Colors in Translation

A rose by another name might still smell as sweet…but would it be as red? That might depend on the language you speak. The amount of influence that language has on how we see the world has been debated for centuries, but studies do seem to support a relationship between the words we use and our perceptions.

This is especially true when it comes to how we see colors, as this infographic at illustrates. Using data from the English and Chinese versions of the Wikipedia entry on color, the visualization shows the differences in how English speakers and Chinese speakers describe color.  According to creator Muyueh Lee:

Language represents our view of the world, and knowing its limits helps us understand how our perception works. I used the data from Wikipedia’s “Color” entry for different languages. My assumption was:  “Different languages have different ways to describe color.”

So how does English compare with Chinese? Looking at the infographic, it’s clear that English (or at least the English Wikipedia article)  has more words for color than Chinese does. Additionally, the most popular “base color words” in Chinese are red, blue and green. In English, it’s blue, green and pink. English also differs from Chinese in using place names to distinguish between colors, like in “Persian Blue.”

The visualization is interesting, though Wikipedia is obviously not the most reliable source of data. But what does it mean? Do differences in the way different languages describe colors affect what people see? Does having more ways to describe colors help you to perceive differences in different shades? A couple of studies, summed up in the Daily Mail, suggest that they might:

A 1954 study found that Zuñi speakers, a tribe of Pueblo Native Americans, found they do not differentiate between orange and yellow. As a result, they have trouble telling them apart. A separate study focused on how Russian speakers have separate words for light blue (goluboy) and dark blue (siniy).  MIT recruited 50 people from the Boston area in Massachusetts, half of whom were native Russian speakers. They found they were 10 per cent faster at distinguishing between light (goluboy) blues and dark (siniy) blues than at discriminating between blues within the same shade category.

Possibly more important from a business standpoint is the way the same colors can have different meanings and associations across cultures.  For example, purple is associated with royalty in the West, but in Thailand it is associated with widows and mourning. It’s important to make sure all aspects of your brand translate well into your target markets. We can help!

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

Helping you sell online, Translation Infographic

Translation Infographic: Helping you Sell On-line

Translation is typically one of the last things businesses think of when marketing their products. But what cannot be overstated is how gigantically important it is if you want to market and sell that same product abroad. Here’s a translation infographic containing a few facts and figures about international selling. They just might give you some ideas about how you can employ translation to boost your sales abroad.

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Infographic: How translators can market themselves online

Infographic: How Translators Can Market Themselves Online

In our field we work with literally 1000’s of translators, sometimes they come to us directly, but often we need to go looking for specialists with linguistic skills in specific areas like document localisation or website translation. It’s here where we noticed a problem, a great many translators aren’t making themselves visible to potential online customers anywhere near as much as they could. Some of the very best translators we have on our books don’t have any kind of online presence, which made us think, maybe we can help.

Being a freelance translator is a competitive business, even more so if you are just starting out. To make sure you have the best chance of getting work in from clients, you absolutely must make sure those clients can find you. More and more people are using the internet to research and buy translation services and you really don’t want to be left behind as this trend shows no sign of slowing. It’s not enough to set up a profile on and wait for the jobs to roll in, thousands are already doing exactly that… you need to start taking a proactive approach and make sure potential clients have the best chance of finding you vs. your competition, how do you do that? Well besides being great at what you do, marketing yourself effectively online can help enormously. Read more

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