There are thousands of translation firms in the world. Many of them are excellent; we won’t lie to you about that. In fact, we work for many of them as subcontractors when they need something translated into or out of an African language.
AfroLingo – The Complete Solution
Just for today, we’re going to use this space to tout our strengths and make a bit of commercial. We want to list for you the skills we offer and what they might mean for your business.
Firstly, the languages that we translate to and from:
We offer a variety of services in all of these languages:
Desktop Publishing – By combining our language skills and our desktop publishing skills, we can create advertisements, marketing materials, and much more that are culturally specific.
Software localization – Making your software work all over Africa requires more than just language translation. Everything need to fit the culture and the people that you are attempting to sell your product to. This requires an understanding of software, native programmers and translators, and the ability to understand a myriad of cultures on the great continent of Africa.
App localization – The phones that are in everyone’s hands run on apps. If you app doesn’t speak directly to the cultures that you are attempting to share them with, they will never get off the ground. We can take your app and make it look it was designed next door.
Website localization – The internet is everywhere and that means that you have potential customers everywhere. We will make your website look like it belongs in the culture and the language that you are working in, not just translate the words.
Translation – To and from the languages that are listed above, we can provide translations, both written and oral. We have a team of native speakers who will make sure that every word is correct. They can translate written works or do live oral translations as well.
Transcription – Whether your work is audio or video, we can take the language and put it on paper. We can transcribe from a local language and translate it to an international language, if you need.
Engineering, legal and medical – These fields have their own jargon that needs to clearly understood by the recipient. If not, people can be hurt or worse. We have the staff that is familiar with the languages and the specialty to make sure that you have the translation that you need and that it’s 100% accurate.
Our project managers are the key to our success. They are the first person to see your project and the last person to approve your work. They understand every aspect of the project and can ensure that everything is perfect long before it gets to your desk.
AfroLingo has everything any firm needs to be able to operate in Africa. From native speakers to technical specialists to project managers, we can supply you with whatever you need.
Anyone with a website and a webmaster account, such as the ones provided by Google, can see that people login form everywhere on the planet.
How do you handle this influx to make sure that your business and your website are well represented well? Website localization.
What Is Website Localization?
The definition supplied by Wikipedia is probably the best around:
“Website localization is the process of adapting an existing website to local language and culture in the target market. It is the process of adapting a website into a different linguistic and cultural context— involving much more than the simple translation of text. This modification process must reflect specific language and cultural preferences in the content, images and overall design and requirements of the site – all while maintaining the integrity of the website. Culturally adapted web sites reduce the amount of required cognitive efforts from visitors of the site to process information, making navigation easier and attitudes toward the web site more favorable.” (1)
This explanation is very telling.
“Adapting a website.. To local language and culture…” This is important. The definition goes on to say that the the work involves much more than simply translation. It requires and understanding of the target culture and an understanding of the priorities in that culture.
AfroLingo and Website Localization
In violation of the rule that says ‘don’t write a blog that is about your business”, we need to use ourselves as an example of how proper website localization is done.
African has over 1000 languages and our firm can do localization in over a dozen of those. We start with the most obvious question, “Can we do this for you?” We don’t work in Mandarin. Unfortunately, we would need to tell that if you called us, but if you want your site to work in Swaziland, we can help you. The languages there are Swati, English, and South African English.
That’s the start.
Next we assign a project manager. They will gather a team of language translators, programmers, designers, and others to do the work together.
Then we start working on changing your entire website.
- Error pages
- Help pages
- Sign up and cart options
- Much, much more.
All of this is to make sure that anything that a customer might see in, in this example, Swaziland, looks like it was made just for them.
The look and feel of your website will change. It might not be obvious to someone from that country, unless you don’t do it well.
Consider Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most recognizable brand and said to be one of the few things you can find in almost every corner of the world.
Here is the Coca-Cola France
Here is the Coca-Cola site Botswana
It might seem strange, but the first thing that you’ll notice is that the images are different. The Botswana website images better reflect the people who might look at the site from Botswana.
Those images are different from the American site, even though both Botswana and the US are in English. And the motto in Botswana is “Taste the Feeling”, but the American site doesn’t say that anywhere.
What Does All Of This Mean For You?
Simply put, you need to localize your website to fit the language and culture that you are entering. Translation is not enough, which means that trusting your website to a browser translator is not good enough. Change it to fit the customers you hope to gain.
Just for laughs…
Sometimes, even translation is not done well.
When Pepsi translated its slogan, “Come alive with Pepsi,” into Chinese, it didn’t go well. It came out as, “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead”. Creepy!
