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Firms ignore the foreign language internet at their peril

By Fiona Graham, BBC News

Businesses must be careful they don't leave customers grimacing like Donald Rumsfeld at their poorly-translated websites
When Pepsi launched in China, so the story goes, the translation of the slogan, 'Come alive with the Pepsi generation', promised consumers something a little different.

Could Pepsi really bring their ancestors back from the dead? Apparently, there was a dip in sales.

While this has never been properly substantiated, according to urban legend busting website Snopes, Pepsi has never denied it.

Be that as it may, companies across the globe have come a cropper moving into foreign markets.

Braniff Airlines, for example, once offered Spanish-speaking passengers the opportunity to 'fly naked' rather than on leather seats.
But for businesses operating online, the push to be multilingual is hard to ignore.

Research commissioned by the European Commission found that 82% of consumers were less likely to buy goods online if the site was not in their native language.

Globally, research firm Common Sense Advisory found that 72.4% of consumers were more likely to buy a product with information in their own language.

Arena Flowers' Will Wynne: "Localisation is hard to get without native speakers"

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Localization/Translation Facts

One of the most well known facts is that most UIs designed in the United States are unusable or at least confusing when used outside of the United States.

Localization is an extremely important process in the creation and implementation of User Interface.  Most applications need to be remodified in many areas to be useful for international users.  As a result, companies must take into account a variety of areas that differ according to user location such as character fonts, character encoding, currency values and format, gender identification, etc.

Language and culture localization are no different.  When targeting a specific group, language and culture are two of the most important factors to consider.  Language localization is a rigorous process in which many factors must be researched and considered.  Often, companies do not take these factors into account, and the end result can impact negatively on the company.

Other Facts:

-Top Five Languages Used on the Internet:

  1. English
  2. Chinese
  3. Japanese
  4. German
  5. Spanish

-These statistics remain the same for the top five e-commerce growth projections.

-There is growing demand for the following languages to be used in services worldwide:

  1. 17.3% of internet users request the language to be in Spanish
  2. 8.5% of internet users request the language to be in French
  3. 4.2% of internet users request the language to be in Italian

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