Foreign Language on the Campaign Trail

In the United States of America, there is no official language. That’s all there is to it.

English has enjoyed a privileged status for a couple of centuries, due to the number of native English speakers in positions of power and influence. But the English language has never been given official status by law, and our nation has never, ever been monolingual.

To our way of thinking, this is nothing but positive. Language is culture, culture is language, and an active blend of spoken and written languages indicates a healthy, vibrant, energetic culture. Hearing an array of foreign languages spoken around you is a privilege we enjoy in the United States, and should be thought of as an experience to learn from, not something to cause distrust or fear.

So it’s frankly about time, we think, that we started hearing some foreign language on the presidential campaign trail.

We’re not looking for candidates for higher office to read us poetry in five or six languages (although Mayor Pete could probably pull it off) – the non-English language with the most significant presence in the United States is Spanish, by a wide margin. Back in the 2016 campaign, we had several candidates on the Republican side who spoke Spanish as a first or second language, and this year it’s a handful of Democratic candidates who are reaching out to voters en español (some more successfully than others). This article from the Los Angeles Times explores how some Spanish-speaking voters feel about the candidates’ efforts to communicate with them.

We would make one additional point about the value of an American leader (or future leader) addressing voters in Spanish. Language is more than speaking – anyone who can speak Spanish can also, more importantly, listen in Spanish. And the most effective leaders are always good listeners.

Editorial and Content Style Guides

Do you need to create editorial style guides for your translations? Do you even need to create editorial style guides for your own writers?

The article linked here clears up the second question. The TrueLanguage team certainly recognized ourselves in a few of these statements. We’re full of opinions about style and formatting. But as the article says, there are plenty of authoritative sources to turn to for answers on those subjects, and we’ll defer to them.

But what about your translations? The answer is the same: absolutely not. Avoid.

You craft your documents with care, and you want to exert that same protection over your content in all languages. This is understandable. But can you speak that language, or read it? If yes, have you ever written in it at length? Going from one language to another involves many small, yet crucial differences that may seem merely cosmetic, but do carry weight. Do you know which French punctuation marks get spaces before AND after, and which ones don’t? How about which languages separate decimals with points and thousands with commas, and vice versa? Do you assume that all those capital letters in a typical German sentence are typos to be corrected? Spoiler: they’re not.

You may or may not know the grammatical ins and outs of the languages you’re translating to. That’s not a problem. Our professional translators know them, that’s part of their job. However, we still need your involvement to keep your translations consistent with your source documents. In place of editorial style guides, we can help you to create content style guides that allow our linguists to shape their work to your message, your tone of voice, and your company spirit. Focus on the substance of your content and the feelings you want to elicit from your readers – let the translation team handle the formatting and editorial nitpick. That’s why we’re here!

The Evolution of Professional Translation Services

Have you ever wondered how the translation of our languages ended up where it is today? There was a time when written language simply did not exist.

Language as we know it today began with signs and symbols. From there it evolved into increasingly complex writing systems that represented sounds of spoken languages. From the beginning until now, translators have always had a principal role in the evolution of language.

As the world’s population grew, groups of people moved and spread, taking their languages with them. When cultures met and intersected, languages needed to be translated. The work of early translators became the foundational basis for the translation services we have today. The earliest translators spent months and, in some cases, years working by hand, translating documents word by word, and phrase by phrase, all so that people of the world’s many cultures would be able to share each other’s text, in their own native languages.

How Language Advanced

During the first century, in the age of the Roman Empire, Cicero and Horace were theorists of translation, who presented theories of word-to-word and sense-to-sense translations.

Early traders moving through the countryside were the main impetus for correct translation. Agreements needed to be written and signed by people in different nations. Over the years, a shift took place and translation moved from legal documents and contracts to include religious, financial, cultural, and artistic interests.

The translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek in the 3rd century BC had perhaps the most profound effects of all early major translations in the Western world. The reason for this translation was a perfectly understandable need. Most of the Jewish people had forgotten their ancestral language. So, the Bible was translated from Hebrew to Greek, the popular language at the time.