It’s amazing, isn’t it? Google Translate can be installed onto your browser and with the push of a button, any website, document, anything can be translated. But not very well…
The truth is that human language, even written language, is filled with nuances and details that a machine is not likely to catch. These are the times that you need a human translator.
Machine Translations: Strengths, Weaknesses, And Uses
The use of computers to translate documents and webpages started very early in the life of these amazing machines. Today, it has evolved into a massive business and provides free and paid translations billions of times each day.
When you click on a website, your browser will often translate it automatically. This power is amazing and allows us to read and see what people all over the world are seeing every day.
Machine translations, even for a professional translation company, can be a starting point. It’s the place where the translator can begin the process of looking at what you’re trying to say and help you say it.
As mentioned above, though, it has it’s weaknesses. While it might be fine for reading the day’s news in Russia or China or South Africa, it shouldn’t be trusted with business contracts, marketing materials, and other places where lack of precision can cost you a lot of money.
Human Translation: Strengths, Weaknesses, And Uses
Human translation is done by someone taking a source material and converting it to a new language. This is usually done by a professional translator who has been trained and practiced in doing language to language translations well and efficiently.
The biggest weakness is that most of us can’t afford to have a translator on call 24 hours a day. If you are a world leader and someone from another country calls, there will often be a translator in between. Those people and that service are available all the time. For the rest of us, we need to plan ahead a bit.
A human translator can take a document, a recorded speech, or even a live event and translate it well. They are able to see beyond the strict meaning of words to introduce nuances and cultural differences that a machine is hard pressed to understand.
Why Not Both?
At AfroLingo, we don’t see machine translation as another example of machines taking the place of humans. We see these wonderful tools for what they are: tools to make our work easier and maybe even a bit better. Nonetheless, no piece of translated work leaves our offices without being reviewed for accuracy by a trained translator and a project manager. No professional translation company should allow machine translation be all they do either.
Machines and humans can work to bridge language barriers and open up the world to everyone, together.
Here is a short, concise, step-by-step guide to finding a translator to meet your needs.
1- Clearly define what you need translated. The skills needed to translate a document are very different from the ones that are needed to live translate a speech. Be very clear on your needs, the size of the project, and what you expect the final results to look or sound like.
2- Set a timeline that meets your needs. If you have no urgent need, that’s fine, but put a final date on it. This will make sure that everyone has a guideline for what you need and when.
3- Look for a firm with native translators. This means that you want someone who lives in the target culture and speaks the target language every day. Someone who learned French from a book speaks a very different form of the language than someone who lives in the Pyrenees or the Central African Republic.
4- Ask for a plan. You should be provided with a plan on how the translation will happen. For example, most translation firms will use some form of machine translation for the initial work. This is a great way to speed the process, but it should be followed by having a human translator review everything. Subtleties, nuances and local vernacular are all different from country to country.
5- Ask for a project manager. If you’re having a single page translated, this might not be important, but if your project is to have a piece of software localized or have a corporate annual report translated, you will want a single point of contact that will take care of everything for you. This should be the person that you deal with. They should be able to speak to you clearly and easily.
6- Look for progress reports. Again, if there is only a single page being translated, you won’t need it, but a project of any size should have progress reports. This will allow you to see what’s happening on your project each week or so.
7- Satisfaction guarantee is a requirement. If the translation is all wrong or it’s delivered three days after you needed it done, you should be able to have a money-back guarantee. This is something that should simply be part of the company’s culture.
These are simple steps, but by using them you should do well finding a translator that you will have a great experience with. The actual locating part is a matter of using google and putting in “translation” and the languages you are translating to and from. Look for firm that is in or near the nation where your target language is spoken.
How the African Markets have grown
The African market is one which many companies deem too risky to invest into, but ever since the world cup took place with South Africa in 2010, economic growth has slowly been on the rise, and in fact in 2009 the continent’s collective GDP was equal to that of Brazil and Russia.
In the last couple of decades of the 1990s, economic growth in Africa was steady, if that, it was mostly languishing. But in the 2000s, the continent’s real GDP grew on average by 4.7% per year which was twice the rate of its growth in the previous two decades. That 2009 figure was $1.6 trillion, making Africa one of the fastest expanding economic regions, and that momentum has not slowed down.
Political troubles in some African countries such as Egypt, Libya and Tunisia have made businesses tentative about their investments, growth is still slow, and companies admit there are still risks, but the continent still enjoyed growth during the recent global economic recession, where most other continents found the opposite. Africa can no longer be ignored, and the markets are not only growing, they’re expanding.
Emerging continental markets
In 2008, Africans spent $860 billion on services and goods continent wide, which was 35% more than Indians spent in the same year. Industries such as telecommunications, banking, and retail are all experiencing exciting growth and new opportunities for economic investors and businesses alike.
