Alpha Omega Blog

More Than Words: Using Marketing Transcreation to Reach Global Audiences

It’s one of the first rules of marketing: engage your target audience. When it comes to translating marketing content for a global audience, engaging your target audience means more than accurately translating campaigns into different languages. It means using marketing transcreation

Marketing transcreation? What’s that?

If you’ve never heard the term ‘marketing transcreation,’ fear not. We’ll explain everything below. Suffice it to say, if you don’t consider marketing transcreation for your campaigns in foreign markets, your audience will know. Even a technically accurate translation looks like a poortranslation without it. Your audience will immediately recognize that your campaign was written in a different language and they will feel like an afterthought—the opposite of engaged.

In this article, we discuss significant differences between translation and transcreation, when transcreation is necessary, and how to use marketing translation to reach globalaudiences. So, let’s get started.

Marketing Translation vs. Marketing Transcreation

 There’s a big difference between translating technical, legal, medical, or scientific documents and translating media content, literature, or marketing. The difference has to do with the objectives of technical translation vs. creative translation. Technical translation requires conceptual exactness and terminological precision.

For marketing copy, though, successfully conveying the original text in a way that preserves the same intent requires symbolism, puns, and metaphor. The objective of marketing copy is to target human emotions rather than simply conveying information. Doing this well requires translators who do not simply “know” another language, but who are also creative writers themselves.

Unlike direct translation, marketing transcreation involves additional content adaptation and in many cases, customized imagery.

To offer a simple example: in the U.S., marketing information for Walt Disney World might describe the park as “half the size of Rhode Island.” But since this is not a reference most people in non-U.S. markets understand, in Japan, the campaign compares Disney World to Tokyo’s subway system and in the U.K., it’s described as the size of Grater Manchester.

As may be obvious by now, marketing transcreation requires a specific set of skills including copywriting skills. Instead of simply providing text, transcreation specialists may start with a creative brief for a specific campaign. The purpose of transcreation is, above all, to produce new copy that resonates in a new foreign market. While the original concept remains, the message sounds, feels, and looks brand new.

Transcreation also modifies images and recreates the visual context fora campaign, since visuals are important for communicating human emotions. Working together with localization, transcreation makes recommendations for adapting functions and features for digital content too. For instance, a call-to-action button might link to a different service or offering in the Spanish version of your company’s website.

At the end of the process, a transcreated press release, webpage, multimedia presentation, advertisement, brochure, news article, or email newsletter takes on a lifeof its own.

When to Transcreate

 Now that we understand the difference between translation and transcreation, let’s discuss when transcreation is most beneficial for global businesses.

Transcreation is worthwhile for:

  • Content that includes local references, wordplay, or humor.
  • Content in which cultural relevancy is critical to connecting with a local market.
  • Campaigns targeting local, specific personas, rather than a general global persona.

In addition, perhaps the biggest benefit for transcreation is that it gives your marketing team a common platform for interacting and communicating with other marketers in your target foreign market. The marketing research benefits of transcreation cannot be understated.

Marketing transcreation allows your team to:

  • Work with local editors and writers who have inside knowledge of the local market and current affairs.
  • Create program-specific guidelines and editorial standards for contributors in different countries to build a consistent brand voice and messaging.
  • Localize keywords for higher reach and optimize articles for search in local languages.

Still not convinced? Currently, 52% of website copy is written in English and most brands seem unaware of the extent to which bad translations can make content ineffective or even unintelligible. While it’s hard to measure how much this could affect audience engagement in the long-run, ask yourself: How long would I stay on a webpage that treats me as an afterthought, or, worse, doesn’t make sense at all? 

How to Use Transcreation to Reach International Audiences

 Once you’re convinced that it’s time for your company to explore transcreation, you’ll want to hire the right language partner. But before you take the plunge, make sure you do your homework. If you don’t have at least a working knowledge of how to use transcreation to reach international audiences, you will be at the mercy of your LSP.

Here are a few strategies to keep in mind:

1. Do some competitive analysis

We recommend doing some market research prior to starting the marketing transcreation process to find out how your competitors in the same markets create their messages. Also, it’s helpful to identify any trends popular in the culture.

It’s a good idea to find a language partner who can do this research too and then compare notes. Decide together what it will take for your marketing content to be successful in the target market.

2. Choose a language partner who understands the target audience

The right language service provider will build your translation project around the desired audience. It helps if, before you go to your chosen translation partner, you have a clear description of your ideal audience. This allows your agency to provide you with the best linguists.

3. Review, review, review

Once you receive the first version of your transcreated campaign, it’s a good idea to have it checked by an in-country reviewer. Don’t be afraid to tap into your resources in foreign markets. Ideally, this person will have marketing experience and understand the product or service you’re promoting.

4. Test

Use market-research to ask questions and gain valuable insights into your audience. Can you form a local focus group? Can you contact a marketing research group in your target market to work with your team to analyze your copy? This will get you the best feedback. If the messages pass the test, it’s time to roll out the campaign.

5. Measure performance

Don’t forget to come up with metrics to measure the success of your new campaign. Choose simple metrics at first to make sure your team can quickly analyze the results. Then stay consistent as you evaluate the success of your campaign across different markets. Of course, you may need to tweak your campaign along the way, so be ready to dedicate some time to the whole process.