This is always the basis for translation—the need to know and learn and grow culturally. The role of a translator is to become a bridge whereby language and cultural values can be transported.

But even before the Hebrew Bible was translated, translation centers were developing in Eastern culture—some dating back to over a thousand years BC. Language has always been on the move and the need for translation has been in step with it.

Monasteries were known for their quality of translations. St. Jerome, a priest and theologian, is best known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin along with commentaries on the Gospels. In the known Western world, translation became a highly coveted skill, especially during Roman and Greek times.

Jia Gongyan of the Zhou dynasty is credited with saying: “Translation is to replace one written language with another without changing the meaning for mutual understanding.” This shows that even over 2,500 years ago, there was a need for translation and an even greater need to understand the cultures and principles of other people groups.

The Shift to Print

Years later with the advent of the printing press, translation became more consistent but errors in documents also increased. Texts that had been carefully translated were typeset and printed over and over again. While the need for handwritten documents began to decline, the need for human translators grew.

These were people who not only translated texts and documents, but became “keepers” of language making sure what was written was correct and true from a cultural perspective. These positions were, as they are today, important jobs to hold.

Language is our link to the past, but it is our superhighway to the future. As long as there is language, there will be a need for human translators. This is because even the most advanced computer program still cannot compare to human translation. The advantage of a computer is this: once a document is correctly translated, it can quickly be checked for consistency of the translation through the use of cross-checking software.

Instantaneous translation can take place as hundreds of languages go through two opposing algorithms: statistical machine translation and rule-based translation. Statistical algorithms use data collected from previous word, phrase, and sentence translations. Rule-based translation uses grammar rules and word-for-word lexeme apps to translate from one language to another.

While most translation companies offer some type of instant translation service, they will also tell you that the only sure translation is one that is done with human resources that either localize within a culture or know the localization of a culture so well that they can translate human feelings, thoughts, and emotions. Even with all of our technology, this is something a computer just cannot do.

The bottom line is that software has been able to speed up the translation process, especially through translation memory and certain specialized glossaries. These allow translators to use and to store information in a database that is available under the watchful eye of an expert translator.

What Does the Future Hold?

Advances continue and the web, along with the rising popularity of translation apps and AI, are rapidly becoming keys to the sustainability of translation worldwide. Plus, the rapid evolution of a global market means the role of translators is more crucial than ever.

There is, however, one more extreme player on this ever-changing and expanding stage and that is the semantic web, which is an extension of our current web. On the semantic web, information is given a well-defined meaning, which enables computers and people around the world to work in cooperation with one another.

Future goals for translation include targets that once seemed unimaginable. Developers are writing code for web pages that are not only interactive but also sensitive to language. As an example of this: imagine that you went to a supplier’s web page in India, and an automated voice greeted you. If you answered in English, the web page would immediately change from a Hindi scripted page to an English script.

Translation has come a long way in over 2.5 thousand years. So, the future is going to be very exciting to watch. Wherever it goes from here, you can be sure that in this global world, translators will be on the leading edge.

 

Wanted: Multilinguals – The Importance of Being a Polyglot in the Global Economy

Language services are not new, but with all of the advances in technology and connectivity that have taken place since the 1990s, they have become much more visible than before. We’re not just talking about visibility to businesses who want to expand their profiles, either. Those same advances have also led to a rising generation of new professionals who are already linked across international borders. Our industry depends on young, enthusiastic talents with a love for multilingual communication and the drive to make international connections – and we’re very excited by the talent we see coming into the job market.

We recently had the pleasure to connect with Kay Leigh, a fresh college graduate with a major in Linguistics and proficiency in several languages, and we asked her what she thought about foreign language and international business. We’d like to share her response here. Hopefully, we’ll hear from her again soon!

English has quickly become the go-to language for international communication. Because of this, many Americans have not felt a need to learn a foreign language, knowing that they will be able to make it in the global economy. Compared to other employees around the world, Americans might ‘have it easy’. They can grow up learning their native language, English, while others speak another language at home and have to learn English in order to gain success in the business market. With English-based companies, many employers now desire to have employees that speak another language, in order to appeal to their customers that may not speak English as their first language. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable when giving their business to someone, and that comfort starts at the language they are spoken to in.

