Posts

Talking Business: How to Avoid a Translation Fail

Some phrases just don’t translate-especially when you are relying on a computer to do the heavy lifting. The International Trade website has published a list of English business phrases that don’t translate well, and it illustrates this point beautifully.

Take, for example, the common English expression “give me a ballpark figure.” Translated into Russian literally, as a computer would do it, you get “Give to me the diagram of the baseball stadium.” Unless you’re in the baseball stadium construction business, that simply won’t do. In Spanish, “We’ll hit the ground running” turns into a phrase that brings to mind an action movie: “We will strike the earth operation.” The best of the bunch is probably the literal Chinese translation of the phrase “We need to get our ducks in a row.” Once translated, it becomes “We need to obtain our duck continuously.” What?!?!

So, how do you avoid sounding like an idiot when you deal with foreign clients? The best course of action is to avoid machine translation if at all possible-it simply isn’t reliable enough yet. If you do need to use machine translation for a business project, write in simple language, avoiding metaphors, figurative language, jargon and colloquial expressions.

Richard Brooks, General Manager of UK based translation firm K International, has the following advice for UK businesses:

“Idioms are common place in workplaces across Britain and its fine (within reason) to use them in your local marketing activities. The tricky part comes in when you need to translate that message for use in another region.

Computers (at the moment) simply cannot understand the real meaning behind these idioms. For copy, that when translated is intended to convert potentially interested parties into sales revenue then a real human being must be used in the translation process.

For the best results recreating your message for use in another country a service such as transcreation should be used which includes incountry testing and cultural focus groups.

Get it right and you’ll have a winning marketing campaign that will spread like wildfire (excuse the idiom) in the blogs and social media networks, get it wrong and people will think you’re an idiot”

Assuming you have a competent interpreter, human-powered translation is always superior because human interpreters recognize expressions like these and know how to translate them appropriately to convey the correct meaning.

Translating for luxury brands

Localizing Luxury Brands

China is now the world’s second largest consumer of luxury goods (USA is first, Japan is 3rd). As the world economy grows the centre of gravity of the global middle class shifts eastwards, with this shift your customers are changing, managing a luxury brand is not what it used to be.

The key to marketing a luxury brand is the considered and precise use of language to ensure that the target market is reached. Translating existing content with a full appreciation of the colloquial and cultural implications of the text is therefore vital to an effective expansion strategy.

The style and register is always paramount – never more so than when seeking to influence the purchasing intent of foreign markets. After all, if it was as simple as running the words through Google Translate there would be little need for a strategic multi-market plan. Irrespective of the product, service or demographic, in order to effectively promote on a multinational platform, it is therefore vital that the textual content is translated with a complete linguistic understanding of each specific market. Read more

Food retail trends in Italy

Current Trends in Italy’s Food Retail Market

So how do Italians buy food, really? If you’re thinking of food markets in every town, brimming with people buying organic meat and vegetables directly from farmers, you may be in for a partial disappointment. In today’s Italy, most people buy their food at the supermarket.

That’s not to say that love for good food has disappeared. Modern life may be less bucolic, but supermarkets in Italy have come a long way in the pursuit of quality.

What an Italian supermarket looks like

At first glance, Italian supermarkets are very similar to any store in the UK. However, if you take a closer look you’ll notice that some products occupy a different amount of shelf space. For example, you could find:

  •  A limited choice of butter and a wider choice of olive oil
  • Lots of different brands of mineral water
  • Almost no presence of foreign wines
  • A wider choice of local ham and cheese
  • More calf and less lamb meat. Although less common, horse and rabbit can also be found.

At the same time, you could recognise many current food trends: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, organic, etc. Read more

Translation Value

Translation: Price is what you pay, Value is what you get

Picture the scene, it’s the weekend, the sun is shining, not a cloud in the sky, a perfect day for a leisurely drive. About an hour into your jaunt around the local country roads, you notice a strange clunking sound coming from under the bonnet. It looks like a trip to the garage is in order. Once you get home you call the guy (or girl) you always call when your car needs attention. You drop it off at the garage and wait for the workshop to call, what are the first three things you want to learn from that call?… Most people would likely answer along the lines of “can they fix it, what is it going to cost and how long is it going to take”, probably in that order.

