Language in Business


Adaptive Globalization Releases Linguist Salary Report

Language in Business

A comprehensive guide released by recruitment company Adaptive Globalization provides detailed salary and job description information for the language service provider industry.

Adaptive Globalization has released the first comprehensive salary report for the language service provider (LSP) sector. The report details benchmark competitive salaries for an array of positions as a guide for employers seeking to attract and retain talent in the coming year. Moreover, it provides summaries of key roles in the industry, their progression paths, and their salary ranges across 18 locations globally.

Locations in the report include Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, Singapore, the UK, and the United States.

The report states that the global language service and technology industry is worth $49.6 billion, and “Understandably, for such a large industry, there isn’t one ubiquitous compensation structure. Instead it is typically determined by several factors.”

According to the report, some of the factors affecting salaries range from company type (LSP vs. client-side), to market conditions, to cost of living. Though the report does not mention how these factors, or others like gender or the COVID-19 pandemic have made an impact, they likely also play a role, as signaled by some of the LSP market movement this year. The salaries for linguists ranged anywhere from €14,000 to over €100,000 per year, depending on management level and location. Switzerland and the US rank among the higher salaries, while Poland and Italy rank among the lowest among the selected countries.

Breaking down some different departments in LSPs, the report outlines roles in sales and operations. It covers a section for linguists, which covers positions like translation checker, proofreader, interpreter, translator, transcriptionists, senior translator, language lead, language quality specialist, language service manager, head of translation, and language department director.

“Linguists are the people working directly with languages,” the report states. “They are detail-oriented people, with academic degrees in the source language. Typically they come with excellent knowledge of the most common CAT tools.”

Along with the positions for linguists, the report also includes localization management and engineering positions. It defines requirements for internationalization engineers, for example, saying they “are usually Software Engineers that specialize in designing mobile apps and incorporating the adaptation of different languages to the design,” and noting that they “are usually very experienced… and know the different nuances of each language (technically speaking).”

Adaptive Globalization specializes in language industry recruitment. Working with both language service agencies and large companies, the company recruits people working in the translation and localization industry.

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MultiLingual creates go-to news and resources for language industry professionals.


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SDL Tados 2021

Localizing a job board

Language in Business, Localization

Being a seasoned localizer, I thought that localizing a job board ( would not present much of a challenge, but I was pleasantly surprised with the knowledge that I gained. Gigajob has now been successfully localized into 38 languages and has local sites in 147 countries.

The mission of any job board is to create a platform where employers, candidates and recruiters can connect. Some of the keys features of a job board include:

  • User experience: understanding what the users need, what they value, their abilities and also their limitations.
  • User interface: creating an intuitive and user friendly website navigation.
  • Content strategy: writing content that is original, useful and fulfills a need. How the information is organized and presented on the website is vital for good usability.
  • Visual design: developing an aesthetically pleasing interface.
  • Website speed optimization: Being fast and efficient helps users get what they want without waiting.
  • Mobile compatibility: in today’s digital world, creating a mobile optimized website has become a necessity.
  • Browser compatibility: the website should work efficiently on different browsers such as Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer.

The successful implementation of these features will provide a seamless user experience, amplifying user engagement and retention, and hence positioning the business for success.

Why localize a job board

Gigajob was initially available in Germany and subsequently in Austria and Switzerland, all in German. The platform was successful in these markets, leading to the idea of launching a global job board. But what happens when your aim is to connect employers, candidates and recruiters worldwide? You certainly will need to localize your job board to ensure an effective global user experience. The objective is to allow users to connect to a service in a language and locale that feels native to them. Only then will the company succeed at a global level.

How to localize

Establishing localization best practices and defining an effective localization workflow prior to the localization process is essential. This approach avoids re-work and additional costs post- localization, also ensuring a faster time-to-market.

It is a great advantage to have in-house linguists for the core languages. Technical and linguistic hurdles can be conveniently overcome because linguists can work in sync with the technical developers.

