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Language facts: Flemish

Flemish, or Vlaams in Dutch, is the standard Dutch variant spoken in the Belgian region of Flanders by around 6.1 million speakers, sometimes also referred to as Southern Dutch. It includes several dialects, all of which (depending on who you ask) are interrelated with the southwestern dialects of Dutch. 

Differences between Flemish and Dutch

Flemish, or Vlaams, is actually highly similar to the Dutch language used in the Netherlands. The official language in Belgium's Flemish region is indeed Dutch, and along with German and French you then have the country's three official languages. In essence, the Dutch languages are the same, and the only main differences are in pronunciation and frequency of some words. Because certain expressions (around 3-4,000) are more frequent in Belgian Dutch, many people refer to the language as Flemish, however, the words are really part of standard Dutch. There are no spelling differences between Dutch in Belgium and Dutch in the Netherlands.

Dutch pride

However, in actual practice, many Dutch nationals often question Dutch text content when they find it 'suspicious' or slightly off. This is probably a natural reaction and similar to what Germans things of Austrian and Swiss German: it simply sounds wrong.

Loan words in Dutch

In case of loan words, interestingly, Flemish speakers tend to apply Dutch pronunciation, whereas speakers in Netherlands maintain the original foreign pronunciation. Compared to Dutch, Flemish has also adopted many more loan words from French. The main difference between the languages is exposed in informal usage though. The pronunciation, slang expressions, and also common phrases can be very different, so different that Dutch television programs are sometimes even subtitled in Belgium and vice versa.


The Flemish alphabet is identical to the Dutch alphabet. The most frequently used letter is "e". Also, notice the unique IJ character.


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Staff from the idioma Tokyo office attended the 28th Design Engineering & Manufacturing Solutions Expo at the Tokyo Big Sight venue as one of the exhibitors for 3 days from June 21 through June 23rd.

In the three days, the total number of visitors reached 88,000 where 2,454 exhibitors participated concurrently with other exhibitions such as the Japan Manufacturing World. 

The weather was wonderful for the three days and there was a very inspirational and productive atmosphere at the site.

Exhibitors from different fields conducted hands-on demonstrations of products, held live presentations on the spot, and the venue was packed with visitors from all over Japan.

In this midst of this manufacturer-oriented atmosphere, idioma was right there to offer high quality technical translation services and its 37 years of expertise on multilingual technical documentation. 

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Many interested visitors stopped by at the idioma booth with an interest in effective overseas development. Quite a few admitted they had experienced difficulties in translation and localization. idioma representatives were happy to help potential buyers with our tailor-made solutions. 

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All in all, idioma’s presence at DMS Tokyo 2017 was a big success, which motivated us to participate again next year, hopefully with new services and technologies to come.

For anyone who is interested in the Japanese market and its need for multilingual documentation, do not hesitate to contact us at Denne e-mail adresse bliver beskyttet mod spambots. Du skal have JavaScript aktiveret for at vise den..

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Translating Trump: Why is it so hard?

Since the boundaries-breaking presidential campaign in 2016, through the inauguration, up to the elephant-in-china-store-style international politics, President Trump has surely achieved one thing: the historically "unpresidented" media coverage of the U.S. commander-in-chief all over the globe. 

The reality show of Trump's presidency is a challenging experience for the entire planet, including translators, who struggle to translate Mr. Trump's rather originally structured language. It's a "thing" of such proportions that there are now about 570 thousand search results on "Translating Trump" on Google.

As each language has its specifics, translators from different cultures need to polish the president's message into many different shapes, not only to try to convey the content of the message but also to make it digestible to a local audience. Both of these tasks, however, sometimes prove close to impossible (especially for simultaneous interpreters).  

Why is Trump so hard to translate?

First of all, the president's language is incoherent even for English speakers. He uses a very limited elementary-level vocabulary full of synonyms to describe any sentiment (wonderful, beautiful, incredible / sad, bad, crooked, etc.) that makes the translation result fall flat. And it's no better when Trump chooses to enrich his vocabulary because he tends to fashion up new words, without apparent reason or meaning. Remember "covfefe"?

