Writing For A Global Audience

The Content WranglerWriters these days, whether for websites, software, or documentation, face interesting new challenges when communicating technical material and product info to a broad-based international audience. In a recent article for the Content Wrangler, Acclaro President Michael Kriz offers up compelling insights and ten useful tips to help you create content for your diverse global audience.

As we become an increasingly global economy, there is increasing demand on writers — particularly those who work with technical language that describes products and services — to adapt to the changing needs of companies’ customer demographics. When a product is slated to launch in 20 new markets, and over half of the markets require translation of documentation, it completely changes the game for the technical writer.  So, to effectively scale a global business, you and your writers should keep a few things in mind.

1. Use global English – For every native speaker of English, there are about three non-native speakers. It’s important that your communication in English is understandable to all English speakers, which means short, simple sentences and no idiomatic expressions or cultural references.

English Is Just Another Language

July 7, 2011 by Jon Ritzdorf
Category: Software Translation, Localization Tips

If you’re developing, selling, or marketing web-based software, standard desktop software, or mobile multilingual keyboardapps, you’ve probably already heard about internationalization, and you know why it’s important. If not (or if you’d like a quick refresher), read on.

Internationalization is the process through which you enable your software to handle the language and conventions of your target global markets. Internationalization wipes your product’s slate clean of language bias and removes the assumptions of a “default” culture.

Why is it so important to internationalize your product?

Doing Business in Japan

July 5, 2011 by Guest Author
Category: Culture, International Business

tokyo buildingsAbout guest author Rochelle Kopp: Rochelle is managing principal of Japan Intercultural Consulting, an international training and consulting firm focused on Japanese business. She is also co-author of The Lowdown: Business Etiquette Japan.

Japanese have the reputation of being sensitive about etiquette matters.  Although your business deal won't necessarily be rejected due to a wrongly offered business card, it does pay to be aware of what Japanese consider important in a business setting.

Knowing some of the key sensitivities that Japanese have about doing business with people from other countries, and adjusting your behavior accordingly, can significantly increase the success of your business dealings.  Here are some of the top things to keep in mind:

  • Listen more than you talk.  Westerners, particularly Americans, tend to be rather verbose.  This causes Japanese to become quiet, keeping you from finding out what is on their minds.  When you need to say something, reduce it down to its essentials, and don't go on and on.  Spend more time listening to what they have to say.  And don't feel compelled to fill all pauses in the conversation — if you let the moment of silence continue, it will encourage Japanese to open up.
  • Address the language issue.  Even Japanese who have good English skills can be thrown by rapid-file slang-filled native English.  Without sounding condescending, subtly adjust your spoken English to be slower, simpler, and free of jargon, acronyms, and idioms.  Be sure to add written supports such as an agenda, PowerPoint slides, and liberal use of the whiteboard, because most Japanese have stronger skills in reading English than they do speaking it.

Managing Your Far-Flung Localization Team, Part 2: Working With a Localization Vendor to Ensure Your Success

June 30, 2011 by Acclaro
Category: International Staffing

map with clocksYou’ve already asked all the right questions about managing your globally dispersed localization team. So let’s look at how a localization vendor, such as Acclaro, can help your internal localization team (no matter what time zone they are in) be as successful as possible.

A good language vendor will help your localization team by:

Developing and/or following a crystal-clear localization strategy. This includes determining what to localize and its corresponding timeline, plus setting realistic ROI expectations and metrics for each project. If there are multiple vendors, then each vendor should be aware of the strategy and understand their role within it.

Defining clear roles, responsibilities and requirements. What will the vendor do and what will the internal staff delegate for each project? What are the quality expectations? Who will “own” all linguistic requirements in order to keep the messaging consistent across languages and countries? What is the timeline? All these questions should be answered before a project begins.

In Praise of the Minisite

mini car“Brevity is the soul of wit,” Shakespeare famously posited in Act 2 of Hamlet. Brevity may be an effective, low-cost way to introduce your product or service to international markets, too. Enter the minisite: a fun, interactive, compact teaser site that draws attention and prepares you for a larger rollout down the line…or helps judge brand interest to determine if your international markets are suitable for you and your goals.

