as the official language of the country. Today, more than 70% of the Chinese population speaks Mandarin.
Written Traditional Chinese is around 6000 years old and is the oldest written language in the world. Cantonese speakers generally still use these characters, as do Mandarin speakers in Taiwan. Mandarin speakers in China use Simplified Chinese characters. Simplified characters have been around significantly less than their traditional counterpart as they were formalized at the beginning of the People’s Republic of China. The People’s Republic of China was formed in 1949, and at the time, the majority of Chinese could not read or write. To improve literacy, Mao Zedong initiated a new system of Simplified Chinese, simplifying around 2000 Chinese characters by reducing the number of strokes used for each character. Simplified Chinese was first used in 1956.
While there are various spoken dialects of Chinese, these are the two major forms of writing. This is handy as even if the spoken dialect is different, Chinese can generally communicate through writing.
Seven major dialects are used in China and its Special Administrative Regions (SARs). To reach the Chinese market with your business, you need to know where your target market is and what Chinese form is used there.
|Mandarin (Putonghua)||Most of mainland China, Taiwan, Macau|
|Cantonese/Yue||Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou (Canton), and Wuzhou.|
|Min||Fujian province and parts of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Hainan, and Taiwan|
|Wu||Zhejiang province, Shanghai, southern Jiangsu province, parts of Anhui and Jiangxi provinces.|
|Xiang||Most of the Hunan province, the counties of Quanzhou, Guanyang, Ziyuan, and Xing’an, northeastern Guangxi province.|
|Hakka||Northeastern Guangdong, adjoining regions of Fujian, Jiangxi, Southern Hunan, and the older generations of Hong Kongers in the New Territories. In Taiwan, Hakka is spoken by some in the Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli parts of the country.|
All of this variation within the Chinese language necessitates using the best Chinese translation services company to guarantee that sufficient research is done to develop a translation and localization plan that matches your strategy for entering this lucrative market.
Like any good localization strategy, you need to know your target audience, its culture, its language, and the things your target market values. You’ll need to consider how your brand voice and whether this will resonate with a Chinese audience. Can you directly translate your brand content, or will you need to consider a more creative translation, a transcreation, to convey your brand voice? As China is diverse, with differences across the regions, high-quality translation services can help you achieve your marketing strategy. An experienced translation agency can help you avoid cultural mishaps and translation errors.
Learn from the companies who have attempted and accessed the market already. Localizing in China is challenging, and even some of the biggest names have failed after not performing thorough market research. Learning from what has worked with brands that are similar to yours can help narrow your research and expedite your localization strategy.
Mainland China uses various social media and eCommerce platforms that are not used or are less popular in other countries. Baidu is the search engine used by most people, with platforms such as WeChat for social media and eCommerce payments. Other social media platforms include Qzone, Renren and P1. In Hong Kong, western social media platforms are popular, and a variety of eCommerce platforms, from the Octopus card to PayMe, are used to pay for products online.
It should be apparent by now the importance of localization and translation services when expanding your business globally, especially into Chinese markets. Navigating any new market is challenging, so take the guesswork out of your localization strategy and get the assistance of translation and localization experts.
Into23 is a translation agency in Hong Kong offering localization and translation services. We are experts in Asian languages. Reach out to Into23 today to discuss your business localization strategy to set yourself up for success in the Chinese markets.
Working on a mobile app and want to have it translated? Here’s what you need to know to get started.
Did you know that 84% of the world’s population owns a smartphone? Smartphones have transformed our lives, and a large part of that has come down to mobile apps that have been created to make our lives and customer and business interactions easier, more efficient, and more convenient. If you’ve got an app that you want to take global or reach a new target audience in a different language, mobile app translation or app localization is a feature and service you should look into. Don’t know where to start? Here are some tips to get started in translating your mobile app.
Cartoon app store UIs – Photo by 200degrees on Pixabay – Caption –“Mobile applications are now a part of our daily lives. Apps are more likely to be used if they are in the native language of the user.”
Apps are used for just about everything now, with the average smartphone user using around 10 apps per day and around 30 apps per month. If you do business in any other language other than English, getting your app translated is an effective way to increase your business within a set market. A study by Distimo in 2012 found that translated apps saw a 128% increase in app downloads and a 26% increase in paid subscriptions for those apps that had them. Now, these stats from 2012, imagine how much more these numbers would be in 2022.
While mobile app translation may sound as simple as translating content from one language to another, there is much more to consider.
You could, but there are many good reasons why you shouldn’t. While machine translation in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, it’s missing an essential part of any quality translation, which is the proofreading and copy editing that comes from a human translator. Machine translations cannot consider cultural nuances and can still make obvious grammatical errors that can ruin any good mobile application.