Mastering the art of marketing transcreation requires time and money. But short of opening a marketing office to create original content for your target foreign markets, it’s the best way to target customers in a new market. If brands demand the best possible marketing copy in their home markets, why settle for second-rate content abroad?

At Alpha Omega Translations, we have specialists who understand marketing transcreation. For more than 20 years, our experts have worked with multinational companies on marketing materials and media related documents. We know the needs of this particular industry and we handpick marketing specialists for each transcreation project. Would you like to discuss your project? Request your free quote today!

Taking Your Business Global? Find a Language Partner to Leverage Localization to Increase International Revenue

For businesses successful in their domestic market, the temptation to expand overseas looms large. However, trying to duplicate that success internationally can be daunting. Fortunately, the right language partner can walk you through the process of using localization to increase international revenue.

localization to increase international revenue

Many questions surface for business owners considering making the leap to becoming a global name:

  • Do I need to create all new marketing materials?
  • What changes must I make to product development?
  • Is the risk really worth the investment when I’m doing so well in my home country?
  • Can’t my new customers rely on Google Translate to navigate my current website?
  • Where do I even begin?

These questions and many others are valid. Successfully using localization to increase international revenue requires special expertise. But as long as you go into the work with your eyes wide open and research the best way to introduce your business to your target country, there’s no need to fear the risks. Let’s start with the basics.

What is the Difference Between Translation and Localization?

People often confuse localization with translation, but localization actually involves more than simply translating text word-for-word. Localization refers to the process of doing whatever is necessary to make a product, website, or other content relevant to a foreign market.

Website localization includes combining efforts of different specialists to achieve more results than just having a website in a different language. Some words have different meanings in countries that speak the same language, so linguists design a strategy to overcome this, such as using a neutral version of the text or creating different versions for each country or region.

This aspect of localization is also important for SEO professionals, as the content will affect the results shown by web search engines for different versions of your website. So if different words are used for the same result in two or more countries, many users will not get the expected results.

Also, keep in mind that while many countries share the same language, the cultural context could be entirely different. So defining your target audience is essential to create the desired impact on the reader and in some cases avoid offending them.

There are some things that literally get lost in translation when localizing an online business. They may be small, but getting these details right, can make a huge difference in international customer satisfaction.

Here are four small things to take into account when localizing your website:

  1. What languages are spoken there?
  2. How do they like to pay?
  3. Does the language follow a different reading format?
  4. What currency is used?

Regardless of the size of your business, localization to increase international revenue should be a top priority when you’re going global.

How to Introduce Your Business to Foreign Markets

Introducing your business to new foreign markets takes time and research. Many businesses that decide to enter a foreign market for the first time make the mistake of following their gut instincts, rather than doing the necessary research. They may simply send their marketing materials to a language service provider requesting a literal translation.

In most cases, this is not a successful strategy. If your marketing isn’t sensitive to cultural norms, even the most technically accurate translation won’t resonate with your new audience. And your efforts will be wasted. But a trusted team of experts can show you how to leverage localization to increase international revenue.

1. Get to Know Your Target Market.

One of the key aspects of using localization to increase international revenue is the target audience. Even though many people can read in more than one language, most people prefer to browse the web in their mother tongue, rather than a secondary one. They also feel more comfortable buying if the content of the website they are visiting is in what they identify as their own language.

When you understand the cultural traditions and customs that your prospective customers practice before making any marketing decisions, you can better tailor your strategy to be successful.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to globalization. While this might seem obvious for marketing teams in the U.S. considering moving into non-English speaking markets, it can be equally important for moving into other English-speaking markets. Slogans, logos, and imagery that work perfectly in the U.S. may fall flat or even be perceived of as offensive in places like England, Australia, and Canada.

A good case to study of a company that didn’t do its research before branching out overseas is Walmart, which tried to find success in Japan back in 2005. However, one of Walmart’s slogans, “Every Day Low Prices,” was more than off-putting for Japanese customers, who come from a culture that believes cheap things are not good quality.

Any U.S.-based business looking to expand overseas can take a lesson from Walmart’s localization fail.

2. Familiarize Yourself with the Legal System and Business Regulations.

You have probably already done some homework on the economic situation in your target market if you’re seriously considering expanding business in that country. But this is really the tip of the iceberg. You also need to understand the legal system, relevant regulations, and how changes to tariffs both in the U.S. and in your target country could affect sales.

That’s right, even the political landscape will play a role in how certain marketing campaigns will be received in a foreign market. Simply consider the current US-China dispute over trade and how that has rattled the steel and pork industries among others.

Are you ready to weather similar political storms in your industry?

3. Find a Reliable Translation Agency.

Once you have embarked on your globalization journey, there are a few things you should make sure to do right away. These include: Contacting a translation agency that will serve as your linguistic and cultural guide. A good translation agency will know exactly what to do in terms of content, formatting, and style to ensure your marketing campaign is a hit.