The localization testing phase is vital, since it ensures that the localized website is linguistically accurate, fully functional, culturally appropriate and meets the local user expectations. It is imperative to test the website in each localized language, as well as on target platforms (Windows, iOS, Android) and devices (desktops, laptops, mobile) before global release.

How to manage a localized job board

Once a job board has been localized it is very important to manage and maintain it.

Having a multilingual customer support team for the core languages is crucial to ensure continuous user engagement and user satisfaction. A multicultural team that understands the culture of a specific locale will also add a lot of value to the company’s ongoing business strategy.

When a new feature is implemented, an agile methodology is adopted in order to seamlessly publish updates to all supported languages.

A job board needs to continuously improve on the key features — user experience, user interface, content strategy, visual design, website speed optimization, mobile compatibility and browser compatibility — in order to sustain its success.

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Sarita Desai is a consultant at Netzmarkt. She began her career in localization on the client side and later moved to the supplier side with Mayflower Language Services. She hails from Lisbon and has background in economics.


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Are You A Startup Sherpa Or A UX Rockstar? Don’t Believe A Word

Language in Business, Localization, Marketing

Shopping Around For Sherpas

Check out this superb article by linguist, lexicographer, columnist, and self-described “all-around word nut”  Ben Zimmer (@bgzimmer) in The Atlantic. Ben discusses the cultural misappropriation of words and how sherpas, ninjas, and gurus crop up everywhere: Why Do Supreme Court Nominees Have ‘Sherpas’?

Ben argues that this kind of contrived lexical exoticism hides the complex cultural origins of such words but also betrays a kind of lazy stereotyping of (in this case, Asian) culture. As he says, “It may look good on a LinkedIn profile, but you might want to think twice about calling yourself a sherpa, guru, or ninja just to add a dash of exoticism.”

Indeed, but you may also be adding a layer of mysticism to the unfortunate localizer who has to figure out what these words really mean in English before attempting to transcreate them in another language.

Are there Nepali social media sherpas in the Himalayas, I wonder? Click To Tweet

Storyteller. All a matter of context. And credibility.

“Storyteller”. All a matter of context. And credibility. Example from The Visual Thesaurus.

The Pope’s Guru

NPR’s excellent Code Switch radio program also explores the origin and lexical hijacking of the word Guru. My favorite example has to be, “The Vatican Sends Its Social Media Guru To SXSW Festival.”

The tech industry is notorious for this sort of nonsense, going far beyond the annexation of those Asian words mentioned to create even more grandiose, mystical job titles that frankly make no difference to the job description or employee performance itself. Plus, how do you localize Direct Mail Demigod? Digital Nomad? E-Commerce Wingwoman?

Are HR professionals now spending time at Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Marvel movies to come up with some of these daft titles?

Storytelling Around The S-Bend

The now over-used title of storyteller really gets me going. Throw a stone in any pub in Ireland and you’ll still hit 100 storytellers (although we have considerably more colourful names for these characters). Lucy Kellaway, formerly of the Financial Times, and a legend for calling out corporate BS, had it with the craze for the word storyteller years ago: Dentists and plumbers do not tell stories. Nor should you.

Stories in the right place are an excellent thing. The Bible has some pretty good ones. - Lucy Kellaway Click To Tweet

My pet word hates from the user experience (UX) world have to be that job persona road warrior (translation: traveling salesperson) and then there’s that rockstar suffix du jour (translation: exceeds minimum professional requirements, now and then).

Attention tech developer and UX people. This is what a rockstar looks like and does:

The late, great Dubliner Phil Lynnott of Thin Lizzy. Image via Wikimedia. Thin Lizzy have a belter of a song called "Don't Believe a Word"!

The late, great Dubliner Phil Lynnott of Thin Lizzy. Image shared via Wikimedia. Thin Lizzy have a belter of a song called “Don’t Believe a Word“!

See? No laptop covered with stickers in sight. No electric scooter on stage. That thing is an electric bass guitar. Until Lady Gaga and Lenny Kravitz start winning awards for full-stack software development, you know where you can stick your rockstar title.