Mobile app translation is a necessary part of entering a new language market. However, translation in and of itself is very limiting. This is where mobile app localization steps in. Localization transforms and translates your product so it carries the same meaning and tone in the language it’s being translated into. It considers the cultural, geographical region, beliefs, local regulatory standards, and values of the target area in the translation process. It’s an adaptive review of your product to make sure that every aspect of the platform is suited to its new region.
Here are a few areas that are often included in app localization,
The first step in translating any app is to know your target markets thoroughly. This includes knowing your target users and their behaviour, along with proper market research. It will also require a substantial amount of project management and setting clear goals and outcomes of what you expect from the translation of your app. Here are some tips and suggestions to get you started on your software translation.
Resources such as text, images, audio etc, that have executable code should be outsourced. This makes it so that content can be changed efficiently without having to change the base executable code of the app.
Just like with websites, keywords and SEO are important for apps too. When you’re localizing, you need to consider your keywords, too and determine what words will work best in the regions you’re looking to enter. This localization of keywords will give you better rankings in app stores. So be sure to perform local word searches and know who your competitors are, along with what words, tone, and strategies they’ve used.
Depending on what language you’re translating into, text expansion and contraction are necessary for apps since they’re often used on small-screened devices. For example, English to Mandarin Chinese contracts by up to 20-50%, while the opposite occurs from English to German, with the text expanding anywhere from 10-30%. Not taking these factors into account when translating your app can result in serious user interface issues.
If you’re looking for an additional reason to localize your mobile app, both Google Play and the iOS AppStore can detect if you’ve localized, which can increase your app’s ranking. Further, by optimizing your app for the app stores, you’re increasing your chances of your app being successful. For example, when people are looking for an app, the first thing they see is the app name, meaning it’s important to have an app name that is descriptive and attractive. Both app stores also allow for a short description following the name, so use this to increase your ranking in app store results.
Having a linguistic QA specialist do proper QA testing on your app after the localization process is essential for a seamless app launch. QA testing ensures that your app works on all devices and platforms and that the translation work you’ve put into your app is flawless. QA testing ensures a better ROI, especially since users are less likely to use and engage with a glitchy or buggy app.
If this guide has shown you anything, it’s that there are a lot of considerations, extensive planning and research that are needed to go into a successfully translated mobile app. To get the best out of your mobile app investment, it’s important to work with a language translation technology company that can take you through the translation process.
Into23 offers multilingual translation services for mobile app localization, software localization services, website localization and more. With international experience and a specialization in Asian languages, Into23 can help you mitigate risks and increase your ROI when entering the global market on any translation project. Contact us today to find out how we can meet your translation and localisation requirements.
If you speak English, Spanish or Mandarin, you’ve got much of the business world covered. However, demographics are changing fast, and so too are the number of people speaking the world’s myriad languages. This has far-reaching consequences for businesses and their business translation requirements, notably in terms of what products and services they offer, how these are marketed and also about the workforce’s language skills.
According to the World Economic Forum, one in three of us today speaks one of just three languages as our mother tongue. These languages are Chinese, Spanish and English. Combined, some 2 billion speak them. They’re followed in order by Arabic, Hindi, Bengali, Portuguese and Russian. Fluency in these languages is vital for engaging in business with a huge proportion of the world’s population.
Today, English is used as a lingua franca in international translation companies, primarily due to colonial expansion. Indeed, it’s an official language in 67 countries. Not only that, it’s the most popular second language in the world. In international translation companies, having a workforce with English-language skills is vital. But English’s dominance is waning. Therefore, businesses must address their future language needs and train and hire accordingly.
Though predictions vary depending on the topic, the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries feature prominently in lists of the most spoken languages of the future. The Washington Post reports that “Hindi, Bengali, Urdu and Indonesian will dominate much of the business world by 2050, followed by Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Russian.”
One big change already underway is the transition of the US from a predominantly English-speaking country to a mixed Spanish- and English-speaking one. Therefore, Spanish will increasingly be a requirement for business in the country. In the US, some 13% of the population speaks Spanish at home. However, as the Spanish-speaking population is growing faster than the English-speaking one, it’s predicted that by 2050, one in three US citizens will speak Spanish. Spanish is far ahead of the 3rd most-used language in the US. As this trend progresses, governments, businesses and healthcare systems are trying to include Spanish in their daily communication. Talking to your customers in Spanish will become a critical success factor for business in the United States.
Not only are the numbers of speakers of each language important for businesses, but the economic importance of these speakers is also a consideration. The growth of China and India’s economies over the past two decades has been phenomenal. Citizens in these countries are far wealthier than ten years ago, consuming more products and services than ever before.
