More businesses than ever before are looking to move away from a strictly English-speaking audience. When companies attempt to move into markets in other countries and continents, it’s essential that they translate their documents into the target languages. Today, we’re taking a closer look at why companies should translate their web content into French.
More than just the language of one specific target market a business wants to reach, French is a what we consider a base language — and a French translation is crucial to your success if you want to reach the widest audience possible.
Even though it is a popular language around the globe, many people don’t quite understand how vital French is to their consumer audience. Let’s take a closer look.
French Speakers are Proud Consumers
If you visit a website that isn’t in your mother tongue, your ability to purchase obviously depends on whether of not the site content is translated into another language that you do speak. Otherwise, there’s simply no way for you to understand and conduct the transaction. But basic comprehension isn’t the only factor that influences your purchasing decision. Even if you can understand the site, you may prefer to give your business to a company that had the courtesy to offer the site in your native language.
This is generally true of French speakers, who are proud of their language. Many French consumers do speak English, but they are much more likely to support a site that does offer services and products in their native language.
French is Spoken Globally
Many people associate French with the country itself and perhaps French-Canada. But in reality, French is a hugely popular language all around the world. In fact, French is the sixth most widely spoken language on the planet. Here are some facts from the French government site Diplomatie:
- There are 220 million French speakers worldwide.
- 39.87% of the French-speaking population is in Europe, 36.03% reside in Sub-Sarahan Africa and the Indian Ocean, 15.28% are found in the Middle East and North Africa, 7.66% are found in America and the Caribbean and 1.16% are found in Asia and Oceania.
- French is the second most widely learned foreign language in the world.
High Income Markets Speak French
Many different countries in Europe are considered high-income markets. With French as the second most commonly spoken language in Europe, it stands to reason that these high-income market countries contain a lot of French-speaking citizens. Countries with large French-speaking populations like Belgium and Switzerland contribute massively to the growing economy of Europe, and 45% and 20% of their populations speak French, respectively. When you translate your content into French, you cater to European markets with a lot of purchasing power. The country of France and other French-speaking countries around the world account for about 20% of world goods trading — a surprisingly high number.
French is a Language of International Institutions
Not every world language is a working language of the United Nations — but French is. It’s also one of three procedural languages of the European Union, and European broadcasting systems will often translate important broadcasts into French. French is also the sole official language of the Universal Postal Union.
French is also the working language for other important institutions, like UNESCO, NATO, FAO, UNICEF, FIFA and ECOWAS to name a few.
The Time is Now
It should be apparent by now that courting a French-speaking demographic is important for business globalization and creating profitable global sales leads. However, many site owners don’t have the power to translate their sites on their own — a complex task with a number of pitfalls that calls for an experienced, professional translation agency.
If you’re interested in translating your site into French, visit BeTranslated for a quote. We can help, and we’d love to introduce your website to a French-speaking audience.
One of the surprises we all encounter as we travel is the realization of how widespread English has become. Sometimes I have entertained myself walking through the markets and browsing the stalls that attempt to lure me in to shop. They are using what they consider to be convincing English:
- the “Pet Chop” that was just down the street from my hotel in the Dominican Republic
- the children’s t-shirt that said “Crap Your Hands” in a southeast Asian market
- the newsletter from my local Spanish wine shop that offers “special prices to natural persons.”
It may make me laugh, but it also causes me to recognize something very important about doing business in English. English is evolving and spreading around the globe. The English I know and consider to be commonplace is no longer the only kind of English out there.
As a native English speaker, I know the subtleties of idioms, proverbs and slang. References to cultural English icons and events make sense in my world. Everything from my sense of humor to my values is somehow connected to my English language roots.
But that is only because English is my first language.
As a business owner and communicator, I recognize that when I am seeking to connect with someone in English, there are many other aspects to take into consideration.
Times are changing and without recognizing it, we will be unable to keep up with what is going on within the world of “English”.
Putting a stake in the ground and resolutely declaring, “English is as English does” will not help the situation. Nor will assuming that the other person should simply be able to infer your meaning because they speak English.
Wisdom would tell us that there are some key elements to take into consideration in the new English world.
If you truly seek to connect in English with what has now become the English-speaking world, here are three points to consider:
1. There are now more non-native English speakers in the world than native speakers.
As a native English speaker, I am the minority in my perspective on speaking and transacting in English.
My grammar may have become lazy and my ability to recognize it may have slipped. Professional non-native speakers and writers are trained with the expectation that the rules they learned are the ones that will be followed.
2. Yes, it’s true: you may need help with translating your written English to English.
Hire writing professionals for help in communicating in clear, universal English. There is no shame in this. In fact, it may prove to be a wise move that will help win trust and build affinity.
3. Reach out and connect with non-native English speakers
Seek to understand how they perceive English, its usage and its increasing influence around the world. Yes, we may both speak English. However, it doesn’t mean we still don’t need translation to make sure we are both on the same page.
Our Translation News Scoop.It! page collects the most interesting translation and localization-related stories from around the globe, curated by translation specialist Michael Bastin.
Recent updates include employee data theft at multinational translation company TransPerfect, machine translation news from Amazon and Microsoft, some very funny examples of misbegotten translations, notes on reviewing translations by Words without Borders’ Daniel Hahn, and a big list of tips for freelance translators.
Our Scoop.It! feed is updated on a daily basis by BeTranslated co-founder Michael Bastin.