Localizing a minisite is significantly easier and more cost-effective than a full site, and can get your name “out there” in a new region while you consider the rest of your localization strategy; e.g. do we really need our entire product catalog translated? What about SEO/PPC keywords and ads? Is our CMS ready to handle Chinese?

Here are some quick steps to help you get your minisite up and running:

1. Pick a handful of pages – really, no more than five – that share the basics of your product or service.

2. No TMIs or oversharing! Less is more here; you’re mainly trying to drum up interest so your visitors either learn the basics about your brand or highlighted product, or they immediately buy something on your site.

Top Tips for Japanese Localization

June 24, 2011 by Acclaro
Category: Localization Tips, "Spot" on Language, Translator's Corner

The Acclaro blog entry below is featured today on the Japan Intercultural Consulting Blog. Japan Intercultural Consulting is an international training and consulting firm focused on Japanese business. 

Translating content into Japanese presents a variety of challenges, most notably capturing the natural flow and tone of Japanese sentences. In American business, writing tends to be more informal, yet if translated into Japanese, it would seem too casual and possibly even rude. Translating English content, which is more than likely not in the appropriate tone for Japan, into Japanese is challenging, but not impossible. Read these tips to achieve high-quality, natural Japanese translations when working with a translation vendor. Also refer to our tips for preparing for any translation project, no matter what the language.

Our recommendations for translation into Japanese:

  • Supply approved text samples in Japanese. Before you begin translation, give your translation partner examples of Japanese text that has a tone, style, and voice approved by your Japanese management. This is essential in order to speed up the translation and review process – and should save you time and energy (and maybe even costs) in the long run.

A Website Localization Success Story

logoLinkedIn announced today that is has expanded its website languages to include Russian, Romanian and Turkish. 100 million members strong, with 25 million users in Europe alone, LinkedIn has become the uncontested online destination for business professionals.

LinkedIn got it right from the start. Soon after their domestic launch, they realized that going global fast would cinch their victory in a competitive online space. Their global business ambitions took shape in a strategy, and that strategy led to website localization. They undertook the market research, became versed in international regulations, such as the EU’s International Safe Harbor Privacy Principles, and then created a business infrastructure to support their global website. In tandem with the launch of the site in German, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian, LinkedIn rolled out multi-language customer support, locale-specific payment processing and advertising. The selection of LinkedIn.com as one of TIME's top websites of 2010 is proof of their success.

Thanks to their quick reaction to shifting global trends for networking, exchanging ideas and recruiting talent, the LinkedIn platform is the social medium in Europe and North America, and is gaining influence daily in the Chinese, Japanese and Indian markets. Yesterday, LinkedIn crossed a major milestone of 10 million members in India.

Been There, Haven’t Done That: Four Hours in Buenos Aires

June 21, 2011 by Lauren Kerr
Category: Culture

El Ateneo by Flynn Wynn

The meeting's over. You've got a little time to explore. It's your chance to get out of that hotel room, get off the beaten path, and experience the culture, the flavor, and the people.

Buenos Aires is known as the Paris of South America, a vibrant cosmopolis of tree-lined avenidas, European influences, and stylish citizens called porteños. We've pulled together, with some help from our Acclaro Buenos Aires office, some unique activities and places in Buenos Aires, the ones most travelers don’t have a chance to experience. Next time you’re in town with a few free hours, check out our list and go home with your best stories ever.

1. Browse the stacks and toss back a cup of cortadito café at El Ateneo. Once it was a theater in which Argentina’s finest tango artists performed. In 2000 it was renovated and turned into a gigantic bookstore – yet the original ornate carvings, stage curtains, and grand ceiling remain. You can sit and read in what were once theater boxes.

Visions of Alexandria: The Universal Library, Then and Now

June 17, 2011 by Garner Gollatz
Category: Technology, Culture

If scholars, linguists and book lovers could travel through time, one of their first destinations would be the Royal Library of Alexandria, Egypt. In the time of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, this legendary center of learning was reputed to be a universal library, gathering what was then all the world's Royal Library of Alexandriaknowledge in a single place.

The original Library of Alexandria has long since vanished. The ideal it represents, however, continues to inspire visionaries in the digital age. Today, tourists and scholars can find a similar experience at sites such as Egypt's new Biblioteca Alexandrina, while digital pioneers are coming closer than ever to creating a true universal library online.