China is the world’s second-largest economy and is set to overtake the US soon as the biggest. Because of the rising affluence of its population, it’s become an increasingly important market for all sorts of international companies, such as Starbucks, McDonald’s and KFC, among many others.
Today some 1.117 billion people speak Chinese, including the different variants. But as the market is becoming more and more important for international business, and as Chinese firms like Tencent, Alibaba, ICBC, and China Mobile make progress into other markets, the language will rise in importance. For example, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which comprises massive infrastructure construction in numerous countries across the world, has seen the rise of Mandarin learning in places like Africa, where China is growing in prominence. China is funding huge infrastructure investments such as dams, railways, ports and telecommunications projects in these countries.
The Financial Times estimates that between 2000 and 2014, Chinese investment in Africa went from 2% of the US level to 55%. Furthermore, McKinsey estimates that, at the current pace, China will surpass US levels of investment within a decade. Given these profound changes, it’s easy to see why the Chinese language is growing increasingly important.
Even though it is one of the most spoken languages, the spread of Chinese worldwide is somewhat limited. “Chinese is only rarely used in sciences and difficult to read and write,” says German linguist Ulrich Ammon, drawing on his multi-year analysis of languages. This could be set to change.
Another case in point is Arabic. It’s the official language of 22 countries that comprise the Arab League, and it covers more than 300 million speakers worldwide. The population in the Middle East is expected to double to over 1 billion by 2100. Indeed The British Council ranks Arabic as the second-most important language in terms of international trade and business for Britons to learn.
However, one point to note is that most younger citizens in Gulf Arab states use English more than Arabic daily. This is a testament to the complexity of forecasting what languages will be on the rise.
Given the linguistic developments already underway, it’s essential that businesses not only calibrate their current operational strategies to align with these changes but also plan for the future trajectory of the world’s most important languages. There are several effective steps to take that will future-proof any company in terms of language.
Perhaps the most important is to partner with the best translation services company, so not only are today’s language needs to be met, but you’ll be well-positioned to navigate the impending linguistic changes outlined above.
The second step is to focus staff training and hiring on the languages spoken in your target markets, but also with an eye on the trajectory of the development of various languages. For example, if your firm is eyeing expansion in Asia, Mandarin would be a safe bet.
If your firm is targetting the world’s most dynamic markets, such as China, India and Indonesia, your localization and translation services partner must be familiar with the languages spoken there. Before embarking on wholesale change, in terms of hiring or finding translation agencies online, it’s best to conduct thorough research and seek the advice of independent experts. They’ll help you to determine whether you would be better off with multilingual voice-over services, whether multilingual translation services options are best or, indeed, what professional localization and translation services would be suitable.
To explore solutions for your language needs, both for today and the future, get in touch with Into23 today.
If you are selling services or products online, you’ll already be familiar with the importance of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). These benefits extend to having your website and SEO strategy translated into other languages. But just how hard is it? And is it worth it?
If you don’t translate your website you are missing out on a huge opportunity to expand in the global market place. Machine translation doesn’t cut it and as a poorly translated site will put clients and customers off, it’d be a waste of time. Avoid partial translation of a website as this will leave huge holes in your offering. For example, if you neglect to translate a key FAQ, any customer or client seeking that info would be put off.
Read on to discover the reasons why multilingual SEO is crucial for companies engaged in cross-border business.
If you’re capable of selling products or services across borders, it doesn’t make sense to not have a multilingual translation of your website. This is especially true if you want to reach out to more consumers in the global market place. Businesses should optimise their websites to enable potential clients or customers to easily understand the company, what it is offering, and its services or products. In order to be able to generate revenue from the international market place and reach out to global audiences, it is advisable to translate your website and create a multilingual SEO strategy.
You need to settle on an overarching strategy. The strategy should include a defined user experience, how the site should be navigated, and how it should look and feel. So, what language should your website be translated into? A good place to start is with the language you use in the CMS to create your content. Assess which market would bring in the biggest return on investment.
From there, it’s not a straight forward process. You need to consider which parts of the website you will translate and into which languages. The best website translation services will help you decide the optimum level of translation.
Some changes are simple and easy to do. For example, changing a price in pennies to dollars, or adding a some translated press releases. These changes are useful, though to many they appear as merely cosmetic. However, other changes can be pretty challenging to translate as they require a high level of skill and accuracy. For the content to have the same impact in another language and indeed culture, the translation needs to be refined and based on the knowledge and cultural references of the audience that will be accessing the content. To make sure you get it right first time, check your potential provider has ecommerce expertise, web page translation services, website localization services and multilingual blog SEO capabilities so you can access the full range of services required to produce a professional finish. Not many website translation companies offer the full range of services.