Until Lady Gaga and Lenny Kravitz start winning awards for full-stack software development, you know where you can stick your rockstar title. Click To Tweet

Just Call It Like It Is

And so it goes on. There are probably gurus who have the job to misappropriate words from other cultures and make roles and titles sound a lot more interesting than they really are but without paying the employee anything extra.

Me? I’ll follow Oscar Wilde‘s advice fromThe Model Millionaire: “It’s better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.”

I think Peter Drucker nails for this kinds of poseur hell: “I have been saying for many years that we are using the word guru only because charlatan is too long to fit into a headline.” Or fit into a tweet.

Now, don’t start me on the casual militarization of language and where that might take us …

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Reaching a global audience to maximize your startup’s potential

Globalization, Language in Business, Localization Basics

Globalization maximize startups

The Global Policy Forum reported as far back as the year 2000 that the pace of globalization — the process by which organizations start operating or influencing internationally — was quickening. Technological advances have been key to this change of pace. Globalization is not without its drawbacks, but many leading economists and business analysts believe it is better than the alternative. Indeed, Deloitte reports that after the global financial crisis in 2008, leaders around the world pledged to avoid protectionist measures to boost growth and speed up the global financial recovery.

The global environment we now live in poses both challenges and opportunities for new businesses. Startups today have a wider audience at their fingertips than ever before. A vast international customer base awaits those with the vision and courage to reach out to it. Technology can help with this, and the next issue of MultiLingual, on startups, will cover this when it goes live in a few days.

But the human element is still essential. Let’s look at language as an example of this.

Microsoft has just announced its latest machine translation (MT) success: achieving parity with the quality of human translation for the Chinese-English language pairing on 2,000 sentences in a test environment. However, there is still an incredibly long way to go before MT can rival human translation services. As such, startups that want to promote their products globally are reliant on professional human translators in order to assist them.

Adaptation and localization services are also essential. An image that is perfectly acceptable in one country can cause sufficient offense for arrest warrants to be issued in another. Any business with global aspirations therefore needs to use specialist local knowledge when globalizing its brand. Doing so does take time, but the rewards can be well worth the effort.

Our company, for example, recently launched 11 new websites targeting clients in various new countries as part of its globalization strategy. The French site is targeted to customers in France, Belgium, Canada and other French-speaking countries. Meanwhile, the German site is aimed at German-speaking territories, such as Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

The choice of languages for the new sites was the result of extensive research. Supply and demand were the cornerstones of the research. The demand front covered the number of speakers of the languages being considered, local business activity, size of potential customer base and search engine statistics (anchors, keyword volumes and more). On the supply side, we investigated competition and concurrency in the relevant markets, availability of local translation and localization experts, cost of advertising, cost of pay per click/SEO and similar parameters.

For companies just starting out, global dominance may seem a tall order. However, the right product can have almost boundless appeal. Have you heard of Slack? If you haven’t, you’re behind the curve. Founded less than a decade ago, the business messaging system is now available in more than 100 countries around the world. Meanwhile, TV network Netflix, founded in 1997, is available in all but four countries (China, Crimea, North Korea and Syria).For companies just starting out, global dominance may seem a tall order. However, the right product can have almost boundless appeal. Click To Tweet

Not every startup will want to go global. However, even the smallest of ideas can go a long way in the global environment in which we live. You might dream of simply running a local coffee shop, but that’s how Starbucks started too. The world’s largest coffee company, it now operates in 62 countries.

Whatever your business niche, it’s likely that there’s money to be made by turning globalization to your advantage. A carefully devised strategy, based on appropriate research, is the starting point. Identifying target countries and languages through a measured approach will ensure that time and money are both used efficiently when it comes to international expansion plans.

If you have a great product or service, the world really can be your oyster.

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Louise Taylor manages content for the Tomedes Translators blog. She has worked in the language and translation industry for many years.