Translation, however, is a big task. Start by translating your website and other content into the language of your target market. According to one survey of over 3,000 global consumers, 75% of people prefer to buy from a website that is in their native language and from a shopping cart that has not been translated by Google translate with distorted text and formatting. Make sure the translation team you decide to work with is experienced in website translation and localization.

It All Comes Down to Brand Management

A strong brand is the key to sparking interest in a new locale and in driving customer loyalty. How do you adapt a brand for a foreign market without destroying its essence? There are lots of good examples of companies that have successfully expanded and used localization to increase international revenue.

McDonald’s is perhaps the best example. When you think about the billion-dollar burger company’s overall brand image, you think about the colors, the silly clown, and the fun. But besides that, you think about what Americans uniquely value about taking the family to McDonald’s: the cheap, quick meal for busy people on the go.

McDonald’s brand identity is how it makes us feel—in other words, the ambiance. Now, if you’ve ever been to a McDonald’s in a foreign country, you might have noticed it’s a bit more upscale. In a lot of emerging markets McDonald’s is a common place for a first date. But the ambiance is similar: McDonald’s is known worldwide for convenience and for selling quality food at a reasonable price.

So, McDonald’s in Dubai keeps the colors and the clown. They also offer core products like Coca-Cola and American-style French fries. Through localization, they have established what aspect of the brand to keep to support their core brand essence. But they have also successfully adapted a lot of their product offerings to the local market.

To make sure you don’t end up botching a campaign due to a lack of adequate research, remember one thing: Get to know the cultural traditions and customs that your prospective customers practice before making any marketing decisions.

All of that is simply a longwinded way to say, localization to increase international revenue boils down to “know your customer.” Keep that as your main credo and you will catch any problems before they even become problems.

Contact us today and let’s discuss how to increase international revenue for your business!

Professional Interpretation Services and Managing Your Bilingual Workforce

In our most recent blog post, we discussed how medical translation services save lives. Obviously, patients must be able to communicate in their native languages to receive the highest quality healthcare. Outside of the medical context though, professional interpretation professional interpretation servicesservices also save lives in less obvious, but no less important, ways.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hispanic or Latino workers make up 27.3% of the U.S. workforce in construction. Other industries with high concentrations of Hispanic or Latino workers include agriculture (23.1%) and hospitality (22.3%). As the workforce becomes increasingly bilingual and diverse, employers will need to find innovative and effective ways to communicate with their staff.

This article discusses best practices for managing a bilingual workforce. Many of the below measures can make a significant difference. But there may be no substitute for professional interpretation services. At the least, making certain workers understand what is expected of them requires bringing in a trusted language partner at crucial points. Continue reading for tips on keeping your bilingual workforce safe and efficient.

Managing a Bilingual Workforce

While it’s not necessary for managers to be fluent in every language, it is important to make sure communications are clear and open for all. Strong communication gives workers the sense that you value them as part of your trusted team. In addition, taking the right precautions ensures success in critical areas, such as safety.

Numerous studies have found significantly higher occupational-injury rates among Hispanic and immigrant workers. And of the 991 U.S. private-sector, construction-related fatalities recorded in 2016, 29% involved Hispanic workers.

No doubt, employers and workers alike cite language barriers as one big obstacle to conveying safety information. But barriers to understanding many not be as simple as workers speaking a different language from management. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) points to several contributing factors including:

  • Immigrant workers’ unfamiliarity with certain tasks and safety procedures.
  • Immigrant workers’ work styles differing from what their employer requires.
  • Immigrant workers receiving little or no safety training.

Additionally, while workers may speak Spanish, they may have little formal education and their ability to read or comprehend Spanish in written form may be limited.

Learning how to better manage your bilingual workforce ensures your team that safety is a top priority. Focusing on areas such as developing skills and training will almost certainly require creating a set of best practices as the presence of Hispanic workers continues to rise.

What can business owners do to ensure the safety of their growing bilingual workforce?

Large corporations and unionized contractors have an advantage here. Being more closely scrutinized by OSHA and bound by safety-training regulations, they have fewer challenges managing bilingual workforces. With top-down systems and procedures in place, workers receive training from HR as a routine matter.

Still, large companies must do more than simply funneling workers through online training programs or in-person seminars with hundreds of participants. Look for opportunities to increase the number of multilingual speakers. Front-line supervisors should not be the only ones required to communicate in multiple languages. Support team members such as, HR, IT, engineering, and facility operations teams should be able to communicate in multiple languages as well.

Although small and midsize contactors have to create their own safety systems and procedures, this is no invitation to cut corners. With smaller jobs, the excuse that OSHA is less likely to show up on a jobsite can be a barrier to putting the right precautions in place. Too often, worker safety ends up taking a backseat to getting the job done.

Fortunately, small and midsized businesses do not need to choose between worker safety and profits. Professional interpretation services at an affordable price allow for both.

Best Practices for Overcoming Language Barriers

Regardless of the size of your business, OSHA’s Spanish Outreach training courses are the gold standard when it comes to construction safety training. They offer 10-hour or 30-hour training courses. If you go this route, bring in professional interpretation services to help trainers communicate during these important trainings. Contractors may also want to consider going a step further, however. Effective communication requires daily vigilance. The following tips give you a place to start:

  • Choose the best English speaker among non-English speaking employees to serve as a translator for other workers.
  • Have someone translate in real-time if feasible.
  • Conduct daily and on-the-spot safety training in both English and Spanish.
  • Provide language classes in both English and Spanish.
  • Use pictograms and images to convey important safety information.
  • Encourage workers to get to know each other better.
  • Make it easy for works to report hazardous worksites without jeopardizing their jobs.