Carnegie Mellon University's Language Technologies Institute (LTI) research that analysed Mr. Trump's campaign speeches concluded his lexical richness was at the 7th-grade level, being the lowest of all past U.S. presidents and rival candidates in the 2016 race. His grammatical level is a bit better – only the second worst after George W. Bush who hardly reached the 5th-grade level.

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Unless sticking to the scripts carefully prepared by others, Mr.Trump displays little attention to sentence structure or coherence, and he disregards grammar (or spelling for that matter). And when he slips off the script, he tends to use "street-origin" Americanism (nut job, showboat, tippy-top, etc.), which often are too culture-specific to be comprehensible without broader explanation, and/or are culturally incompatible due to its vulgar subtext. 

Trump cannot be translated literally in Japan

Speaking of cultural incompatibility, covering and translating Trump's speeches regarding firing the FBI director James Comey was a big test for Japanese translators. Being from a culture of extreme social politeness, where words are chosen carefully, Japanese translators simply couldn't cope with the president calling someone of such high standing as the former FBI director a "nut job" and broadcast the words in their original meaning. Instead of opting for the Japanese alternative for "stupid" (politely atama ga warui), the term eventually used was henjin – which describes someone odd or eccentric, so not really what the president said. An even harder cultural challenge was to translate the now-notorious Access Hollywood grabbing recordings into Japanese, as the very fact of having to translate such a phrase made the Japanese translators rather uncomfortable (although they eventually chose to go for a non-vulgar, safe description of the problematic term).

Japanese translators even joked that Trump is so overconfident and logically unconvincing that if he should be translated as he actually speaks, the translators would make themselves sound stupid. The Trumpian era actually brought an interesting dispute within Japanese translator circles as to whether it is proper to polish the president's language and neutralize it, or to translate it exactly as he expresses himself in English. 

The problem is that going with the latter produces results that hardly make any sense in translation.

Japanese language is generally very polite with few words that explicitly belittle the listener or others. Foul language is probably only found inside the Japanese mafia – the yakuza – while the very large majority of the Japanese population expect decent, respectful language in speech, writing and all other kinds of communication.

idioma @ 28th Design Engineering & Manufacturing Solutions Expo






私どものブースでは、技術翻訳に関しての最新トレンドの紹介や、翻訳の国際規格DIN EN ISO 17100への規格遵守の取り組み、また独自クラウドを中心とした各種翻訳サービスを出展する予定です。



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会期:2017年6月21日(水)~6月23日(金) 10:00~18:00(最終日のみ~17:00)

#東京ビッグサイト #展示会 #設計製造ソリューション展 #ものづくりワールド


 idioma will exhibit at the 28th Design Engineering & Manufacturing Solutions Expo (DMS) in Tokyo from Wednesday June 21st to Friday June 23rd. 

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DMS is Japan's largest exhibition gathering all kinds of IT solution providers and attracting professionals looking to buy IT solutions for their business. The number of exhibitors is expected to reach 2,400 in this year. 

As a hi-tech player, idioma plans to introduce the latest trends in top-quality technical translation (in accordance with the company's DIN EN ISO 17100 certification) and truly unique, in-house developed cloud services.

If you plan to visit this exciting event, please feel free to contact us in advance at Denne e-mail adresse bliver beskyttet mod spambots. Du skal have JavaScript aktiveret for at vise den. to receive your entrance ticket.

Exhibition details

Held inside Manufacturing World Japan 2017

Our booth: E41-15

Dates: June 21st (Wed) – 23rd (Fri), 2017 10:00 - 18:00 (last day until 17:00)

Venue: Tokyo Big Sight

We are looking forward to seeing you!

Language facts: Portuguese and its spelling reform

Portuguese is the official language of Portugal and Brazil, a number of African nations, as well as an official EU language. Portuguese is a Romance language that originated in what is now Galicia (Spain) and northern Portugal. It is derived from the Latin language spoken by the Romanized Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula around 2,000 years ago. The language spread worldwide in the 15th and 16th centuries as Portugal established a colonial and commercial empire. It is one of the world's major languages, ranked 6th according to number of native speakers (approx 180 million). Together with Spanish, Portuguese is the fastest growing language in Europe. 