SEO is the process of optimising a website to appear higher up search engine results pages. This is important as research shows most people do not click past the first page of search engine results. If your company isn’t on the first page of search results for the keywords that matter, then you may as well put a billboard up in the middle of the Pacific. Of course, consumers in different locations use different search terms. Not only that, but they use different search engines. For example, in China, Baidu rules. Therefore, you should look for a company that is proficient at multilingual content management.
SEO has evolved into a multi-faceted strategy and includes factors such as:
Backlink building is one of the most powerful SEO tools. You need to know the current ranking of your business, so that you can learn how to improve it. This will give you a strategic advantage over other businesses in your industry. Remember to keep things in context, don’t make any drastic changes and to adopt a measured approach. This is not just about ranking higher, but focusing on ranking better.
Multilingual SEO optimisation, or MO SEO, involves using different or multiple languages when structuring a website and optimising it for search engines. Information on this subject is constantly evolving. However, we have identified some core guidelines that we recommend.
Thinking of how a user would like to access your site is a good starting point; this then helps you design it optimally. Often, it’s necessary to do a ‘crawl’ to fully understand the structure of your website, and develop a strategy to optimise it in another language. SEO tools are available to help with this process. Use optimised content to rank higher for you target keywords. All key attributes like layout, pictures and content should match the intended language.
If you do not optimise your websites, you are missing out on a big opportunity. SEO plays a huge role in the global market place. It is only going to get bigger. There are many challenges in the global market place for online businesses. For a start, it’s a crowded place. The average internet user in most countries has a fairly new smartphone. So to start off, you need to optimise your website for the mobile user experience. With reference to China, that would require a presence on WeChat.
Websites evolve with the frequent addition of new products and services, or additions to FAQs, or company updates. The process of website translation should be an ongoing process so that all the updates are current and can be efficiently translated and applied as and when required.
The benefit comes in the form of user satisfaction. In today’s online business world, trust is vital. This can be a problem for foreign language websites. Getting website translation and multilingual SEO will go a long way to building trust with the consumers you wish to target.
Having a multilingual website and SEO strategy mean you will open up myriad opportunities to effectively and efficiently engage with consumers across the world. If your website was available in Mandarin, Spanish and English, for example, you’d have 38% of the world’s population covered. The return on investment for website localisation services and ecommerce translation services is usually more than worth the effort.
With more than 6000 languages worldwide how do you decide which ones to use for your business platforms? The belief that English is the language of business isn’t valid anymore with the increase and demand for online shopping, eLearning platforms, and eCommerce services like Shopify.
Historically, English has been the international business language but the emergence and reliance on the internet has completely altered the way we do business. In the mid-1990s, around 70 million people used the internet with Native English speakers making up for 80% of these users. However, today there is a whopping 4.6 billion internet users worldwide but English users make up for just 25.9% of that number.
If your business aims to enter the international market you need to speak to customers in their own language, meaning that integrating translation and localization into your business platforms is crucial. A survey performed by Common Sense Advisory looked at 2,430 different internet users across eight different countries and found that,
So while languages like English and Mandarin have long been some of the most important languages to learn for business, they are not the only ones to consider as eCommerce business continues to expand globally. Countries that have been on the sidelines in terms of global business now have a fast-growing number of internet consumers. Take a look at these top nine emerging languages for your business platforms.
Portugal is a relatively small European company but its language, Portuguese, has a large number of native speakers around the world, approximately 258 million.
Brazil is generally the main attraction in terms of business as Brazil is Latin America’s largest eCommerce market, it also ranks in the top five for the internet market as well as the smartphone market. Its growth has also not gone unnoticed, the British Council created a report on the ten most important languages for the future in the UK and Portuguese ranked in at number six.
In the same report by the British Council that Portuguese ranked in, Arabic came in at second which, is no surprise as there are several Arabic-speaking countries that rank in the UK’s top 50 export market for goods.
Despite some of its political difficulties, many parts of the Middle East have a wealth of internet consumers and a steadily growing economy. With many Arab people only able to speak Arabic, translation services or localization is crucial for reaching this market.
Russian is spoken by 258 million people worldwide, with the majority of them located in Russia. Russia is the up and coming hotspot for eCommerce as Russia lacks a main eCommerce platform like Amazon which, makes them the last remaining major market without a dominant online retailer. According to Morgan Stanley, eCommerce sales in Russia could triple by 2023.
