The Importance of a Glossary

colorful-booksThose of you who are new to localization may think that a glossary is only used for term papers and reference books. You have yet to discover how this very simple item can revolutionize your daily work life by sparing you countless redundancies and/or inconsistencies in the original English, as well as in the foreign language versions of your products and documents.

Creating a glossary of approved terms in each target language at the beginning of your translation project is essential. It will not only save you time and money (not to mention headaches and sleepless nights), it will also guarantee successful branding of your products in foreign markets.

A glossary (from the Greek glossa, meaning obsolete or foreign word), ensures a consistent style and voice, an accurate rendering of the original text and a level of translation quality that is even throughout. Glossaries are especially critical in the case of technical translations and marketing communications, but should really be employed for any localization project.

Soup as Culture

November 22, 2010 by Stephanie Engelsen
Category: Culture

"A soup like this is not the work of one man. It is the result of a constantly refined tradition. There are nearly a thousand years of history in this soup."

                                       - Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927)

Soup is the history and soul of a culture. There are thousands of different types of soup, each distinctive and each defining a culture. Think about different countries and then think of the soup associated with each one: Russia. France. Japan. Mexico. Thailand. Did you smell borscht, French onion soup, menudo, miso and tom yum? Plus, within each country, there are regional soups. In the States, we have clam chowder from New England, gumbo from New Orleans, and chili from the Southwest. Hungry yet?

Recently, the Acclaro San Francisco team went to Frugal Foodies in Berkeley and prepared a meal together (a four-course meal disguised as a team-building exercise!). Wearing our new Acclaro aprons and wielding knives, graters, spatulas, and whisks, we whipped up our lunch in just over an hour.

Lunch consisted of:

  • Wild greens salad with persimmons and pomegranate seeds
  • Spicy Mexican pumpkin soup
  • Eggplant terrine
  • Flourless chocolate cake with caramel sauce

Here we are, the proud chefs, with our meal:


Now let's talk about the soup course. We all know, of course, soup should have its own course!

Webinar: Taking Your Marketing Campaign Global

November 18, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Marketing

You've spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars (and gained a few grey hairs along the way) on creating your latest marketing campaign. Whew! You're done, right? Well, think again. Now your boss wants to take that campaign and launch it into seven new language markets. What should you do? First and foremost, you should join Acclaro for the complimentary webinar "Translating Marketing Campaigns" on Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 9am PST/noon EST.

We'll highlight useful examples and cover the basics of marketing translation by answering the following questions:

  1. What is the core process for translating most types of marketing content?
  2. What should you, the marketer, do in order to ensure your marketing campaign is successful around the globe?
  3. What factors most impact the cost and likelihood of success?

Here's a sneak peak at one topic we'll be discussing: the ideal linguist and why you need this professional linguist (and not your second cousin's ex-girlfriend who happens to speak the target language) to "transcreate" your marketing content:


Usted, Tú, Vos - Challenges for English-to-Spanish Translation

November 17, 2010 by Alyssa Paris
Category: Translator's Corner

Your high school Spanish has probably been retired to some remote corner of your mind that you visit only occasionally by necessity. Even so, you likely remember the challenges of learning this rich and beautiful language that so many Americans claim is ‘easy’. In reality, Spanish is much more complex than the layman realizes and its structure varies greatly from one country to another.  The vocabulary, idioms and even grammatical forms are very different in Spain and Mexico, for example – lo pasé bien in Spain is la pasé bien in Mexico. Taking these subtleties and nuances into account and choosing the correct target audience are keys to successful English-to-Spanish translation.

Mexican flagsOne of the elements of Español that varies greatly across dialects and borders is the use of pronouns - usted and vos. Could anything be more fundamental to a sentence than the pronoun?  This particular grammatical element is absolutely crucial and yet its application is very culture-specific. Though we do not have this distinction in English, we can appreciate the difference in tone between ‘you guys’ and ‘you’. When addressing members of the board of your company, it's unlikely that you'd ask, “So how are you guys doing today?” The formal and informal tone is even more developed in Spanish and is nuanced uniquely in each hispanohablante country.       

Into Africa: Languages and Emerging Economies

The African continent is one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world. According to Wikipedia, over 2,000 languages have been identified among its 54 countries, with over 500 languages actively spoken in Nigeria alone.

