It is the question that I ask the most. Let’s set up a scenario: Vocalink receives an email for translation from a company, requesting a translation of 500 words into Spanish for TOMORROW! My first question to this client is, “What is your language locale?” Answer: “Please just translate it into Spanish. I need to for tomorrow!” My response, “We need to know the language locale in order to provide you with an accurate translation for your target audience”. Reply, “This will be sold in Spain”. My response, “Thank you! You will have this translation for tomorrow!”
Language locale is defined by Microsoft as, “a set of user preference information related to the user’s language, environment and/or cultural conventions”. It seems simple enough, however, in many languages, such as German, Spanish and Italian, the language is spoken by many people outside of their respective countries, which means that the language may change due to cultural and environmental changes. So some examples of language locales are: French Canadian, French France, English United Kingdom, and German Austria. The language that it is to be translated into is listed first, and then the target country follows. But why is this so important?
Let’s take Spanish for example. There are an estimated 500 million Spanish speakers in the world. The majority of these 500 million Spanish speakers are spread out over three different continents (Europe, North America and South America) and live in 21 different countries (Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Argentina, United States, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Panama and Uruguay). Although Spain conquered these countries Central and South American countries and made Spanish their official language, many influences such as the native languages spoken before the arrival of the Spaniards, and environmental hurdles such as oceans and mountains have created many different versions of Spanish used throughout these countries.
Apple is a company that has adapted very well to using the correct language locale in their advertising. In their Spanish versions for their infamous Mac vs. PC commercials, they have two separate commercials: one in Spanish directed towards customers who live in Spain and one in Spanish directed towards customers who live in the Mexico. Not only has Apple changed the words used in the commercial (ordenador for Spain and computadora for Mexico for the word computer), they have also changed the accent to match the respective countries.
Simply put, when you use the correct language locale in the translation, your target customers will feel that your company has gone the extra mile to connect with them.