Have you ever tried using the automated language translation services from Google or Yahoo? Simply put, they suck. If your startup localization strategy involved language translation, you had better do a better job than Google Translate or Yahoo Babel Fish.

Tips for Language Translation

Here are three tips for your linguistic dilemma:

  1. Know Your Market Segment
  2. Technical Website Considerations
  3. Mind the Linguistic Nuances
  4. Language Translation as a Startup Localization Strategy

Know Your Market Segment

If your market segment is already English-savvy, then you would only waste resources trying to translate a website for usability? Perform in-depth research to find out if your market segment is fluent in English and if your business model will flourish using only English as the mode of communication.

If, however, your market segment isn’t literate in the English language, then investing in language translation as part of your localization strategy is a must. Researching your market segment should be part of your business development goals as soon as you land on the region you intend to launch your startup in.

Technical Website Considerations

If you determine that your market segment indeed requires you to translate a website into a different language, then you need to take the technical specifications of the website in consideration. The content of WordPress-based blogs or similar CMS-based websites would be easy to change into a different language, but hardcoded Joomla or Drupal websites might take more work.

Also, languages with unique Unicode text – such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean – will make your translation tasks even more challenging. Coordinate with your tech team and ensure that language translation does not become a hindrance to your startup localization strategy.

Mind the Linguistic Nuances

If you carelessly translate one language into another, you might as well have Google Translate do it for you. A specific word in a certain language can mean something entirely different in another. Add cultural nuances into the mix, and you know that your language translation requires a bit more of a detail-oriented touch.

This means you should consider if you need local content writers on your team to ensure that you don’t stumble into any linguistic nuance pitfalls that can ruin your website content. Other considerations include grammar syntax and semantics, as each language has its own rules.

Language Translation as a Startup Localization Strategy

Part of any sound startup localization strategy is to ensure that you are actually reaching out to your local market segment. You need to translate your website into the languages involved to better engage your users. When you do, however, remember to know your market segment, the technical specifications involved, and the linguistic and cultural differences between English and the local language.