Capitalising on the Russian market will require, at minimum, eCommerce translation services, as the large majority of Russians do not speak English. The best method, of course, would be a localisation strategy from a certified translation company.
Hindi is the official language of India with 600 million people speaking it, that number in and of itself says a lot. While there are many other languages spoken in India, English has often been used to conduct business, however, that is changing. Hindi is quickly becoming more prominent among new entrepreneurs as 85% of India does not speak English. In a CSA Report, Hindi saw a gigantic 67% increase on the top 100 online languages chart, making Hindi a language and a market to pay attention to.
While Japan had a rough go after WWII it has since become one of the most rapidly growing eCommerce markets in the world. It’s estimated that 93% of the population in Japan use the internet and with 126 million Japanese speakers, it’s a consumer market worth noting.
Relatively few people in Japan speak English, meaning that to succeed in this market translation and localization will be required.
Indonesia is home to 277 million people and a rapidly growing eCommerce market, thanks to an increase in middle-class consumerism and a high percentage of smartphone use. In a report by McKinsey, the consulting firm has predicted that the value of the Indonesian eCommerce market will rise 800% by the end of 2022. To enter this market, translation and localization will be essential to your eCommerce business plan.
Korean itself doesn’t rank high in terms of the world’s most spoken languages but they do have nearly 47 million internet users and a very expansive and popular eCommerce market. Currently, 96% of the Korean population use the internet with its total eCommerce transaction sales amounting to 135 billion dollars USD in 2020 alone. This makes Korea a hub of interest for eCommerce business that is sure to continue growing.
77 million people speak Vietnamese and it is the main language of trade within Vietnam. With an increase in eCommerce consumerism, it’s predicted that Vietnam will have 70 million online shoppers by 2025. Engaging with the Vietnamese market and its consumers will require translation and localization as a crucial part of any eCommerce business plan.
Poland is the ninth largest country in Europe with 41 million people speaking Polish. Poland is already home to many eCommerce companies that operate in Europe and worldwide such as Amazon. Even United States officials have taken note of Poland and the importance of eCommerce on its economic development and its intense growth over the pandemic. It’s worth considering Polish when choosing what languages to add to your business platforms if this is a market you want to break into.
Into23 offers global language solutions with quality translation and localization services. With 24/7 accessibility and fast delivery, Into23 can transform your business to enter the global market and reach even more customers. Whether you’re looking to enter the Chinese market and need English to Chinese translation services or you want to step up your website or eLearning platform, Into23 specialises in helping companies with Asian languages. Getting a quote is easy, just show us your website for a free quotation on our translation services.
Advances in machine translation (MT) mean enterprises now have a sophisticated translation solution in their toolkit that can translate quickly and at scale. Long gone are the days of weird menu translations and Yoda-like results. But given the recent rapid advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, companies must navigate how to optimally deploy this productivity-boosting approach alongside human translation. Knowing where and when to use machine translation will ensure translations are cost-effective and fit for purpose. Embracing translation technology and innovation in the right areas is the way to increase engagement and efficiency. Read on to find out the criteria you need to consider when deploying the latest machine translation solutions.
Though you may think language translation technology is a relatively modern phenomenon – after all, computers have only been around since The Babbage Difference Engine back in 1822 – its roots stretch back, all the way to the Arabian peninsula in the 9th century, where one al-Kindi translated ancient Greek mathematics, science and philosophy texts that had been lost to European civilisation, helping spark the Renaissance in the process. He developed various systems based on frequency analysis and statistics, key concepts in MT. Now, AI translation software enables clients to customise according to subject area, such as meteorological reports. This has massively widened MT’s applicability and usefulness.
Machine translation was initially developed in the 1950s, and has since been transformed through continuous advances, diverging into four categories: SMT, NMT, RBMT, and Hybrid Machine Translation. SMT, or statistical machine translation, automatically maps sentences in one language into another, whereas NMT, or Neural Machine Translation, encompasses a neural network that relies on algorithms working together to process highly complex data inputs. RBMT, or Recurrent Batch Machine Translation, replaces the input texts with translations of a set of translations of the same text, and Hybrid Machine Translation combines elements of both NMT and RBMT.
The advantages of using machine translation mean it is a very effective and efficient solution in a company’s toolkit. Firstly, machine translation is incredibly fast. It can process huge volumes of text in a near instant. Therefore, it improves efficiency and productivity. Companies that deploy machine translation typically see an improved profit margin, all else being equal. Secondly MT is scalable. If you need to translate a short document or an entire library’s worth of text, MT can handle it. Lastly, and partly as a result of the first two points, machine translation is much more cost-effective than human translation. Before you rush out to onboard a range of machine translation solutions, there are many circumstances where human translation is preferable, and numerous others where a hybrid approach of machine translations processed by human editors is best.