Now you are probably wondering what going for a drive and suffering an impending breakdown has to do with anything, well I’ll get to that. About a year ago I was talking to a chap in a pub, the best stories always start with that line right? His name is Dave, you wouldn’t say he was anything out of the ordinary, casually dressed, glasses, drives a van, all very run of the mill, he wouldn’t mind me saying that he’d probably agree. Anyway, I sat at the bar waiting for my friends to finally show up and just happened to strike up a conversation with him. He told me about how he works in a garage and has done probably longer than I’ve been alive, another classic line from the book of pub stories huh. Dave’s customers go through exactly the same ritual as I had you imagine at the beginning, but when it comes to that phone call, his customers have slightly different expectations. Read more

K International customer satisfaction results infographic

Customer Satisfaction Infographic

At K International, we are dedicated to providing the highest levels of customer service in the language industry. To make sure we are performing in line with these standards, we’ve been asking our active clients to complete a short satisfaction survey. So far we’ve had 174 complete responses and we are very pleased to share these intial results in the infographic below. Of course, there is always room for improvement, so we won’t be resting on our laurels – customer satisfaction is a defining quality of our organisation. You can read even more about what our customers think of the services we provide over on our testimonial page. Read more

Guide to exporting to Italy

Export Guide for Italy

Translation and localisation support plays a major role in a successful export strategy so K International is producing a number of country-specific export guides to provide your business with some helpful information. You can read the introduction and view other guides as they become available right here.

This Italy business culture guide is provided to support UK businesses considering exporting to Italy.

Italy imports a wealth of resources and transforms them into finished products. These are then sold both domestically and internationally. This presents some excellent opportunities for UK exporters, with the Italian government offering investment incentives at a local, regional and national level.

With a flight time of under 2.5 hours from London to Rome, Italy provides a close, convenient location for UK businesses looking to expand their international operations. It is also an attractive country to visit, with The Economist reporting that Italy enjoys the eighth highest standard of living in the world.

Read more

K International at Retail Week Live

Localisation at Retail Week Live 2015

24th Retail Week Live – The best yet?

Leading retailers are gearing up for an exciting spring in the English Capital this year. The Hilton London Metropole will be the place to be on March the 11th and 12th as the venue plays host to the renowned exhibition, Retail Week Live, now in its 24th year.  I’m really looking forward to hearing from the industry’s top experts, and of course getting to meet up with a whole host of likeminded driven business leaders.

This year looks set to be a giant year for the exhibition, with more than 1000 attendees expected from all over the world. There should be a good mix of start-ups and elite retailers to give us all some good insights into what’s in store for the future of the retail industry. There are a number of presentations lined up focused on four key themes, The Consumer, The Brand, Retail Strategy and Innovation. I’ve selected a few of the key themes and presentations that I’m most looking forward to below. Read more

5 Lessons You Can Learn From the World's Biggest Businesses

International Expansion: 5 Lessons You Can Learn From the World’s Biggest Businesses

Sometimes it can seem like the world is smaller than ever – that we live in a global village where international borders mean little.

However, when it comes to international business expansion, the importance of cultural differences cannot be underestimated. Indeed, many businesses have found out the hard way that what works at home can go down very differently in a foreign market.

Here, we present five lessons you can learn from some of the world’s biggest businesses’ most notable successes and failures. Read more

UK export guide to France

Export Guide for France

Translation and localisation support plays a major role in a successful export strategy so K International is producing a number of country-specific export guides to provide your business with some helpful information. You can read the introduction and view other guides as they become available right here.

France is a country that embraces commerce, offering a dynamic, professional business environment in which companies have every opportunity to thrive. As a leading economic powerhouse, France is a member of the G7 (which was formerly the G8), as well as the OECD, European Union and World Trade Organization.

France’s proximity to the UK (the Strait of Dover is just 20.7 miles at its narrowest point) means that the two countries have long-standing business ties. Many UK companies look to France to begin their international trading ventures.

This France business culture guide has been written to support UK-based exporters with key details about exporting their goods and services to France.

Read more

Export Guide to Spain

Export Guide to Spain

Translation and localisation support plays a major role in a successful export strategy so K International is producing a number of country-specific export guides to provide your business with some helpful information. You can read the introduction and view other guides as they become available right here.

The fourth largest economy in the Eurozone and one of the largest in the world in terms of purchasing power parity, Spain is home to some 46.4 million people. Spain is classed as a high income economy and The Economist has rated the country as having the 10th highest quality of life in the world.

Spain’s economy is now recovering well from the global financial crisis triggered in 2007/08, making it a prime location for many UK businesses looking for overseas markets for their goods and services. This business culture guide explores this exciting country and its economic situation in more depth, to provide an export guide for UK companies with Spain in their crosshairs. Read more