The only true way to grow a business is to create a line of communication that is easily accessible for customers. No one wants to be put on hold for hours on end! That raises the customers’ frustration and may lead to them taking their money elsewhere. Customers want to feel important. Highlighting their importance to the company is beneficial to a business’s success. One way to point out their crucial role is to offer customer service in their native tongue. Many companies in America have begun to touch on this and now offer customer service representatives that speak Spanish due to the rising population of native Spanish speakers in the United States. If those same American companies could find customer service representatives that spoke multiple languages, their customer base would expand. Customers are more likely to return to a company if they speak the language that the customers speak at home. They want to be able to communicate their problems with ease to the company’s representatives, and the easiest way possible is to have employees that speak their language.

Due to the increase in companies that operate on an international scale, many employers are drawn to a résumé that includes multiple languages. Even American high schools and colleges are requiring their students to study foreign languages to prepare them for a career and a life in the global marketplace. The world does not speak just one language, so even young children need exposure to other cultures and languages. Beginning a study in a foreign language is essential for anyone, no matter what their career choice might be. Having just one more language on a résumé will draw in an employer because that extra amount of knowledge means they have the opportunity to expand their company to another language and another culture. If a business owner wanted to expand their product to another country, but didn’t speak the language, he would have a hard time getting his feet in the door. He would begin to seek an employee that spoke the language, so his company could better communicate with his customers and provide the best possible customer service. The global marketplace depends on multilinguals for the expansion and success of companies all around the world.

A Look at Resettling Refugees in the American South

Once a homogenous community, Clarkston, Georgia, just 20 miles outside Atlanta, is now considered “the most diverse square mile in America” according to The New York Times. How did this happen? What does it mean for the refugees who have resettled there and the agencies that serve them?

How does this massive resettlement impact the metro Atlanta area?

In an article posted on Humanity in Action, Jasmine Burton explores the complicated realities of resettling refugees in the American South. An excerpt from the article is below:

Clarkston once was the epitome of historic Southern tradition with white picket fences, large Baptist choirs, and a predominantly homogenous population. However, in the 1980s, the refugee resettlement programs and the US State Department determined that Clarkston was a place that was well suited for a diverse group of displaced peoples since the cost of living was low and public transportation was relatively accessible. The 2000s marked the time when this quaint town began seeing massive demographic transformation as Clarkston High School boasted students from over 50 countries, the local mosque housed 800 worshippers, and an estimated half of the population was originally from outside of the United States. “This influx of people from all over the world has transformed Clarkston from a sleepy, unassuming Southern city to one of the most diverse communities in the United States. Clarkston’s kaleidoscopic community has become a leading example of the joys and frustrations facing our rapidly diversifying nation.”

‘Refugee’ is a status held by a severely marginalized and often times stigmatized group of people who are often times protected and aided by refugee resettlement agencies that are funded by philanthropies and that inspire community-led social enterprises in order to move past this status to reclaim their sense of humanity… the resettlement agencies that support refugees embody this quote by Kofi A. Annan, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from Ghana, “I urge you to celebrate the extraordinary courage and contributions of refugees past and present.”

The full article is available here.

To Dub or not to Dub – The Globalization of Movie Translation

Have you ever turned on a movie and suddenly realized the language was French or German and contained subtitles or dubbing? You may ask yourself, “Do I continue to watch knowing that I know it is going to take extra effort to read the subtitles or to ignore the slightly off lip sync motions?” If so, you are not the only one. Producers and directors are always working on ways to make sure audiences around the world can understand and connect with what is unfolding in their stories.

There’s little doubt that the film industry is leading the way with entertainment translation. But what works best when it comes to being viewer-friendly in foreign markets—subtitles or dubbing? Here are some factors film and television producers consider when choosing between the two.

 

Subtitles – Pros and Cons

Subtitling is a great choice when English proficiency is high and/or the country is smaller in size. In an article published by Language Trainers, “According to the 2013 EF English Proficiency Index, … the top three [English proficient] countries, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands, … use subtitles instead of dubs for everything except for children’s programs.”

