localization and translation services Archives - Into23

The history of translation and translation marketing

Marketing translation and translation, in general, have a long and robust history. How did the modern translation industry become what it is today?

What is translation? In its simple form, it means to turn symbols from one set to another, such as words from a body of text in one language to that of another. Translation and its emergence have played a very important role throughout history in bridging cultural and linguistic divides that have evolved through trade as well as a means of spreading traditions and religious beliefs. 

Where and how did translation evolve? How has translation changed today, and how will it be used in the future? 

Translation Origins

Sumerian bilingual text tablet

Sumerian bilingual text – Photo from Wikimedia Caption – “This is the first known Sumerian-Akkadian bilingual tablet which dates back to around 2270 BC. The practice of translation is believed to have begun in Mesopotamia.”

Scholars believe that writing began to emerge in humans some 5,550 years ago. First, with early pictorial signs in early Mesopotamian and Egypt, we have evidence of fully-formed writing platforms as early as 1300 BC in China. With the development of written communication, translation became a necessary means of communication for the growth of populations and trade. While translation started within the trade as a business translation for financial means, translation eventually found its way into culture, art, and religion as it proved to be an effective means of spreading your beliefs, values, and traditions to other people. 

The word “translation” and it’s meaning come from two different languages.  The word itself comes from Latin and means “to bring or carry across”, but its meaning is also derived from the Ancient Greek word metaphrasis, which means “to speak across”, which then led to the word metaphrase, which means “word for word”. While the meaning of translation comes from these ancient languages, it is believed that those in the Mesopotamian region were the first to practice the art of translation. 

St. Jerome Writing

“St. Jerome Writing” by the famous painter Caravaggio, painted in 1606.” – Image from Wikimedia.

One of the earliest known pieces to be translated is the Sumerian poem, the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was translated into Asian languages in 2100 BC. From there, one of the first known significant translations is that of the Old Testament in the 3rd century, as the bible was translated from Hebrew to Greek. Between A.D. 383 and 404, a man named Eusebius Hieronymus, or St. Jerome as he would become known, translated the bible from Greek to Latin. What made St. Jerome’s translation so innovative is that he first translated the text from Greek. Still, he then went back and checked his newly translated Latin text against the original Hebrew version (since he was fluent in all three languages) to increase the translation accuracy. St. Jerome also endorsed the transcreation method rather than the traditional word-for-word translation. In a letter St. Jerome wrote to his friend on the best methods of translation, he said,

For I myself not only admit but freely proclaim that in translating from the Greek, I render sense for sense and not word for word, except in the case of the Holy Scriptures, where even the order of the words is a mystery.”

With his masterful translation of the bible and the concepts that he created, St. Jerome became one of the most prominent translators in history. St. Jerome died on September 30th, 420, and since then, St. Jerome has become the patron saint of translators. September 30th is also officially recognised as International Translation Day. 

The evolution of translation

The earliest days of translation required the work of educated polyglots or at least bilinguals who would painstakingly translate passages of text by hand. This work would take translators months and sometimes even years to complete. The advent of the printing press made things somewhat easier as the translations became more consistent. 

With the printing press, documents only needed to be translated once before being typeset and then run repeatedly. While this method was more efficient in producing copies, if there were any errors in the translation, they too were also reproduced, and there wasn’t a quick method to fix this. As a result, any translations with errors used as foundational pieces for translation into other languages meant that further errors followed and compounded into the next translation. 

It wasn’t until the late 20th century, with the emergence of machine translation and machine translation post-editing, that made the translation process became more consistent.

Modern-day translation

Woman sitting at computer program

Machine translation has changed the translation industry forever. Machine translation post-editing has resulted in quality translations that are reliable and accurate.

With the emergence of machine translation and platforms like Google translate, anyone can get a quick and immediate translation of nearly any text. However, just like in the early days of translation, machine translation alone is prone to many translation errors, especially since machines can’t translate the cultural concepts, idioms, etc., that make human language so robust. Machine translations are decent at finding concordances at the sentence level but fall flat when making suggestions at a morphological level. This is why international translation companies now use machine and human translations in a process called machine translation post-editing.