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Conversational UI Language Design at LocWorld35

Language in Business, Language in the News, Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) team member (and Microsoft Alum) Karen Scipi (@karenscipi) presented on the subject of Conversational UI in the Enterprise at #LocWorld35 Silicon Valley. Karen covered the central importance of  language design for chatbots and other conversational user interfaces (CUIs) for global work use cases.

Karen Scipi presenting on Conversational UIs in the Enterprise at Localization World in Silicon Valley 2017 (Image credit: Olga)

Karen Scipi presenting on Conversational UIs in the Enterprise at Localization World in Silicon Valley 2017 (Image credit: Olga)

Karen even developed two chatbot integrations for Slack introducing her topic. One was in English, the other was in Italian.

Italian LocWorld Chatbot Conversation Example

Italian LocWorld Chatbot Conversation Example (Source: Karen Scipi)

What’s a Conversational UI?

Chatbots and the alike are a very hot topic, wrapped up in the artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP), and robotics part of technology’s evolution. However, user experience design insight and an empathy for how people interact with each other through technology in work, at play, or in everyday life makes the difference when creating a great user experience in any language.What could be more 'natural' than talking to a computer? Click To Tweet

CUI means we moved from a “user”-centric concept of design to a human-centric one. After all, what could be more “natural” that talking to a computer? Both humans and computers “converse” in dialog, and it’s the language design knowledge for such a conversation that’s critical to delivering a natural, human-like interaction between the two.

Examples of CUIs include Facebook Messenger, Slack bots, TelegramAmazon Echo and Alexa devices, and so on. Interaction can be via voice, SMS messaging, typing text on a keyboard, and so on.

In the enterprise there are a broad range of considerations and stakeholders that localization and UX pros must to consider. Fundamentally though, enterprise CUIs are about increasing participation in the user experience of work, making things simpler.


Oracle Conversational UI image showing the interaction and participation of humans and the cloud - in any language! (Source: OAUX)

Oracle Conversational UI image showing the interaction and participation of humans and the cloud – in any language! (Source: OAUX)

Localization of Conversational UIs

To an extent, the localization or language part of the CUI interaction is determined by the NLP support of the chatbot or other platform used: what languages it supports, how good the AI and ML parts are, and so on. However, language skills are at the heart of the conversational UI design, whether it’s composing that  user storyline for design flows or creating the prompts and messages seen by the human involved.

This kind of communication skill is much in-demand: It is a special type of talent: a mix of technical writing, film script or creative writing, transcreation, and interpreting. It’s a domain insight that gets right down to the nitty-gritty of replicating and handling how humans really speak and write: slang, errors, typos, warts and all. CUI language designers must even decide how emoji and personality can or should be localized in different versions of a chatbot.

Where’s the Conversation Headed?

The conversational UI market is growing globally as messenger apps take over. Localization and language pros cannot ignore the conversational UI space.

Karen will be speaking next at the Seattle Localization User Group (SLUG) in December (2017) about Conversational UIs in the Enterprise.Localization and language pros cannot ignore the conversational UI space. Click To Tweet


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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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How to rank well in French SEO

Language in Business, Localization Basics

If you want to reach a wide audience online in France, then it’s essential to incorporate SEO as part of your marketing strategy.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is part art and part science and includes a range of techniques designed to help you rank on the first page with Google for important keywords.If search engines didn’t exist, would it still make sense? Click To Tweet

When considering SEO, it’s essential to follow up-to-date advice. Google now uses an artificial intelligence technology (called RankBrain) as a large factor in determining how to rank websites. This and other updates mean that they penalize sites using keyword stuffing, spammy backlinks or other old fashioned SEO techniques. A good logic test is “if search engines didn’t exist, would this still make sense?”

french seo

Put your visitors first

SEMRush completed a study of Google’s ranking factors in September 2017 and found that factors like the time visitors spend on your site and the number of pages they view are now more important than factors such as how often you include a specific keyword on the page. This reinforces the importance of creating a user-friendly website with a responsive design that considers human factors first.

