Oh Spanish…

As a Latin American living in Spain I am often asked many questions about my accent and the words I use when I speak Spanish. A good friend of mine makes fun of me because even the tone of my voice changes when I jump between English and Spanish. The truth is that while there are differences between the varieties of Spanish, we Spanish speakers can all understand each other; the differences in vocabulary are no greater than those between British and American English.

The differences in pronunciation fascinate me. Down in the south the ‘S’ is not always pronounced, some syllables go missing, the classic double-l in Argentina usually pronounced like the y in yellow or the s in measure. Some say Colombian Spanish is the most beautiful one, other say Spanish spoken in Madrid is the most important, some say that Argentinian Spanish is the sexiest. The difference that strikes me the most is perhaps the “lisp” that is common in Madrid and some other parts of Spain. Legend has it that it all started with King Ferdinand’s lisp that was copied by the Spanish nobility. Blows my mind! A speech impediment changing the way a language is pronounced.

However, it is not all that clear-cut when it comes to translating, say for instance, sales training materials for 10 Latin American countries. Let us not mention Mexico here, which is a complete different world, positively speaking, of course. I have seen the same translation being used for several countries, say for instance, Peru, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay, I guess the criteria used was that they were all located in the south tip of the continent? Not sure about that, but if you ask me, I would say you should aim to go as specific as possible, your target audience will thank you for it.

In Latin America Spanish has many different variants or dialects depending on the zones where it is spoken, mainly because of the vastness of the territory and different history. I have seen Latin American being broken down into geographical areas: Amazonian, Bolivian, Caribbean, Central American, Andean, Chilean, Colombian, Ecuadorian, Mexican, Northern Mexican, Paraguayan, Peruvian, Puerto Rican and Argentinian Spanish.

Food for thought…

The Ceiling

Monday morning: Hey, how was your weekend?

My German speaking colleage asks. Well, not much going on, all quiet – and I now write in English just for the sake of it: the ceiling was falling on my head. If you are English you probably look a bit puzzled now. If you are German and speak some English you may have a good laugh. Because it is a German saying so literally translated into English that it HURTS. What it actually means is that you were bored stiff. This is not what translation should be. It should reflect the feeling, the message, not the word. The translators have to be familiar enough with the message behind the word and be talented enough in their native language to get this message across.

With the same meaning but probably different words. But what if this “ceiling” was part of a marketing campaign with its marketing collateral all based on this picture. Then we’d have a problem now and it would have been good to be involved in an earlier stage.

When 5 words are not 5 words

We had a conference call today with one of our customers whose website we just translated into French. A dating portal. Thousands of words, but what we eventually discussed on the call with the translation team for half an hour broke down to 5. Well, no, let’s count precisely. Education level question: 3 words. Claim: 5. 8 words in total.

But these 8 words were crucial.

3 words: Within the dating website you had to tick your level of education. What if the German system hasn’t got anything to do with the UK, the French, Spanish or US system? It doesn’t, I can assure you. Will we leave the lonely hearts out there because they don’t know what to tick in this section? No. We need to make a decision.

Similar but not the same for the claim which appears on the landing page. It has to be catchy, respresent the target audience, they have to feel at home here.

We provided 5 examples with the back translation and one of our options convinced the customer. As it was targerted to the right generation, wasn’t a direct translation but conveyed a romatic feeling of the past. That was it. 5 words.

5 words of transcreation. According to the reasearch done by CSA, 15 years ago, only 3% of the translation buyer had heard of this concept. Today, about 43% are aware and embrace the idea of transcreation as a service. © CSA – Reaching Markets Through Transcreation

Local or International SEO?

If you have reached this blog post then you are probably already aware that SEO is a really important part of keeping a website high in the Google search rankings and ultimately increasing your business sales. However, what you may not be aware of is that there is a difference between local and international SEO.

The difference between international and local SEO

The fundamental elements of SEO remain within each of these types, in that you aim to improve your website’s content by using keywords to target a specific market. So really, the difference in the definitions between the two is very much what it says on the tin; local is aimed at the local markets while international is for the global ones.

The Specifics of Each Type

International SEO is for companies who want to offer their goods and services on a global scale. We have found that that this is most common in retail and ecommerce businesses. The principles are the same as SEO on a local scale – key words are hugely important but the intricacy arises in the detail , knowledge and understanding of a variety of cultures and languages –the content needs to appeal to multiple audiences.

Local SEO is usually used in smaller businesses or in businesses that want to appeal to very specific local markets. In this instance the SEO specialist will understand the SEO complexities of the local market that they are targeting – the keywords are very specific to the local language. This approach creates a very targeted campaign for a business but it does limit the exposure of that particular website.

What some people also don’t know is that different countries favour different search engines, so it is important to engage with an SEO consultant who understands what a respective country’s preferences are.

Undoubtedly there are pros and cons with local and international SEO, the most important thing is that from the start you engage with an international SEO expert who can help you choose the right option for your business.