Even with current technology, machine translation doesn’t compare to human translation, which is what makes machine translation post-editing the most effective means of translation. Translators use a machine to translate the text first, a process that helps expedite the translation process, and then once the content has gone through a machine, the translator will then go through it and edit and compare it to the original text. This results in an accurate, reliable, fast, and quality translation for the client or business.

Related: How to be a translator in 2022

Regarding translation management, translators today don’t need to be polyglots anymore. Still, most translation companies want translators who are experts in language pair translation, meaning a translator needs complete mastery of two languages, as well as subject-specific expertise (i.e. English-Chinese legal translation). Language pair translations ensure you get the most accurate and quality translation

Future of translation

iPad and world map

It’s easier than ever to take your business global- Photo by Geralt on Pixabay

While machines have made things easier in the translation industry, and I’m sure even St. Jerome would be impressed with the progress that has been made, as of yet, machine translation cannot operate alone and still requires the handy work of a professional translator. Using a professional translator is especially important in business as businesses today are not afforded the same luxuries of making translation errors as the early pioneers were. Companies today now use business translation services to ensure that they’re getting the best quality translation possible to represent and expand their brand. These companies use machine translation post-editing with qualified translation professionals to produce consistent results.

Related: Why Google Translate Isn’t Enough for Business

That is not to say that machine-alone translation isn’t being worked on, however. The Semantic Web or Web 3.0 is an extension of our current internet that is being worked on that aims to create instant translations of any language online, which would include any semantic or cultural content, and make the searches and the retrieval of this information universal. Web 3.0 aims to analyze every piece of data that is available on the internet and have it make sense in every language. This would create interactive pages that are no longer just text translations but include audio/voice and all other forms of media. While the Semantic Web sounds impressive, the fact that there are over 6,800 languages worldwide and that we are still confined to our current means of machine translation means that this idea is a very long way from becoming reality. 

In the meantime, quality translations are best left to the professionals at international translation companies like Into23. Into23 offers localization and translation services in any language with professional translators from all over the globe. Into23 can help your brand or business reach new markets in other languages and offer translation solutions for every industry. Check out our services today and get a free quote.

From PUBG to Apple: How Localisation helped these Brands Dominate Global Markets!

Brands Beyond Borders

Some companies have grown exponentially by accommodating consumers with diverse dialects, languages, and cultures. Many brands have made localisation a force to help them conquer this kind of growth, allowing them to tap into the new markets. However, the trend of transforming content to a specific region or culture is not new. Many American software giants like Microsoft deployed their solutions worldwide back in the 80s. Today, with the help of digital communication, some famous brands are rendering content to countries outside their geographical location. It has allowed them to stay locally and globally relevant.

PUBG

Companies like Coca-Cola and Visa have made their brand almost invincible by recognising the power of “local relevance.” These brands dare to translate their content to regional contexts and are confident in curating content specific to a region’s preferences and tastes. Gaming brands like Nintendo and PUBG have gone global while managing to keep their local relevance alive.

How does maintaining “Local Relevance” help these brands grow? 

Localisation recognises the role of values, cultures, and dialects during brand messaging. It allows businesses to adapt to local language, style, and design. These elements take shape due to geographical barriers; however, localisation helps brands go beyond texts and phrases. Localisation does not mean mere “translation.” It is more than that. Although translators play a massive role in localisation projects, localisation has numerous key factors that come into play.

Competition in the international market is fierce; therefore, no two brands can afford to offer similar brand experiences. Such continuous differentiation has forced brands to pay great focus on a customer’s personal experiences. In addition, a brand with the ambition of going global cannot target diverse consumers using the same marketing campaign! Hence, we see companies optimising their ads for specific target markets. Consumers also want brands to communicate in their native dialects. It gives them a more personal feel. 

marketing campaign

According to a report by Common Sense Advisory, 72% of shoppers prefer purchasing from sites that use their native language. Almost 55% of them exclusively choose these sites over others. Let’s evaluate some brands communicating with global customers and understand how they connect with their audiences at a deeper level to drive engagement. 