Accurate and easy-to-read translations, attractive images and a user-friendly layout will therefore help not only when visitors arrive at your site, but will also help you rank higher with Google and therefore drive more visitors to your site.

Write good metatags and URLs

The title and description metatag aren’t visible on your page, but appear in the search results on Google and other search engines. They’re the only information that potential visitors have when they decide whether to visit your site. Therefore, you should prioritize them. A good title metatag should include one or two keywords people search for. For example, if you’re an English teacher in Montpellier, including English, teacher and Montpellier in the meta title of your home page is a must. It should also be well written.

If you’ve translated an English site to French, check to be sure that you or your translators have included the metatags in their translation, asthis is an aspect that’s often overlooked.

Similarly, it helps if the French version of your site has URLs (the web address of each page) that are also written in French. A page called “some-english-keyword” will receive less French traffic than a page called “mot-cle-anglais.” However, it’s normal to remove accents in the URLs, as when you copy them into an email (for example), the software often doesn’t recognize accents in the URL and will convert them to a string of what looks like random characters and % signs, which looks messy (though the link will still work).

Complete a professional translation

Google translation is getting better and better, but is still far behind a professional manual translation and if you use Google translate, parts of your content will be complete gobbledygook (or Googledygook, as I like to call it). This has several disadvantages:

  • You will put off readers and make them less trusting of your company.
  • Google treats automatically translated content differently and tries to either not index it at all, or to rank it far worse than professionally translated content.
  • You risk accidentally including mistakes that could have legal or financial consequences.

Given all the above, completing a professional French translation that also takes into account SEO elements is an essential step when creating a multilingual website.

Do keyword research when translating product names

It’s particularly important for SEO that you use the optimal translations of product names in your French translation. For some products there’s only one possible translation. But for others, there could be three or four possible translations of the product name.

Do keyword research using any of a range of tools (AHREFs or SEMRush are two of the most popular ones) to identify how often each possible translation is searched for each month. If you find one version is searched for 1,000 times a month and another only 30 times a month, then it’s obvious which version will generate the most traffic to your site.

Keyword research is also a good way of establishing which product name will make the most sense to the average native French speaker, as a keyword with a higher search volume will also be the more natural sounding one for your translation.

Consider cultural differences

While it’s important to keep cultural differences in mind in general, the ideal is to consider cultural differences when it comes to your website design and even your business decisions.

If you’re translating a site that has other issues, make sure you talk to the person responsible for the functionality or design, as these all play a role too.

For example:

  • French business correspondence tends to be more formal, and it’s not uncommon to receive emails signing off with long expressions like “Veuillez recevoir, Madame/Monsieur, l’expression de mes salutations distinguées.” Check any automated or template emails to be sure you achieve the right balance, depending on your target audience.
  • The French care more about who has authorized your company and your payment process than clients in the UK or USA might, and you may find that you receive more sales if you have a series of icons of any governing bodies who have approved your products, plus bank and credit card logos at checkout.
  • Leisure time is more valued in France, so if you’re adding your opening hours to your website, don’t be worried about including a decent lunch break!
  • Switch commas and full stops around in numbers. In Britain it’s £1,500.60 (for one thousand five hundred pounds and 60p). In France it’s €1.500,60 (for one thousand five hundred Euros and 60 centimes).
  • Write phone numbers in sets of two digits: 06 02 22 22 22. The French will also read phone numbers like this aloud, so listen for if there’s any pauses when someone says something like “quatre-vingt-dix-neuf” since, depending on the pause or lack thereof, this could either be 80 19 or 99.

Above all, ask French speakers to review your website and give their honest opinion. Overall, they may have different values or color preferences than you, and this is the only way to be sure that you’re appealing to their culture. A short questionnaire really helps facilitate this process, as friends are likely to just say “Yes, it looks good” if they’re not being presented with an actual questionnaire.