Pros of Subtitling

1. Relatively Low Cost: Subtitling can be up to 15 times less expensive which makes it a great option for smaller countries or countries with multiple official languages such as Belgium and Bosnia.

2. Improved plot delivery: Because the director doesn’t need to worry about synchronizing dialogue to the actor’s mouths, words can be added or edited. The director can add culturally relevant words, so the audience remains engaged in the plot.

3. Improved creative authenticity: Viewers not only watch and hear what is taking place on screen, they also can read the text and listen for voice inflection that provides the correct emotional context.

Cons of Subtitling

1. Character limit. Generally, subtitle text is two lines long, totaling around 64 characters in length, (including spaces) or 6 seconds of screen time. This means when it comes to lengthy dialog, some of the meaning may be lost as text is edited down to fit.

2. Difficulty Keeping Up. The usage of subtitling can slow down a film watcher. Fast-paced thrillers can be difficult to keep up with, especially if there is action and quick movements. You may be a fast reader, but you will also be reading through emotion as well as information.

Dubbing – Pros and Cons

Dubbing is often used in larger countries with one universal language, such as France, Germany, Italy, and Spain and/or where English proficiency is moderate to low. Dubbing is so popular in some countries, such as Germany, they actually have a separate awards ceremony for voice dubbing actors.

Pros

1. Appealing to a main-stream audience: Hearing your native language makes it easier to absorb the plot, align with the emotions, and increases the likelihood that you will follow the movie to the end.

2. Great for localizing material: Actors and producers can interject localized references and humor into the movie dialogue so that it resonates with the target audience. This is a powerful tool!

Cons

1. Delayed voices: Time delays between the actor’s voice and actions on screen can be distracting and lessen the acceptance of the film. The content and translation may even be seen as less authentic.

2. A confused audience: Dubbing can create some confusion. For example, in German films the same actor will regularly dub particular actors’ voices in every movie, which keeps it consistent for faithful audiences. But what happens when both American actors appear in a film together? A new voice must be introduced for a favorite actor, which causes audience confusion. Furthermore, in some countries such as Poland, one actor speaks the parts of every character for a movie. It’s easy to see how that might get confusing if you’re not paying close attention.

Staying true to the cultural, political, and ideological preferences of a country will always be valued by the target audience. This is why it is important for producers and directors to weigh the positives and the negatives of both methods.

Bonus Clip: Watching movies is fun, and it’s even better when you use this to support your desire to learn a second language! Movies provide the context where you can hear or read the real language and learn how words and phrases are used in certain settings.

TrueLanguage is full of life-long language learners. Our localized translators have added value to both audiences and to filmmakers’ bottom lines through thoughtful translation in 120 different languages. With Atlanta fast becoming known as “The Hollywood of the South” we look forward to partnering with filmmakers for global box office success!

Translation is Not Morse Code, but There are Rules to Follow

Maybe you are a savvy businessperson who knows how to market and operate a successful business on a global stage. Maybe you are new to the idea of partnering with companies in foreign countries. Either way, when you send your valuable, and sometimes confidential documents off for translation, you want to get them back quickly and without breaking your budget. More importantly, you want them to correctly reflect your mission, the culture of the audience, and the intent of your company’s message.

It sounds complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are seven document translation tips to simplify the process while turning a good translation into a great translation.

1. Choose the right translation partner.
The first tip for successful translations is to choose the right translation partner. As you begin to look for the best fit for your company and its translation needs, consider the scope of your projects. The company you choose will rely on you to be up front and honest about your expectations and needs. Knowing these will ensure the right translation company is chosen.

This company needs to have wisdom, international depth, experience, and a reputation for quality and customer service. They also should employ specialized translators, local to your target market, to ensure your documents are accurate and look as good in the target language as they do in their original language.

2. Be consistent.
Despite all the hype placed on machine translation, the best and the most accurate translations come from human translators. But there’s no need to translate the same phrases over and over again.