Apple

There is no doubt about how much of a marketing genius Steve Jobs was. He helped Apple establish itself as a desirable, unique, and fashionable electronics brand. Their simplistic yet stylish products differentiated them from the herd in the USA. Apple is one of the biggest companies globally that launches culturally-relevant marketing campaigns all over the globe. Their previous localised campaigns are noteworthy! For instance, let’s look at their campaign in Japan. The Japanese culture disapproves of criticising others; therefore, Apple’s Mac vs. PC marketing campaign couldn’t work in Japan. Apple couldn’t take a direct shot at Microsoft! Rather than translating their American ad, they collaborated with local comedians to show Mac is for fun-loving individuals. Their marketing team didn’t just translate their content but also aligned it to match the cultural expectations of the native audiences.

Apple

Coca-Cola

This brand sells more than 2 billion bottles every day! Coca-Cola was one of the few global brands that focussed on capturing international audiences. Their campaigns, such as “Share a Coke,” used common English names like Jack, Tom, Mike, Alisa, etc., on the label. It helped them build familiarity and gave customers a reason to share their drinks. In countries like Russia, Coca-Cola localised the names using native names to synergise with the locals. However, in China, people don’t use initial names to address others. They prefer to address individuals by their last name. Therefore, Coca-Cola used taglines like “Share a Coke with your close friend or classmate.” The campaign brought impressive results for the brand, allowing them to bypass cultural constraints in China.

Nintendo

If we talk about app localisation, we must address the brilliant work done by Nintendo. Nintendo invests aggressively in in-app localisation, allowing them to customise their content for a specific demographic. They tailor the gaming experience by inducing local elements that appeal to the local audiences. Their strategies have helped them double their growth! They have also localised business steps like segment testing, product development, and content translation. Today Nintendo works with numerous localisation experts to develop marketing content. They also customise their official releases as per different markets. All this makes the brand deliver native gaming experiences while consistently maintaining the same level of satisfaction.

Gamming Language Translation

PUBG

PUBG, developed by Brendan Greene, is a popular action game with more than 400 million users worldwide! The game is widely popular in countries like China, the USA, the UK, Germany, India, etc. Acquiring such a huge base was impossible without translating or localising the content. You see, gaming is all about “emotional experiences.” That is why the game features twelve languages, including English, allowing them to engage local audiences and develop stronger connections. PUBG enables users to experience the same thrill regardless of their language.

Poor Translation & Localisation can Result in Branding Disasters!

As discussed, localisation is more than translation! It allows you to capture, grow, and retain new markets in the global economy. By now, you must have understood how localisation provides a competitive advantage to brands. 

But branding your business in an unfamiliar market is a challenge in itself. It would be best if you had insights and data that could highlight the preferences of your target audiences. Your business should partner with a professional translation and localisation company that can provide the right intellect and strategy to localise your content. Or else, poor translation and localisation can have severe business implications. Let’s evaluate them.

It can hinder communication.

If your brand wants to establish itself in multicultural settings, you must launch global marketing campaigns in many languages. To achieve that, you need to curate and deploy your final content within a fast turnaround. Failing to do so will hinder global communication and growth.

Low-quality translations

Imagine you have set up a website to expedite your products and services. What if your newly launched website is unable to deliver the right translation? What if the terms, measurements, and product descriptions are inconsistent? If your website translates your content into inappropriate language, it will severely harm your brand’s reputation and may lead to financial loss. 

Extensive pressure on customer support

Low-quality translation and localisation can pressure your customer executives. What if customers come to your website and raise support requests because they cannot understand the content? Therefore, your brand must ensure that support materials are localised for native markets.

Slow translation process

A slow translation process can hinder your international success. Imagine during an international launch; you cannot push out your content. Local players can benefit from that situation by launching the same services or content before you. Therefore, you may lose business to local players if the translation takes too long.

Language Translation Services

No centralised control 

No centralised control over the content will lead to inconsistent translations. Your brand messaging may become unreliable if your business partners or stakeholders use different translation suppliers.

No translation management portal

Falling for ineffective translation solutions can add severely to your business cost. Without a translation management portal, you won’t be able to keep track of your actual spending on translation and localisation. Exporting requirements, importing, billing, etc., requires you to keep a central solution for costing visibility and control.