In summary, to rank well with Google, ensure that you translate all elements of your site not just the obvious ones. Focus your metatags on well-written titles and descriptions that include important keywords and are written in a way that makes them likely to be clicked. If you’re not a professional translator yourself, then work with one who understands the local culture.


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Martin Woods is the SEO director of Indigoextra Ltd, a multilingual marketing company. He has 17 years of experience in web design, translation and SEO. He was raised in the UK and live in Montpellier, South France, where he homeschools two boys.

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The power of positive language

Language, Language in Business, Translation

Your phrasing sets the tone

What if there was an easy trick to be more persuasive and more positive, just by changing your mindset and the way you phrase sentences?

English speakers have the option to voice both a positive statement and a negative statement that convey the same meaning. For instance, “come to the restaurant on time” and “do not come to the restaurant late” both deliver similar messages; however, the connotation behind the former is much less negative.What if there was an easy trick to be more persuasive and more positive? Click To Tweet

The English language is laden with opportunities to formulate negative speech in place of a more positive dialogue. Although initially a phrase slanted in both a negative and positive light would appear to have the same influence (such as with the two aforementioned phrases), according to business consultant Sarah Simoneaux, we would actually comprehend the positive statement 30–40% times faster than we would the negative one.

Not only are positive statements more quickly received, but as expected they are also well-received by the audience.

In another example, cognitive and mathematical psychologist Amos Tversky and 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize-winner in Economic Sciences Daniel Kahneman illustrated this positive framing bias in an experiment. The scientists presented treatment options to “patients” for a hypothetical disease in two ways, one emphasizing the positive outcomes of choosing the treatment and the other the negative outcomes. Subjects chose between A and B in two different scenarios. The graph below details the positive and negative slants in explanation of treatment options A and B within the experiment. The main difference between the two highlighted how many people would live vs. how many people would die.

A whopping 72% of those surveyed chose treatment A when it was positively framed compared to treatment B, while only 22% chose it when it was negatively framed — even though both descriptions of A (and B, for that matter) refer to the same outcome.

Linguists believe individuals who follow the findings of Tversky’s and Kahneman’s experiment, and use positive verbalism like positively slanted speech, are generally perceived in a better light compared to those who do not. Through mindfulness of this type of diction, English speakers can elect to alter the reception of their message. This is because positive language affects cognition.

Untranslatable words

In addition to crafting sentences in the positive form, positive words can trick the brain into cultivating a happier mindset. Labeling situations as “good” as opposed to “not bad” will fundamentally mold how the mind perceives them. Over time, the quality of life is expected to rise, as the brain habitually turns to positive labels.

One way we can expand our capacity for positive emotional experience is by learning words that do not exist in our native languages. These words are deemed “untranslatable” as there is no equivalent for the phenomenon in another language. There are several words pertaining to the emotions and senses in particular that are found in some languages and not others.

For example, according to this list:

  • The informal Hebrew word firgun describes a generosity of spirit and the unselfish joy that something good has happened or might happen to someone else.
  • The Serbian word merak refers to a feeling of bliss and the sense of oneness with the universe that comes from the simplest of pleasures.
  • The Hindi word jijivisha refers to the strong, eternal desire to live and to continue living. It is usually used with regard to a person who loves life and always has intense emotions and desires to live and thrive.

While individuals from other cultures may have comparable experiences to those described above, they lack the labels to categorize the experiences, thereby leaving the feelings un-conceptualized in their reality. To look deeper at the impacts this might have on one’s life, author Tim Lomas strung together a list of 216 untranslatable words and researched their relationships with well-being across cultures.

The paper concludes with a need for further research to solidify a link between a more emotionally encompassing vocabulary and well-being, but it turns out a push toward more positive language is easily attainable.

