As citizens of the world become more integrated with one another it is becoming ever more important that media is accessible to people all over the world no matter the language that they speak. It may be staggering to know that there are more than 7,000 languages spoken in the entire world. However, only 23 languages make up over half of the world’s population. So for companies looking to create a world-wide market, creating content that is understandable by people regardless of the language that they are reading in is very crucial.
September is World Translation Month, an entire month dedicated to celebrating a means of uniting people through the use of language. Translation is a means of connecting people from all over the world. Features for easy and quick translation have been included in countless social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook to make it simple for people to stay in touch with friends and family from all over the world. That feature can be taken for granted since it has the capability of changing your entire feed into a comprehensible language for you at the click of a button. But World Translation Month brings light to the companies who work to make so much media accessible cross culturally.
Consider a world where services like Google or Amazon were only available in one language. So many people would be missing out on the convenience of having endless information at the tips of their fingers or the capability to order almost anything to your doorstep. But by the power of translation we are able to provide these kinds of services in a multitude of languages all over the world.
Translation has made it possible for people who speak vastly different languages living on opposite sides of the world to not only be able to communicate but also experience some of the same things. This month is a celebration of that accomplishment and what it has brought to the world. But, translation is not the whole answer to our problems. Translation only takes into consideration converting one language into another. For content to resonate around the world it is crucial to look at the whole picture in terms of both the language and the culture in which the content will be presented.
A simple example of this can be seen in gaming, for example let’s imagine a game in which players participate in the world series of baseball. It’s your two favorite teams facing each other head to head at the top of the ninth, bases are loaded, and your team’s best hitter is up to bat. This game would seem extremely appealing in the United States where baseball is a huge deal. But in other countries around the world where baseball doesn’t have the same coverage, the game would have little relevance.
Localization takes into account cultural differences across nations when translating content, with the aim of producing content that resonates with the people in the country that is being targeted. Simple adjustments are often all that is required to put an entirely different spin on a product and make it relevant to the market. In this example, the game could become appealing, simply if names of the teams corresponded to cities within the target country or if there were references to popular culture unique to the country which users can identify with.
Translation is the process of adapting one language to another. Localization however, is a way of looking at the broader picture. It not only takes into consideration language, but culture, politics, history, and anything else that could be relevant to the user experience. It is the best to way to insure that your company’s message can be heard across the world by people from completely different cultures and still have the same positive impact.