To make the most of translation, be consistent in your terminology, wherever possible within your original document. Establish an official glossary for the terms that are important for your business, and work with your translation provider to duplicate this glossary in your target language (or languages). Keeping your specialized terms homogenous across all your documents maximizes the benefits of using translation services, increases speed and efficiency in the translation process, and helps to keep costs reasonable.

3. Keep language simple (when possible).
Keep your language as simple as possible, avoiding overly complicated sentences, jargon, regionalisms and even humor. These are notoriously difficult to translate accurately.

Sometimes, as with legal documents, complexity and industry-specific jargon is needed. Marketing documents may rely on wordplay and humor. This is when experienced, linguists will save the day. Specialized translators with direct connections to your target market will know how to translate your humor, or even replace it with something better suited to the local audience, ensuring your translated documents leave readers smiling for the right reasons.

4. Don’t rely on Google Translate for essential documents.
Speed and price are important but when it comes to translation, they are not everything. In fact, if your translation is culturally inaccurate, these two things will not mean much. The old adage is true: you get what you pay for and value means more than fast and cheap. If you turn to free tools like Google Translate for your translations, you are probably not getting much in the way of value. Plus, you run the risk of reader confusion, damage to your brand, and possible legal consequences.

5. Use a design that’s easy to adapt.
Design may not be the first thing you consider, but it is highly important to any translated work. When documents are translated into other languages, the text often expands or contracts (depending on the language pair).

For example, when translating from English to Spanish, it’s not unusual for the text to grow by 15% to 30%. While translations from English into Japanese and even Korean often take up less horizontal space even though these two languages have more complex characters.

No matter how the original document is designed or what language pair you’ve requested, a design team that understands the culture you are addressing makes a difference. And if you know your original document will be converted into other languages, you can save time and money if you think ahead and design thoughtfully.

How do you minimize the amount of re-designing that your document translation project requires? Keeping your message simple along with an uncomplicated, clean layout with enough white space will require fewer adjustments. And be aware of target languages that flow in directions other than left-to-right – some Asian and Middle Eastern languages read right-to-left or top-to-bottom. Designing with this in mind can save you a later headache when your translations come in.

6. Build a style guide.
Designers do this on a regular basis. Creating a style guide for your documents takes work, but it pays off by delivering a seamless and efficient document translation process.

Also, style guides keep translated documents consistent and reduce the amount of time-consuming guesswork required of your translators. With a style guide on file, you can easily follow the outline assuring a greater accuracy. Plus, the translation team will have the resources needed to get the translation right the first time. This means less time spent on rework and faster translation times at a lower cost.

7. Ensure documents are finalized.
When authoring your documents, ask your colleagues for input. Make sure you have included their corrections and edits. Ask several people to review your documents prior to sending them for translation. This helps to ensure accuracy, comprehensibility, and completeness.

Translation project managers I know say that a project manager’s role “officially” begins upon final quote approval from the client. This is why it’s always best to thoroughly edit your documents before starting the translation process.

5 Great Translations Tips That Lead to Success

It’s easy to intuitively identify when a document or a speech has been poorly translated.  Poor translations come across as jagged or disconnected. Often, the original message has been misunderstood or misrepresented. Typically, personality and individuality have been removed so that the communication feels flat and lifeless. These translation missteps are easy to detect. But how do we identify a successful translation?

Every translation is an interpretative act, but it also is a creative one. It is not a static process but one that is vibrant and moving as the language unfolds.

Antonia Lloyd-Jones, a professional translator who translates Polish to English, said in a recent interview, “A good translation is imperceptible. It reads as if it were written in the language into which it has been translated.

“Within the text, the translator is invisible. Great translation removes the barrier imposed by an unfamiliar language and allows the writer to communicate directly with the foreign reader.

“It also captures the voice and music of the original as the writer intended it to be heard and reproduces it in a way that is audible to the new, foreign reader. It is sensitive to the meaning, effects and intentions of the original, but also to the best ways to render them in the target language.”