Simply Localising Your Content is Not Enough to reach New Customers!

Today, 60 percent of the websites are in the English Language. According to a report by Statista, 26 percent of online users search using English keywords. It means that a massive online audience is underserved! Hence, localising your content is not enough to drive new clients. That is why brands need multilingual SEO and eCommerce Localisation

Let’s break these two factors into separate segments.

E-commerce Localisation

E-Commerce localisation can help you achieve excellence in the international marketplace. It allows you to transform your online business’ content (an app or website) in a way that it resonates with the native audiences you are targeting. It can help your eCommerce website or app adhere to local regulations, preferences, format, or currencies. 

E-Commerce Translation Services

Multilingual SEO

Since there are numerous users on the internet from different linguistic backgrounds, your brand needs to adopt multilingual SEO optimization. It can support your business in addressing and engaging the rest of the world! For instance, if your eCommerce business is based in the USA, you might consider attracting non-American clients or visitors from non-English speaking countries. Your brand must optimise its SEO strategy to attract and engage them. You can get visibility across different languages and locations. You’ll get to attract more traffic and more growth compared to your competitors. It will also help you evaluate the demands of your international clients.

Want to go Global? Consider these Checkpoints Before You Take Action!

Financial & operational stability of your business

International expansion of your business demands huge investment and a lot of resources. Your brand needs to have financial & operational stability before you sign up for this change.

Presence of potential international customers

If you have figured out an existing customer base for your product in an international market, it’s good to expand. Ensure you invest in the right metrics and surveys to evaluate the market potential and size. 

Knowledge of Markets suitable for your brand

As a gradually progressing brand, never focus on entering all spaces simultaneously. First, you must determine which market you want to tap. You can choose a market closer to your location so that your new customers share the same dialect, behaviour, or culture. It would keep your brand’s initial cost of translation and localisation low. Similar market space shares the same business climate, size, innovations, etc.

Are you “Ready” to tap into the new Markets?

Before opening up to the concept of “going global,” your business must prepare for the new markets. Brand messaging, marketing assets, logos, content, images, taglines, etc., must be localised to make your brand sound native. For this checkpoint, eCommerce localisation and multilingual SEO can be very effective tools.

How can Into23’s Localisation & Translation services help?

Into23 has a deep supply chain of professional freelance translators in key markets who use the latest technology during the translation project. We have years of experience as a language translation agency in Hong Kong. Check out our Portal for central billing, reporting, and ordering solutions.

We also provide automated translation management, which allows us to distribute content at lightning speed. Apart from automated content management, our team also offers Automated Translation Quality Assurance to meet the highest compliance standards. We help you adapt your brand’s message to your target audience’s cultural norms. Businesses like yours can develop custom translation workflow and achieve impactful marketing translation. 

Clients can leverage our neural machine translation engines for localising support documentation and FAQS. For your legal documents, you can utilise our native language translators. However, the post-editing process involves the manual presence of editors who correct the output. Allow us to take away your pain of managing translations! We respond to all incoming inquiries within 1 hour during our operational hours. Contact us now

Important things to consider if you’re localizing your business in Spanish

Spanish is the world’s second most spoken native language and the official language of 21 countries. If you’re looking to crack into the Spanish market, here are some factors to consider for your localized marketing strategy.

website localization

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash – Do you know what this Spanish phrase says?

Spoken by 559 million people worldwide, Spanish ranks as one of the most important business languages. It’s a language that is becoming increasingly globalised as it is commonly regarded as the most understood language in the western hemisphere next to English. With today’s global market, the use of Spanish online has risen by 800%. From eCommerce services to website localization, if you’re looking to enter the Spanish market, there are specific factors that need to be considered based on the Spanish region you’re looking to enter.

History of the Spanish language

localization and translation services

Photo from Wikimedia – The front of the Royal Spanish Academy in Madrid

Like other languages that developed in Europe, the Spanish language emerged as a dialect of spoken Latin in the Iberian Peninsula which is where modern-day Spain and Portugal are now located. The language developed further when the Arab armies invaded the peninsula in 711. The invasion brought with it Arabic art, culture, and architecture which had a strong influence on the area and language. Arabic began to mix with the old Spanish which resulted in the Spanish language that we know today. Spain expelled the Arabs in 1492 but the Spanish language managed to retain some 8,000 Arabic words. Words like la almendra (almond) or la almohada (pillow) have come from the Arabic language. 