Economically, as of 2008, the McKinsey Global Institute reports that the continent’s combined GDP of $1.6 trillion is expected to surpass $2.5 trillion by 2020, with consumer spending forecast at $1.4 trillion by the same year. Eighty percent of the continent’s GDP in 2005 was shared between 15 of its africa globecountries, chiefly among natural resources, commerce, farming, and telecommunications. Private foreign capital spiked dramatically from $10 billion to almost $90 billion from 2003 to 2007.

In addition, McKinsey suggests that “four groups of industries together will be worth $2.6 trillion in annual revenue by 2020. These are consumer-facing industries (such as retail, telecommunications, and banking); infrastructure-related industries; agriculture; and resources.”

Being an emerging economy with a wealth of spoken languages, how does African commerce communicate?

How to: Choose a Localization Vendor

November 9, 2010 by Michael Kriz
Category: Localization Tips

spanish signChoosing a localization vendor can be difficult. Wading through the technical jargon, scope details and pitches is a steep learning curve for the uninitiated. Some understandably skip directly to the most easily identifiable point of comparison: the price quote. However, that can be risky if your company’s brand, global product launch or multimillion dollar deal is tied to the localization effort.

Savvy buyers ask prospective vendors the right questions before they even get a formal proposal and evaluate the vendor’s competence and service levels during the sales process. By doing this, the company has an opportunity to predict its future experience with the vendor.

Read our five considerations for hiring a localization partner, before you even ask for pricing:

Luxury Gone Global

A rising tide raises all boats. We’ve all heard the old adage before. Yet somehow the intensity and global gloom of this last recession had many of us doubting that it would ring true this time, that the regular tidal patterns would ever return.

It may come as a surprise, then, that one of the categories that has bounced back significantly in 2010 is luxury goods.

The tide has risen for this sector in general and global luxury sales are projected to grow by 10 percent this year (via The Financial Times). LVMH, Swatch, Richemont (owner of Cartier, Montblanc and Hermes) and Burberry are a few of the “boats” enjoying the rising tide. Each of these companies has performed better-than-expected in 2010 and their shares have risen sharply.

Big brands are the biggest benefiters from this trend, according to consultant Bain, because they were able to respond to the global financial crisis by opening new stores and continuing to invest. Globalization has been the key to many of these brands’ success.

Though the U.S. has definitely seen growth in luxury goods sales this year (around 12%, according to FT), Asia harbors the brightest potential for the industry in 2010 and 2011. According to forecasts by Bain earlier this year, China was likely to finish 2010 with a 15% increase in year-to-year revenue growth; as this year draws to a close, estimates are more along the lines of 30%, and China is poised to become the world’s third largest luxury market in five years’ time (FT).

In Defense of French: Ten Reasons to Learn the Language Part Two

November 1, 2010 by Alyssa Paris
Category: "Spot" on Language, Culture

Let's continue exploring the numerous values of the language of love. We know there are many Francophiles in the world. We understand that speaking French will help us network with them. We know that it will enable us to speak cuisine and wine fluently. We saw that French is spoken on virtually every continent and that French colonization planted the seeds so that it would flourish across the globe. Why else should we study the language of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Christian Dior, Gerard Depardieu and Nicolas Sarkozy?

In Defense of French: Ten Reasons to Learn the Language Part One

October 25, 2010 by Alyssa Paris
Category: "Spot" on Language, Culture

When the going gets tough, the humanities get going, or so it seems.  One of the first degree programs to be axed by state universities during budget cuts is, sadly, French, the language of love. The State University of New York at Albany is a recent example. The board just discontinued degree programs in French, Italian, the classics, Russian and theater, according to a recent New York Times discussion. It would appear that the language of the poets and philosophers, of Proust and Flaubert, Balzac and Baudelaire, has become less appealing to a generation more enamored with languages such as C#, HTML and Java.

Given the shifting value system in American culture, is French even relevant anymore? In an age when more parents are placing their pre-schoolers in bilingual programs to learn Mandarin, does French still hold any value? Without hesitating, our response would be oui. Here are the first five of our top ten reasons:

Translating Humor: Achieving the Universal Chuckle

October 21, 2010 by Alyssa Paris
Category: Translator's Corner, Culture

Translating HumorHere’s a challenge for all of you who speak more than one language.  Pick one of your favorite jokes in your native tongue, one that usually gets a good laugh, and recount it in another language without embellishing the humorous elements. Limited success? Not a surprise. Humor is so very hard to translate.