A well-executed translation is as distinctive in a second language as the author’s voice is in the original language. It captures the spirit of a text without slavishly following it to the letter. It captures the energy, voice, and style of the source document and replicates them correctly so that the targeted culture understands and is motivated to action.

If your company is new to translation, the following tips can guide you to achieving the best translation.

1. Avoid machine translation. Humans still have the edge over machines. The Human vs. Artificial Intelligence Translation Challenge organized by the International Interpretation and Translation Association (IITA) and Sejong University delivered a resounding victory for human translators. While machine translation has come a long way, the ability of the human brain to convert text from one language to another outstrips the capability of computers.

2. Select your translation company in advance. Last-minute decisions result in greater stress, increased costs, and lower quality. Do your research and find a translation company that fits your needs before you are pressed for time with a project. Then, once you begin a project, you’ll have the best company in place.

3. Make sure your translation team understands your style. Your company’s brand has a distinct voice and tone. Your translators should be able to represent your style throughout the translation process. Communicating your brand correctly will put your company on the road to success.

4. Include localization. This is really no longer an option. The best translation of a foreign language is done by native translators—people who actually know, understand, and live or have lived within your target area. These local translators will represent your company well because they are familiar with the nuances of the local culture and vernacular. The ability to communicate correctly on the world’s stage is imperative. Doing it right will save your company money, preserve your reputation, and increase your marketing ability.

5. Plan your translation schedule in advance. Many companies translate one document only to discover that they need further translations. Planning is key to consistency and success. It also teaches you how to avoid last minute panics and the additional expenses. The best translation work is done when a translator knows the scope of the work and can creatively approach the entire project in a calm and professional way.

Celebrate Language and Celebrate Culture – 10 Awesome Cultural Celebrations

Today, we do business and live life on an international stage. Linguists know something that many are just now understanding: learning new languages, desiring to understand new cultures actually brings us together.

At True Language, we know language unites people. Just by seeking to understand the differences of those we meet globally says, “I want to get to know you better.”

Experiencing cultural traditions of others opens your mind to knowledge and new understandings that broaden your horizons for life. So, make plans to travel to destinations around our globe that are colorful, fun, unique and certainly culturally different. A great way to experience another culture is through a festival. Several hundred festivals take place all over the world every month – there are plenty to choose from!

Getting people together is at the heart of what we love to do. The following is a short list of some notable cultural festivals of the world—there is something for everyone!

1. Holi, The Festival of Colors — India
A Hindu celebration of the triumph of good over evil and the arrival of spring, Hindus and non-Hindus alike celebrate Holi around the middle of March by dancing, playing music, having spirited water fights, and covering each other with brightly colored powders called gulal. Holi is also a time of clearing the air, setting the stage for a positive year of growth, and giving your emotions a reset. Grudges are dropped, differences are patched up, fences are mended, debts are paid or forgiven, old friendships are renewed, and new friendships are started. Which all makes sense, since it’s probably tough to stay angry, sad, or otherwise negative when everyone in sight is wet and covered in weird colors.

If you’d like to throw some gulal next year, but can’t manage a flight to India, cities all over the United States throw their own Festivals of Colors, too – the Holi celebration at Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah is said to be the largest one in the world.

2. Dia de los Muertos — Mexico
This is less of an active festival, more of a meaningful holiday dedicated to honoring the memory of those who have passed; in English it’s known as the Day of the Dead. It’s a public holiday in Mexico, but if you live in any area with a significant Mexican population you may be able to observe it. The Day of the Dead falls on November 2nd, two days after Halloween and one day after All Saints Day. On those two days, the spirits come and visit the living – on the last day, it’s our job as the living to visit them. Colorful altars called ofrendas are put up in private homes to commemorate lost loved ones, and elaborate floral arrangements are placed in graveyards. Offerings of food, drink, and flowers are left for the spirits to enjoy, including bright orange marigolds (the traditional flower of the dead) and the famous sugar skulls called calaveras.

Like Mardi Gras, the Day of the Dead has an unmistakable look, style, and color scheme; you’re probably familiar with it thanks to movies like Pixar’s Coco. Feel free to enjoy and appreciate the art of it – just make sure to respect the spirit of it, too.

