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Celebrating a Variety of Voices!


It’s that time of year again! Let’s celebrate! September 30th is International Translation Day, the feast day of St. Jerome, the patron saint of language translators. The theme for 2010, proposed by the Union of Translators of Russia (UTR), a member of the International Federation of Translators (FIT), invites us all to embrace language diversity by honoring “Translation Quality for a Variety of Voices.” And, what perfect timing! Last month’s Syntes eTip on website globalization made it evident that language growth and diversity are forces to be reckoned with as companies are strategically increasing the number of languages they support as a means of expanding their global reach. So, what should you keep in mind when considering the variety of voices that make up and help you grow your target audience?


Language audits are pivotal to success. The August eTip also emphasized that an important place to start when planning for language growth is to conduct regular audits to not only determine what languages your target audiences speak but to take a fresh look at up and coming languages and expanding global markets. So, read on to find out more to help you support your language growth!


The BRIC markets are key drivers of language growth. The fast-growing BRIC markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China are driving language expansion across most industries, and three of the countries’ languages (Portuguese, Russian, and Chinese) are fast becoming essential for any organization striving for global success.


Global Market to Watch: Vietnam. When deciding what languages can help you expand your global reach, Vietnam is definitely a market to watch. According to an Associated Press-GfK survey, Vietnam’s economy is on the rise as a majority of respondents stated the economy is stronger than it was five years ago and is expected to grow significantly in the next five years. With a primarily young population that has a large internet presence, Vietnam is an emerging market to watch and one that will likely hold increasing importance in the years to come.


Up and coming: African languages. This year’s excitement over the FIFA World Cup in South Africa brought an unexpected benefit: participants worldwide encountered African languages for the first time on their television sets and computer screens. While the World Cup provided a huge boost for African languages, the momentum has been gaining steadily for several years. This is due to many factors, which include: the predominance of the internet and social media, with Twitter leading the way; technological developments like Microsoft making Windows 7 available in 10 African languages; and the realization that Africa has a growing middle class. Therefore, it is safe to expect that speakers of African languages, including Swahili, Yoruba, and Amharic to name a few, promise a viable market for both nonprofit and for-profit operations for many years to come.


Look at the variety of voices inside your own country’s borders. Keep in mind that language growth can also be achieved by reaping the benefits of the language diversity within your own country’s borders. For example, according to the US English Foundation, seven languages in addition to English are spoken by more than 1,000,000 people in the United States. Those are, in order: Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Italian. In addition, Korean, Russian, Polish, Arabic, and Portuguese boast more than 500,000 speakers in the US.


Balance the written with the spoken word. In addition to providing much needed written translation for a variety of voices, it is also important to balance that with the spoken word. Such balance can help you reach out and effectively communicate to the variety of voices that make up your target audience by offering interpreting services to facilitate spoken communication for conferences, trade shows, employee or business meetings, legal proceedings, patient consultations and much more.


Consider regional differences in languages. When looking at language quality for a variety of voices, it is also important to take into account regional differences in languages when determining how to effectively target your communication in other languages. This includes such regional variations as French for Canada versus France, Brazilian versus Continental Portuguese, Chinese for China or Taiwan, not to mention the variations of Spanish for Latin America and Spain. In addition, it is equally important to identify if your target audience resides in the US to determine how to effectively target your communication efforts in other languages. For example, translating for the US Hispanic market, an extremely diverse population of Spanish speakers, requires a unique approach in order to effectively communicate and reach out to this target audience. Read more in this Multilingual article by Syntes’ CEO and President Beatriz Bonnet, “Spanish for the US: What flavor do we want?”)


This year’s theme for International Translation Day offers a timely and appropriate reminder of the tremendous benefits of taking a strategic approach to providing quality language services for a variety of voices. And, stay tuned for future eTips delving into more detail on specific languages and markets that can help you expand your target market and global reach!


Happy International Translation Day!

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