The First Universal Library

The original Library of Alexandria, founded by Egypt's King Ptolemy II in the 2nd century B.C., was said to contain hundreds of thousands of scrolls from throughout the ancient world, written in Greek and many other languages. For centuries afterward, Ptolemy’s creation helped make Egypt an active hub of scholarship and education.

The Library's exact fate remains a mystery. Historians have blamed its destruction on Julius Caesar, the Emperor Aurelian, religious strife in the late Roman Empire and invading Arab armies. What is certain is that its disappearance marked the end of ancient Egypt’s intellectual preeminence. The dream of a universal library went into eclipse for much of the next 2000 years.

The Best-Traveled Language in the World

June 15, 2011 by Lauren Kerr
Category: "Spot" on Language

When our clients ask us to translate or localize into Spanish, the first question we ask is "Which kind of Spanish do you want?"

That’s because Spanish is the official or de facto language of 23 countries, from the obvious (Mexico) to the surprising (Antarctica — the Argentinian and Chilean sections, that is).  It’s spoken by half a billion people on five continents. Yet those 500 million speak many different varieties of this most diverse Romance language, from the original Castilian and Andalusian of Spain to the distinctive trade route Spanish of Cuba and Puerto Rico.  

puerto rican day parade

Español traveled from the ports of Spain along with Spanish explorers, spreading out all over the world to Mexico, Central America, and most of South America (the exception is Brazil). The language even arrived in Equatorial Guinea.  Along the way, Spanish grew and changed in unique ways with every culture it encountered, adapting to a multitude of indigenous tongues, each country creating its own unique vocabulary and accent.

Musings on Romance Languages: Multilingualism on the European Soccer Field

June 9, 2011 by Alyssa Paris
Category: "Spot" on Language, Culture

ZidaneHave you ever wondered how some European soccer players so effortlessly transfer from club to club, country to country, without spending at least a semester in intensive language immersion? France’s Zinedine Zidane, for example, played for Cannes and Bordeaux, then Juventus, in Piedmont, Italy, and later Real Madrid, in Spain. In crucial moments of the game, was he able to come up with the right translation for, “Pass the ball now!”, without a split second of hesitation?

If you’ve watched any post-game interviews, you know the answer to this. These professional soccer players are not only amazing athletes; they are also gifted language learners. Several of the Brazilians who play for Spanish teams, for example, have only the slightest accent as they recount the critical game plays to the Spanish press. How do these world-class players have time to study the language of their club? The secret to their quick language acquisition in this case is the Romance language advantage.

Managing Your Far-Flung Localization Team, Part 1: Asking the Right Questions

June 7, 2011 by Acclaro
Category: International Staffing, Top Ten

questionsSo, you’re ready to staff up your localization team. It’s time to consider the challenges of managing a group that may be spread far and wide across the globe.

Since the solution for each organization is completely unique, it’s important to ask yourself a few critical questions so you can start out on the right path. These questions may address what seem like small issues, but taken altogether, they can mean the difference between an efficient, effective, successful team, and a chaotic and inefficient one.

Here’s your first question: Is there someone on your internal staff who can be the designated manager of your localization crew?

Doing Business in France: Save Room for the Cheese!

June 2, 2011 by Alyssa Paris
Category: Culture, International Business

French cheeseIf you think your business ventures will take you to France anytime soon, it’d be a good idea to study up on a few of the moeurs, or local customs, in advance. The more prepared you are to conduct yourself and your affairs with French flair, the better your experience in l’Hexagone will be. Here are a few pointers.

Dress the part.

Tie? Yes. Scarf? Absolutely. Though business casual is standard in many American corporations, French attire tends to be rather formal. A suit and tie with impeccably shined shoes are recommended for men. French women accessorize to the max, coordinating scarves, jewelry and high-heeled shoes with their business suits. Appearances in French culture are very important and can influence hiring decisions. If you are meeting with clients several days in a row, try to change a few elements of your outfit each today and keep a fresh appearance.

Be prompt.

Promptness is highly valued in France, even if not always respected. You don’t want to be too early but arriving late is an absolute taboo.