After the Arabs left in 1492, the Spaniards started colonizing which is how the language came to the Americas. The first European settlements in the US were established by Spain in what is now modern-day Florida which is why Spanish was the historical language of many of the southern States during that time. With the annexation of these states, the main language eventually changed to English but Spanish is still used and spoken widely even in these areas today. 

The Spanish Empire also expanded its colonization to other places such as the Philippines in 1521. The Spanish controlled the island until 1898. Today while only 0.5% of people in the Philippines speak Spanish, it is still home to the most number of Spanish speakers in Asia. 

Today, the Spanish language is maintained and safeguarded at The Royal Spanish Academy located in Madrid. The academy started in the 18th century and helped to create dictionaries and grammar books that have since been adopted and used by other Spanish-speaking countries. The academy invented the use of the inverted question and exclamation marks that are specific to the Spanish language as well as the letter ñ.

European Spanish vs. Latin American Spanish

advertising transcreation

Photo from Pixabay – The Spanish and Argentinian flags.

European Spanish is centred in Spain while Latin American Spanish speakers are located in the lower part of North America, Central, and South America. In Latin America, the Spanish language is just called español, since the language itself was brought over by colonisers. In Spain, however, the language is called castellano, which refers to the Castile province in Spain where the language is believed to have originated. Another reason why Spanish is called castellano in Spain is that there are other Spanish dialects within Spain such as Catalan, Galician, and Basque.

If you’re creating a localization strategy in one or more of these Spanish speaking areas it’s important to note that there will be regional and cultural language distinctions. Here are just a few important aspects to consider. 

A key difference: pronouns – vosotros and ustedes

The pronouns vosotros and vosotras (you) are only used in Spain, making this one of the key differences between Spain and Latin America. Vosotros is an informal means of address whereas ustedes would be used professionally or formally in Spain. Since vosotros doesn’t exist in Latin American Spanish, ustedes is used in both formal and informal means of address. 

If you’re looking to create a formal business presence in Spain this is an important distinction as if you use the incorrect pronouns on, say, your website localization, your business platform may not be taken seriously. 

Vos vs tú

Like vosotros in Spain, the pronoun vos (your) is used in Argentina, Paraguay and Uraguay instead of tú.

Past tense

Likely due to the influences of surrounding European languages, Spaniards use past tense differently than Latin Americans. In Spain, you’re more likely to hear about a completed action using the present perfect tense, whereas in Latin America they are more likely to use the simple past, which is similar to English. 

Examples of vocabulary differences 

English
Spain
Latin America
penbolígrafo or bolipluma or lapicera
car cochecarro or auto
peachmelocotóndurazno
cell phonemóvilcelular


Pronunciation difference

The pronunciation of the Z and C (before I or E) is different between the two Spanish-speaking regions. In Spain, these letters are pronounced with a “th” sound while in Latin America, an “s” sound. 

In parts of Argentina and Uruguay, the double LL and Y sounds are pronounced like an English “sh” sound while Spaniards would pronounce them with a “y” sound. 

Further, there are also differences in the way that people speak depending on the region. Argentinians are said to have a sing-song type of accent while Colombians have a neutral sounding accent. 


Things to consider when creating a localization strategy for spanish

  • Know your primary market

As this article details, there are a variety of differences within the Spanish language based on where it is spoken. A good localization strategy will understand its target audience and know what pronouns, tone, and vocabulary to use when marketing.

  • Consider neutral spanish

Since 21 different countries speak Spanish, if you’re a company that is looking to break into a few of them, you could take a different localization approach by using what’s called neutral Spanish. Every country that speaks Spanish will have its own cultural nuances and differences so to help ease the localization process, many companies use neutral Spanish in their strategies. Neutral Spanish, or standard or international Spanish as its sometimes referred to, is the process of using terms and vocabulary that are universally understood by all Spanish speakers. This process would include avoiding idioms that might be specific to one region and not another or words that aren’t specifically used in day-to-day speech but are appropriate enough for marketing purposes and general understanding. Neutral Spanish might be appropriate for your business if you have a high amount of technical content that needs translation or if you’re just getting started and are looking for a cost-effective translation solution.

