25 Christmas Traditions from Around the Globe

Christmas Day falls on the 25th of December. In celebration, here are 25 Christmas traditions from around the world.

The List:

25. In South Africa, Christmas is a summer holiday! All the schools are closed and camping is a popular Christmas tradition

24. A popular offering to carolers in Alaska is Maple dipped donuts!

23. Brazilian Folklore states that Father Christmas comes from Greenland.

22. In Labrador, Canada, Turnips from the summer harvest are saved and given to children with a candle

21. In China, the children await the arrival of Dun Che Lao Ren which translates to “Christmas Old Man”.

20. In the Czech Republic, if a young girl puts a cherry twig in water on December 4th and it blossoms by Christmas, it is a sign that she will marry that year.

19. In England, folks enjoy mummering, a tradition which became popular in the middle ages. People called “mummers” put on masks and acted out festive plays.

18. Ethiopian Christmas is celebrated on January 7th.

17. In Southern France, a log is burned in people’s homes from Christmas Eve until New Years Day.

16. In Germany, the children believe in Christkind – a winged angel who flies to windowsills to drop off presents.

15. Some British Children throw their letters to Santa into the fireplace so they will float up and fly to the North Pole (if the letter burns, they must re-write it).

14. Christmas trees are unpopular in Greece.

13. In Greenland, Christmas is organized and implemented by the man of the house. The women spend their time relaxing and being taken care of by their husband.

12. Children in Holland believe in Sinterklaas, whom lives in Spain.

11. Naughty Children in Hungary beware, if you are bad, St Nicholas’ companion will hit you with a twig!

10. In Ireland, Santa enjoys not milk and cookies but mince pies and Guinness.

9. In Italy the children wait until Epiphany, January 6, for their presents.

8. In Pakistan, 25 December is a public holiday it is however in memory of Jinnah the founder of Pakistan.

7. In the Philippines, fireworks are extremely popular at Christmas

6. In Russia, Christmas is slowly being replaced by the Festival of Winter.

5. In Slovakia, a traditional Christmas dinner is sauerkraut soup, and fish and potatoes salad.

4. In Syria, Children receive presents on New Years Day.

3. The Roman festival of Saturnalia, which culminated on December 25th, was celebrated around the winter solstice and included feasting and gift-giving.

2. In Sweden, the Christmas festivities begin on December 13 with St. Lucia’s Day, which celebrates the patron saint of light.

1. Every year in Italy during the festival of Epiphany an old witch known as “La Befana” walks through the village streets giving gifts to children.

Comment below with YOUR traditions. Any corrections? Comment below.

Happy Holidays from Able Translations.

Search Engine Optimization for International Companies

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is hard enough as is. Throw in multiple languages and different locales and you’re in for a REAL treat. I’m going to talk to you about SEO for international companies but I’m working on the assumption that you know what SEO is and you have an SEO strategy. If you don’t know what SEO is, check this out: http://www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo. It’ll give you the basics.

What on Earth is Localization?

Alright, I feel comfortable making the assumption that you know what SEO is but localization is a completely different story. Unless you work in a specific industry like the language services industry, it’s unlikely that you’ve come across this term before. So, let’s dive right in!

Localization involves taking content written for one locale and tailoring it to meet the needs of another.

For Example:

You have an online store that sells, oh I don’t know, custom floor mats for cars. So far, you’re dominating the Canadian floor mat market and you see an opportunity to break into the Japanese market. To carve your niche, you start adding your website to online Japanese floor mat retailer directories.

Six months pass and not a single order has come in from Japan. Time to pack it up, right? Wrong! You need to localize. So, you hire a company to translate all of your text to Japanese and you’re off to the races.

Make Sure You:

• Adjust your website layout to account for an increase/decrease in text. Some languages add up to 40% more characters per body of text

• Update measurements, currency, and date format to fit with local customs

• Update photos to feature places and people that represent your new market’s culture

This is Just the Start…

Translating your text to the language of your market is only the first step in SEO localization. You need to do the exact same things you did for your English website SEO. Let’s review those steps and I’ll explain the localization strategy.

