Document Translation Tips: 6 More Ways To Simplify the Process 

When you send your documents off for translation, you’d prefer to get them back quickly and without breaking your budget. To that end, some time back we published a post with our top 5 tips for document translation. Here are six more document translation tips to simplify the process. While our team can handle even complex projects with tight deadlines, the following tips will make the document translation process easier for all concerned.

Use a design that’s easy to adapt.

No matter how the original document is designed or what language pair you’ve requested, our design team can make the translated version look as good as the original.  However, if you know the original document is going to be converted into other languages, you can save time and money if you think ahead and design thoughtfully.

When documents are translated into other languages, the text often expands or contracts (depending on the language pair).  For example, when translating from English to Spanish, it’s not unusual for the text to grow by 15% to 30%. Meanwhile, translations from English into Japanese and Korean often take up less horizontal space than the original. However, Japanese and Korean have more complex characters.  As such, they sometimes require more vertical space to keep everything on the page clear, uncrowded and easy for the end user to read.

Then, of course, there are languages like Arabic and Hebrew. They read right to left, instead of left to right.

So, how can you minimise the amount of re-designing that your document translation project will require? Keep it simple. An uncomplicated, clean layout with enough white space to allow for the text to expand will require fewer adjustments.

If you know that you’ll need to flip the layout to translate into a language like Arabic or Hebrew, consider keeping all the text in the original document aligned to the left. That way,  it will be easy to reverse.

Build a style guide.

Creating a style guide for your documents takes work. But all of that work will pay off, in the end, with a seamless and efficient document translation process.

A style guide keeps your translated documents consistent and reduces the amount of time-consuming guesswork required of your translators.  With a style guide, the translation team has the resources they need to get the translation right the first time. That means less time and money spent on rework, and faster translation times at a lower cost for you.  Read more

Why Transcreation is Important for International Businesses

Want to optimize your marketing and advertising to reach a global audience? Sometimes, translation just isn’t enough. Transcreation is the process of recreating content for a new target audience, changing elements of the material and messaging as needed to keep the same overall emotional impact. (Want to learn more? See What is Transcreation?)

But why is transcreation important? Here are 4 compelling reasons why transcreation is vital for international businesses.

Transcreation is important because different cultures have different cultural touchpoints.

Yes, that sounds obvious. But let’s consider how that could affect a famous advertising campaign like Coca-Cola’s adverts featuring Santa Claus.  The images of a plump, rosy-cheeked Santa Claus are designed to make people who grew up with the myth of Santa Claus feel all warm and fuzzy inside – and then transfer those nostalgic feelings to the Coca-Cola in Santa’s hand!

These ads were obviously a tremendous success for Coca-Cola, even helping to shape the modern image of Santa Claus. And today, they’d work in even most non-Western countries like China and India, thanks to the global march of Western pop culture.

But even today, some countries don’t celebrate Christmas. Not even the secular, gift-giving version of Christmas. And in those markets, ads that feature Santa Claus are unlikely to evoke the same emotional response as they do in cultures where kids grow up associating Santa with magic and gifts. Read more

Website Translation Mistakes: 8 Common Errors You Need to Fix Now

When it comes to website translation, there are plenty of resources out there for the DIY crowd.  And yet, translating your website is trickier than it appears, and a poorly translated website does no favours for your brand or your business.

Is your multilingual site not performing as well as you’d expected? Here are 8 common website translation mistakes that could be scaring off your customers.

You trusted Google Translate.

When you’re on a tight budget, free machine translation tools like Google Translate can seem downright miraculous. But while machine translation has improved quite a bit over the past decade, it’s still not foolproof. Sure, you may not end up with one of these spectacularly embarrassing Google Translate mistakes on your site. However, it’s still common for free online translation tools to result in awkward, stilted phrasing and minor errors in grammar and vocabulary.

You probably either spent a lot of time or paid a professional to get the copy on your English-language website right. Why flush all of that effort down the drain for your international customers?

Your layout got lost in translation.

If you want to make a good impression on your customers, having a well-designed site is important. But did you consider how translating the words on the page would affect the layout?

