Website translation crucial to entering global markets

Website translation crucial to entering global markets

Translating content on the internet is crucial for businesses wanting to enter multinational markets especially since languages other than English are becoming the norm in vast amounts of new content, according to Ian Henderson, chief technology officer (CTO) at Rubric Language Services.

According to the United Nations (UN) Broadband Commission, English was once the standard which dominated the internet, but will reportedly be overtaken by Chinese by 2015.

Meanwhile Spanish is now positioned as the third largest language on the internet and Portuguese, Russian, and Arabic are showing rapid growth.

“A multilingual internet is essential… to access, share, and use information and resources which are critical for sustainable development as well as managing innovation and change,” said Irina Bokova, director general of the United National Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Henderson said companies might consider using Google Translate to meet the needs of communicating with a multinational market, but they should not because translation is a task which must still be conducted by humans.

“A website is like a brochure. As the public face of the organisation it has to be perfect – in the original language and all of the translated languages. Just as you don’t run a brochure through Google Translate and print 10,000 copies for distribution, you don’t do it with a website,” said Henderson.

The human element has its place in translation in terms of interpreting tone, nuance, and context, computer-aided translation (CAT) is able to speed up human translations to a large extent.

CAT does this through automating and scaling tasks. It also increases accuracy via a systematic machine-driven approach.

“Translating all but the smallest websites into multiple languages can be as gruelling as producing original content,” said Henderson. “For one thing, translating web content is not as simple as translating print copy. The language is served live by host systems, and special inter-dependencies exist between multiple language versions for the sake of efficiency and accuracy.”

This means a translation task has similar complexities to a software project, which requires complex engineering and testing to ensure systematic translations that do not break coding.

In line with this, if a Cantonese or French version of the website in question is considered an afterthought, it could be a “grave oversight”, which could result in delivery dates being pushed back significantly.

However, Henderson said language service providers (LSPs) with software skills are able to overcome this given their management of parallel projects expertise as well as ensuring professional coding and translation outcomes.

“The website needs to be structured to enable easy extraction of content to be translated, and reinsertion of it into the appropriate new-language locations, while preserving the original formats. Not doing so can result in lengthy delays, up to months,” said Henderson.

According to Henderson, content management systems such as Drupal and WordPress do not accommodate such workflows and translation is often an add-on and do not have “sophisticated” methods of structuring content, therefore using an LSP is important.

“Translated websites must be tested in a systematic fashion with issues recorded, fixed and regressed,” said Henderson, who said further in Rubric’s experience, translating websites local to various regions’ languages, has “an immediate effect on top-line revenue”.

Posted in: Internet

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