Getting the best out of machine translation requires optimally deploying it. Several factors will determine the ideal approach. A Nimdzi survey of 33 localisation buyers found 22.6% report extensively using neural machine translation. The survey notes that sectors like media, video gaming and marketing are laggards in MT adoption, mainly because they require high levels of cultural sensitivity and creativity that MT as of today can’t match. That’s not to say MT isn’t making inroads into these areas. For example, world top-10 gaming company Electronic Arts (EA) adopted MT tech quite early in its development. Notably, in areas where content is intended to prompt emotional engagement, EA uses human-edited MT translations. The survey also found that in circumstances that directly impact business revenue, human translation is preferred.
Applying those findings to business activity, MT is useful for quickly transmitting a message to large numbers of people in various locations. Even in this instance, it’s always wise to have a human check the copy. The content lifecycle is also a consideration. For short-lived content, such as product specs on a short run of merchandise, then the return on investment is not there for human translation, which costs more than MT. Here, the requirements for quality and timeliness are key determinants.
Another great use case for MT is where recipients are aware that the content they are consuming is translated by a machine. This enables them to read with caution.
In a sign of just how far MT could go in the future, a group of scientists recently launched a project to decode sperm whale ‘speech’ with a view to enabling whale-human communication. That would be an interesting one to add to the digital translation services already available. The Cetacean Translation Initiative is using AI to understand whales’ clicking sounds, known as codas. The scientists are deploying natural-language processing, which processes spoken and written communication, to that end.
MT is improving all the time, and as it does, it becomes applicable to an ever-expanding set of scenarios. However, we aren’t anywhere near the point where MT is good enough for businesses to abandon Machine Translation Post-Editing (MTPE). Finding the right balance is key, and a professional translation agency will help you navigate the optimal configuration of MT, human translation and MTPE. Get in touch today to speak to an expert and explore your options.
In 2010, a Pro-Cantonese Movement （廣州撐粵語行動）erupted in the city of Guangzhou in Guangdong province, the epicentre of the modern Cantonese dialect we hear today.
It was triggered when the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Guangzhou Committee submitted a proposal to keep Cantonese in mainstream media in order to preserve the ancient dialect, which was at odds with Beijing’s blanket directive to standardize Mandarin throughout all provinces.
As expected, these remarks propelled the topic to the top of the leaderboard on Weibo and other Chinese social media sites. The majority of netizens speaking up were from Cantonese-speaking Guangdong province, defending the language in a myriad of creative ways. Notably a comedic modification of the poster for Echoes of the Rainbow, a popular Hong Kong movie released in 2010. It was modified to “The Thief who smashes Cantonese” featuring Ji Keguang, the most prominent proponent of Mandarin standardization.
But it is not uncommon for multiple languages to co-exist in a single location. In fact, 3 of the top 4 most multilingual countries in the world are located in Asia (Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and India), with China ranking 6th on this list, with 300 different spoken languages located within its borders.
So why did this Cantonese versus Mandarin debate in particular garner such attention from the masses? How is it any different from China’s 299 other languages? To understand this, we need to take a deeper dive into the history of the language.
One of the main reasons Cantonese is of such interest is perhaps because it is significantly older than Mandarin. It was first recorded after the fall of the Han dynasty, around 220AD, over 2000 years ago. In contrast, Mandarin only came into being around 100 years ago. In addition, Cantonese came into being through natural evolution, whereas Mandarin was a top-down ‘creation’, made for a specific purpose: unification and simplification.
A map depicting where Mandarin and Cantonese are spoken, along with many of China’s other languages.
In February 1913, the ‘Unification of Pronunciation Conference’ was held in Beijing to examine and approve the standard pronunciation, known as ‘GuoYin’（國音）of over 6500 Chinese characters. Through a series of complicated voting, the version of Chinese we now know as ‘Mandarin’ was born. The voters hailed from all over China, many in fact preferring to speak Cantonese or Sichuanese (amongst others), yet the final result resembles most closely what was spoken in Beijing at the time.
From 1955 onwards, Mandarin was referred to as Putonghua（普通話）, meaning ‘common’ （普）and ‘universal’（通）.
The then-Head Minister of Ministry of Education Zhang Xiruo said at the time:
The common language of the Han nationality has long existed. Now it is named Putonghua. It needs to be further regulated and standardised. This is Mandarin with the northern dialect as the base dialect and Beijing phonetics as the standard pronunciation. For simplicity, this national common language can also be called Putonghua.
