A Video Translator’s Guide to Video Localisation

Videos are everywhere online these days. There’s a reason for that: video is one of the most effective ways to catch your audience’s attention.  But what if that audience is multilingual and multicultural, and your videos are English-only? Video localisation is the key to reaching a global audience and harnessing the full power of video as a medium.

Of course, as with most translation and localisation services, there’s more to video localisation than meets the eye. With that in mind, we’ve put together a collection of our best insider tips to make your next video localisation project as easy as effective as possible:

Subtitles or Voiceovers?

When it comes to video localisation, one of the critical decisions you’ll make is whether to use subtitles or voiceovers to translate what the actors and actresses in the videos are saying. Generally, voiceovers are more expensive than subtitles. However, they often make the videos more engaging.

One reason why people prefer video is that, for most of us, videos are easier for the brain to process than text is. But subtitles increase the amount of text that viewers have to read. Also, in some countries, dubbed voiceovers have long been the norm for translated movies and TV shows.  So, viewers in these countries are primed to expect voiceovers instead of subtitles.

Planning Ahead for Easier Video Localisation

As with other types of content, planning ahead makes video localisation easier. If you’re creating a video that you know you will eventually need to translate or localise, here are a few things to keep in mind. Read more

honda kona translation fail

The Hyundai KONA: A Translation Fail In 3 Languages 

Naming a product for an international audience is harder than it looks. Exhibit A: the Hyundai KONA. The “subcompact crossover,” released last year in the UK,  introduces a distinctive “rugged” and “funky” design. Unfortunately, however, the name “KONA” has unfortunate sound-alikes and double meanings that make it a translation fail in more than one European language.


Why did Hyundai choose the name “KONA,” anyway? Named after the Kona district in Hawaii, it’s meant to appeal to adventurous, highly-caffeinated female consumers looking for small SUVs. As a company spokesman explained in the Korea Herald,

“Images that come to mind when thinking of Kona are dynamic marine leisure sports and the mild aroma of Kona coffee, which also represents the customer base of small SUVs.”

Alas for Hyundai, those pleasant associations are not quite universal.

KONA in Polish: “Dying in Pain”

In Polish, the word “konać” means “to be dying.” Guess what the third person singular of “konać” is? That’s right, it’s “kona.” So, in Polish, “Hyundai KONA” can be read as “Hyundai is dying,” or even “Hyundai is dying in pain.”

Polish speakers represent a sizeable market, both within the UK and within the EU as a whole. There are over 55 million Polish speakers around the world, and it’s the  sixth biggest language in the EU by number of native speakers. In the UK, 546,000 speak Polish, making it our most common immigrant language.  “Hyundai is dying” is not exactly the message you want people to have, even in the back of their minds, when they’re car shopping.

KONA in Portuguese: Censored emoticonCensored emoticonCensored emoticon

In Portuguese, the situation is even worse. As Carscoops points out, in Portuguese, the soundalike word “cona” is a rather crude term for a part of the female anatomy.  And in fact, this isn’t even the first time an auto manufacturer has had this issue – Opel had to rename their “Ascona” in the Portuguese market for the same reason.

Fortunately, Hyundai has announced that the KONA will be marketed as the Hyundai Kauai in Portugal.

However, rebranding in Portugal may not be enough. “Cona” means the same thing in Galician as it does in Portuguese, so you can add  Spain’s 2.4 million Galician speakers to the list of people who are likely to be some combination of amused, horrified, and offended.

Also, there are significant Portuguese immigrant communities in other EU countries, like Andorra, France, and Switzerland. And there are at least 107,000 Portuguese speakers living in the UK. All of those Portuguese speakers outside of Portugal will still be getting the full KONA experience. Read more

GDPR Compliance- 6 Questions to Ask Your Translation Partner

The clock is ticking. On May 25th, the GDPR goes into effect. Want to stay in compliance? Of course, you do – those fines are no laughing matter! Even if you think you’re prepared, there’s one aspect you might have overlooked: translation! It’s not enough that your organisation is compliant. If you collect personal data, including names, addresses, email addresses and more, you’re responsible for making sure that any third-party processors you contract with are also compliant. With that in mind, here are six questions about GDPR compliance to ask your translation partner today.

Is your translation management system secure and compliant with the GDPR?

When you submit content to your LSP for translation, is it being handled securely? If you don’t know, you’d better find out.  Your LSP should have a secure translation management system for you to submit your documents, manage the translation workflow and access the work once it’s complete. For example, at K International, our translation management system is hosted securely in the cloud.

Do you use subcontractors and freelancers, and if so,  are your procedures for outsourcing also GDPR-compliant?

