In Ruben Pater’s book The Politics of Design: a (Not So) Global Manual for Communication, Pater provides a striking example of how translating something that works perfectly in one language can go terribly wrong in another. When Coca-Cola decided to introduce their product to China, they of course needed a Chinese language version of their logo. Seems simple enough, but Coca-Cola made the grave mistake of not consulting with native language speakers. The result? The new (albeit phonetically correct) Chinese version of the Coca-Cola logo translated to something like “A Female Horse Stuffed With Wax”. Not the most appetizing image.
As a global team that speaks multiple languages, we’re very familiar with the pitfalls that can sometimes come along with translations. That’s why we’re excited that Supertext is cosponsoring WordCamp Europe. Supertext provides translation services in over 100 languages for all of your content, including websites, apps, docs, and even subtitles.
But they don’t just translate your content, they partner with their clients to contextualize your content as well, so there’s no need to worry about mistakenly causing offense or confusion.
The lesson we can take away from Pater’s example is that small mistakes that come from translating content can turn into huge problems. If you’re considering an international audience, it’s important to consult with native speakers and those who understand the culture that you’re trying to reach. If we want the WordPress community to be truly global, we believe that’s something that we should all be concerned with.