Image: "Caution" spray painted on cement in yellow paint. Description: Localization Services Mitigate the Dangers of Automated Translation

From eLearning providers to medical care experts, businesses of all sizes and types are increasingly looking at localization services to reach out to wider markets. In the ever expanding global economy, businesses need to enter new markets and grow faster than ever to retain a competitive advantage.

Localization is the secret behind many global business success stories. Netflix, for instance, has grown to become an entertainment giant by investing in localization across 190 countries. Now, more than half of Netflix subscribers are outside of the U.S. and Airbnb’s smart localization strategy has led to its strong presense in 34000 cities across the globe. Distomo experienced 128 percent increased return on investment with localized apps.

Growing demand for localization services

Marketing professionals and business owners need to stay on top of this expansion process while securing seamless foray into new markets. Businesses that are incorporating localization services into their marketing strategy are gaining competitive advantage given the preference of local languages of consumers across the world.

Common Sense Advisory, a research firm surveyed more than 2000 web consumers across eight countries and found that:

  • 72.1% prefer websites that are in their own language.
  • 72.4% are likely to purchase a product if information is provided in their own language.
  • 56.2% say getting information in local language is far more important than price.

Is automation the answer?

Recent times have seen the emergence of cloud translation tools, machine translation and automated technologies including:

  • Automated interpreting technology
  • Neural machine translation
  • Translation management systems
  • Transcreation

While the rise of technology is inevitable, automation does not signal the end of human translators or localization. On the contrary, human localization services will be all the more relevant to augment imperfect technology. The level of accuracy with automated technologies is low while certain mistakes in translation can have serious safety, legal and social repercussions.

Limitations of automated translation

Missing the context

Machines, unlike humans, cannot understand the context of translation and produce word to word translation. The most commonly encountered errors in machine translation are unintelligible phrases that can confuse and confound readers. Human translators and localization experts on the other hand can make sense of the nuances of the context to accurately portray the message.

Difficulty with local expressions

There are a multitude of expressions, terms and slangs used in different languages. Automated translating services are ineffective in interpreting and translating these.  For example, English spoken in the U.S. differs from the way it is spoken in Australia or New Zealand with varying idioms and idiosyncrasies.

Costly offensive, legal and economic errors

Automated translation tools use literal translation which can make result in offensive words with social, legal/safety or economic repercussions. Machines at times fail to interpret a word and make an approximate translation that produces a completely different meaning related to the context. For instance in Brazilians put in search term “capinha” (the diminutive form of the word) for “case” when searching for iPhone case. In machine translation “capinha” to English may not produce “case” or fail to translate completely. In this case, the search query fails to produce results, leading to customer dissatisfaction and loss of revenue for the online business. In some instances, “free shipping” could be translated to “paid shipping” which also leads to loss of revenue.

Legal errors can happen when machine translation erroneously converts one system of units of measurement (metrics, pounds), currencies or medical dosages to another system.

Why use Localize?

There is an increasing demand for localization and translation experts who proof-read and edit the errors of machine translation, thereby refining the final output. At Localize we have collaboration tools built into our platform so you can invite your own expert translators or take advantage of our built-in integrations with our LSP partners Gengo and Textmasters. Talk to us to see how we can help.