Most LSPs rely, at least in part, on a network of talented freelance translators to meet clients’ needs.  The GDPR is unlikely to change that. However, LSPs do need to ensure that any freelancers that have access to personal data are handling it appropriately.  Freelance translators (and any other subcontractors who deal with GDPR-protected data) should have agreed to comply with safe data handling procedures and may need to sign NDAs. Ideally, they should only have access to sensitive data from within a secure translation management system, where downloading files to their own devices is not an option.  Otherwise, all such data must be deleted on a regular basis after jobs are complete.

Do you have procedures in place for identifying sensitive documents and treating them appropriately?

Ideally, clients should remove or anonymize personal data before sending it off to be translated. However, that can be difficult if the information is in a language (and possibly a script) that the client doesn’t understand. So, many LSPs are adopting a “better safe than sorry” approach, treating all material that might contain sensitive data as if it does contain sensitive data.  Regardless, there should be a procedure for identifying documents with personal data and ensuring that data stays secure. Read more

7 Intriguing Facts About Interpreters At Weddings

Around the world, everyone is talking about the royal wedding happening this weekend. (Even the people who are talking about how much they don’t care about the royal wedding are still talking about it, right?) It’s quite the international event, and people will watching in many different languages. Interpreters and translators will be working behind the scenes, as usual, to bring the festivities to an international audience. In fact, interpreters make fairy-tale weddings possible for people around the world, even if they’re only royalty for a day. With that mind, here are seven intriguing facts about interpreters at weddings, both royal and not.

When Philip II of Spain married Queen Mary I of England, the couple could not even speak the same language.

So, they used a mixture of French, Spanish and Latin for the ceremony.

Unfortunately for them, this isn’t a story about love so deep it transcends language barriers. In fact, according to their contemporaries, while Mary thought her new king was quite handsome, the feeling was not mutual. But then again, they didn’t marry for love. The match was made with the goal of strengthening the Catholic Church in England.

In the past, royal romances often depended on both partners being multilingual.

For example, when King Juan Carlos of Spain met Princess Sophia of Greece, she didn’t speak any Spanish. He didn’t speak any Greek, either. But he also spoke French, Portuguese, Italian, and English, and she spoke German, French and English. So, communication wasn’t really a problem.

The couple had two back-to-back ceremonies: a Catholic ceremony and a Greek Orthodox one. Both Spanish and Greek were used during the Catholic ceremony.

Interpreters and translators usually stay in the background. But When King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden got married in 1976, an interpreter took centre stage.

That would be the bride,  Queen Silvia of Sweden, who previously worked as a professional interpreter for the Argentine Consulate in Munich. She met her future husband while she was working as an interpreter and educational host at the 1972 Summer Olympics. Although she gave up her career as an interpreter after she married, Queen Silvia speaks German, Portuguese, French, Spanish, English, and some Swedish Sign Language. Read more

A Guide to the Different Types of Sign Language Around the World

One of the most common misconceptions about sign language is that it’s the same wherever you go. That’s not the case. In fact, there are somewhere between 138 and 300 different types of sign language used throughout the world today. New sign languages frequently evolve amongst groups of deaf children and adults.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at 9 examples of sign languages from around the world:

Sign Language Around the World: British Sign Language (BSL), Auslan and New Zealand Sign Language

Around 150,000 people in the UK use British Sign Language.  BSL evolved at Thomas Braidwood’s schools for the deaf in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. From there, it spread to Australia and New Zealand. Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and New Zealand Sign Language are therefore quite similar. They use the same grammar, the same manual alphabet, and much of the same vocabulary.

In fact, some sign language experts consider BSL, Auslan, and New Zealand Sign Language to be dialects of the same sign language, called British, Australian and New Zealand Sign Language, or BANZL for short. That said, despite the high degree of overlap, there are also differences between the different branches of the BANZL family. For example, New Zealand Sign Language includes signs for Māori words. It also includes signs from  Australasian Sign Language, a type of signed English used by New Zealand schools for the deaf in the 1980s.

Auslan includes some signs derived from Irish Sign Language, as well. Deaf indigenous Australians may use Auslan or one of the native Australian sign languages that are unrelated to Auslan. The Far North Queensland dialect of Auslan incorporates features of these indigenous sign languages, too.

Want to learn more about BSL? See 10 Facts About British Sign Language and BSL Interpreters Read more

Video Game Localisation: 5 Reasons It’s Still Necessary

Game localisation is the process of translating and adapting a video game to reach new markets. In a multilingual world where almost everyone knows a little bit of English and Google Translate is omnipresent, is video game localisation still necessary? In a word, yes.  And here are five reasons why.