Different languages take up different amounts of space on the page, both horizontally and sometimes vertically. That means that translation and design must often be considered in tandem. The page layout may need to be tweaked to accommodate the translated text. The translator can also try to minimise text expansion and contraction by modifying word choice and phrasing while preserving the original message.  Read more

What Is Transcreation?

What is transcreation, anyway? Is it different from translation? And how do you know if you need transcreation services for your content?

You’ve got questions; we’ve got answers. Read on to learn about transcreation services and how they can help your business effectively expand into new markets.

What is transcreation? And how are transcreation services different from translation?

Simply put, transcreation is the process of adapting content to a new target audience, changing elements of the material and messaging as needed to keep the same overall emotional impact.

Generally speaking, pure translation involves a more faithful rendering of content from one language to another. Sometimes, this is precisely what you want: information from the first language made understandable to a new audience.  But what if the success of your project depends on more than just information? Or, what if there’s something about the original message that’s keeping a foreign audience from engaging fully?  Read more

french translation services

French Translation Services: 6 Essential Facts for Businesses

French is one of our most-requested languages here at K International, and with good reason. But there’s much more to French translation than meets the eye.  Here are six essential facts that businesses in the market for French translation services need to know.

Some French words should not be translated literally.

Here are just a few examples:

Soutien-gorge: Literal translation: “Throat support.” Actual meaning: “brassiere.”
Amuse-bouche: Literal translation: “Mouth fun.” Actual meaning: “appetizer.”
Pomme de terre: Literal translation: “Earth Apple.” Actual meaning: “Potato.”
Rabat-joie: Literal translation: “Joy reducer.” Actual meaning: “Party pooper.” We all know someone like that! Read more

The Top Languages in Africa: A Guide to the Most Spoken African Languages

When you think of Africa, what do you think of? The iconic wildlife? The horror stories of poverty, hunger, and war? The truth is that Africa is an incredibly large, incredibly diverse and rapidly developing continent.  Whether you’re a business or an NGO, if you’re trying to maximize the number of people you can reach in Africa, you need to study the most spoken African languages in your particular market. Here’s a guide to get you started.

The most spoken African languages by number of native speakers

Because many Africans are at least bilingual, there are two possible ways to determine the most spoken African languages: by the number of native speakers or by overall numbers, including L2 speakers.

By focusing on the languages with the most L1 plus L2 speakers, you can expand the reach of your content.  However, L2 speakers vary in proficiency. And when it comes to marketing, advertising and web copy, people tend to prefer their native language. So, first of all, here are the most spoken native languages in Africa.


Number of native speakers: 140 million in Africa, 280 million around the world
Official language in Algeria, Comoros, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Western Sahara

Arabic didn’t originate in Africa, but today it’s the mother tongue of over 140 million Africans. As a result, it’s the most common native language on the continent overall.

Most African Arabic speakers live in North Africa, where Arabic is the majority language.  They speak local Arabic dialects, but Modern Standard Arabic is used in writing and in the media.

Written Arabic uses the Arabic script.

Berber (Amazigh)

Number of Speakers: 56M
Official language in Algeria and Morocco 

Berber, or Amazigh, is sometimes referred to as a language, sometimes as a language family. It’s a dialect continuum spoken by the Berber people in North Africa. The dialects (or languages) may or may not be mutually intelligible. Therefore, it’s important to know which variety is spoken in the region you’re targeting.

Depending on location, Berber languages are sometimes written in the Berber Latin alphabet and sometimes in the indigenous Tifinagh script.

Although Amazigh has been displaced by Arabic throughout most of the continent, it’s commonly used in Morrocco and Amazigh activists continue to fight for recognition in other North African countries.

To hear it, check out the video below:
Read more

10 Facts About British Sign Language and BSL Interpreters

Did you know that this week is Sign Language Week? This annual observance is promoted by the British Deaf Association to celebrate British Sign language and the British Deaf Community.

To celebrate, here are ten interesting facts about British Sign Language (BSL) and BSL interpreters.

In the UK, there are around 150,000 BSL users.

70,000-87,000 of these people are Deaf and use BSL as their first language. For children who are born deaf, English is often a second or third language.