One language, two separate spellings

After the Portuguese Republic was established in 1911, a lot of efforts were put into standardisation of Portugal's orthography, for a very noble reason of increasing literacy of its people. It's rather interesting that unlike French and Spanish, Portuguese actually had no official spelling until 1911, and people literally wrote at will. After the new standard became official in Portugal, it was adopted also in the (then Portuguese) overseas territories of Angola, Cape Verde, East Timor, Moçambique, São Tomé and Príncipe,Guinea-Bissau, Macau, and Portuguese-controlled Indian territories.

However, the country with most Portuguese native speakers in the world, Brazil, was never consulted about the 1911 reform, and thus did not accept it. After decades-long negotiations, Brazil finally introduced its own orthography in 1938, based on an agreement with Portugal from 1931 that defined the general orthographic principles.

Nevertheless, it soon became apparent that the orthographies, albeit similar, were not identical. In some cases, there was different spelling between the two language variants due to differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese pronunciation.

In 1990 (sic!), after a series of failed negotiations, The Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement was reached. Ratified in 2004 in Brazil and in 2008 in Portugal, the Agreement has been mandatory since January 1st, 2015 in all Portuguese-speaking nations in the world.

Stark reality, however, suggests the two countries have not managed to meet the goal of merging their languages. The peoples of Brazil and Portugal still use different words and expressions for the same ideas, concepts and things. Especially in technical translation, where idioma is very active, the expressions differ. Despite the good intent of the language reform mediators, it is indeed difficult to make two countries merge into a common language and apply it 100%. Brazil and Portugal are still not there, and all the other other Portuguese enclaves are probably even further afar, many of them, like Moçambique, taking in loanwords from neighboring countries.


Portuguese uses 23 letters of the Latin alphabet with five types of diacritics, as Portuguese also recognizes Á, Â, Ã, À, Ç, É, Ê, Í, Ó, Ô, Õ, Ú. These are not regarded as independent letters and do not have separate entries in dictionaries. 

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idioma earns ISO 9001:2016 Certification by TÜV SÜD

On May 17th, 2017, our Prague office and production center, together with its office in Tokyo, was certified for its quality management system as being compliant with the extensive requirements in the ISO 9001:2016 standard. The certificate was awarded by the local Czech subsidiary of the TÜV SÜD accreditation body. This award affirms idioma’s high quality standing against this most recent ISO 9001 version of the standard with even stricter requirements. 

The approval process to obtain this certification has been ongoing since the beginning of the year. “While we have covered a wide range of topics related to our processes as an international language service provider, surprisingly we already had many measures in place that met and even went beyond the requirements on quality management,” says General Manager Jan Valenta. “Our offices are connected by an in-house developed intranet system that also manages job flows, receives orders placed online by clients and makes sure nothing fails in the translation processes. The auditors were actually surprised at some of the implemented quality measures in this system,” he adds. 

idioma has long been emphasizing quality as a key feature of its translation services. In its sales and development efforts, kaizen is an important principle whereby there is a continuous quest for improvement. “It is such a fundamental attitude that if something goes wrong once, you fix it, and even when you know something works well, you should still consider whether it can be done better and more efficiently. This is our general approach in everything we do and the reason why the translation and QA tools we have developed work so well. Becoming ISO 9001 certified affirms this policy.” says company spokesman John O'Connor. 

The company, however, has no plans to rest on its laurels. On the contrary it plans to step up its sales efforts, especially to potential clients where ISO 9001 certification is a mandatory requirement. In the past two years, the company was ranked among Asia’s Top 30 Language Service Providers by CSA Research. Marketing Manager Romana Olexova has new plans for growth: “The language industry is undergoing rapid change, but with ISO 9001 certification in our hands and backed up by our official registration for the DIN EN ISO 17100 translation standard, we stand much stronger with proven quality management. The certifications reaffirm our strong position on quality to our clients, who will appreciate our drive to only deliver the best in terms of professional translation by humans.”