Get your greetings on.

When you walk into a room, it is customary to greet everyone, either individually or with the all-encompassing “Bonjour Mesdames, Bonjour Messieurs”. If you don’t know someone, always refer to him or her as Monsieur or Madame/Mademoiselle: “Bonjour Madame. Au revoir Monsieur. Merci, Mademoiselle.” If you have a certain familiarity with your business associates, you may be on a first name basis with them. But when in doubt, it’s better to err on the site of being too formal. The French greatly value la politesse, so make extra efforts to be cordial and practice those good manners.

From Abecedarian to Zuhdiyyah: Poetry Around the Globe

May 31, 2011 by Lauren Kerr
Category: "Spot" on Language, Culture

poem on wall

There’s nothing harder to translate than a poem, which might be why we’re so fascinated with poetry in all its many forms here at Acclaro.

In the Western world, we know of sonnets, odes, and blank verse. Most of us learned a limerick or two as children. Yet nearly every culture on every continent has produced its own unique poetic form, whether it comes in the form of song, spoken word, or printed literature.

Here’s a quick round-the-world tour of some not-so-familiar poetic forms. It’s an amazing roundup of human creativity.


You’ve probably read — or even written — a haiku.  But what about a Burmese climbing rhyme? This poem in English by writer and professor Larry Gross (who also writes classical Korean sijo poems) shows off the tricky internal rhymes of this stairstep verse form:

Why Didn’t Italians Want to Celebrate their 150th Birthday?

May 27, 2011 by Alessia Petrucci
Category: Translator's Corner, Culture

italian flagsA nation's sesquicentennial is usually cause for festivities, fairs, and public reflection. Such was not the case for the Italian state, which celebrated its big 1-5-0 on March 17 of this year without a lot of fanfare. For instance, the day was finally declared a national holiday (the decision was made in February) — but nobody got the day off work.

Why would this be? Tim Parks takes a look at the reasons in a fascinating New Yorker piece. This piece got me thinking, as an Italian, about how a nation cobbled together from many different regions each with their own culture, speaking their own dialect, might find it difficult to forge a national unity that sticks.

First of all, Italy's geography discourages a sense of unity. It's a long way from Milano and Torino at the top to Palermo at the tip of the boot. The regions are divided by mountains — and in the case of Sicily and Sardinia, by the Mediterranean itself.

And for reasons that are both historical and geographic, Italy's many regions are at very different stages in their development, type of economy, cultural, and social structures.

Been There, Never Done That: Four Hours in Dubai

May 18, 2011 by Lauren Kerr
Category: Culture

The meeting's over. You've got a little time to explore. It's your chance to get out of that hotel room, get off the beaten path, and experience the culture, the flavor, and the people.

We've pulled together some of our favorite activities and places in Dubai, the ones most travelers don’t have a chance to experience. Next time you’re in town with a few free hours, check out our list and go home with your best stories ever.

dubai abra

  • With everything from frankincense to shisha on display, Dubai’s open-air spice souk is a small, fragrant wonderland. Ride a traditional abra across the creek to get there.
  • Got a little more time? Go sandboarding just outside the city on rolling red dunes.

Mr. Manners Goes to China: Chinese Banquet Etiquette

May 16, 2011 by Jon Ritzdorf
Category: Culture, International Business

Doing business in China, you may find yourself graciously invited to a dinner or banquet. Here are some pointers to help you understand the etiquette of sharing a meal with your Chinese counterparts.

Giving up control

  • Your host will order for you.
  • Communal plates are the norm and typically, there will be one dish per person, sometimes more, at the table.
  • Do not start to eat or drink prior to the host.

Eatingfood at chinese banquet

  • Eating is considered a time for relaxation, so refrain from talking about business deals unless it’s initiated by the host. 
  • Don't eat the last piece(s) of food on a communal plate. At the same time, leave some food on your plate — otherwise you’ll end up getting more.
  • If you’ve never eaten with chopsticks, practice, practice, practice before you leave for China. And don’t play with your chopsticks at the dinner table.

It's Back! It's Big! It's Better Than Ever! Eurovision Song Contest 2011!

