A Few Words

Optimizing Performance From Your In-House Translation Team

Posted by Troy Helm on Mar 21, 2016 1:44:28 PM

images-1-1.jpegMany globally active companies have internal translation resources ranging from in-country reviewers to internal translation teams. There are many advantages to having dedicated language resources, including their intimate knowledge of the company’s style, voice, technical terminology – all which help protect their brand around the world. As with any form of vertical integration there are tradeoffs with scalability, cost-efficiency, speed, and possibly not having the best-in-class tools and processes that specialist firms offer.  To make sure you are getting the best from your internal resources and in particular, preventing all of your knowledge from “walking out the door every night,” here are a few tips and best practices.

Some companies find themselves facing sudden demand for localized versions of their products, marketing materials, manuals, website, or other content. Often, they locate someone within the company that speaks the needed language – and the in-house translation team is born. Since this person may not be a trained translator, some of the basics might be overlooked. Creating and maintaining a company Glossary and Style Guide formalizes and codifies language choices that the translator (and any future translators) may make and ensures vital consistency for internal terms-of-art and nomenclature.

Carpenter-Tools3.jpgSimilarly, the use of modern Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools might be overlooked. We don’t mean Machine Translation (MT), but instead a translator’s workbench that provides a streamlined environment to perform translation and automatically applies the company glossary for consistency. It also uses Translation Memory (TM) which automatically recycles previously translated sentences and helps suggest translations for similar phrases. A basic CAT tool provides great benefit for quality, speed, and internal-cost savings – your internal translator should not be spending time (and money) translating the same sentence over and over – a common situation for documentation and website revisions.

An added benefit of working with CAT tools is it helps establish best practices for translation process. For example, they encourage more robust import/export routines for software (external resource files), websites (XML), and documentation instead of the trap of using an Excel spreadsheet for translated strings or error-prone cut/paste into page layout software.

Internal teams bring valuable continuity and unmatched company/product knowledge to the translation process. However, when faced with large volumes of translation and tight deadlines, it’s very difficult for them to exceed the typical throughput of 2,500 words per day - that's only about 10 pages of text. While they might be able to reach higher productivity levels for short periods, without a second set of eyes to check the translation the potential for simple human error creeps in. For larger volumes of translation work, consider partnering with a professional translation services firm. Since you will have an established glossary, style guide, and translation memory, these will help with consistency and quality. For many clients, their original internal translators become “language leads,” responsible for review, answering language-specific questions, and otherwise maintaining the company’s language intellectual property investment. (For more tips, see “Making the most of In-Country Review”)

It is a luxury to have internal translation resources. By using simple best practices of a Glossary, Style Guide, and CAT tools, your firm can adapt to increases in volumes and languages more efficiently. Partnering with a professional translation provider is a way to bring scale – and can also provide benchmark metrics for cost-efficiency (words/day of output/dollar) with the benefit of fully variable costs. Some firms may let your internal teams use their CAT tools bringing you the best of both worlds. Let us know how we can help you get the most from your in-house team, we'd be happy to share our experiences.

Topics: Best Business Practices

SEO / SEM Tips for Successful Global Marketing: Don't treat it like translation

Posted by Elise Kaplan on Mar 2, 2016 12:00:00 PM

Successful website marketing professionals know that well-thought-out SEO and SEM campaigns will drive traffic to their sites. When expanding globally, these professionals are eager to apply this experience to their foreign language websites to attract cross-border customers. However, simply applying what they know about high-quality website translation to their well-crafted SEO terms often leaves them wondering why their foreign languages sites are underperforming. Generally speaking, this is because SEO localization is not translation of SEO terms, but rather the generation of equivalent foreign language terms used by people from a specific geographic locale in their online activities. The best way to illustrate this is by example.

A popular English search term is "auto insurance." A simple direct French translation is "assurance automobile." However, keyword tools tell us that in France, "assurance auto" or “assurance voiture” are far more commonly searched terms – between 60 and 30 times more per month than the direct translation above. The search for equivalent terms as used online in France yielded better results than simply translating. But wait, going to Canada instead? Then note that "assurance automobile" is as common as "assurance voiture." Vive la différence! And don't rely on simple translation.

Even simple, unambiguous translations do not always reflect how search terms are used. Let's look at an example when we're translating towards English. An Italian website for a hotel talks about being:

"...una comoda ubicazione vicino ai negozi, musei e alle attrazioni principali di Roma."