Implementing these recommended best practices, in addition to quarterly or yearly longer training programs, puts your company at the forefront of worker safety. For more recommendations for reducing occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the construction industry, see the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR).

Following the above best practices will make sure your bilingual workforce doesn’t find itself part of the above statistics. Take the next step by finding a language partner who can advise you about managing your bilingual workforce, as well as offer on demand professional interpretation services.

At Alpha Omega Translations, we select from the most highly qualified interpreters to meet our clients’ needs in any location worldwide. Whether you need professional interpretation services for a training next month or next week, we are ready to assign you the best interpreter to meet your needs. Call us today at (877) 421-5958 or email us at to discuss your project.

The High Stakes of Misinterpreting Patients: Leave Medical Translation Services to the Professionals!

The necessity of hiring professional interpreters or translators, especially using medical translation services, is often overlooked. When we encounter clients who are considering using professional linguistic services for the first time, they often wonder if they “really” need to hire professionals. However, those with the most experience in the healthcare industry know medical translation services can save lives.

medical translation services

In a continually globalized world, language barriers affect our daily professional lives and interactions are more and more. Professional linguists help individuals get the services they need regardless of the language they speak. This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the medical industry where unclear communication puts patients at risk. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of medical translation services and best practices to prevent injuries and save lives.

One Tragic Story

 Everyone knows that when patients cannot communicate sufficiently with medical staff, the stakes are high. Unfortunately, too many in the medical industry assume that they can rely on bilingual staff and family members to bridge any communication gaps.

There are several problems with this policy and the story of 18-year-old baseball player, Willie Ramirez, tragically illustrates the real consequences of failing to use professional medical translation services.

In 1980, Ramirez was transported to a South Florida hospital via ambulance and arrived in a coma. His family, whose first language was Spanish, used the word “intoxicado” when speaking to emergency personel. The word “intoxicado” in Spanish means something ingested. It can refer to food, a drug, poison, or anything else that could make a person sick when ingested.

The family thought that Ramirez had eaten something that caused his symptoms. But the interpreter translated “intoxicado” as “intoxicated.” So the doctor diagnosed him with a drug overdose. It wasn’t until days later that his healthcare team realized the problem was actually bleeding in his brain. But by then, Ramirez had suffered lasting damage. Had his family’s description been interpreted correctly, there’s a good chance doctors could have treated him more quickly and more accurately. Sadly, he ended up a quadriplegic.

This is simply one tragic story among too many. In medical situations, doctors and hospitals often turn to bilingual staff or family members for help with interpreting and this is problematic. Beyond the chance that important medical details will be misunderstood—which is certainly a major concern—imagine the trauma that a child, even an adult child, would experience having to interpret a parent’s cancer diagnosis. 

Benefits of Hiring Professional Linguists

 The obvious benefit of medical providers hiring professional linguists to provide medical translation services is better patient care. But there are additional benefits that may be overlooked, such as reducing the average length of hospital stays and lowering readmission rates.

One study showed that among patients with limited English proficiency, those who did not work with a professional language interpreter at the point of admission or both at admission and discharge, had an average increase in their length of stay of between .75 and 1.47 days. It also showed that patients receiving interpretation services were less likely than those who did not receive such services to be readmitted within 30 days.

In addition, professional medical translation services increase patient satisfaction, which leads to decreased hospital costs. While many medical providers site budgetary limitations as a reason they do not provide adequate language access services for their patients, they fail to consider the costs they bear because of unaddressed language barriers.

Another study showed that having a Spanish-speaking attending physician significantly increased Spanish-speaking patients’ satisfaction with their physician, overall hospital experience, and reduced ER visits, thereby reducing costs by $92 per Spanish-speaking patient over the study period.

Your language service provider (LSP) will provide two basic services: medical translation and medical interpreting.

  • Medical translators provide linguistic services for written text (e.g., hospital record translation, translating instructions for taking medications, translating health information, and translation for brochures).
  • Medical interpreters provide linguistic assistance for spoken communication (e.g., during patient-doctor visits).

Both of these medical translation services can save lives and result in better outcomes for patients. 

Best Practices for Choosing Medical Translation Services

When looking for the right language service provider, it’s important to keep the following tips in mind for best results:

  • Find translators and interpreters who are proficient in both the source and target languages.
  • Make sure that translation professionals have subject matter expertise as well as linguistic expertise. This ensures that they are familiar with specific terminology, requirements, and the writing style of the industry.
  • Make sure that any written documents go through a thorough quality assurance process, so that there are no mistakes.
  • Don’t cut corners. If your patient population has a need for translation in several pairs of languages, you aren’t likely to get away with hiring one professional.
  • Look for language service providers that can provide experts in multiple languages and medical specialties.