Link Building

You’re going to have to build links that are relevant in your new market. Where does your new market look for your product (directories, blogs, twitter, facebook)? Make sure you’re there and speaking their language. Connect with social media influencers in your target locale.


This is where you’re definitely going to need a professional. You can’t just ask someone to translate keywords that are popular in your current location and expect them to be popular in a different country. In Canada, we may search for “social media marketing agencies” but in a different country that string might be useless. The prevailing term for social media marketing in a different country might be “internet advertising companies” in which case you haven’t used any of those words.

I guess this is the perfect time to explain long-tail and short-tail keywords because this will be the most difficult part. In some languages, depending on the context, the form of a word might change (context-sensitive spelling). So a singular keyword planted throughout your content might be useless because people often search using long-tailed strings.

Website Design and Usability

Your website has to reflect the way users navigate your website. Look at other websites in your target locale and find best practices. Where do they prefer the menu? Do they use “bread crumb links” or navigation side bars? Do they mostly share using Facebook or do they use Twitter? Ultimately, sharing your content will help you leaps and bounds so you need to set sharing features up in a way that your target market is most comfortable with.

This is just a taste of what you’re in for when you decide to do SEO localization. If you have any questions visit Abletranslations.com.

For more on international marketing check out:

Translate Tweets to Explode in the Twitterverse (and make more cash online)

or head back to Toronto Translators

The World’s WORST Interpreting Advice

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Now, onto the show…

It’s hump day and to make it more palatable, I decided some humor was in order. I read a lot of advice blogs because, quite frankly, I’m not good at a lot of things. I need all the advice I can get. I am, however, an expert in doing this WRONG. So heed this warning:

The Following Interpreting Advice Should Not Be Used Under Any Circumstance.

You have been warned…

Tip #1 – Give the “gist”

Doctors, lawyers, and insurance brokers are often in a hurry. Time is money or so the saying goes. Do them a favor. When interpreting for one of their clients only relay the gist of the conversation. Details are not as important as you may think.
Example – If a patient tells you “I think I’m having a heart attack and I can’t breathe” save the doctor, the patient, and yourself sometime by giving the gist –“I am not feeling well”.

Tip #2 – Always Be Late

As an interpreter, you don’t want to look overeager! Arrive fashionably late. Not only will you look cool but it’ll also give your clients some extra time to sit in awkward silence. If you can, arrive with latte in hand. It’s a signal to everyone that coffee was more important than being on time. You’re an interpreter rock star.

The only thing cooler than being late is…

Tip#3 – Don’t Show Up at All

Supply and demand! This is basic economics people! If demand is high and there is little supply, you can charge a premium. But don’t wait until the scale tips naturally, give it a nudge by giving the impression that you’re too busy to take on new clients. If they really want you, they will cough up the extra dough.

Tip #4 – ABT

Everyone has heard of the acronym ABC (Always Be Closing). It’s a classic sales tip that reminds you that everything you do in sales is to put you in a position to close (strike a deal). ABT is similar. It stands for Always Be Texting. People LOVE gadgets and with the iPhone 5 recently debuting, your clients will surely be impressed when they see your fingers a-flyin’ across that remarkable device.

Tip #5 – Fake It ‘til You Make It

This is my last piece of advice to interpreters. If you don’t know the equivalent of the word in the target language, make something up. Don’t forget, you’re a professional. If you skip a beat or have to pause to think of the word, you’ll look amateur. Besides, neither of your clients will know that you switched a word. After all, you’re the only one in the room that knows both languages!

There you go folks, straight from the horse’s mouth. As a connoisseur of doing things poorly, these must be the WORST pieces of advice that I could give to interpreters.
Now get out there and interpret!

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How to Recover from a Bad Translation (and come out on top!)