The reasons for growth differ from country to country, but the rising price and demand for oil, increased interest from international companies, and privatization of some state-owned companies in certain countries have certainly added to the increase in economic scale and the opportunity to be a competitive global market for Africa. This opportunity is exciting for businesses around the world, as well as locally, where insight into the culture of African markets can only be a bonus.
Understanding the cultural environment
In order to really succeed in the markets in Africa, you really need to fully understand the cultural environments of the different markets in the different countries. For entry into a new global market anywhere in the world, a business always has to pick the right entry strategy, and in this case the business will need not only to consider the industry, but also the country, its culture, history and language. Africa is a tricky market, and while the continent is growing, it is still not without its risks. Always ensure that you have considered each business transaction with the head of a pessimist, and insist on using cash for transactions wherever possible.
The most important cultural lesson to consider when investing in Africa is the three Ps of African business: Patience, Pensiveness, and Perseverance. Always be patient, but don’t be a pushover. Think carefully and consider your opportunities before diving right in. And without being aggressive, make sure you get the result that you want, when you want it.
The continent of Africa has the highest linguistic diversity in the world, with between 1,500 and 2,000 languages spoken across its countries. These languages not only include spoken languages and dialects, but also sign languages and other forms of communication which are native to the regions. You will find some European languages dotted around, particularly in the North and the West, but an investor into the continent could not get by with English alone.
That’s where translation comes in. In order to succeed in the African markets, you will need to appreciate the cultures around you and have the ability to communicate in native languages. AfroLingo is a translation company in South Africa which offers a wide range of services which can help you to successfully enter into the African marketplace.
In the international marketplace, particularly one which is emerging as fast as Africa is, you need a reliable partner to help guide you through tricky communication process, and that is what AfroLingo is here to do.
Muhammad Ali said “I run on the road, long before I dance under the lights,” and in relation to doing business in Africa, it’s going to be a long run on the road before you can start dancing. There will be some challenges along the way, particularly because you’ll be dealing in a market which is very new to investment and interest.
Establishing a business in Africa can be expensive, particularly thanks to the average income per capita, and red tape such as construction permits and registering property will see you run into competition and strict rules, put into place in the interest of public safety. You will also need to remember that Africa is not just one country, and so taxation laws differ, as do cross border trading policies.
You’ll also find that, you might have trouble finding skilled workers, although people willing to do labor are abundant. Local customers will differ from region to region, and so before setting up your business you’ll need to really understand who your consumers will be and what they will really want. Most importantly, remember that African people are relatively new to having investment from international companies, so tread slowly, don’t try to change everything at once, and earn yourself some new consumers for giving them what they want.
Over 2,000 languages are spoken in Africa and the average African is most likely to be multilingual. The eight major languages spoken by Africans who represent roughly 10% of the world population include Arabic, Amharic, Swahili, Igbo, Hausa, Berber, Oromo and Yoruba. Given that most of the top 10 world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa, it is appalling to note that the translation revenue in Africa is only a small portion of the global translation revenue. This meagre translation revenue is largely due to the various translation industry barriers encountered by providers of African translation services.
The Main Barriers When Translating African Languages Include:-
- Lack of access to amenities such as electricity and internet
- Absence of proper education and training among translators
- Lack of linguistic equivalence in most indigenous languages
- Inability to network with other translators
- Lack of political goodwill in the advancement of indigenous languages
1- Lack of Access to Amenities Such As Electricity and Internet
Providers of African translation services unlike their counterparts in other continents such as Europe and America face glaring problems of lack of access to electricity and internet. Those who are lucky enough to have access to electricity and internet often have to contend with frequent power outages and slow internet speeds. It must be said that these challenges are slowly being tackled by development-conscious African leaders who have chosen to invest heavily in infrastructure and ICT. African translation services are therefore poised to grow rapidly should this trend of development and economic growth continue.
2- Absence of Proper Education and Training among Translators
Lack of proper education and training is a major problem that not only affects the translation industry but also other industries as well in Africa. Professional providers of African translation services have to invest heavily in educating and training their linguists and translators unlike their counterparts in other continents who have a pool of well-educated and trained citizens to choose from. That said, education continues to be a priority among most African nations. In the near future, providers of African translation services based in Africa will also be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting indigenous translators.
3- Lack of Linguistic Equivalence in Most Indigenous Languages
Technology and other factors have contributed to the expansion of vocabulary, terminology and competing terms among most major languages in the world. Unfortunately, most African languages are accorded poor status such that the young generation of Africans are pushed away from them. This means that most African languages do not undergo natural development but instead face extinction. Providers of African translation services often find themselves searching for linguistic equivalence in most indigenous African languages with no luck.