Translated correctly into English this becomes:

"...a convenient location near stores, museums and the main attractions of Rome."

The key Italian SEO terms were negozi, musei, Roma, as in "Roma negozi", a popular search in Italian.

The translated sentence correctly uses the word "stores" for "negozi", so you would be forgiven for using "Rome stores" in your English search-optimized sentence. However, keyword search tools will tell you that "Rome stores" is the least searched option. The best option turns out to be "Rome shopping", so the search-optimized sentence should read "...near shopping, museums and the main attractions of Rome." This could only have been discovered by testing several foreign languages variations of the original term to see which nuances, dialects and local expressions perform the best.

Localized Search Engine Marketing (SEM) has similar characteristics. At the most basic level, there are character limitations that must be observed. English is a notoriously compact language, so a simple translation will likely exceed ad space limits. Experienced global marketers know that optimizing results means approaching the ad with the same insights, care, and process they used for the source English ad, and then relying on a native speaker trained in search ad copywriting to "transcreate" -- to create the same message in language that aligns with the local market.

Successful SEO localization requires a custom approach for each target language/market. This becomes even more complex in the many linguistically/culturally diverse Spanish language markets when most translation efforts are centered around a "least-common denominator" strategy of using a single variant of Spanish for all Spanish-speakers. While the economics of a single variant of Spanish are understandable for a large volume of text, a focused approach to SEO and SEM for each market will produce better results.

There are many opportunities for cross-border merchants to profit from global opportunities. Optimizing website functionality, offering multiple languages, and adapting to cultural preferences are important steps cross-border retailers can take to stand out from their competition.

Working with a professional firm experienced in SEO/SEM localization is clearly a must for global website marketing. Since matching foreign language keyword requires testing many alternatives, a partner that charges by the search term or by the hour rather than by the translated word shows they understand this iterative, creative process - and are equally invested in your online success. Please contact us to learn more.


Topics: Global Consumers, SEO Localization, SEM Localization, Global Markets

3 Keys to Retail Success in the Cross-Border Market

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Jan 29, 2016 10:02:15 AM


global-retail.pngIn his recent article, “Cross-Border Merchants Win with Added Functionality, More Languages,” author James Gagliardi shares research efforts being used to track the state of global ecommerce across national borders. The following summary of his piece highlights key points for cross-border companies hoping to grow their business in the international market.

With international business-to-consumer digital commerce expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020, retailers must learn to master cross-border transactions to succeed. There are several areas that an enterprising merchant should focus on to stand out from the competition.

User-focused Experience

Today’s most successful retailers are using increasingly simplified checkout functionality and allowing users to choose from a variety of languages.

Successful cross-border merchants have expanded their language selections so users can choose the language they’re most comfortable using. Half of the top 10 merchants surveyed offered at least 20 language options, significantly more languages than the previous quarter's report.

Don’t Demand Too Much Too Soon

Digital merchants should be cautious in demanding too much information too soon from would-be customers. To make subsequent purchases easier, some sites require users to create a full profile to complete a purchase. Although well-intentioned, this requires first-time customers to trust an unfamiliar out-of-country merchant with their information, creating the potential for abandoned shopping carts. Retailers should be extremely cautious when making these demands on consumers too early in the buying process.

Know Your Audience

When selling across borders it is vital to know your target audience. For example, Europe is a desired destination for many digital retailers in North America. Savvy merchants know that the continent is very diverse in language, culture, currency and payment preference – and adjust their strategies and priorities accordingly.

For example, European consumers’ preferred payment methods vary by country — some Europeans strongly favor direct debit options and retailers should make sure their ecommerce platform can process these and other choices.

Where to Go?

The article includes the X-Border Payments Optimization Index that ranks 195 merchant sites around the world. In addition to helping prioritize receptive markets, it also lists industries more receptive to cross-border transactions.

There are many opportunities for cross-border merchants to profit from global opportunities. Optimizing website functionality, offering multiple languages, and adapting to cultural preferences are important steps cross-border retailers can take to stand out from their competition.

You can read Gagliardi’s article in its entirety here. If you would like help growing you business internationally please contact us here.