Video game localisation provides a better user experience

Many of today’s video games are immersive experiences. They’re interactive movies, and the player is the star.  While some gamers have used video games as a language learning tool, most people want the option to play in their native language.

And of course, changing the language is only the first step. Video games often contain cultural references or humour that doesn’t translate directly. A skilled localisation team can find equivalents in the target language and culture so that players aren’t confused or offended.

And of course, any localisation team worth its salt will help you avoid translation bloopers like these: 8 Famously Bad Video Game Translations

If you don’t localise, someone else might.

Video game fans want to play the games they covet in their own languages. In fact, if there’s not an official localised version available,  fans may well devote their own time and resources to create one.

Most fan translation communities are careful not to promote piracy. Translations are generally released as software patches. So, they aren’t functional on their own, and you still have to purchase the original game to play.  However, some Chinese volunteer translators were recently arrested for translating Japanese anime and video games into Chinese.  And according  to Slator.com,  “a 2013 inquiry by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs found that Japanese manga, anime, and games illegally distributed to online Chinese sites amount to losses of JPY 3.8t (USD 34.8b).”

The online world is becoming more multilingual, not less

In the beginning, most of the content on the Internet was in English.  But now, the linguistic landscape of the Internet is diversifying. More and more, people are becoming used to having content available in their native tongue. They expect it. And those expectations carry over to gaming, software, smartphones . . . and gaming. Read more

Accessible Documents: What Your Organisation Needs to Know 

If you’re trying to reach a diverse audience, keep in mind that it’s not only foreign language speakers who might need some help understanding.  A number of different communication strategies have been developed over the years to help make information of all types accessible to as many people as possible.

Two of our most commonly requested formats for accessible documents are Easy Read and Large Print. Here’s what your organisation needs to know about each one.

What is Easy Read?

Easy Read is a simplified format created for people with learning disabilities. Easy Read documents are easier to understand than even Plain English. They use short sentences, simple grammar and lots of illustrations to reinforce the meaning of the text.

Easy Read also assists other groups of people who may have difficulties with reading and comprehension, including children,  the elderly, Deaf people and people who are not fluent in English.

The origins of Easy Read

The Easy Read format dates back to the 1980’s. The first Easy Read documents were produced in Sweden.  Since then, Easy Read has spread to government and private organisations throughout Europe as they seek to make information more accessible. Read more

linguistic analysis

5 Mysteries Linguistic Analysis Helped Solve

To a trained ear, the language you use is much more revealing than you might think. Like the Sherlock Holmes of the language world, a linguistic analyst looks for clues in both written and spoken language.  By paying careful attention to aspects of language like word choice, word order, grammar and colloquialisms, linguistic analysis can uncover secrets people would rather keep hidden. Sometimes, these clues can even be the key that solves a stubborn mystery.  It’s all so much more fascinating than the “Intro to Linguistics Class” you might have taken in school.

In fact, here are five mysteries linguistic analysis has helped to solve.

Who made the world WannaCry?

Last year, WannaCry ransomware swept the world. The computer worm infected up to 200,000 computers in 150 countries. It wreaked havoc in NHS hospitals in England and Scotland.

But who created it? To find out,  Researchers analysed the language of the program’s ransom notes. They found that only the English and Chinese versions of the ransom notes had been written or translated by humans. The Chinese language version contained a minor typo. The English language version included some of the awkward phrasings you might expect from a second language speaker. Based on this, researchers concluded that the hackers who created the worm were probably native Chinese speakers.

By analysing the text for common regional variations in language, the researchers were able to narrow down the geographic location even further. According to Minda Zetlin of Inc.com, 

“The text uses certain terms that further narrow down a geographic location. One term, ‘礼拜’ for ‘week,’ is more common in South China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore; although it is occasionally used in other regions of the country.”

Read more

history of Braille

A Brief History of Braille

If you want or need to make your content accessible to everyone in your audience, language alone may not be enough. Braille documents allow the visually impaired and blind to access vital information independently.

But where did these raised dots come from? Today, let’s take a  look at the fascinating history of Braille and how it revolutionised communication for the blind.

Night Writing

Before Braille, there was night writing. French army captain Charles Barbier developed night writing at the request of Napoleon, who wanted a code that soldiers could use to communicate silently and under cover of night. The only problem? Nobody could read it!

Louis Braille began developing the Braille system in 1824 when he was only 15 years old.

Braille, a student at the Institution Nationale des Jeunes Aveugles (National Institute for Blind Children), realized that Barbier’s system was hard to decode because the symbols were too large. By reducing the maximum number of dots per symbol from twelve to six, readers could feel the entire symbol under their fingertips without moving, and then move on to the next symbol quickly.