Language facts: Serbian

Serbian is a member of the South Slavic group of languages and is the official language of Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. There are about 6.5 million speakers of the language in Serbia, and also 500,000 speakers in Montenegro plus 1.6 million speakers in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Serbian is also recognized as a minority language in Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Czechia (partly due to immigration during the Balkan war in the 1990s).

War of languages

Serbian language actually shares it's base with Serbo-Croatian, the official language of former Yugoslavia, from which also Standard Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin were derived. During the existence of the socialist Yugoslavian federation, there was a fierce emphasis on the "One Language" policy pursued by the federal government. This language policy was in line with the general "Unification" policy of Yugoslavia, aiming for suppression of the historical division lines between the regions, as well as nationalistic tendencies in Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro. In fact, the now-accepted stand-alone languages in the separate national states of the former Yugoslavian federation were considered merely regional variants of the same Serbo-Croatian language that simply served to "enrich" the constitutional version. 

After the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 90s and the ensuing war, the language differences became one of the subjects of the conflict between the former federal nations and one of the biggest symbols for individual national identities.


Serbian is the only European language that practically uses two different writing systems, and can be written in both the Serbian Cyrillic script and Serbian Latin. Both writing systems were promoted in Yugoslavia. The Cyrillic script has official status under the 2006 Constitution of Serbia, but the Latin script continues to gain ground as a result of its popularity among the business community and urban population. The basic principle of Serbian is “Write as you speak and read as it is written”. 



а б в г д ђ е ж з и ј к л љ м н њ о п р с т ћ у ф х ц ч џ ш


A B C Č Ć D Dž Đ E F G H I J K L Lj M N Nj O P R S Š T U V Z Ž

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Adapt or die: Online tech giants changing the landscape of the translation industry

What a time to be alive, sit back and be amazed at the unprecedented exponential progress technology is exposing all of us to – from layman to super-pro. The generation before us were hoping for TVs they could hang on walls and roll up and carry under the arms. Maybe that is not far off, but in translation and automation, the world is taking double-leaps and double-bounds. We love it, but those bounds are still not long enough...

The connection of digital and non-digital, the efforts of Google, Facebook and alike to rewrite the entire world into a binary code, or to extend the human brain with computer abilities already brings tangible results that will eventually change the full environment of doing business everywhere on earth. From downtown Manhattan to the plains up off Scarborough and to the rice fields in far away places like Indonesia. We will see a radical change to the demand and supply of products and services – translation included.

Augmented reality translation apps

Google announced this year that the Augmented Reality (AR) feature of the Google Translate app, Word Lens, has been expanded with yet another language and is now able to translate even Japanese to English and vice versa, making it the 30th supported language for instant translation. The machine translation quality is still leaps behind professional human translation, but given the pace of its learning curve in recent years, it is only a matter of near-time for solutions with impressive computing-power to deliver pretty satisfactory results not only for day-to-day private use, but for many more in business and other parts of life. With the right device, all written content will be translatable in real-time – and not just to get travel instructions in e.g. the Tokyo subway maze, but any kind of text including subtle manners on entering a tea house in the farthest corner of e.g. Shizuoka. 

Brain typing in foreign languages

Thanks to brain computer interfaces, Stephen Hawking is able to share his genius with the rest of the world, despite being unable to speak a single word. Facebook has just announced their (now a bit more science-fiction-like) goal to enable brain typing thanks to a non-invasive brain computer interface based on optical brain scans, that would eventually recognize human speech without the need to talk. It would be actually possible to control the augmented (as well as virtual) reality apps directly from one's brain, no extra transmitter involved. And Facebook seems quite confident in their standing, as their ultimate goal now is to produce scalable and marketable solutions that would allow users to type around 100 words per minute just with their mind – which is about three times faster as hand typing on phones.
Food for thought: In the old days, expert typist actually reached such speeds on standard typewriters from Remington, Underwood and others – so are we impressed? Yes we are, if I could have thought up this blog and telepathed it to my blog spot, it would have been done in a couple of minutes...