4- Inability to Network with Other Translators
Networking and collaboration among providers of African translation services would go a long way in promoting their services. Unfortunately, this rarely happens due to lack of access to tools such as Internet and restriction of free movement among some African nations. Fortunately, trade agreements are being signed every other day in Africa to help promote free movement of goods and people among African nations.
5- Lack of Political Goodwill in the Advancement of Indigenous Languages
The quest for rapid economic development and national integration by post-independence African leaders has led to the embrace of colonial languages such as English and French. This is to the detriment of indigenous African languages whose roles have been ignored. As such, there is little incentive among providers of African translation services to specialize in some indigenous African languages that are no longer being spoken.
AfroLingo is a leading provider of translation, content publishing, engineering and mobile localization services to clients seeking to appeal to the African market. With AfroLingo as your language service partner, you will enjoy highly competitive pricing, high quality services complete with robust quality assurance and real-time interaction with the project team handling your assignment. Microsoft, FedEx, United Nations, Google, CAT and Nokia are some of the high profile clients that have sought and continually engage the services of AfroLingo. To learn more about AfroLingo, visit our website at www.afroLingo.co.za and get a free quote today.
Africa has been dubbed the next frontier for global capitalism by many industry analysts and for good reason. The upward trajectory for Africa has already started. The average growth of African countries currently stands at 6% as other countries across the world stagnate. Africa boasts of a young population with over 50% of its population being under the age of 18. These among many reasons make various global companies such as IBM and Google throng to the promising continent. Unfortunately, there comes a problem of language barrier for global companies setting camp in Africa. Translation agencies are particularly useful for such companies looking to penetrate the over 1 billion population in Africa.
The Multiplicity Of African Languages And The Need For Translation Agencies
Unbeknownst to many people in the developed world, Africa is actually a continent with 54 different countries. There are roughly between two thousand and three thousand languages spoken in Africa. Global companies need not to panic about translating their source languages to these thousands of different languages because only 12 of these languages are spoken by 75% of the 1 billion population. The primary languages spoken in Africa are Arabic, Swahili, Berber, Amharic, Oromo, Somali, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. To penetrate the African market, global companies need to hire professional translation agencies or professional translation companies that have specialized in these primary African languages. So what exactly should you look for to tell good translation companies and good translation agencies from the mediocre ones?
What Makes Good Translation Agencies In Africa Tick
The translation market in Africa has been steadily growing in recent years, with South Africa leading the rest of the African countries in translation growth. The growth in the translation market in Africa reflects the growing need of translation services in South Africa and other countries. While there are several translation agencies and translation companies in Africa, there are some that stand above the rest. Good translation agencies in Africa are known to have robust quality assurance processes, dedicated project management teams, native translators with advanced educational backgrounds, a portfolio of global brand names as part of their clientele and highly competitive pricing. Let us now take a look at the important role of translation agencies when it comes to African languages.
The Challenges Facing Translation In Africa And The Need For Professional Translation Companies
It is not easy to operate as a translation company in Africa. The challenges are even worse for freelancers. The challenges revolve lack of access banking and money transfer facilities, lack of access to necessary information and tools and political unrest. These challenges are severe in most cases that freelancers end up delivering low quality translation. While these challenges are being addressed by most African governments, there is still a long way to go. Translation agencies and translation companies, unlike freelancers, are better poised to operate in spite of these challenges due to their capacities. Most of them operate in South Africa. South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa that has been able to adequately address most of these challenges. It is not surprising therefore that professional translation services in South Africa is booming business.
How Good Profession Translation Companies Will Help You Penetrate The African Market
Good professional translation companies in Africa will give you access to a comprehensive localization process complete with:-
- Translation of at least 5 primary African languages such as Amharic, Swahili, Xhosa, Zulu and Afrikaans.
- Specialized in-house project management teams made up of experienced native translators, quality assurance engineers, software engineers and business analysts.
- Content publishing, traditionally referred to as Desktop publishing and to latest translation software tools.
- Value-adding mobile localization for mobile phone software, PDA operating systems, user guides and social media platforms given that the youthful Africa audience prefers social media communication that is accessible via smart phones.
The Answer To Your Translation Needs In Africa
If you are looking for a good professional translation company in Africa, AfroLingo is your best choice. AfroLingo is a leading provider of translation services in South Africa and Kenya. It boasts of having served brand names such as Google, Microsoft, United Nations, Samsung, Nokia and CAT. To learn more about Afro Lingo, visit their website at: http://afrolingo.co.za/ .