Medical translation services and medical interpretation services are more than ancillary benefits. They are necessary services for healthcare providers. Even small communication mistakes cost much more than money. They cost lives. Make sure you are doing all you can to ensure the safety and quality of life of your patients.

Contact Alpha Omega Translations and let’s discuss your need for medical translation services. We’ll walk you through the process and make sure your bases are covered. Or if you’re ready to get started on your project, get your free quote today!

Alpha Omega Translations—A Translation Company with a Greater Purpose

Throughout our 20 years of service in the language translation and localization industry, our business has changed. From our humble beginnings with just a few translators mostly interpreting over the phone, we have expanded to the full service language translation and localization partner you know today.

language translation and localization

But, as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The core of our business has remained solid, even through the biggest changes. Our mission is to be the bridge between languages and cultures and to connect people around the globe. We believe that by removing the barriers that keep us from understanding one another, we can forge new partnerships that are the real keys to success.

Our vision is evident in our business practices. We are linguists and industry experts first. Even while we support businesses in their goals to increase revenue by selling globally, we also look for ways to increase cultural awareness, tell the stories that celebrate human diversity, and give back to the community.

Language translation and Localization with Purpose

Here are some of our most notable language translation and localization projects with a larger purpose:

1. Contributions to Global Health Initiatives

Over the past 15 years, we have provided medical translation services for global health stakeholders, international health organizations, NGO’s, hospitals, surgical device manufacturers, medical research institutions, and clinical diagnostic firms. In addition, we have we have assisted numerous Global Health organizations working to control diseases like HIV and AIDS around the world.

One of our proudest contributions has been providing language translation and localization services to organizations involved with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) initiative Against HIV/AIDS.

Background: In July of 2008, Congress signed into law the H.R. 5501 – the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act. This act was a continuation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR), launched in 2003. Offering millions of dollars in funding, PEPFAR was the largest commitment signed onto by any nation in the world for the treatment, prevention, and care of millions nationally and globally.

National and global organizations work under the PEPFAR initiative to prevent the spread of this disease, raise social awareness, and help define health care plans and disease treatment of patients in Third-World countries. Alpha Omega Translations provides medical document translation interpretation, desktop publishing services, audio/visual translation, and transcription to support those organizations involved in the PEPFAR Initiative.

Fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic around the globe, especially in the Third-World, requires effective and accurate communications across several different languages and cultures. The PEPFAR Initiative provides support for careful planning and integration of health care systems into pre-existing national and local ones. These founding organizations rely on Alpha Omega Translations to convey their message and health care plans to Latin American and African nations through a multitude of languages and dialects. Our experts are up for the challenge and love to do good work around the world!

2. Our Partnership with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP)

Not only do we serve global health organizations, we also serve businesses based right here in the DC Metro area through VEDP’s VALET (Virginia Leaders in Export Trade) program. The objective of the program is to assist both new and experienced exporters in entering new international markets. Each year, 25 local companies are chosen to participate in this very selective, 2-year business accelerator program.

Alpha Omega Translations has had a long-standing partnership with VEDP providing language translation and localization services, multilingual web development, content editing, social media integration, and backend development in all major languages. In the business world, connecting with broader audiences and forming relationships with overseas partners means not only an increase in a company’s bottom line. It also means increasing awareness about human experiences in other cultures and geographic locations.

Running an international business is more challenging than running a business based solely in the US or any single country. Without strong organizations, like VEDP, leading the charge, many businesses would ignore the opportunities made available by expanding globally. At AOT, we see enormous potential for companies ready to make this big move and we are excited about helping to make the process easier. With our experience, we have tons of advice to offer beyond standard translation projects. We can help make sure you’re ready to take your company international.

3. Preserving Endangered Languages

Last, but certainly not least, is probably our favorite opportunity to give back to the global community. Our love for culture and diversity means that we have a passion for saving endangered languages. When a language disappears—and linguists expect at least 50% of the world’s 2,000 languages to disappear by the end of this century—we lose an important piece of history. If we don’t all work together to preserve these artifacts of history, we risk losing touch with clues about who we are and how we can better relate to one another.

What can we do?

Linguists and researchers are working with communities that want to preserve or revive their endangered languages. The technology exists to help save these pieces of history through video and audio recordings, plus creating written records in both formal and informal settings.

At Alpha Omega Translations, we strongly support the preservation of disappearing languages. Last summer, our CEO traveled with a BBC reporter to interview the last speakers of the whistled language of Antia, a village on Evia, an island off the coast of mainland Greece. The story and our report have been featured in the media around the world.

Since the original publication, they were picked up by the press in Greece:

This story has also been featured on, which is a collaboration of researchers, linguists, and anthropologists interested in doing their part to preserve endangered languages around the world. Sorosoro sends scientists and technical experts around the world to document rare languages.

Here are the links to the collection of articles:

Seeing this kind of interest really makes us hopeful that we are making a difference. We love the language translation and localization work we do and of course, we love to satisfy our clients and their end users. But the above passion projects are rewarding in their own right. We want to remind the world that there is a human face behind every business.

If you want to be a part of the Alpha Omega Translations community, contact us today. At AOT, we believe every business, every brand, and every individual has a story worth sharing. Let us help you express yours with cultural competence and linguistic expertise!