3. The Festival of San Fermín — Spain
This is a weeklong festival held every July in Pamplona, Spain, in honor of the area’s patron saint, San Fermín. You may not be familiar with the saint, but you’ve probably heard of his festival’s most famous event: the encierro, or the Running of the Bulls, when crowds of tourists allow themselves to be chased through the streets by a crowd of very large, highly agitated bulls. Why would they do such a thing? It began centuries ago as an act of showing off by local children, combined with some aggressive bull-herding techniques. Whenever bullfights were scheduled, the men transporting them had to move them through the center of town to the bullring, and used fear tactics to hurry them along; neighborhood kids would prove their bravery by jumping in and out in front of the stampeding herd without being hurt.

It didn’t take long for this fate-tempting activity to become popular with daring people (mostly men) with something to prove. Bull-runs would happen in any town with its own bullring, but it’s the encierro at Pamplona that has become famous worldwide, due in part to its being immortalized by Ernest Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises. If you decide to run with the bulls, be warned: even with medical attention on hand, bull-runners get themselves injured (if not killed) every year.

4. La Tomatina — Spain
Not up to running from the bulls? If you happen to be in the Valencian town of Buñol the last Wednesday of August, you can try to grab a ham… just look out for flying tomatoes! The city’s tomato-throwing festival has been going on since 1945; it’s not certain how or why this tradition began, but it’s still going strong today. Massive truckloads of ripe tomatoes are brought to the town square, homes and storefronts are covered in plastic, and thousands of people wait for the signal to start the food fight. Technically the mayhem isn’t supposed to begin until someone climbs up the Palojabon (a greased pole two stories high) and retrieves the delicious Spanish ham from the top. However, that’s a tough thing to do, so usually the sound of a shot get things going. For one hour only, participants pelt each other wildly with tomatoes, until the whole scene is a red, sticky, pulpy mess; at the sound of a second shot the great tomato-ing stops, the streets are hosed down, and everyone goes home happier (and redder) than before.

5. Oktoberfest — Germany
The carnival heard round the world, Oktoberfest is Germany’s most famous gathering of locals and tourists alike. What began as a Bavarian royal wedding blow-out in 1810 is celebrated today wherever beer is drunk. The original, ongoing festival is an enormous affair with horse races, carnival rides, live music, and keg after keg of good German Bier; for restaurateurs and brewers, the festival is a spectacular yearly showcase for their new wares. But even far away from home base in Munich, Oktoberfest is an excuse for anyone (of legal age) to raise a stein, savor some bratwurst, and share in the German cultural experience.

6. Krampusnacht — Austria and Germany
The Christmas season begins early in the Alpine region of central Europe. On Nikolaustag, or December 6th, St. Nicholas rewards all the good little children on December 6th, leaving small gifts and treats in their shoes. Meanwhile, the bad little children might get a visit from someone else! Krampus is a frightening figure indeed, usually pictured with horns, hooves, a tail, and a very long tongue. He and St. Nicholas are a team – Nick gives presents to the good kids, and Krampus scares the bad ones into doing better next year (or else he’ll take them away in a bag and eat them up).

Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night, is the night before Nikolaustag. On this night, many communities will have a Krampuslauf (or Krampus run), in which young men put on their scariest Krampus masks and costumes and parade through town, giving bystanders a good-natured scare or two. Some of these costumes are quite elaborate, with moving parts, pyrotechnics, and monstrous sound effects. Don’t worry, though, there are parade watchers on hand to make sure no children are actually eaten. Usually.

7. Yi Peng and Loi Krathong — Thailand
The skies of Chiang Mai are set aglow as thousands of lanterns are released throughout the city during the Yi Peng Lantern Festival on the evening of the full moon on the 12th month (usually in November). Yi Peng aligns with another floating festival, Loi Krathong, in which participants place offerings of coins, candles, incense, and flowers into baskets and float them down the river, sending all negativity and anger away with them.