May 12, 2011 by Lauren Kerr
Category: Culture

They come from all over Europe, clad in Vegas- or Elton John-worthy finery, having made it through intense competitions in their home countries. The artists of Eurovision 2011 are here, and they are enthusiastically ready to entertain you with unforgettable songs. Songs like “Magic, Oh Magic,” “Piano Piano,” “Pump-pump,” “Diggi-loo Diggi-ley,” and “Bra Vibrationer,” to name just a few contenders from years past.

eurovision singers 2011

American Idol has nothing on Eurovision. For the past 54 years, it’s been the original star search. Eurovision is a massive love fest between a passionate audience and the talented and often zany performers they vote for by the millions.

This week, singers from 43 countries come together in Dusseldorf, Germany for the contest finals. Speaking a gaggle of languages, these remarkable musicians are citizens of Albania, Yugoslavia and everywhere in between, including Israel and Turkey. How did those last two make it into Europe? Well, if your country is a member of the European Broadcasting Union, you’re eligible to enter.

Eurovision is structured like the Olympics. Singers and groups don’t win – the country they’re performing for wins. Ireland has won the contest seven times, more often than any other country.  Performers proudly wave their national flags onstage at awards ceremonies. Voters can actually phone in their votes before the competition broadcasts even start, and no one says they’re voting for a particular singer or group – they’ll tell you they’re voting for Italy, or that they always vote for Moldova.

Three Secrets of Learning Arabic

May 9, 2011 by Garner Gollatz
Category: "Spot" on Language

Arabic, the Middle East's most widespread language has a unfamiliar alphabet, a fiendishly complex grammar, and a vocabulary enriched by 1400 years of literary culture. According to the U.S. State Department, only Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese are as hard for native English speakers to learn.

Still, maybe you're undaunted. Maybe you need to learn Arabic for your career. Or maybe you're one of those travelers who long to step off the tourist trails and immerse themselves in a fascinating new culture.


If you've had some experience with foreign languages, you already have an idea of what it takes — above all, an appetite for hard work. But Arabic has special features that make it a different challenge from, say, Spanish or French. Here are few tips to make your journey easier.

Practice your ‘ayns. Unfortunately, Arabic has several consonants that don’t exist in English or any other Western language. The king of these is the ‘ayn (Arabic ع)—a perfectly ordinary sound for native speakers, but a major challenge for most novice learners, since it’s pronounced with muscles English speakers rarely use in speech. With diligent practice, though, even the ‘ayn can become second nature. If you put in the time and effort to master it and other difficult sounds at the outset, you’ll spare yourself a lot of trouble in the future (and perhaps impress new friends abroad with your accent).

Little Known, Little Countries of Europe

May 5, 2011 by Alyssa Paris
Category: Culture

San Marino

san marinoConsidered the oldest republic in the world, San Marino is a 23 square mile enclave that abuts the Apennine mountains in Italy. A cherished tourist destination for Europeans, San Marino has a flourishing economy and one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe. A largely agrarian community of around 30,000 inhabitants, San Marino is a tiny Italian- and Emiliano-Romagnolo-speaking utopia, dedicating most of its precious acreage to olive and vine cultivation, bee-keeping, livestock and dairy farming. Look for the wines of San Marino: Brugneto and Tessano, red wines aged in cherrywood barrels, and Biancale and Roncale, still, white wines.

"A whole world in a small country", Andorra is another landlocked country nestled between Spain and France. The official language is Catalan, a romance language that closely resembles both French and Spanish. Roughly 180 square miles, and with a population of around 84,000, Andorra has been an independent territory since 1278, when it broke away from the Crown of Aragon. The government is a andorratestimony to this country’s complex cultural heritage — both a parliamentary democracy and a co-principality, with co-princes Nicolas Sarkozy (French president) and Joan Enric Vives Sicilia (Bishop of Urgell, Catalonia). Touted as one of the safest countries in Europe, Andorra has the second highest life expectancy, perhaps in part thanks to its rich gastronomical culture. Some of the local culinary specialties include: Masegada cake, Andorran river trout, Brossat cheese, Curly lettuce with confit of duck gizzards and mushrooms, Mulberry jam, Mulled Cremat wine, Peasants’ stew or barrejada, Quince alioli and Wild boar stew.

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