A recent study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that most languages have more positive words than negative words. The research pulls from the 1969 Pollyanna hypothesis, which states humans have a universal tendency to use positive words more often than negative ones. The new study explored the concept through a more data-driven approach, analyzing billions of words from English, Spanish, French, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean, Chinese (Simplified), Russian, Indonesian and Arabic. On average, “happy” words were used more frequently than “sad” ones within all ten languages.A push toward more positive language is easily attainable. Click To Tweet

Positive tone in business language

As a result of these findings, along with those of Simoneaux, Tversky and Kahneman, many professionals have become more attentive to the subtleties of positive versus negative tones in order to enhance their communicative potential. This is particularly applicable in the business field as these principles apply to any company, brand, or person looking to persuade.

Managers and authority figures in particular should keep this in mind before addressing their teams. Similarly, email marketing campaigns should use positive statements to increase the likelihood of a sale and reinforce the idea of strong brand quality.

The fact that people respond better to positively slanted messages should also be considered if a company is looking to expand their marketing internationally. Reinforcing positive thinking when forming a localization strategy for an advertising campaign could be the foundation for a well-received brand.

Any translation would ideally be done in such a way as to speak in a more positive tone to the potential consumers in their native languages.

Positive tone in foreign languages

Although this lexical dichotomy is applicable to other languages, the shift from a negative to a positive tone may be more difficult. Take Spanish as an example. In the Spanish language, it is commonplace for sentences to contain double or even triple negatives. These make it nearly impossible to switch the sentence’s tone without completely changing the phrase.

Consider the English sentence, “He didn’t say anything.” This is phrased in a negative construction. The shift to a positive construction is relatively simple: “He said nothing.” The Spanish equivalent would be “No dijo nada,” which literally translates to he didn’t say nothing. Here, there is no easy change to the positive, as removing the double negative in Spanish would render the phrase grammatically incorrect. Instead, the sentence must be reworded to convey a similar meaning. A positive take on the phrase therefore might be “Se quedó en silencio” or he remained silent.

When considering translation and localization where a shift to the positive tone is important in the target language — such as marketing materials or a news story — but where whole phrases must be reworded in order to convey the tone in a grammatically correct manner, transcreation would need to be considered.

Transcreation is the process of translating what is being said in one language into another, but with more freedom to recreate the original text in order to convey the same meaning. So, instead of simply translating and localizing ideas, the person producing the transcreation may make significant changes to the original text. These changes could even include those aforementioned “untranslatable” words to convey whole concepts of the campaign in just a few letters.

In this way, whole marketing strategies could be adapted to convey a product or service to foreign cultures in a positive light, while still staying true to the original brand identity.

Evidently, positive words and phrases yield impressive results across cultures. The power of positive language is expansive and attainable. Localization, transcreation and borrowing “untranslatable words” can help produce a more successful product worldwide. Lexical choice has the potential to teach us how to be happier, how to be more persuasive, and how to sell ourselves effectively.

All it takes is a more mindful manner of speech.

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Joelle Resnik is exploring the best avenues to market across cultures while working with the marketing team at Boston-based translation and interpretation agency Language Connections Inc. She has a double major in economics and communication at Boston College, where she intends to solidify her knowledge of developing markets and communication strategy.

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Localization testing for software and websites

Language in Business

Once you have localized your software or website, how do you know if the localized version functions properly?

Have the images been accurately localized? Are the dates, time, currency and addresses properly formatted for each target region? Do the hyperlinks function properly? Is there any text truncation? Are all hot keys working properly? How does the Portuguese mobile version look?

How do you ensure that all these are in conformity? When you plan to take your software or website global, you typically adopt the following globalization process:

Phase I: Internationalization

Phase II: Localization

Localization testing is a critical step in the globalization process. It ensures that the localized software or website is linguistically accurate, fully functional, culturally appropriate and meets the local user expectations.

Localization testing is a critical step in the globalization process. Click To Tweet

There are times when a company chooses to skip localization testing, and decides to launch its software or website once the translation is completed. Unfortunately, this can lead to major quality issues, unsatisfied users and ultimately putting the brand at risk.

The purpose of localization testing is to ensure that bugs were not introduced during the localization process, verifying that the localized software or website functions as expected, and displays the localized content properly for each target region.