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Have you ever put something into Google Translate before? Sometimes you get what you’re looking for — if it’s just one word or a structurally simple sentence. Try something a little more complex, though, and you end up with something completely wrong. In many instances, these translation fails aren’t just erroneous — they’re hilarious.
Auto-translation software treats language as if it’s an algorithm to deduce and put back together, but no software is ever advanced enough to capture the nuance and true structure of language as a concept. While these programs may help you understand a language at its most basic level, they certainly shouldn’t be used in any business context where accuracy and fluid communication are paramount.
It’s not all serious, though. Sometimes, business translation fails aren’t necessarily offensive or insulting… they’re just plain funny! Translation fails are something of a hit on social media, and here are a few big ones from 2016 that had the world in stitches.
Google Translate Turns Russia into “Mordor”
Many people don’t know that Google Translate isn’t just a pre-programmed Internet translation tool. Like other Google tools, the service picks up on evolving language patterns as it goes, in an effort to constantly perfect its translation systems.
However, with new speech patterns, Google Translate can’t tell jokes and slang from real words. As Ukrainian commentators continuously spoke ill of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, referring to the country as “Mordor” (the fictional country and home of the evil Sauron found in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings), Google Translate didn’t recognize this as a joke. Thus, its servers began translating the word “Russia” as “Mordor”.
Nike’s Foot-In-Mouth Shoe Disaster
In early 2016, Nike released a new shoe design known as Special Edition Air Force 1, meant to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Each of the shoes could be customized to show off two Chinese characters: on one shoe is the character ‘fa’, and the other shoe the character ‘fu.’ When combined, these characters are supposed to be positive, meaning prosperity and luck. However, when the characters are separated, a different message is shown: “get fat.”
While not necessarily the fault of an auto-translation program, it goes to show that translation requires real insight and understanding of the applications and uses of language. Looks like no one at Nike knew that separating Chinese characters gives them a new meaning.
Political Sign Fails
During the 2016 campaign for president of the United States, Republican nominee Donald Trump went on record saying some very controversial things about Hispanics and Mexicans. As a result, his favorability fell drastically within the Latino community. Thus, he had to work hard in an effort to gain that approval rating back.
However, Trump only managed to make social media turn on him when he released political support signs reading “HISPANICS PARA TRUMP.” Spanish-speaking social media users were quick to point out both the non-translation of the word “Hispanics” (which should be “Hispanos” in Spanish), and the misuse of the word “para.” While the word does mean “for,” the context in which it was used was inappropriate; “por” would be the correct form of the word.
This is an obvious example of Google-Translate-style translating. While no one is sure why “Hispanics” went untranslated, auto-translating programs don’t always catch the context in which a word should be used — thus, “por” and “para” can be interchangeable to a computer, while we know better as humans.
Translation fails can mar a business’ image, even though many people find them to be comical. If you want to avoid embarrassment caused by a silly translation error, don’t just run to Google Translate to convert your content. Use a professional, human translation service.
You might think that an industry focused on translation to ensure effective communication would avoid using puzzling acronyms, abbreviations, terms and jargon. Nevertheless, the fact is that when you discuss translation industry terms, you’ll encounter all of these — and it can be difficult to figure out what the latest bit of alphabet soup and word salad refers to. This guide for those of you who are not familiar with the jargon used in the translation industry should help you understand them a little better.
Not to be mistaken for the popular pet, in the translation industry, CAT is the acronym for Computer Assisted Translation. CAT supports and facilitates the translation process. Actually, like an actual feline, it has proven to be a great companion… for translators.
CAT accelerates the translation process by transforming source text into smaller translatable segments and organizing them to make the translation process easier for the human translator. As a result, the entire process of translating becomes more time-efficient. These computer systems aid translators with the ability to edit and manage their translations — a collaboration between human and computer that results in more efficient translation process. However, CAT it is not to be confused with machine translation.
MT (Machine Translation)
Machine translation differs from CAT. It performs the simple substitution of words from one language to another, without the ability to recognize whole phrases, like idioms, that may translate to something entirely different. On this blog, we frequently keep up with stories about advances and problems of MT — it is a promising field that has made great progress over the years, but many argue that MT will never be able to replace professional human translators.
TM (Translation Memory)
A translation memory or TM is a database where “segments” are stored. These segments may be sentences, paragraphs, headings, titles or just about anything that has been translated previously. Translation memories are used in conjunction with CAT tools.
A translation memory is a bilingual file that stores all translations. You can analyze new texts sent by customers against the TM to ensure consistency and even provide discounts for repeated segments of text.
“New words” are words, sentences or segments that are identified by the CAT tool as not having been repeated in the text, and they’re present in the translation memory. Sometimes, these “new words” are the ones that are taken into account and priced accordingly.
As the name implies, repetitions are words, segments or sentences that repeat themselves in the text and that generally do not need to be translated again. However, even in cases of 100% matches, it is important for a human translator to check for changes in context that may require a change in the translation.
Fuzzies are segments or sentences that exist in the translation memory, as a whole or partially, and are not considered as new translation or new words. Fuzzies can also be names or numbers. These might qualify for discounts.
Fuzzy matching is a technique that helps speed up the translation process by finding matches that are near perfect between text segments and other entries. This applies to sentences and phrases. Fuzzy matches are saved in the TM database, and translators will typically perform a search for segments that are between 70 and 99% similar to the phrase or sentence they wish to translate.
We hope this quick overview of some translation industry terms and acronyms helped explain a few things. Are there any other terms that you’re unclear about? Let us know!