With the help of MT, this effort might actually result in people writing down their thoughtalready translated into a different language one day, possibly within the next decade, and Yes, then we are very impressed and we understand why typewriters went out the window. Now those are keepsakes.

Auto Translation is almost as unthinkable now as the notion of wi-fi and smartphones usage was 15 years ago. However, today's emerging technology should inspire translation suppliers and providers to seek to improve and refine their business models and adapt while there is still time. 

We are working hard on it.

Language facts: US Spanish

To begin with, it is interesting to know that according to the Instituto Cervantes' study, there is actually more Spanish speakers in the USA than in Spain itself. Wow!

With more than 40 million native speakers and 11 million bilinguals (mostly children of Spanish-speaking immigrants), the USA is, in fact, the world's second largest Spanish-speaking country, right after Mexico. 

For real facts, according to the US Census Office estimates, the USA will become the largest Spanish-speaking country by 2050 with around 138 million of speakers, that means approx. 1 in 3 Americans (and not counting on any Wall building). 

Status of the Spanish language in the USA

Since 1980, the number of Spanish-speakers in the US has almost quadrupled in absolute numbers, while their share of the population went from 5 to 13%. Most Spanish-speakers are concentrated in states bordering with Mexico (California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas) and the havens for immigrants on the East coast, mainly Florida, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. However, it's the long history of Mexicans vs. Americans as well as the general immigration that puts Spanish into its current standing. The USA do not have any language constituted as an Official Language, although the most dominant working language used by institutions is obviously English, and on top of that the American version. In states with a large distribution of Spanish speakers, such as New Mexico or California, official documents are issued bilingually. The exception is Puerto Rico, which, despite being part of the US Commonwealth, uses Spanish as the official primary language. 

US Spanish dialects

Spanish used around in the US can be distinguished by dialects and origin, mainly Mexican, Caribbean and Central American Spanish. The English language influenced the Spanish used in the US (and vice versa), while it is quite common for the Latino community to mix Spanish and English, resulting in a fusion called Spanglish (popular mainly among younger generations). The environment is also a factor here, while the US Spanish-speakers tend to color the language with local US English accents and convenient English words thrown in.

Spanish is also by far the most common foreign language included in American school plans from elementary schools up to university level, and with following generations of Spanish-speaking immigrants, there is a strong will to preserve the background and speech of Spanish language.

Translation into Spanish for the U.S.

Is there a need to translate into Spanish for residents in the United States? Probably not. There are so many Spanish "languages", all with their flavors and idiosyncrasies. Standard Spanish is understood by just about any Spanish adept around the world, for Spanish in the USA, Mexican Spanish with a dash of American words are probably acceptable for local incentives.

Addressing a population of millions of speakers will require "standard" Latin American Spanish. We are all ears on this. After all, in the translation industry, we have so many flavors of Spanish on the American side. Everyone understand each other, but somebody chose to chop up American Spanish into ethnic groups, each with their own language code.

Today this is overwhelming, and there should be no need to serve local Spanish flavors to the Americas.

Translation tips: What is the optimal translation speed?

Indeed, both translation suppliers, as well as clients of translation services providers have vastly different views on the issue of the desired versus feasible speed of professional translation and localization. 

While it's not easy to answer the headline question in a one-liner, let's try to break it down. Basically, the translated content's nature speaks for itself. Usually, the more time it took to write, the more time it takes to translateShakespeare plays, important medical research papers and a kitchen timer manual are just about as different as would be their translation processes. There are many types of translation areas that are very specific and thus require specific know-how, translation skills, and experience. 

Literary vs. technical translation

So, the deepest divide is the nature of translation, or better said whether we talk about a literary translation that borders with an arts discipline and has artistic value added, or the technical translation fields where the content "just needs to be translated correctly".