In 1982, only 40 years ago, Beijing enacted the ‘Tuipu policy’, whose purpose is to make Putonghua the nation’s only language. This has numerous advantages for the country’s economy and leadership, creating a homogenous society across China’s enormous landmass and simplifying trade, communication, education, and much more.
It was a logical move to boost economic development which China so desperately needed at the time in order to catch up with the developed nations of the world. But at what cost to the diversity of ethnic cultures and local identity? What’s more, with the rise of technology and seamless translation software now readily available, is communication in different languages even a hindrance to economic development anymore?
We at Into23 would argue that a language barrier creates a competitive advantage for those willing to put in the effort to localise their products. As a result Into23 has built relationships with hundreds of incredible companies expanding into and out-of China. All of whom understand the importance of language as a cultural identifier, and are working hard to solidify their presence in their local area through accurate translocalisation thanks to Into23.
This idea of localising communication is particularly prevalent in Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong, where many, especially young people, are beginning to question their Chinese identity. An annual poll run by the University of Hong Kong found that even though the proportion of the population that can speak mandarin fluently has doubled since the handover in 1997, only 31% of people said they felt proud to be Chinese nationals, the lowest ever recorded. In fact, according to Chan Shui-duen, a professor of Chinese and Bilingual Studies at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, many young people “just reject it”.
The streets of Hong Kong, where both Mandarin and Cantonese are equally prevalent.
Against this backdrop, it is understandable that Cantonese is not just surviving but actually thriving. According to linguistics expert Lau Chaak-ming, businesses are picking up on the importance of playing to the local Cantonese identity. Writing in vernacular Cantonese (as opposed to standard Chinese) has increasingly appeared in public advertisements, magazines and other targ
eted media in the last 10 years, even “greatly accelerating” in the last four years.
60 million Cantonese speakers worldwide is a very considerable audience and as such should be considered when moving in to the China market. Translating your content from standard Chinese to vernacular Cantonese is often the difference between your product launch succeeding and failing.
Whether you are just curious or looking for multimedia localisation services, audio and video transcription services, E-learning translation services, website localisation, or indeed any kind of written or spoken translocalisation, please fill in the contact form and we would be happy to discuss the intricacies of translocalisation for multilingual Asian audiences.
The international business communications market reached a historic turning point last year, as companies, organizations and institutions across the world accelerated the pace of digitalising their operations. The sheer extent of the transition has spurred a corresponding demand for certified translation services in applications as varied as elearning, software localization, legal documentation and multimedia content.
As video content continues to proliferate on streaming services and social media marketing channels, the industry now sees increasing demand for high quality captions, subtitles, dubbing and voice overs. The demand for website text and marketing content translation also continues to expand as businesses increasingly plan their strategies around emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region.
English to Chinese translation services continues to be a mainstay in the Asia-Pacific region, while consumer markets in ASEAN economies, which include Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei, Myanmar, the Philippines and Singapore drive demand for local language translations alongside Chinese and English content.
The unprecedented scale and volume of material to be translated – which is only set to increase over the upcoming decade- results in the increasing use of Automated Translation and Machine Translation with Post Editing, in which a human translator proofreads, improves and adapts the material generated by the translation. While machine translation engines have made a lot of progress in recent years, the most practical and efficient solution for businesses that need to regularly translate material at scale is working with a language service provider that offers streamlined, cost effective Machine Translation Post Editing rates and comprehensive, value-added services.
We work with both standard Machine Translation and Neural Machine Translation, which can efficiently process complex material and adapt to infrequently translated languages and language pairs, which don’t have pre-existing datasets. Neural Machine Translation engines can also be configured to output a formal or casual style, depending on the project’s requirements, although this aspect still requires human review and editing, for which our Linguistic QA specialists are indispensable because of their experience, ability and speed.
The ideal workflow for translating material at scale heavily depends on the unique circumstances and requirements that companies face. Our experience providing Translation Management as a Service (TMaaS) for a range of different companies, from multinationals to startups and SME’s, enables us to quickly identify the relevant metrics and value drivers in any business model, from which we develop a cost effective hybrid service plan that delivers quality at speed and scale.
According to Multilingual Magazine’s 2021 Translation Trends report, the use of Machine Translation with Post Editing is on the rise across the world, with Language Service Providers in Europe indicating that they plan to expand their services. Meanwhile, language service providers in Asia increasingly partner with technology enterprises, which are required to cater to diverse audiences at scale.
The report identifies Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, French, German, Portugese, Russian, Italian, Polish and Persian as the ten most translated languages in the market. In terms of market size, Multilingual cites Statista’s Chart comparing language speakers and online content.
