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What to Do When You Have to Pick a Dialect for Your Translation

Translating content into multiple languages can be beneficial for your marketing efforts and business ventures. However, language translations cannot always utilize a one-size-fits-all approach. Just as there are a variety of English dialects depending on where you are located (think of English in the U.S. compared with English in the U.K.), many of the languages you choose for the translation of your content will have their own distinct dialects. That’s why it’s important to know who your audience is before beginning the translation process.

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Here are three common scenarios as it pertains to choosing a dialect for your translation needs.

Scenario 1: The audience is from a very distinct region. Some countries may speak the same language by name (French, for example), but the geographic location of your target audience could make a huge difference in the translation provider you choose. French spoken in Canada is quite different than French spoken in France, and French-Creole (common in Louisiana) is even more different still. Tell your translation provider ahead of time where your target market is located so that they can be sure to assemble the right team for your project.

Note: If you are creating content for audiences in both France and Canada, look for a provider than can provide you with the different translations to ensure each version is accurate for the intended audiences. Not only will there be differences in the terminology used for these audiences, but differences in punctuation will also come into play.

Scenario 2: You want to reach an audience that resides in multiple countries that share a common language, but you don’t have the budget to localize the content for each individual country. An example of this would be if you are looking to target customers within multiple countries in Latin America. In this case, you will likely want to use a more neutral Spanish that will be understood by those in each country. Even if some of the terms differ from one country to another, a more neutral or standard translation could still be quite effective, depending on your content.

Scenario 3: Your audience is from a specific area in the U.S. Sometimes, you only need to reach a group of people within a certain geographic region. If you are targeting a group of Punjabi speakers in New York, for example, they may speak the Punjabi dialect of India, as opposed to the Punjabi dialect of Pakistan. Research the people who live in the area you’re targeting so you can be sure you are requesting the correct dialect.

If you are ever unsure which dialect of a language your audience speaks, try not to guess. You can always work directly with your translation provider to determine the best fit for your language needs. Knowing where your target market is from or located not only saves you time, but this information also helps to avoid potential language issues stemming from a translation created for the wrong audience. After all, who wants to translate the same content twice if it can be avoided, right?