Olympic Translation Issues: How to Prepare for Big Events and Lessons Learned

With a record-breaking 2,925 athletes from 92 counties set to compete and millions of spectators flocking to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, it’s clear that this will be one of the biggest sporting events in history. Of course, with so many people from hundreds of different nations gathering in one place, there are bound to be some Olympic translation issues.

Olympic translation issues

Let’s take a close look at how the International Olympics Committee (IOC) prepares for such a huge event and the lessons we can learn from what they have done.

Translation Preparations Prior to the Olympic Games

 First, South Korea has been reminding everyone that the 2018 Winter Olympic Games are being held in Pyeongchang (not Pyongyang). Pyongyang is the capital of North Korea. You can imagine the travel headaches and Olympic translation issues such confusion couldcause. So, the official name of the city has been changed to PyeongChang to make it clearer.

Translation remains a top concern for the IOC. South Korea sought out thousands of volunteers with language skills to act as interpreters and translators for athletes, delegates, and the press. The exact number of translators is unknown, but as a comparison, for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, over 1,000 interpreters were deployed.

This year, an official translation app is available for local businesses, athletes, and sports officials. Making this available should minimize Olympic translation issues, at least somewhat. Developed by a local software company, “Genie Talk” works on Apple and Android and can translate Korean, Japanese, English, Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Arabic.

Looking for some quick Korean lessons to get ready for the games? Check out football great Park Ji Sung’s quick phrases on

The Official Languages of the Olympics 

The Olympic games always have two or three official languages depending on where the games are held. Traditionally, the first two are English and French. The third language is the official language of the host country. This year, the third official language is Korean.

The choice of official languages is all about whom the IOC expects to watch the games, not the most popular languages spoken everywhere. For example, although Korean is spoken in both South and North Korea and by an estimated 80 million people around the world, it’s only the 17th most common native language.

In addition, much of the branding for the 2018 Games was inspired by the Korean alphabet. The emblem of the games, for instance, is a stylized version of the hangul letters ㅍ (p) and ㅊ (ch), for the initial sounds in “PyeongChang.”

Olympics translation issues

Linguistic fun fact: Although classified as a language isolate, many theories have been proposed to explain the origin of Korean. The most prominent theory links Korean to the Altaic languages of central Asia, which includes Turkish, Mongolian, and the Tungusic languages of Siberia. Others argue for the inclusion of Korean with the Dravidian languages of southern India. Unsurprisingly, Korean shares linguistic features with Japanese and Chinese.

Dealing with Social Media

Since the Winter Olympics is such a huge event, organizers have to make sure spectators from around the world can access the competition on their preferred platform in their preferred language without any Olympic translation issues. Two years ago by the end of the Sochi Games, there were over 150 million Tweets and 116 million Facebook status updates about the Olympics in different languages.

Social media may not be the first thing you think of when you think about translation for a huge event like the Winter Olympics, but actually many fans around the globe have nowhere else to connect with their favorite Olympic teams and athletes besides social media. The Olympic Channel, which broadcasts news about the Olympic Games has social media accounts is English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Korean. Each account is tailored to the individual users based on their primary language.

So, social media is actually an important tool for making the Olympic Winter Games accessible to everyone. And avoiding Olympic translation issues in social media is an important focus for the IOC.

Learning from Past Olympic Translation Issues

 Translation mishaps during the 2012 Olympics in London were some of the most notable to date. The biggest problems were with Arabic. Many companies relied on machine translation and asked vendors to swap fonts at the last minute. This turned out to be a huge mistake because the unvetted fonts made many statements impossible to understand.

Another notable example included signs at the official shopping center—yes, the Olympic Games even have an official mall. The signs were meant to say “Welcome to London” in Arabic. There were only two small problems: the words were written backwards and spaces between the letters made the signs incomprehensible.

Of course, machine translation has seen dramatic improvement to the algorithms making translation software more accurate today than back in 2012. Still, these Olympic translation issues are a lesson in what to expect when companies try to take translation short cuts.

While you almost certainly aren’t hosting an international event as large the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, you never want to sacrifice quality for speed. At the least, we recommend using a language service provider to edit any machine translations. As a business, you are nothing without your reputation. And if you are building a reputation as an international business, translation mishaps will quickly destroy any momentum you have built.

Looking Forward to PyeongChang

At Alpha Omega Translations, we are looking forward to the Opening Ceremony and all of the Winter Olympic fun happening over the next couple of weeks. Of course, we’ll also be keeping an eye out for any language translation wins (or fails). We simply can’t help ourselves!

Like the IOC, you, need a winning strategy for building relationships with international customers and organizations around the world. We’ve been working with clients like you for over 20 years now. Over the years we’ve developed custom solutions to help our clients power past their competitors, just like our amazing Olympic athletes. For more information about our expertise, visit our media and marketing translation page. Or contact us to talk about specific needs.