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Before he knew it, phone calls were coming in droves. He stopped checking his email because his inbox was becoming unmanageable. How on earth was he going to explain this one to his boss?

John, a copywriter at a well known advertising agency, had just released (or rather unleashed) his latest ad for a major Japanese electronics manufacturer and to his dismay (and the dismay of many), the ad featured some rather awkward (read: inappropriate) copy. It turns out the translation company he hired used machine translation and neglected to proof read, as did John.

Now John, a relatively unknown copywriter, is out of a job (big deal!). The real damage done was to his client, the Japanese electronics manufacturer. As the executives of the manufacturing facility sat in the boardroom trying to figure out how to bounce back after this PR nightmare, they read this very article:

How to Recover from a Bad Translation:

Step 1:

Take a deep breath (everything will be o.k.)

Step 2: Assess the Damage

Assessing the damage is easily done thanks to social media. If you’re a high profile company and you’ve made a “booboo”, you can bet it’s already on Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere. Do a keyword search for your blunder and see what comes up.

Step 3: Respond

Again, thanks for social media, you can respond quickly to those who have expressed concern over your, for lack of a better phrase, poor judgment. Apologize for the mistake! As viral as your blunder went, your apology will spread just as quickly.

Step 3: Turn a PR Nightmare into a PR Dream

I know it may feel like it but this isn’t the first time a company has released poorly translated adverts or, more generally, an embarrassing, under-thought out, advertisement. The most successful companies turn this bad press into a chance to do something fantastic.

Think of a way to get the community involved. Could you have a contest that has people Re-caption the advertisement? Probably! Could you poke a little fun at yourself on Youtube? I’ll bet you can!

Be creative.

Final Thoughts

In the age of social media, everything you do is a chance for you to engage with your customers. In years past, you didn’t have that option. You made a terrible marketing decision? YOU LIVED WITH IT UNTIL SOMEONE ELSE MADE A BIGGER MISTAKE. Now, you can get right in there! Apologize, mend fences, and have a little fun.

For more information on how to choose a language service provider that won’t EVER put you in this position, visit www.abletranslations.com

Also, check out this articles:

How to Choose a Language Services Provider

Three Reasons to Stay with Your Language Services Provider

Do This, Not That: Public Speaking Tips for Interpreters

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To be a great interpreter, you need to be a great public speaker. Having done a little bit of research on the topic of public speaking, I’ve found that most of the basic rules don’t apply. Most of the foundational skills for public speaking involve skills that are based on being a bit candid. Storytelling and using humor, for example, can make you a great public speaker but they will make you a poor interpreter. As an interpreter, it isn’t your job to be funny or a storyteller (you know that!). It’s your job to relay the messages of someone else who is a great public speaker.

As I researched, I asked myself “what makes a great interpreter in a public setting”. Here are three general tips that I’ve come up with:

1. Have you ever encountered a speaker that was fidgety? I mean constantly moving, shuffling papers, or adjusting their clothes. Did it bother you? If you said yes, you are part of the majority. Generally, audience feels less engaged and more distracted when the speaker nervously fidgets.

Do This, Not That
Before starting to interpret, make sure you are comfortable and organized. Adjust your clothing and arrange your materials prior to beginning your interpretation. Relax, put your hands at your sides (unless you’re an ASL interpreter), and start interpreting.

2. Omit your “umms” and “ahhs”. Make a concerted effort not to make “thinking noises”. This is often distracting to the listener. You’ll come across very professional and prepared if you omit your “umms” and “ahhs”.

Do This, Not That
If you need a moment to think, pause silently. I know interpreting must be on pace but an “umm” takes just as much time as a pause but it is far less distracting. Cutting out thinking sounds will be difficult especially if it is habitual. You’ll need to work to cut it out of your daily communications and work toward cutting it out of your interpretations.