Topics: Global Consumers

Translation Should Be a Production Step in Your Manufacturing Process

Posted by Donald J. Plumley, CEO on Jan 19, 2016 12:49:28 PM

manufacturing_translation.jpgWorld-class manufacturing companies have seen the many benefits of a process-oriented approach to manufacturing. One of the core concepts of lean manufacturing, the elimination of waste (Muda ), is applied to everything, including inventory, transport times, motion, and waiting. When combined with the philosophy of continual improvement the results are a steady increase in quality, a decrease in costs, and an improved manufacturing agility.

Although translation contains an element of art, its production benefits from a process approach no different from any manufacturing operation. By establishing a consistent production process (as opposed to bespoke per customer), we can focus on continual improvement, leading to a streamlined process and uniform training for project managers. Supported by technology to automate repetitive tasks and centralization storage of key information helps remove “tribal knowledge” or reliance on unique individual resources and eliminate information islands that are barriers to consistency and scalability.

Manufacturing_Translation.jpgThe classic book, The Machine That Changed the World provides a key lesson in the contrast between the old approach of white-coated quality inspectors at the end of the production line and the lean method of incorporating quality directly into the production process. Translation production should be no different. The first principle is to use specialist translators fluent in the subject matter. This is the same as using a wrench specifically sized to a bolt versus using an adjustable wrench that takes time to align and can damage the fastener. Next, an independent editorial review represents a process-approach to maintaining consistency and identifying poorly-performing practitioners at the individual level. The alternative, inspecting quality after completion, typically results in delays from rework and the inability to prevent future recurrence. Finally, a statistically-driven automated QA sampling system provides an independent assessment of individual practitioners to ensure consistency and avoid human recency bias – “trust, but verify.”

Perhaps the largest difference between manufactured goods and translated language is the measurement of conformance to a quality standard. Products have the benefit of dimensions and specifications – these are absolute standards with pass/fail criteria. Language, on the other hand, is highly personal, and one person’s treasure is another’s trash. There are however means to define and measure conformance to objective language quality standards. Establishing standards that include agreement on glossary, style guide, and categories/severity of errors are among the important steps to create organizational trust between translation provider and translation buyer. This requires that the same discipline applied to production management be used by language reviewers – making translation a step in the production process instead of a post-production afterthought.

By treating translation as a process with continual improvement in mind, the practical translation buyer can expect to receive the same benefits of any lean manufacturer: Reduction in Muda, resulting in continual improvements to quality, speed, and cost.

How To Say Merry Christmas Around The World

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Dec 23, 2015 10:58:00 AM

Want to know how people say "Merry Christmas" around the world? Every December, people across the globe offer each other seasonal greeting of joy and peace.

If you want impress your friends overseas by saying "Merry Christmas" in their native language then check out this impressive list of Holiday greetings.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in many different languages



Topics: Know Your Languages

UK English vs US English

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Dec 2, 2015 3:15:24 PM

Native and non-native English speakers make up the largest group in the world. There are distinctive patterns of English from around the world with distinctive dialects from different regions. 

Click the picture below to download the infographic and learn more about the difference between U.S. and U.K. spellings. 

UK vs US English.jpeg


Topics: Infographic

Language Loopholes and Untranslatable Words

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Nov 18, 2015 9:38:00 AM

Linguists have made careers out of untangling words and deciphering the relationship between letters and their meaning.  Yet there are some words that defy translation across cultures. These wonderful words defy simple translation. Click below to see the entire list.


Topics: Language Information

German Language Facts

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Nov 11, 2015 12:30:00 PM

As the official language of seven countries, German is the most widely spoken native language in the E.U.  It's also one of the three most learned languages in the world and one of the 10 most widely spoken.  Click on the infographic below for some other interesting facts about the language.

German Language Infographic

Topics: Infographic

50 Awesome Language Facts

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Nov 4, 2015 1:05:37 PM

As the leader in fast and accurate translation, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that we love languages. Whether the subject is vocabulary, grammar or linguistics, we are fascinated by it all - and we're clearly not the only ones.  Here's a great infographic from our friends at UIC Languages, a language school based in London.  It lists 50 awesome language facts that logophiles and polyglots will surely appreciate.  Click on the picture below for the full infographic.


Topics: Infographic

Quick Language Facts: Italian

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Oct 21, 2015 10:59:38 AM

Italian: spoken by at least 85 million people around the world, the most similar of all of the Romance languages to the original Latin. Standardized in the mid-19th Century after the period of Italian unification, the language is largely based on the dialect of the Tuscan region, a prestige dialect spoken by much of the elite.

Click the picture below to download the infographic and learn more about Italian.



Topics: Infographic

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