Chiang Mai is the best place in Thailand to observe these two festivals together, and see the sky and water filled with lights. Yi Peng’s sky lanterns are a more recent phenomenon, though, and they’re not welcome everywhere; fire hazards and risks to air traffic have led some cities to regulate them or ban them outright. So if you’re traveling in Thailand on Yi Peng, check with the law before you light one up!

8. Mardi Gras — New Orleans, Louisiana
Mardi Gras season begins right at the end of the Christmas season with the bacchanalian celebrations of Twelfth Night on January 6th and continues right on through the month, building up to the chaotic citywide celebration on Fat Tuesday, right before Ash Wednesday. This is the last chance to break loose, be irreverent, party down, and use up all the rich foodstuffs and liquor you’re supposed to avoid during the forty days and nights of Lent. It’s rooted in tradition and the gathering of family and friends. You can find Mardi Gras celebrated any place in the world with a strong Catholic history (see below)… with the Crescent City’s storied reputation for excellent eating, bottomless drinking, often-topless partying, and other forms of glorious excess, it’s no wonder the New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition is the most notorious version in the world. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

9. Carnival Rio de Janeiro — Brazil
Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival is the same celebration as Mardi Gras in theory, but dwarfs it in scale – in fact, it’s the largest in the world, with as many as two million people crowding the streets of Rio for every day it runs. Carnival starts the Friday before Lent, filling the intervening days with music, costumes, chaos of the best kind, and above all, dancing. Brazil is the land of the samba, and more than two hundred samba groups come together from across the country at Carnival to show their neighbors how it’s done. Many of the events are for ticket holders only, but there’s so much overflow of music and excitement into the streets, you can join in the madness just by stepping outside.

10. Carnaval de Québec — Quebec City, Canada
Partying before Lent isn’t strictly for hot climates – in the capital of French Canada, the mascot of the festivities is a snowman, Bonhomme Carnaval, and if the partiers are wearing more and thicker clothing, they’re no less happy to be there. Carnaval means days and nights of snow-boarding, ice-skating, sledding, dancing (outdoors, in the snow, because Canadians don’t fear the winter), free food and drink for everyone, and a French-style masquerade ball. If you’d like to let it all hang out before Lent, but tropical humidity isn’t your thing, head north!

Taking Your Content Beyond Translation to Localization

A global product or service needs to present itself well to a variety of audiences around the world, and the way it achieves that presentation is through its content. If the content on your company’s website is available in only one language, it’s safe to say your messaging will miss its mark with audiences who do speak other languages. And languages are not uniform. A single translation may not be suitable for variants existing within a language.

Translation is only the first step in reaching global audiences where they live. Our expert linguists take your content further than that, by going beyond translation to localization.

Translation vs. Localization

The difference between translations and localization is important to note. Translation is strictly a linguistic process. For example, a translator takes a marketing piece, such as a corporate brochure, and transfers the content from a source language into a target language, respecting grammar rules and syntax.

Localization takes that concept to the next level by adapting the content to its local audience, using phrases and verbiage that resonate with their local tastes and conventions. It is an important step to take with all of your marketing assets such as websites, mobile apps, software, video games, multimedia content and voiceovers

Localization Applied

For instance, the need for localization becomes apparent when your company opts to translate a marketing piece into Spanish. That’s a good idea… but Spanish for where, exactly? Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, most markets in South and Central America, and many potential clients in the United States and the Caribbean all speak Spanish, but they certainly don’t all speak it the same way. Think of the differences between the ways English is spoken in Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States; each country has its own phrasing, flavor, and vocabulary – natural to them, and distinct from the others. And if you try to apply a single variant to all markets, you can bet they’ll notice.

What to Look for in a Language Service Company

Selling your product or service in a foreign country means more than overcoming language barriers. A highly effective language service company will work with a team of professional linguists with direct connections and experience in your targeted regions. This team will ensure your content is respectful of local culture, local expectations and local laws for each market.

Audiences listen when you speak their native language. Localization of your content gains the trust and respect of your target audience while helping your company maintain its unique voice across many cultural differences.

When you bring in experts to localize your content, the local public—wherever they are in the world—feels as if you built the content especially for them. This can mean all the difference when they are choosing your product or service over your competitors.