Responding to Language Industry Trends: Experts Talk About What to Expect

As we continue celebrating 20 years as your trusted language partner, we can’t help but think about the future of our industry and language industry trends. This is no time to rest on our laurels! We are taking proactive steps so we can continue to provide unparalleled service for the next 20 years and beyond.

language industry trends

We have been carefully monitoring what the experts are saying. Now we’re ready to share what we’ve learned and the positive steps we are taking to position ourselves for the evolution. So, let’s look at the language industry trends experts are predicting.

Industry Experts Discuss Language Industry Trends

 The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) is one of the best resources for language industry news and getting the scoop from industry leaders. Alpha Omega Translations is a proud member of GALA—CEO, Dimitra Hengen, appears here.

Ahead of the annual conference, taking place in Boston this coming March, we recently revisited a podcast recorded during last year’s meeting. The podcast features CEOs discussing language industry trends. So many interesting and useful gold nuggets here!

1. The Enormous Potential of Neural Machine Translation.

 It is no longer acceptable for LSPs to bury their heads in the sand about machine translation. While during the past 10-20 years, we have seen only incremental improvements in machine translation, experts agree that we are on the verge of seeing a revolution in MT software.

Experts also agree that although the hype about machines yielding translations comparable to humans has been mostly overblown, a time is coming (probably very soon) when machines will be able to replace human translators for some types of translation tasks.

Experts disagree, however, about how the MT revolution will affect the work performed by individual translators. We certainly will see more of a trend toward humans editing machine translations in order to speed up the translation process. We may actually begin to see human translators working with MT engineers to improve their MT engines too, especially as language service providers begin to embrace the benefits of MT.

The timeline for seeing these big changes impacting the language industry is still anyone’s guess. MT has been around since the 1950’s and back then experts were predicting machines replacing human translators in 3-5 years. So, while there’s likely no need for panic, developing a strategic plan for using MT as a more central part of your work is a must.

AOT Lessons Learned:

We can choose to see advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine deep learning as a threat to our work or we can focus on the positive side and consider how to innovate to get ahead of the trend. At Alpha Omega, our team is focused on the positives and adjusting our service offerings to take advantage of new technology.

Benefits of Neural MT:

  • Greater access to translation tools, including automatic translation software, means greater access to information.
  • Building awareness of available translation and globalization tools also means an expanded marketplace for language services.
  • Better machine translations means human beings will be free to focus on customization and providing higher quality products to their clients.

How we’re adapting to meet this trend:

  • We’re focusing on building our service offerings in areas where a human touch is especially valuable (e.g., health care, legal services, and on demand interpreting).
  • We’re looking to hire language experts who also have more technical backgrounds.
  • We’re updating our client and customer profiles to figure out whom we best serve and in what capacities.

2. Continuous Delivery and Content Creation.

As we figure out how to lean on machines more and more for rote translation tasks, a world of possibilities opens up for humans to use their zones of genius to provide added value to their clients. Accordingly, we are seeing the demand for continuous delivery of translation, interpretation, and localization services becoming a growing niche for LSPs, as well as an increase in the demand for content creation.

We are not likely to see a contraction of social media or the dominance of new media any time soon. And these trends in digital marketing open many doors for LSP’s. Increased demand for video content means more opportunity for live translation and interpretation. This is an area where machine translation will likely never be comparable to what a human translator could provide.

This means we are likely going to see a trend away from traditional translation workflow, e.g., delivering a package of written content once per month, and toward continuous delivery of smaller bits of information and/or on-the-fly video interpretation.

In addition, the more quickly we are able to deliver translations, since machines will make it possible to translate billions of words per year, the greater the demand for content creation.

AOT Lessons Learned:

We believe all of this is great news for smaller LSP’s. Clients will continue to demand customized translation, interpretation, and localization services. They will seek out smaller companies who can work closely with their own in-house teams to produce innovative content. Smaller language service companies will benefit from being able to offer services and products that are flexible and personalized.

How we’re adapting to meet this trend:

  • At AOT, we have a team dedicated to business development. This task force is committed to finding ways to make AOT more of an end-to-end provider.
  • We aren’t just a team of fabulous translators, we’re language and localization consultants offering a full range of cultural services.
  • We offer our clients more than just translations. We can take a deep dive into their business goals and offer a complete globalization strategy based on our years of experience.

3. Video Translation Services with Expand.

The demand for video translation and video editing services, such as voice-overs and dubbing, is already a huge share of the language translation market. But experts see video translation services expanding even further in the near future. In the hospital and health care arena, we are already seeing video translation solving patient and health care provider interface problems.

There’s nothing stopping this trend from expanding into other arenas such as hospitality, travel and tourism, and even retail. Imagine a native Chinese speaker walking into her favorite retailer in NYC and renting an iPad with interpreting services or a video personal shopper who speaks her native language.

Again, while we’re far from seeing robots and machines take away all jobs performed by human beings, it makes sense for human translators to consider how to adapt their skills in a world where these types of changes are likely not far off.

AOT Lessons Learned:

These new language industry trends make innovation more challenging, but this comes with the territory when you are part of a dynamic industry. At AOT, we have always adapted to new language industry trends. So, this is nothing new for us.

We plan to take the lessons we’ve learned over the past 20 years and apply them to the changes that come our way. One of the most amazing benefits of being part of such a close-knit community of linguists and language experts is that we realize there is more to be gained by working together, than tearing each other down.