The chart identifies Chinese as the language with the largest native speaking population in the world, with almost 1.3 billion speakers, followed by Spanish, with 442 million, English, with 378 million, Arabic, with 315 million and Hindi, with 260 million. The percentage of websites on Statista’s chart with Chinese language content, however, is just 1.7%, compared to 54% of websites displaying English content, followed by Russian, with 6%, German, with 5.9%, Spanish with 5%. And French, with 4%.
Statista’s 2020 report on the most common languages on the internet by share of active users indicates that Chinese is the second most common language used online, accounting for 19.4% of people online, compared to 25.9% for English.
The discrepancy between the size of the native Chinese speaking audience (the second largest online) and the number of websites published in Chinese indicates the extent of the opportunity for companies and publishers to expand the reach of their platforms and businesses by translating content into Chinese.
The Multilingual report also emphasizes that Human Translation is still the most accurate, effective and reliable mode of translation, because of its unmatched capacity to address “context, colloquialism and creative writing.” These factors are vital for marketing and public relations, to the extent that content translation intended for a public audience should be fully carried out by professional human translators.
Localization is only possible with human translators, and holistically adapting brands to local markets and cultures often requires transcreation. Developing an organic local voice with an authentic tone is key to building brand value when working with English to Chinese translation services in a vibrant, dynamic market like Hong Kong or Singapore.
Translation services in Hong Kong in particular often have to contend with the rapid pace at which the local language and culture develops, as new colloquial phrases frequently move in and out of favor, while the local language, Cantonese, also differs in written form (Zhongwen) from traditional Chinese in other regions.
From a brand perspective, re-adapting content from the ground up is far more effective than attempting to circulate literal translations of previously written material, which can even carry a certain level of risk in terms of inadvertently humorous connotations with local audiences. While the same principle applies to translating and localizing for European markets, some regions, due to a variety of local factors, inherently require a more hyper-localized approach. Mainland China is one of the world’s most challenging markets for this reason.
High quality localization and translation service providers have the ability to effectively adapt brand messaging to a local context and match the pace of publication required by any client. The characteristics that enable effective localization and transcreation align with the priorities of translation clients worldwide, regardless of the type service they require.
According to Nimdzi’s 2021 survey on Translation Buyer Priorities, the top five factors which translation services clients consider important are:
We work fast without compromising quality. Our commitment to developing our expertise matches our dedication to working closely with our clients, so we can provide individualized solutions that take markets and business models into account and offer better service at more cost effective rates.
At Into23 we are passionate about language, and the scope of our services is unmatched in every region. We translate all major languages, and we are experienced working in every sector. We are excited to share our expertise and insights with our clients as the industry continues to expand in Asia, where we specialize in localizing overseas companies and taking local companies global. We translate for tomorrow’s markets today.
The latest e-Conomy of Southeast Asia report by Google shows that South-east Asia hit an inflection point for the internet economy with $72 billion in 2018, $40 billion more than previously estimated. China is one of the top countries for retailers to turn their focus to in 2019. China leads the world in ecommerce, with more than 40% of the world’s ecommerce transactions taking place there.
With the increasing interest in Asia, we decided to compile the key digital trends in Asia from Digital 2019: Q2 Global Digital Statshot. This Global Digital Statshot is produced by We Are Social and Hootsuite to give us essential insights to the global use of the internet, mobile devices and ecommerce.
Baidu.com with 5.6 page visits per day is the most visited website in Asia, Baidu is the equivalent of Google in China. Among the top 10 are Tmall.com and Taobao.com, they are the top ecommerce sites in China. According to Alexa, both Tmall and Taobao gather more web visitors than Amazon.com
Linkedin is the world’s biggest business and employment-oriented network. India and China have the largest LinkedIn advertising audience after the United States. There is still much growth anticipated for the LinkedIn platform in China with only 4% of the population above the age of 18 on LinkedIn.
The most downloaded app in Asia, TikTok is an iOS and Android media app for creating and sharing short videos. The app was launched in 2017 by ByteDance, for markets outside of China.
Instagram is the most popular social media application for youth, with 90 percent of Instagram users are younger than 35. Indonesia has one of the highest instagram audiences in the world with instagram advertising reaching 64 million people and penetrating 26% of the population over the age of 13.
India has the largest Facebook advertising audience in the world, reaching 260 million people, 70 million more than the United States.
India, China, Indonesia and Thailand have above 45% of internet users who have used voice-controlled functionality on any device.
These are the 6 key digital trends for Asia in 2019, they indicate that global web activity, mobile applications, social media advertising audience and the usage of voice commands will have a play a major role in Asia.
This is a guest post by Bob Low. Bob Low is the regional marketing consultant for into23.