3. Dress professionally and you’ll feel professional. This is classic advice. This is the advice my father gave to me and his father to him. The reason it’s classic is because it is one of those things in life that just happens to be proved time and time again. Trust me; this piece of advice is the real deal. When you feel professional, you’ll be confident and that will show through your voice, posture, and mannerisms.

Do This, Not That
Everyone has a different opinion of how professionals dress but there is some consensus. For men, you can’t go wrong with a dress shirt, black trousers, and black shoes. It is pretty standard and inexpensive to purchase if you require a professional look. Women can often dress in more versatile clothing (and to be honest, I’m not about to give advice on women’s fashion. I’m pretty clueless in that department). If you need some advice, check this out: http://www.ehow.com/how_2064031_dress-womens-professional-attire.html.

So there you have it folks, three public speaking tips for interpreters. Have any more to add? Comment below! If we get enough, I’ll put them in another tips blog.

You Can Teach a Man to Fish…

You can market, advertise, and sell until you’re blue in the face and maybe you’ll gain some buyers. Maybe they’ll be loyal clients for years or maybe they will be fair-weather friends that will switch companies at the drop of a hat. That’s the chance you take in the business world. This might sound a little crazy but what you need less of are “clients”. What you need is a bigger audience. A group of loyal people, who may or may not buy from you, but will defend your company and spread your message. Build an audience and your client list will follow.

This is nothing new. However, the approach to gaining an audience has changed with the development of social media. We’ve gone from word-of-mouth to word-of-mouse but gaining an audience is still done in the same way. The best way to get people listening to you and your business is to teach them something. Not many people can do what your business does so sharing a couple tips here and there won’t put you in a precarious situation.

You might be asking yourself, “What can my business teach someone?” The answer is quite simple. Teach them how to use your product or service more effectively. For example, in the language services industry, we teach companies how to use translations and interpreting to reach global markets, maintain an international brand, and foster a corporate culture of diversity. Even if a company isn’t using our services at the moment, they still use us as a source of knowledge.

The other great thing about your company taking on a teaching role is that others will do your marketing for you. If you teach someone something really amazing, they are likely to share it with their connections. Now, instead of reaching your network only, you are reaching a much larger audience: your network’s network.

Three Reasons to Stay with your Language Services Provider

By nature, I’m a positive guy. I see the glass as half full, except on Monday mornings. When I see blogs that outline the potential “mistakes” that will lead you to pursue a relationship with a different language service provider, I cringe a bit. It’s easy to point out the mistakes of others in hopes to draw new business, let’s just hope you don’t succumb to the pitfalls that you outlined in your blog.

I want to take a different approach, a glass half full orientation. I want to talk to you about the three reasons you should STAY with your language service provider. You’ll be much happier in the long run if you cultivate a strong relationship with your provider and here is why.

Three reasons to stay with your language service provider:

1) They know you and you know them

Providing language services can be tricky business and your needs are unique. Hopping from one service provider to another is really doing you a disservice for two reasons. First, you never give a company the chance to get REALLY good at working for you. At first, service can be a little bumpy especially when trying to exceed someone’s expectations but when you give a company the opportunity to work closely with you and on a frequent basis, things become like clockwork. Second, and this is especially important for technical translations, if you work with a language service provider consistently, they begin to learn more about your products and market segment. This allows them to offer additional services or more efficient ways to approach language and cultural-related issues.

2) They won’t let you release subpar work

Ok, so a lot of blogs will tell you to switch language service providers if they miss deadlines. Well, ok. But, I think this should to be qualified. I agree, if you can’t rely on your language service provider to serve you in a prompt manner, switch. Consider this though, what is the reason the deadline was missed? If your language service provider has you push back a deadline because there are foundational issues with the project, I consider that a reason to stay with them. It shows they care about your reputation. Anyone can throw together a project for the sake of meeting a deadline. A quality language service provider will be honest with you, let you know there is a problem, and work with you to fix it. We don’t want you to be embarrassed. We won’t let you release material that isn’t the best it could be. If you don’t believe me, look at all the mistranslation memes on the internet. Some phrases cannot be reproduced in another language; doing so instead of reworking the text with the client is irresponsible.

