How Do You Localise Your Content?

On the issue of translation, we’re pretty keen to avoid anything automated. We asked our friends at Freedman International who provide localisation services, what a marketers options are and what the pros and cons are. Here’s what they had to say:

“Freedman recommends 3 main types of local copy adaptation:

Translation: is an adaptation of the source text into the target language and aims to convey the same message. Translators will be bilingual with a thorough knowledge of the subject matter and only translating into their mother tongue. Translation should be used when the source content is straightforward, devoid of idiomatic expressions and can be interpreted somewhat literally. Accurate and meaningful translations can only be created by professional translators, machine translation frequently misinterprets the words

Transcreation: Transcreators will understand source concepts and how they may be portrayed in the target language, will adapt content so that it is appropriate for the market, not write from scratch, address concerns about cultural gaps, market suitability, etc, have the license to interpret the brand as they go. Transcreation should be used when the sense of the source copy needs to be portrayed in the target language with cultural sensitivities and nuances adapted accordingly. Machine translation only looks for exact match word translations and so is not suitable

Copywriting: Ad agency writers specializing in marketing content will create copy from scratch in the target language directly, may refer to the source copy but consider it almost irrelevant, will work from a creative brief and have the license to create the brand as they go. Clearly machine translation is not suitable

Machine translation can be used when the key criteria is to understand the general meaning of the source text ie. not for publishing. It can sometimes be used for certain types of technical manual translations where the importance of speed and cost supercedes grammatical accuracy and local cultural relevance, however a human proofreader should always be used. It is not appropriate for marketing copy as local nuances and brand consistency is often key. Machine translation is not offered by Freedman.

In today’s society we want everything faster, cheaper, better and content is no different. It is a DIY world where the Internet can teach you how to do anything, including translation. On the surface Google translate seems like a miracle solution for global businesses. It is free after all and can produce a translation with the push of a button. But is it better or even passable for commercial use? Numerous articles abound with test cases of inaccurate, nonsensical translations produced by Google translate. Clearly it is not meant for anything other than getting the gist of a text. But is that what businesses are after? Consumers who simply want the gist of their products and services? I think not. If you are looking for more than a ‘gist’ consumer and truly want to engage and speak to your customers, try one of Freedman’s local adaptation services.”