Thanks, Andy for inviting me to contribute to the Search Technology area. Well, since this is my first post, this one is a bit informal. I’ll try to use a reporting style in my next one.
El Nuevo Día (http://www.endi.com) from Puerto Rico, one of the most important newspapers in the Caribbean region, is featuring today a Google AdWords banner that reads in part:
“Crea tus avisos.”
This is bad translation and worse copy.
The term “avisos” is not a valid translation for “ads” nor appeals to the larger audience of countries from the Caribbean and Latin America for which the term “avisos” implies “notificaciones” (“notifications”) not “ads”.
The correct translation for “ads”, and abstraction from “advertisements”, is “anuncios”.
This might sound ironic to an english speaker who might be tempted to translate “anuncios” as “announcements” since “to announce” in spanish means “anunciar” (as in “I’m going to announce.”, “Voy a anunciar.”)
“Announcements”, on the other hand not necessarily implies “ads” in spanish even when in english “announce” has the following synonyms: advertise , broadcast , declare , proclaim , promulgate , publish (Source: http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/announce). This illustrates that one cannot blindfoldly trust even online dictionaries.
Thus, a more correct creative for the above Google AdWords banner should be
“Crea tus anuncios.”
In fact, clicking the Google banner sends users to http://adwords.google.com.pr/select/ which reads in part:
“Con AdWords de Google puede crear sus propios anuncios…”
Evidently the above Google Adwords banner is a case of incorrect copy. This example underscores the fact that even companies with large human resources can fail to produce valid creatives. Merely resting on dictionaries or outsourcing a local “expert” to do translations is not enough.
Unless a campaign is intentionally designed to target a specific sub-audience or sector, all English-to-Spanish translations must be free from regionalisms, from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain or any country from that matter. In this way the campaign can appeal to the larger audience of spanish speaking countries. Why am I mentioning all this?
Well, the problem of regionalisms is a pervarsive one when it comes to online marketing and market reach. I am currently designing a database of spanish regionalisms and frequently used stopwords across countries -like most frequently used prepositions and articles, etc as they are used in different informational vehicles (newspapers, SE optimized websites, press releases, etc).
The goal is to feed a neutral spanish stemmer I already developed. Any suggestions are welcome. A Unicode mapper of international characters has been already embedded but is limited for now to spanish strings.
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Hyphenation is one area in which one could work in favor of neutral English since hyphenation rules are different in America and in U.K.
This can be accomplished by using hyphenated terms common to both regions.
When this is not possible, one could work around the copy and avoid hyphenation altogether.
Can we get neutral non-UK non-American English then – that would be useful (we’d have to avoid any …isations!
Good for you.
It’s ok to use regionalisms when one conducts a regional marketing campaign since in this case the goal is to reach the mind and heart of local consumers.
However, when it comes to translating to a wider audience the translator should stay away from regionalisms and use neutral Spanish.
I’ve seen pieces (sites, press releases) translated by bilingual “seo experts” and academics that are not fit for consumption by the larger audience from Latin America and the Caribbean. I keep copies of these as do’s and don’t reminders.
Nice product you’re working on! We’ve seen this since the web begun (with http://www.monografias.com) and have actually been doing some “neutral Spanish” copy or translation for some of our clients. Definately one of the key factors to keep in mind!