3) They Follow-up with you

Please stay with your language service provider if they take the time to follow-up with you. I don’t mean to market to you, I mean to make sure your project went off without a hitch. This is time consuming on the part of your provider but it’s a valuable opportunity for you to provide input so they can serve you better. It’s about building that solid relationship.

Go “Like” the Able Translations Facebook page. It is just one of the ways we like to stay in-touch with our friends. On our page you’ll find valuable resources (and a lot of other cool things I post on a daily basis). For SEO’s, if you “like” our page, I’ll be sure to return the favor.

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5 Random Thoughts about Language

1) What if EVERYONE spoke a different language?

Would we have evolved if there was no shared language? If everyone spoke a different language, I don’t see how society could have formed together under a veil of shared meaning, norms, and morals. Just thinking about the organization of work and the necessary efficiencies, I don’t know that we could have coordinated ourselves in a way that made farming possible let alone the complex tasks of today’s workforce.
…imagine what Facebook would look like?

2) What if EVERYONE spoke the SAME language?

I know, I know, pretty similar to the first question. But, think of the ramifications. Imagine how quickly the world could have evolved if everyone spoke the same language and was able to share ideas right from the start. On the other hand, because language is so closely tied to culture (and vice-versa) would we lose out on all the wonderful things that stem from language diversity?

We would lose awesome phrases such as “Bon Appétit” or “Al Dente”. Basically, nobody would wish us a good meal as we eat our mushy pasta.

3) Why is it fairly easy for humans to define most words but we struggle and debate over the meaning of the word “I”?

Studying sociology, I spent a lot of time in heated debates over the social significance and social definition of “I”. Symbolic interactionists contend that “I” is our internal self that we piece together through our understanding of how other people see us.

Looking Glass Self


“I” isn’t like toaster or car seat. For some reason, we have a hard time grasping something that is so central to our existence. It is a word we just can’t define properly.

4) Why does a word start to sound funny and lose meaning when you say it over and over again?

Not much to say on this one but say the word “tree” 20 times and tell me it doesn’t make you laugh.

5) The mystery of organic palindromes

Do you know what a palindrome is? A palindrome is a word that is spelled the same forward as it is backwards.

-Race Car

When I refer to an “organic” palindrome, I’m speaking about a word that has evolved in a natural way not for the purpose of creating a palindrome.

What I wonder is HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE! What are the odds that this could even happen?

I’m astonished.

Join us for a FREE Webinar

Dear WordPressers,

Able Translations is pleased to invite you to view our free webinar, No Barriers: Communicating with Patients via Video Remote Interpreting. This is an amazing opportunity for you to gain valuable insight into how vicki, Able Translations video remote interpreting solution, is helping healthcare facilities better manage patient care.

Topics to be discussed include:

• Language services as a keystone of patient care

• Vicki as part of your facilities diversity planning

• Vicki as experienced by frontline healthcare providers

• The interpreter’s perspective

• Questions and answers from viewers

Those who submit a question during our question and answer session will be entered into a draw to win a $100 gift card to Amazon.com.

Please join me on Tuesday, October 16th 2012 from 12:00pm – 1:30pm (Eastern time) to view our webinar, No Barriers: Communicating with Patients via Video Remote Interpreting.

To register, visit: http://www.oha.com/Education/Pages/CalendarofEventDetails.aspx?eventid=DL587

To learn more about vicki, please visit www.seevicki.com or call us at 1-800-840-5370.

The Difference between Simultaneous Interpreting and Consecutive Interpreting Services

Interpreting comes in two basic forms, simultaneous and consecutive. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. The one you choose is based on the situation in which it will be used but it is also largely personal preference.

Let’s take a look at the difference between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting.