Other students at Louis Braille’s school were quick to adopt the system. However, it took some time for it to be adopted more broadly. The Institution Nationale des Jeunes Aveugles didn’t begin officially using it until 1854.

Standard English Braille (Grade 2) was developed in 1905.

However, it wasn’t officially adopted in Great Britain or the United States until 1932. By 1960, 50% of legally blind children in the United States were using Braille to read. That said, the percentage of Braille readers has dropped over time.

The first Braille writing machine was invented in 1892.

Called the Hall Braille writer, it was invented by Illinois School for the Blind superintendent Frank. H. Hall.  A more modernised version of the Braille typewriter, the Perkins Brailler, was invented in 1951 by David Abraham of the Perkins School for the Blind.

Today, Braille documents are usually produced on computers using a Braille embosser. Braille can also be written by hand using plates and a stylus, but this is somewhat cumbersome.

Business and Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and the Equality Act (2010)

The Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 made it “unlawful to discriminate against people in respect of their disabilities in relation to employment, the provision of goods and services, education and transport.” It has since been replaced by the Equality Act of 2010, which requires UK businesses to make certain accommodations and adjustments for blind and visually impaired employees and customers.  In some cases, this would include making signs and documents accessible in Braille.

What’s next?

Braille is most commonly used by those who were born blind or lost their sight at a young age. The majority of blind or partially sighted people in the UK have lost their sight later in life. Many of those people don’t use Braille because there is a bit of a learning curve. They might prefer to use large print (if they have enough vision), screen magnifiers, video magnifiers or screen readers that read words aloud.

However, around 18 -20,000 people in the UK do use Braille. And while new audio technologies have made it possible to browse the internet and listen to books without learning Braille, the system still has an important place in the lives of blind and partially sighted people.

For example,  there are definitely some practical applications that can’t yet be replaced by audio technology. Including Braille on packaging, especially medication, can help blind and partially-sighted people identify what’s inside. With Braille, they don’t have to rely on other people to tell them if they aren’t sure.

Meanwhile, last year, the new £10 note rolled out. It features Braille-like raised dots to help blind and partially-sighted people more easily identify the denomination.

Is Braille still necessary?

And while some blind people argue that audio and voice recognition technologies are making Braille irrelevant, others argue that blind people are losing out by not being able to read and write independently. Some educators argue that students educated using Braille are better able to write clearly than students who rely exclusively on oral and audio technology.   Plus, that technology is often expensive to access and not available in poorer countries. At least one study also shows that blind adults who learned Braille in school were better able to find jobs than those who did not.

So, technological advances aside, the need for Braille documents is unlikely to go away anytime soon.

Braille Translation Options for Your Organisation

Need help making your documents accessible to everyone? K International offers Braille translations of all sorts of documents to help you engage with and accommodate customers and employees alike. Want more information on how your organisation can benefit from the same quality Braille translation services used by multiple government departments? Contact us today!

facts about Chinese

10 Facts About the Chinese Language for World Chinese Language Day

Every year, on the 20th of April, the United Nations celebrate World Chinese Language Day.  According to the UN, the purpose of this observance is “to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six official languages throughout the Organization.”

With that in mind, here are ten facts about the Chinese language (languages, really) for World Chinese Language Day.

Mandarin Chinese, the most common Chinese dialect, is the most widely spoken language in the world.

There are over 800 million native Mandarin speakers. Around the world, one out of five people speaks the language.

Mandarin is the official language of China. (It’s also referred to as Standard Chinese or Putonghua.) But that doesn’t mean Mandarin is the only language in China.  Far from it! While the many varieties of spoken Chinese are often called “dialects,” many of them are different enough to be languages in their own right.

When you look at all of the Chinese languages together, the number of speakers becomes even more staggering:  about 1.2 billion native speakers, or around 16% of the world’s population.

While spoken Chinese languages and dialects vary across the country, written Chinese has only slight regional variations.

That’s because the Chinese characters are logograms. They represent words or phrases rather than sounds.  As such, they transcend most of the variations in speech found across China. That said, there are some dialectal differences in written Chinese, particularly with Cantonese and Hakka.

Mostly, these differences are apparent in informal writing between friends or online. However, written Cantonese is sometimes used in adverts in Hong Kong, especially in Hong Kong’s Metro.

Chinese writing has over 50,000 characters.

That said, only about 20,000 of them are used today. Meanwhile, it only takes about 2-3,000 characters to read a newspaper.

Most Chinese adults can recognise around 8,000 characters without pulling out a dictionary. Read more