  • Select the right localization agency

The use of localization and translation services is a key factor of success for any marketing strategy. A localization agency can help you determine what approach you should take when entering the Spanish market, if specific transcreation or localization is necessary, or if a neutral Spanish approach would better suit your business needs.

Into23 offers localization and translation services from websites to eLearning platforms and more. Our quality translation and advertising transcreation specialists can help you reach any Spanish market and localize your business to get the best return on your investments. Contact into23 tpday to find out more.

Important things to consider if you’re localizing your business in Chinese

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.

localize my business in chinese - hong kong

Hong Kong signs – Photo by Katie Manning on Unsplash

History of the Chinese language and its different types

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 Chinese

localize my business in chinese - calligraphy

Calligraphy – Photo by chuanyu2017 on Pixabay

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. 

Different dialects

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.

DialectRegion Spoken
Mandarin (Putonghua)Most of mainland China, Taiwan, Macau
Cantonese/YueHong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou (Canton), and Wuzhou.
MinFujian province and parts of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Hainan, and Taiwan
WuZhejiang province, Shanghai, southern Jiangsu province, parts of Anhui and Jiangxi provinces.
XiangMost of the Hunan province, the counties of Quanzhou, Guanyang, Ziyuan, and Xing’an, northeastern Guangxi province.
GanJiangxi province
HakkaNortheastern 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.

Related: What’s the Difference Between Mandarin and Cantonese?

Important considerations regarding the different dialect types

  • Cantonese is the main dialect spoken in Hong Kong. Traditional Chinese characters are used for writing. While many Hong Kongers can speak Mandarin and use Simplified Chinese characters, if you are localizing for this region, you should consider using Cantonese and Traditional Chinese characters.
  • In Taiwan, they speak Mandarin and write with Traditional Chinese characters. Both Taiwan and mainland China use Mandarin, but they have developed different terminology and writing styles.  

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.

Things to consider when creating a localization strategy for Chinese 

localize my business in chinese - tiananmen square

Tiananmen Square – Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

Know the culture, know your audience, and identify your primary dialect and region

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 past successes and failures 

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.

Related: The Top 10 Translation Blunders in Advertising 

Use local social media and eCommerce platforms

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. 

Use expert multilingual translation services

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.

The 6 keys to effective eLearning translation in Asia

The eLearning industry is projected to be worth 181 million USD by the end of 2025, with an annual growth rate of 12.26% per year. Driven by the widespread adoption of eLearning platforms by educational institutions and employers around the world, as well as the increased popularity of online course providers, eLearning made the jump from supplementary service to primary platform in 2020.

The industry has continued to grow in 2021, as workplaces expand their online skills training platforms and commercial eLearning providers more effectively engage their users with gamified app experiences, data driven personalized services, advanced modules, microlearning (short bursts of platform access) and content optimization, including the use of audio and video.

The expansion of the eLearning market drives service providers to offer their programs in multiple markets to reach new audiences, which requires the use of eLearning translation services and website localization. The pace of development in the industry has resulted in increasingly complex platforms with more content, which makes effective translation and software localization challenging, considering the scale and scope of material to adapt.

Machine translation services are ineffective in this context, considering the nature of the application. eLearning translation not only requires attention to detail, but also an extensive level of quality assessment in order to ensure that course materials effectively engage users. Linguistic QA specialists can identify and evaluate the lexical and grammatical options which make the difference between efficient progress through course modules and ambiguity that can challenge users’ patience.

eLearning platform design in any language carries inherent cultural connotations. Everything from curriculum planning to content and the layout and user interface has a culturally specific context in the original language and culture that the module is developed for. This comprises the source language and content. There are six elements which make all the difference between successfully adapting to different cultures and lessons ending up lost in translation.