If you've ever watched a subtitled comedy in a movie theater with natives, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I remember watching an American comedy in a movie theater in Bordeaux a few years ago, and feeling rather sheepish when my hysterical, resounding laughter met total silence.  Finally, towards the end of the film, I had grown so embarrassed (it seemed I was distracting quite a few individuals from enjoying the film), I attempted to stifle my cackling with a scarf, to no avail. Now one could deduce from this scenario that I have a very strange sense of humor, but (luckily) the film was a huge success in the States, leading me to believe that it’s more of a lost-in-translation issue. I walked away from the cinema with two observations: that the level of (American) English in that movie theater was modest at best, and that the subtitles were poor renditions of American humor.

Advertising in Europe, Part Two

german-beer-advertisementIn the first part of this blog entry, Advertising in Europe, Part One, we saw that English is understandably prominent in signage promoting tourist activities. We also saw that it is used in music advertising. So, continuing on our bike tour of Berlin, let’s see where else English is used as a “polyglot marketing tactic” in out-of-home advertising. 

When you think of mass marketing with a bit of flair, you may also think food and beverage, especially alcohol. This multi-story scaffold mesh ad for Beck's beer features a German headline that is a play on words and roughly translates to: “Better a cool beer than a refined pilsner.”

The tagline is in English: “The beer for a fresh generation.” That’s a lot of expensive ad space promoting a well-known German brand partly in English, in Germany (Becks was originally owned by a local family in Bremen in northern Germany until 2002; now it’s owned by the Belgian-based beverage giant InBev). 

Perhaps you want a little nosh with your beer? You may be tempted to get a German bratwurst, but then you see a poster for Subway, the American sandwich franchise.

Advertising in Europe, Part One

To Translate or Not to Translate, That is the Question

Walk around parts of Continental Europe and you may think you’re actually in the States or the U.K. due to the amount of English used in out-of-home advertising (e.g. billboards, scaffold banners, bus shelters, subway and bus posters, etc.). Glance at this Berlin subway advertisement below and you'll notice the headline is actually in English. Is English really taking over the world and replacing European languages in local advertising? Well, yes and no. It really depends on where you are.


In France, where Francophile-centric laws dictate what must be in French (mostly everything), you won’t see very much English in advertising, even in cosmopolitan Paris. However, in northern Europe and Germany, there is quite a bit of English – everywhere. Many people, especially those of the last two generations, are highly fluent in English and use it on a daily basis for business. That said, most ads are not exclusively in English; they combine two languages to form a polyglot marketing tactic. Advertisers get attention by portraying their brand as cool and youthful, but at the same time throw in some native language to get specifics across.

Lost In Perception

celloOne of my favorite Italian columnists, Michele Serra, writing about the qualities of a certain South American poet, remarked “It has to be said, to be fair to all other poets, that he starts with an advantage: Spanish is to poetry what cello is to music: everything sounds better.”

I’m an Italian, just like Michele Serra and to me, Spanish is indeed a refined, erudite language with just a touch of exoticism. It sounds elegant but slightly harsher than Italian, more serious and structured, but with some strange sounds (the unpronounceable “j” for example) and a better defined rhythm. Yes it indeed sounds great, like the cello — beautiful, soothing and warm while at the same time, deep and slightly threatening.

When you’re a linguist and when you live abroad, you hear a lot about the qualities of languages: beautiful, hard, musical, poetic, harmonious, harsh. And while recognizing that there might be some science behind what makes a language pleasant to the ear, I cannot help but thinking that none of these qualitative remarks have any truth behind them.

5 Tips to Succeed in the Global Marketplace

clocksSentiment is running high among international traders, with more than half (56%) confident that trade volumes will be higher in the next six months, according to an HSBC survey of 5,124 exporters, importers and traders in 17 different markets.

According to the investment website, The Street, they're encouraged by the reality of emerging markets, especially China, noting that these offer tremendous opportunities for businesses of all sizes.

Emerging markets: Think BRIC

Ever heard of BRIC?  This is yet another must-know acronym for the entrepreneur, economist and business professional who is interested in engaging in global business.

BRIC, also known as the “Big Four”, is an acronym for a grouping of four countries that are considered by some analysts to offer the most potential for booming economic development in the upcoming decades:  Brazil, Russia, India and China.  These countries have several interesting traits in common that will appeal to you as a business person looking to market products or services to foreign countries.

