Twitter has been using a crowdsourced translation model to publish the site in languages from around the world. As of this week, the total has risen to 30 with the addition of Ukrainian and Catalan. Ukrainian is spoken by 37.5 million Ukrainians and an additional 3.5 to 7.5 people outside of the country.
Catalan is spoken by about 6.7 million people in and around Catalonia, Spain. It is a Romance language related to Spanish and Italian.
In a blog post, Twitter noted that its users have been clamoring to translate the popular website into their own languages:
“The demand has been so high that we built a console – Twitter’s Translation Center, where users can help suggest translations for the site. With each official Twitter language launch, we saw more and more demand from users to help us translate Twitter into their language.”
The success of Twitter’s crowdsourced translation efforts holds a lesson for businesses of all types: people relate better to products that are presented to them in the language they prefer to speak. But crowdsourcing translations is certainly not for everyone. Translations can take time to perfect using this method, so you need a dedicated community that will be willing to help with quality control and be patient with translation errors.
Here’s how the process works with Twitter:
If you see a translation that doesn’t feel right, the best way to fix it is to log into the Translation Center and vote for the best choice. The phrase score will adjust over time, and the right translation will find its way into Twitter.com. If you see inconsistencies in the content, you can get involved in the discussions with your community at the language forums. We’re continually improving on the system, so please send us your feedback and report any issues you come across.
This process works well for Twitter and Facebook because they have so many passionate users. For most businesses, a knowledgeable translation company is still going to be your best bet when it comes to moving in to new markets.