Literary translation of a Shakespearean screenplay would require a highly skilled multilingual literate (yes, usually only one to translate the entire piece of work) to localize all nuances of a foreign language to fit the structure, while preserving the original meaning, that is including the artistic value of the content, too. Needless to say that each author has their own style that cannot be just transformed into ones and zeros as in technical translation.

Depending on the volume of content, the literary translation process could take even up to several months, at a speed starting from pages a day to a chapter or two. A careful guess would be approximately 1-2,000 source words/day.

Technical translation of highly specific non-literary content(e.g. medical translation, legal translation, financial translation – texts such as research papers, medical or engineering documentation, etc.). These fields of translation, albeit highly demanding on translators' expertise and a bit similar to art books by their complexity, can employ various strong computer-assisted tools (CAT tools) and well prepared multilingual databases such as translation memories and glossaries to support and eventually speed up the translation process. However, even with good computing power at hand, highly-specific content uses also highly specific terms and expressions. And even though a technical translation of a high-profile content enables (unlike the usual practice in literary translation) a team of translators to collaborate, the translation process can slow down to less than a page per hour. In general, for this kind of translation good translators can produce about 2-3,000 source words/day.  General (technical) translation

For the general text (including guides, sales and promo material, website content, etc.), translators supported by CAT tools are usually capable of working at a speed of 2,000 source words/day and more. Such projects can also be split into a team of more linguists, which can then multiply the speed. 

Express translation?

Maybe you wonder how long it would take if you would need a professional, high-quality translation of your content urgently? At idioma, we are able to handle smaller projects (up to 200 source words) within 4 working hours (CET), with no minimum fees. If you wish just 5 words translated, we charge you only for those 5 words. 

And if you happen to need express translation at the moment, just click here.

Language facts: Belarusian

Belarusian, or White Russian (or White Ruthenian), is an East Slavic language spoken by somewhere between 7 and 9 million people, most of them residing in Belarus. It is an official language in Belarus and parts of Poland. Belarusian is most closely related to Ukrainian, and it is indeed also a minority language in Ukraine. 

Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian are in fact mutually intelligible to a certain extent (due to their connection to the Ruthenian language, the form of Old Slavonian spoken in the region).

Officially unofficial language

While Belarusian has had a troubled past and originally was regarded as a rural language for peasants, even assuming the second role to Russian in years after the Second World War, it has survived as a national and official language of Belarus. It shares this position with Russian. Surprisingly, out of a population of 9.5 million people, only about half are able to write in the language, while ten percent of the population does not understand Belarusian at all. According to an analysis of the official 2009 Belarus census, more than 70% of the Belarus population declared to speak Russian at home, which is perceived as a mother tongue by the majority. After all, as many other languages of the East-European area, Belarusian has also been formed within the clashes of geopolitical power games, where linguistics and politics often go hand-in-hand. 


Belarusian uses the Cyrillic alphabet, but previously also made use of the Latin alphabet. In the 16th century, Belarusian was even written in the Arabic script (so-called Belarusian Arabic alphabet) and was used by the Lipka Tatar settlers who were invited to the Belarusian lands. In the course of about two centuries of assimilation, the Tatars resumed speaking their original language and switched to Old Belarusian. 

А Б В Г Д Е Ё Ж З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Ы Ь Э Ю Я 

а б в г д е ё ж з и й к л м н о п р с т у ф х ц ч ш ы ь э ю я

Multilingual communication on social media: The myths

Social media have become an important feature of business communication strategies – for some even highly essential. Communicators at many leading brands generally understand that content needs to be as customized as possible for (potential) clients, yet their communication on social media often exists in a single language only.

There are, in fact, many good reasons why marketers and social media managers have opted not to localize social media content. However, times change. 

Here are a few myth-busters that might make you reassess the social media content strategy for your international markets.

1. English social media content is sufficient and machine translation will do the rest. 

WRONG. It's perfectly understandable that brands, mainly small or mid-sized, cannot always manage separate social media accounts for each individual key market in different languages. And while it is true that machine translation provides a certain extent of understanding to non-English speakers, the business potential of your messages drastically decreases. 