The first historical mention of BSL is a record of a wedding ceremony conducted partially in sign language in Leicester, 1576.British Sign Language in History

The groom, Thomas Tillsye, was deaf, and so, according to the Parish Book,

“the sayde Thomas, for the expression of his minde instead of words, of his own accorde used these signs…

First he embraced her with his armes, and took her by the hande, putt a ring upon her finger and layde his hande upon her harte, and held his hands towards heaven; and to show his continuance to dwell with her to his lyves ende he did it by closing of his eyes with his hands and digging out of the earthe with his foote, and pulling as though he would ring a bell with divers other signs approved.”

Thomas Braidwood established the first public school for the Deaf in Edinburgh in 1760.

Read more

5 Powerful Lessons from “The Silent Child” About Deaf Communication in a Hearing World

Did you watch the Academy Awards last weekend? One of the most striking moments was when Rachel Shenton came to accept an Oscar for her short film “The Silent Child,” which won Best Live Action Short Film. “The Silent Child” is about a deaf girl who struggles to get by without sign language. In keeping with the subject matter, Shenton gave her acceptance speech both verbally and in BSL.

In her speech, Shenton highlighted the difficulties that deaf and hard of hearing people often face, saying “This is happening. Millions of children all over the world live in silence and face communication barriers, and particularly access to education.” The film was created to raise awareness of these challenges.

With that in mind, here are five compelling lessons from The Silent Child about deaf communication in a hearing world. Read more

Worth Reading: 7 Language and Translation Stories From February

Can you believe it’s March already? Let’s get the first weekend of the month started off right, with a look at some of the top language and translation stories from the past month. Enjoy!

Norway’s Olympic chefs learn the perils of relying on Google Translate

Here at K International, we still get clients and potential clients who ask “Why can’t we just use Google Translate?”

Norway’s Olympic team learned the hazards of this approach firsthand when they accidentally ordered  15,000 eggs instead of 1,500 from a South Korean supplier, due to a translation error.  According to the Guardian, chef Stale Johansen said his team “received half a truckload of eggs.” The chef said there was “no end to the delivery,” and called it “absolutely unbelievable.”

New Google Translate Songs From the Tonight Show

Google Translate is never perfect, but it works better in some languages than others. The Tonight Show recently did another round of “Google Translate Songs,” with Jimmy Fallon and Kelly Clarkson. They translated three songs to Mongolian and back again using the free translation service. Based on the results, I’m assuming Mongolian is not one of Google’s best languages.

“Feel It Still” by Portugal The Man became “I Live In a Boat,” and featured the lyric “Your wood, I have not picked it up yet.” “Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” turned into “I Have Your Child” and Kelly Clarkson’s song “Stronger” turned into a bunch of gibberish

Do you still think you can trust Google Translate with your business content?
Read more

7 Cool Things You Didn’t Know About African Languages

Marvel’s long-awaited Black Panther movie came out in theaters last month. As a result, African languages and culture are getting some well-deserved attention from the rest of the world.  With that in mind, here are seven cool things about African languages you might not have known, in Black Panther and beyond.

Africa is home to approximately 1/3 of the world’s languages.

Estimates of the number of languages people speak on the African content vary from 1,500 to over 3,000. Around 100 of these are used widely, for communication between people from different tribes and groups. Meanwhile, there are at least 75 languages in Africa with over 1 million speakers.

Why does Africa have so many languages, anyway? First of all, let’s state the obvious: it’s an enormous continent, not a country. There’s long been a tendency for Europeans and Americans to treat Africa as a monolith, but it’s not.

Second, Africa is the cradle of humanity. Humankind evolved there first and then spread across the globe. That means there’s simply been more time for languages to change and for new languages to form.

African languages may also illustrate how translation and interpretation can preserve linguistic diversity.

For example, University of Chicago evolutionary linguist Salikoko Mufwene told the Christian Science Monitor, 

[I]n the case of Europe, you have to factor in the emergence of various empires, and these various empires were assimilationist and they may have driven a number of languages already to extinction . . . Traditional African kingdoms were not as assimilationist as the European empires…say the kings relied on interpreters to translate to them what was coming from territories that they ruled but where people spoke different languages, there is no particular reason why we should be surprised that there are so many languages spoken in Africa.”

Whatever the reason, this means that Africa presents a challenging linguistic landscape for businesses that wish to be understood by the local population. Read more