How we’re adapting to meet this trend:

  • We know we can’t be all things to all people. We are always looking for new strategic partnerships, especially those that complement our expertise.
  • We are always open to sharing ideas and learning new skills from our peers. There is room for everyone to grow as long as we all focus on our differentiating areas of expertise.
  • We would love to talk with other Virginia area small businesses looking to expand into global markets.

Concluding Thoughts

These big language industry trends are so exciting! While we recognize that these trends will impact the way we serve clients going forward, we also think it’s important to embrace change. There is simply no sense in pretending that we can do business in the exact same ways we always have. The future is here!

What has allowed our business to grow over the past 20 years is first and foremost, our ability to adjust to a dynamic industry. Will you be a part of our exciting future? Join us by reaching out for your free quote today!

Celebrating 20 Years As Your Trusted Language Partner! Changes in Language and Language Services

This January 15th marks a significant milestone for Alpha Omega Translations. We have been in business for 20 years! It is difficult to overstate how grateful we are for our wonderful clients and partners. It is also difficult to overstate the changes in language we have witnessed and how these changes have influenced our work.

changes in languageGiven our position in the language industry, we thought it would be appropriate to discuss the evolution of language and the language services industry during the past 20 years. And, of course, reflecting on the past naturally leads one to ponder what the future will hold. Let’s dig in!

Tectonic Shifts in Language Affect the Industry

The language services industry is big business. According to a study released in 2016, the demand for language services and supporting technology is growing at an annual rate of 5.52% and experts predict the market will reach $45 billion by 2020. This means that any big changes in language will have a ripple-affect throughout the industry and beyond.

1. The Role of Technology

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention technology in our retrospective article. When we consider the biggest changes that have come down the pike in the world of linguistics, technology immediately springs to mind. There’s no doubt that smart phone technology has been one of the biggest drivers of industry and the language industry is no exception.

Talk into your phone and a Google app can now turn your words into a foreign language. Of course, software can give the gist of a foreign language, but for business, rough won’t cut it.

Far from replacing humans, technology has grown to become a translator’s best tool. Since the 1990’s, the introduction of Translation Memory (TM) tools has allowed language service providers, like Alpha Omega Translations, to keep up with the surging demand for high-quality translation.

TM databases allow translators to dip into stores of data including whole sentences that have already been translated in a given language pair. This helps translators speed up repetitive work, such as translating technical manuals.

2. Changes in Language

The translation market continues to widen with the trends in language. 20 years ago, translation in continental Europe was dominated by the “FIGS” (French, Italian, German, and Spanish) and Japanese, Chinese, and Korean were the only Asian languages to speak of. According to one marketing research service (Common Sense Advisory), speakers of 13 languages account for roughly 90% of online spending. But now we are starting to see a shift both for political and business reasons.

The European Union’s bureaucrats now have to communicate in 24 languages. In Asia, once-neglected languages, such as Vietnamese and Indonesian, matter more as these countries grow. In addition, today, more companies do business in Africa and regard that continent’s languages as increasingly important. Big software firms, like Microsoft, also find it profitable to localize their products in small languages like Maya or Luxembourgish. It is no longer true that translation is usually to or from English.

So, what’s next?

1. We’ll continue to see improvements in “Machine Translation.”

Many organizations looking to be successful on the global stage make use of Machine Translation (MT) today. As we continue to see breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and computers increasingly learn from the massive collections of data available, we will continue to see improvements in “machine translation.” Computers will learn from huge databases of already-translated text to make even better guesses about how to render large chunks of text from one language into another.

While translators used to feel threatened by the idea of machine translation, instead of seeing machines taking over, we are starting to see computers as a powerful tool in our work. Besides the core of our business involves so much more than translating. There is project management, file management, acting as a liaison between clients and end users, and consulting work to be done. As Machine Translation improves, we’ll continue to see its role in our industry grow.

2. We’ll see translators increase their technology skills.

While machines certainly play their part, it’s unlikely that software could ever completely replace the need for human translators and localization specialists. More likely, we will see an increasing role for translators who specialize in deeply understanding how MT software works and how to correct for errors. This role within the language service industry would combine the skills of a translator, a linguistic reviewer, and a Machine Translation specialist.

3. We’ll see an increase in demand for transcreators.

Transcreators are highly specialized linguists charged with recreating the source content so that it’s appropriate for your target market. The goal here is to “recreate” content in a way that inspires the same emotions in the target language as the source content elicits in the home market. The linguists performing this service are highly creative translators. They tend to be senior, experienced professionals with as much marketing content experience as translation experience. They might also have agency experience.

Looking to the Future

At Alpha Omega Translations, we plan to proudly serve the translation needs of Virginia businesses for the next 20 years! Our certified translators offer medical translation, legal translation, and a wide variety of business translations.

But beyond business development, we also champion linguistic causes and do our part to preserve diversity around the world. Our efforts to preserve endangered languages, especially, have earned us praise in the press both at home and abroad.

As linguists and highly specialized language professionals, our team at Alpha Omega Translations is excited for the opportunity to grow in a variety of new directions. Thank you for being a valuable part of these amazing changes!