  • Text
  • Images
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Layouts
  • Graphics

Text: The basis for eLearning platforms and modules

Text is the simplest but most important aspect of eLearning translation and software localization. Opting for simple machine translation  is unlikely to provide accuracy, and while machine translation with post-editing ensures a level of quality and consistency, it does not  provide a framework for cultural context and therefore has limited scope for localization.

Cultural context often accounts for variations within same language. For example, people from Hong Kong use an English transliteration for the word strawberry,  (士多啤梨)  while in other regions it is translated as 草莓.

While Cantonese is spoken in Malaysia, local lexical variations arise from from Hokkien, Hakka and Malay influences, which contribute loanwords like (play) which in Hong Kong is written . There are also considerable variations in pronunciation.

For eLearning platforms,  the most efficient translation and localization solution when faced with cultural variations within a single language is to identify the most important market and develop the eLearning translation accordingly.

It is important to consider which language to use for localization in Asia: most content localized for the Malaysia market is in English. However, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and Mandarin are widely used in Asia.

While there is considerable regional variation in Chinese language usage, the cost effective approach is to develop eLearning translation and localization for the most important market.  Articulate Rise is a widely used course authoring tool for eLearning platform developers. Rise 360 is well suited to text-heavy courses, which can be challenging to translate into multiple languages. We can quickly and efficiently process translation and localization for all courses designed with Articulate Rise.

Audio and Video: professional eLearning voiceover services

Multimedia localization in particular requires a solid understanding of regional and cultural context in the target market, in order for audio and video content to effectively supplement the text. Articulate Storyline is a streamlined multimedia content solution for eLearning platforms, and we can effectively process and translate all assets from Storyline 360 projects.

elearning voiceover services and multimedia localization

Localizing the text provides a basis for the eLearning voice over, which should also be developed for the most important market.

Planning, developing and organizing a workflow for high quality translation of text, video and audio between completely different languages requires expertise and experience with  providing localization and translation services.

Images: Visual learning and culture

Visual content in images and video should also be assessed for cultural relevance. While American Football imagery effectively conveys concepts to North American audiences and translates reasonably well in Europe, it may distract Asian learners who are less familiar with the sport and might not intuitively grasp concepts illustrated with quarterbacks and goalposts. Sports like soccer and tennis are more culturally neutral and help make content more easily localized across markets.

Layouts and Graphics: The culture of colour, and how it affects UX

Image and text elements should also be maintained separately, in order to avoid difficulties with translating and localizing images with text. Videos should ideally have captions set up as distinct elements in order to streamline translated versions. The design language for video caption and user interfaces should ideally provide a degree of flexibility, because colours have different associations in different regions and cultures.

For example, the colour red indicates passion in Western cultures, while it is associated with prosperity and luck in Asian cultures. In South Asia, the colour the colour orange is associated with the Hindu religion, while in the Middle East, green is associated with Islam. Streamlining colour configuration settings makes for an efficient eLearning localization strategy. Designing elements with flexibility and configurability in mind is an important step for eLearning platforms to take so that they can effectively translate their content for different markets with software localization services and expert translation services. Another efficient approach is to opt for culturally neutral design elements in order to effectively serve a wider eLearning audience.

eLearning translation and eLearning localization go hand in hand. Unlike legal language translation services, culture cannot be separated from language in an educational context. While marketing transcreation is an essential aspect of adapting an advertising strategy which would certainly enhance eLearning platforms, the scale of eLearning projects are generally best served by cost-effective localization and multilingual translation services with specialized eLearning voice over carried out by experienced professional translators who can optimize your platform and efficiently scale the reach of your services while ensuring they are effective for every user.

Into23 provides comprehensive eLearning and localization services with unmatched quality, speed and value in Asia. Our translation system supports Articulate Storyline and Articulate Rise content, which streamlines the setup of translated and localized courses. We can deliver a complete portfolio of course translations in any number of languages you require, including all audio and video content, in one go. Our clients never have to worry about keeping track of 25 different translations and coordinating launch dates. In Hong Kong’s English to Chinese translation services market, attention to detail and appreciation of cultural context is key to effectively serving markets.

Our experience in the region, global partnership networks and passion for language and culture enable us to develop effective solutions tailored to the scale of your project.