  • Big land area:  these four countries occupy over a quarter of the globe’s surface
  • Lots of people:  together, they are home to over 40% of the world’s population
  • High growth rate: by 2050, they will likely surpass the combined economies of the world’s current richest countries according to projections made by investment bank Goldman Sachs
  • Increased buying power:  their respective currencies could appreciate by as much as 300% over the next 50 years, also according to Goldman Sachs
  • Quickly growing middle class: this translates to an increased demand for basic and higher-priced goods

How To: Reach Locals by Going Local

October 6, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Marketing, Localization Tips, Culture

Translation is not just about sharing a message across cultures and languages, it's about relevance. And true relevance is more than words it's content.

Confused yet? Welcome to the world of content marketing localization. It's the fine art of producing, not just translating, targeted content for specific local audiences. Take, for instance, some of the blog content on your corporate site. Some of it might be perfect for translation for your international websites: details about product launches, global company news, thought leadership and trends. But what about that post about the walk to benefit the American Red Cross? Or that local celebrity endorsement of your new service?

content marketing challenges

None of these make sense to translate, and the typical reaction would be, "Great, fewer translation costs!" But companies that don't fill that content gap might be missing out on two key factors in a strong content marketing plan: engagement and volume. These are the top two challenges for B2B marketers this year, according to a group of 1,000 marketers surveyed by MarketingProfs and partners. (Read full report.)

Happy International Translation Day

September 30, 2010 by Ana Yoerg
Category: Culture

st jeromeToday marks the day that we take a moment to celebrate the contributions of translators around the world, who make content available to millions of people in hundreds of languages. Yes, it's International Translation Day!

It all started in 1953, when members of the International Federation of Translators (FIT) decided their profession deserved a day of recognition. They chose September 30th, the day of the feast of St. Jerome, the Catholic patron saint of translators, librarians and encyclopedists. He translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin, thus making it accessible for the Western world during the latter part of the 4th century.

Done Right, E-Learning Localization Can Save Millions

September 27, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Training & eLearning

The recession last year (wait, is it over yet?) breezed over a few product and service sectors, and was even downright friendly to some. E-learning was one of those. With the recession, many companies began relying more on freelancers and contractors to fulfill work that was previously being done in-house, and incorporating flexible working practices into their HR policies, which expanded the need for virtual training.

On top of that, companies looking to cut costs turned abroad for cheaper workforces, who in turn need to be trained in their foreign tongue. (An adult educated to university level in a foreign language has only a quarter of the vocabulary compared to a native speaker.) Knowledge and training for foreign language workers needs to be customized for their language and often their culture, too.

When localized correctly, e-learning can be a highly efficient, cost-effective learning medium. It helps with brand and company consistency as it delivers a uniform training solution across both languages and cultures. But it's not as easy as it sounds. Localizing e-learning solutions is just as tricky as software localization, with all the potential traps of marketing translation.

Tips on Latin American Localization

September 23, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Marketing, Website Translation Services, Localization Tips

latin america mapWe hear a lot about localizing marketing content for U.S. Hispanic consumers — but what about the hundreds of millions of potential Spanish-speaking customers south of our borders? A few tips on marketing to Latin American Spanish-speaking audiences, from a localization professional via Mediapost:

  • All gestures are not "OK." In Latin America, to give the OK sign they use a hand with index finger and middle finger raised, with the palm of the hand facing the person whose hand is used. But in the U.K. that same symbol is equivalent to giving someone the middle finger!
  • Dollar bill, y'all. Here in the U.S., the dollar sign ($) refers to U.S. dollars. But in Latin America, it could also refer to the local currency in other countries (e.g., Argentina). Also, just like Europe, numbers are written differently —  $2,335.47 in the U.S. vs. $2.335,47 in Latin American Spanish.


Of course, these are both items that your translation agency should know well! Don't get caught off guard by having to catch these yourself, or misunderstand the scope of your project. When it comes to marketing, more has to change than simple document text translation.

Sneak Peek from the Website Globalization Webinar

September 20, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Marketing, Website Translation Services, Localization Tips

Have you registered yet for "The Basics of Website Globalization" webinar this Thursday, September 23?

If not, there's still time! Sign up now to learn best practices for website translation and globalization, including targeting your audience, multilingual search engine optimization, navigation and advice about how to adapt images and marketing messages for foreign language visitors.

One of the items we'll teach you addresses a big pain point of many companies: Conversions... that elusive customer action that you build your website to deilver, but often can't understand why it doesn't. On a global website, it could be that your interface is not friendly to an international audience.

For example, if your form doesn't support data specific to their locale, such as calendars, you're immediately sending the messages that they must adapt to your standards:

website globalization calendars

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Smart, fun and useful. Acclaro shares news and tips on translation, localization, language, global business and culture.


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