If you are serious about your international expansion, make sure you include social media content localization into your strategy, at least for 1 or 2 of your key markets. Then, you can either:

  1. a) hire a social media copywriter to produce content that is subsequently localized by aprofessional translation services provider, or
  2. b) hire native sales reps with copywriting and social media skills for each key market.

2. Social media don't support professional content localization.

CORRECT. They only do it partially. The common practice for brands was to manage multiple accounts on social media platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), each account for each key market with different language, for a very prosaic reason:there used to be no way to communicate different language versions of a message via one single post. 

However, globalization is strong. So, it's been over a year already since Facebook introduced the option for multilingual posting on fan pages, or better said of adding non-machine translation to the original post content. Social media managers can actually publish the very same posts in various language versions, while users will see it in their preferred language settings of Facebook. As long as the language is not supported yet, the post will display in its original language. It is safe to assume that other social media platforms will follow Facebook and introduce better localization options for their business pages.

3. Translation services providers are not flexible enough to supply translations for social media content.

VERY WRONG. Translation service providers have been forced to amend their business models and translation techniques because of online environments and the increased volume and speed of content consumption on every level. By hiring social-media-savvy translators, using tweaks on social media platforms in combination with upgrading their translation tools and optimizing content channels, the translation providers are eager to upgrade your content to a truly international level.

So...what are you waiting for? :) 

Contact your translation services provider and begin a discussion on how to localize your social media content for your key international markets today and don't let opportunities slip by you again...

Language facts: The difference between French and Canadian French

French. The stereotype language for romantic souls and fancy chefs. And one of the few languages in the world with the richest vocabulary. It is also an umbrella name for a whole range of French language variants, e.g. Canadian French. The latter is spoken by around 12 million speakers, being a native tongue to 7 million, mainly in the Quebec province. This is due to historical reasons, as the Quebec city and settlements in its surroundings were established by French colonists in 16th and 17th century (originally, the French were up to find a new trade route to China, while they "stumbled" upon North America instead...). As new settlers poured to the "New France" from Europe, they naturally brought a piece of home with them – including European social customs and values, and the bubbly French language. 

However, as the mixture of arrivals originated from different regions with different accents (especially the Parisian French are worth mentioning here), the Canadian French language was created as a fusion of classical French and regional dialects of the first-comers. 

This development naturally caused the most visible difference of the classic vs. Canadian French as we know it today: the accent. Mainly vowels pronunciation is more "nasal" in Canada.

The difference is so obvious, that native Canadian French speakers who haven't come across the European (or Metropolitan) French before actually admit having trouble understanding the language and vice versa. Metropolitan French is "cleaner" in terms of pronunciation (maybe similar to standard British English and American English). There even is a term joual used to describe the working-class Canadian French, in a rather derogatory way. 

Another observable difference even to non-native speakers is the vocabulary used in Canada in comparison to France. Canadian French, mainly in the Quebec region, is heavily (and quite naturally) influenced by English – a phenomenon actively resisted in France (walkman, computer, and NATO could tell stories..). Maybe this inherited overprotectiveness of the language determines a tendency of Canadian French to balance the English influence by trying to preserve the "original French", often to the amusement of European French (e.g. the STOP sign that says simple "STOP" in France reads "ARRÊT" in Quebec...). Interestingly, this approach affected Canadian French swear words, some of which have a religious context and are only offensive in Quebec, while having a regular meaning in France (obviously, most swear words used in France apply in Quebec).

Indeed, in many aspects Canadian French is considered quite traditional, while the actual words used can be right out of its closeness to the United States.

Similar to British vs. American English, Canadian French goes easy on formality as well as grammar in comparison with Metropolitan French. The informality of the language is what mostly causes the misunderstandings by Metropolitan French speakers. It is also the reason why Canadian French don't like to consume European French shows and movies and prefer home production. 

Nevertheless Canadian French is not a standardized language in itself, the grammatically correct form is standard French. The fact of the world, however, is that Canadian French exists as a separate French version. When we translate to Canadian French, we use French Canadian speakers – and the result is truly different from standard, European French.

