Why Localisation Pays Off
Without attention to localisation, translating even the simplest phrases can be a minefield. Translating ‘a nice car’ into Spanish? Easy peasy: ‘un coche bonito’, right? In Spain, yes…, but not in Latin America! There ‘car’ is ‘un carro’ (the word for a cart in European Spanish), and Latin Americans use ‘lindo’ as the general word for ‘nice’. So ‘un carro lindo’ would be meaningful to Latin Americans, while ‘un coche bonito’ would just sound foreign.
Here is an example taken from real life, and working from Spanish into English. A Mexican company manufacturing self-sealing plastic bags, hit upon the idea of a name for the product, combining Spanish and English elements. So they took the Spanish word for ‘bag’ (bolso) and the English word ‘lock’ and combined them into… ‘Bol-locks’, the name that is now proudly displayed on their product. Oh dear!
Adapting a product or content to a specific local market is often referred to as localisation. Translation is just one of the elements of the localisation process, which also includes adapting cultural nuances, graphics, symbols, currencies, units of measurement, colours, numbers, etc. to make sure that the target audience will accept your products.
A failure to attend to localisation can lead to misunderstanding… and far worse. ‘Coger’ in European Spanish is a useful and innocuous verb meaning ‘to take’. You would ‘coger un tren’, for example. But ‘coger’ in Latin America has obscene connotations, and should NEVER be used to translate ‘to take’, as it could cause extreme offence. Proof, if ever proof were needed, that localisation pays.
A Case Study
We were recently approached by an online train ticket retailer and we helped them translate and localise their website. Read the case study below to understand how we did it.
Intro: Trust Your Brand provided translation and localisation services for an online train ticket retailer. The goal was to localise and culturally adapt the content for the Spanish market.
Business Objective: The client planned to promote their services in Spain. In order to engage with the consumers from the target market, the content and services on offer needed to evoke the desired reaction in the audience.
What We Did: Our Spanish-born translators used their knowledge of small (but significant) cultural nuances to make the content perfectly adapted to the Spanish market.
For example, ticket types in the UK are classified into Anytime, Advance, Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak tickets. This classification does not have one-to-one equivalents in the Spanish language, so they were culturally adapted to be relevant for consumers.
Similarly, the use of the expressions First Class and Standard Class in some countries may elicit negative reactions. Indeed, the term “First Class” is avoided in Spain as it has negative connotations; hence we adapted these expressions to the more accepted terms Clase preferente (Preferential Class) and Clase turista (Tourist Class).
We also had to pay close attention to gender issues. An expression like “welcome back” can be challenging for gendered languages, since the translation might address only men or women rather than all genders. We employed a formula that made sure the content was gender-neutral. That way, everyone could feel included.
Finally, idioms were also sprinkled throughout the content. For example, the English copy read “despite swimming like a brick”; this expression does not exist in Spanish, so we opted for the most common sentence for the Spanish audience “a pesar de no nadar como un pez en el agua” (even though you do not swim like a fish in the water).
The results? "Your work was just great!", they said.
Want to find out more about how we help connect businesses to local markets by localising their marketing campaigns? Get in touch!