A good example is a game application. After localizing a game into multiple languages, it is imperative to test the game in each localized language, as well as on target platforms (Windows, iOS, Android) and devices (desktops, laptops, mobile). When you’re localizing from English to German, for example, you may need to re-size the buttons and menu titles of the game, since there will be around 30% text expansion. If you are localizing your game into Thai, than you will require much more vertical space.

At times, translators are required to perform their translation without having much context, on a string-by-string basis. This may result in incorrect translation. For example, the word “close” has different meaning, as in “close the book” and also “close to the table.” In most languages, these will have different translations, and thus it is important to perform testing at the system level and in context.

Localization testing is done for each language build of the localized software or website and on the target platforms and devices that the software or website operates on. Localization testing has three key components: linguistic testing, cosmetic testing and functional testing.

  • Linguistic testing checks for linguistic accuracy; grammar/spelling; missing content; and consistent terminology across user interface, help files and documentation.
  • Cosmetic testing checks for text truncation; text overlapping; character corruption; dialog boxes and menu buttons; images and graphics; and alignment and layout.
  • Functional testing checks for functionality in localized versions consistent with the source; hyperlinks; hot keys; error messages; text input; regional settings.

Localization testing saves time and money, as it detects and corrects all the bugs that come up in the localization process before the software or website is released to the target markets. Stumbling upon errors post-release is an expensive and time consuming affair, not to mention the fact that it would discredit the company and brand.

Performing localization testing will ensure that your software or website is ready for global release.

While planning your globalization strategy, always budget adequate time for localization testing, no matter how tight the schedules are. Launching a high quality and flawless software or website in every target region will create an effective global customer experience.

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Sarita Desai is a consultant at Netzmarkt. She began her career in localization on the client side and later moved to the supplier side with Mayflower Language Services. She hails from Lisbon and has background in economics.

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The perfume of bad translation

Language in Business, Translation

A couple of days ago, I was flying between Biarritz and Paris on an Easy Jet flight and picked up their onboard duty-free catalogue and thumbed to the perfume section. Years back during the dawn of social media, I used to use MySpace with my brothers for one main reason: to make fun of perfume ads. My brothers would post a random photo and then some fake ad copy. “Rugby Man: the timeless fragrance of flexing buttocks in tight shorts.” Or maybe “Captivate: the smell of a grizzly bear wrestling with an existential crisis.” Or more accurately, those were the kinds of descriptions I started posting underneath random photos. Theirs were funnier.

I was reminded of this when I started reading those catalogue descriptions. I couldn’t figure out at first if it was terrible original copy, or terrible translation. Finally I decided it had to be bad translation. There was no way a professional ad writer would have come up with this in native English. And mysteriously, not all the ad copy was terrible: some was completely normal. In fact, most of it was. With a few exceptions.

The bottom line: somebody should seize the opportunity to pitch localization services to Easy Jet.

 Golden fleece

“The comeback of a flamboyant and asserted masculine seduction” made me laugh out loud. Maybe the subtext is that the 1980s are back in town. I didn’t know “flamboyant and asserted” masculine seduction had ever been a thing, let alone that it had left to return in the form of a spicy leather gold ingot.

'The comeback of a flamboyant and asserted masculine seduction.' The Perfume of Bad Translation Click To Tweet

Diesel-fume bad

This one just made no sense; it’s a jumble of all the most popular perfume words tossed in a particularly bad (boy) word salad. Also, what is a “do” (noun) aside from a hairstyle?

The intensity of exceptional hippie sweat

I’m not sure if it has the same connotations everywhere, but where I live, patchouli is often regarded as the scent of unwashed hippies. Maybe that’s why Paris is upside down? Hippie sweat is chic now?


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Katie Botkin, Editor-in-Chief at MultiLingual, has a background in linguistics and journalism. She began publishing "multilingual" newsletters at the age of 15, and went on to invest her college and post-graduate career in language learning, teaching and writing. She has extensive experience with niche American microcultures across the political spectrum.

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