Go with the locals, and write as the locals do.

How to communicate at international exhibitions #2: Localize your channels

Attending international trade fairs or exhibitions is stressful, especially if you want to push a small or mid-sized company onto an international scene – not just for the staff involved, but also for your promotion as well as your localization budget (= how you tell people in another language want you are doing and want to do + how you want to bring them aboard).

We have already shared several tips concerning the right language choice for your international presentation, but the presentation channels and their right mix are no less important. 

If your budget is tight, or you lack experience in communicating with international customers, here are a few tips to keep on your checklist when it comes to communication channels usage and localization priorities:

1. Know your communication mix. And mix well.

Before you even start thinking about localization of your message, think first of the communication channels you use, as well as the sales techniques you plan to implement on the exhibitions site (needless to say that all the channels as well as techniques should be tested for efficiency before you throw them into the communication mix). 

It is safe to assume that the days of having one nice catalog and talking it through with potential clients prior to handing them a v-card are over. Your approach needs to be multi-channel and integrated from offline to online. Basically, the channels are a thread and your message is the needle. Mix your offline channels (such as printed catalogs, flyers, etc.) with your online channels (social media, and mainly your website) and define a clear path to conversion for all channels involved. 

2. Localize everything that passes the road to conversion.

Even if you don't have resources to spend on fancy multilingual promotion material, if your product/promo message is clear and consistent through your chosen channels, and as long as those channels lead to ultimate conversions (and the path is not very long), you want the content involved to be localized. Mainly the entire path leading from initial recognition of your brand and products to the conversion goals you set for yourself should be localized for the target markets. As presumably your conversions mostly take place online, on your website (registrations, order placement, etc.), the funnel that leads to profit-making does have a top priority for localization – even if it would include only partial localization of the entire content you work with (e.g. not every single sub-menu or section of your website needs to be localized, if it's not directly involved in the conversion path, nor do you need to localize products you don't plan to push). 

3.  The localization devil hides in forgotten content snippets.

Having printed material such as flyers or catalogs translated is not that problematic because the content involved is pretty much clear and visible in one place. The fun starts online, where the channels may include a number of notifications, additional information, automatically sent confirmation messages, or error calls. Such content snippets could be easily forgotten in the process, yet might interrupt the conversion path and consequently fail the acquisition (with the worst-case scenario of losing potential profit because of it), despite the rest of the content having been perfectly localized. 

A typical example: Your potential client successfully walked through almost the entire conversion path (that was nicely localized), but failed to fill in the order form correctly. The error message and instructions that pop-up are not translated. Such situation produces pointless drop-offs. You could, of course, be lucky if your potential clients are very motivated to buy from you. In such case, they would likely try to order again, and will almost certainly leave your business if they once again get the exact same unlocalized error message. So, keep your eye on the details.

Language facts: Malay

Malaysian (sometimes called also Malacca) is the official language of Malaysia and Singapore. The language is also known as Standard Malay and is closely related to Indonesian. It is the native language of some 10 million people but is spoken by many ethnic minorities and the overall number of speakers is now estimated to about 290 million, making it a major world language.

Language with mixed heritage

Malaysian was declared the official language of Malaysia in 1957 and is today officially known as Bahasa Melayu. While Malaysian is the sole official language of Malaysia, English is still widely used throughout the country, especially in professional and commercial fields, and also in superior courts. In fact, the language can be said to be a mixture of many languages as it has borrowed many words from Arabic, Indian dialects, Persian, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese dialects, and lately English in the colonial era. In the field of science and technology, many English terms have been adopted. It is then heavily influenced by the Indonesian language. Around the 15the century, Malay was even a lingua franca of the Malacca Sultanate during which time the language evolved fast, mainly thanks to the big influence of Islamic texts. Malaysia being bordered by seas on the east and west coasts as well as in the south, Malay has also been widely used also as a language of trade.


Malaysian uses the standard 26 letters in the Latin alphabet without any diacritics.  


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