Simultaneous Interpreting

Simultaneous is like the Lamborghini of interpreting. If interpreting was a spaceship, it would be the Millennium Falcon. If it were a couch, it’d be that sweet black leather sectional you saw at the Brick on the weekend. It’s the Big League Chew, Michael Jackson, Coca-Cola, Peanut butter and jelly sandwich of interpreting.
That's right, I referenced Big League Chew
But…I digress.

Simultaneous interpreting involves converting your message into a different language in real-time. A team of interpreters, in special sound booths, hear you speak through headphones and immediately deliver your words in another language to audience members with headsets. This allows you to speak freely and at a natural pace.

Essentially, the process works like this. The speaker will get a few words into his sentence and then the interpreter will start interpreting with a small lag. As the speaker orates, the interpreter listens and speaks at the same time, converting one language into the other.
The amount of mental energy and concentration these interpreters have is, to completely understate it, magnificent. To give you an idea of how mentally taxing simultaneous interpreting is for the interpreters, they generally switch on-and-off every 20 minutes or so.

Consecutive Interpreting

Consecutive interpreting is like the all-terrain-vehicle of interpreting. The setup isn’t nearly as extensive as simultaneous interpreting but it allows for a conversational approach to interpreting.

Consecutive interpreting is as awesome as a Batmobile ATV
Simultaneous interpreting is generally done at conferences when the exchange of information is one-way whereas consecutive interpreting can easily allow two or more people to converse.

Consecutive interpreting has you speaking first, pausing, and then the interpreter interprets. Essentially, your speech or conversation would be divided into chunks, usually by idea, and then delivered by the interpreter.

Which One Should You Choose?

Simultaneous is great for large events and conferences. It allows the speaker to orate naturally, giving a more candid feel to the presentation. With the addition of multiple sound booths, a speech could be interpreted into many different languages to accommodate a highly diverse audience.
Consecutive interpreting is great for business meetings, court hearings, grass roots meetings, and other conversational situations.

visit Able Translations to learn more about Interpreting.

Video Game Localization: All Your Base Are Belong To Able

All your...what?

All my base are belong to…wait…what?

This meme is as old as the internet itself. Well, maybe not that old. According to knowyourmeme.com, this poor video game translation started to circulate the net in 1998/99. Know Your Meme says this:

“All Your Base Are Belong to Us” is a popular catchphrase that swept across the internet at the dawn of 21st century as early as in 1998. An awkward English translation of “all of your bases are under our control,” the quote originally appeared in the opening dialogue of Zero Wing, a nostalgic 16-bit shoot’em up game released in 1989.”

Being part of the internet generation and growing up during the video game revolution, “All your Base Are Belong to Us” is part of my lexicon. But until I started working at Able Translations, I never really considered the issue that lies far beneath this translation blunder.

Video Game Localization

“All Your Base Are Belong to Us” isn’t the only poorly translated video game that came from my generation. Here is my favorite:

A Winner Is You?

Is this supposed to be Hulk Hogan?

There are a million more, some of which are more than embarrassing; they venture into the obscene.

Video game localization involves more than translation, however. There is a lot of behind the scene tech work that needs to get done for a video game to succeed in local markets. For example, text encoding needs to be changed for the locale. The standard now is Unicode which allows text to be written from left to right and vice-versa. It also supports a variety of characters for proper written text.

Bored Yet? Me Too.

So let’s stop talking about the technical aspects of video game localization (translation, text format, field length, etc) and talk about the culture of video games and localization.

In the video game world, setting and character development is king. Localization would change characters and locations to suit local taste while preserving the underlying themes, game play, and game atmosphere. Seeing as video games sell amazingly well across most cultures, would localization improve sales or diminish them?

I’ll use a concrete example. Call of Duty, one of the most popular video game franchises, has been banned in a variety of countries due to the graphic nature of the game, specific missions that target national leaders, and perspectives that some countries feel are disrespectful to their nation.

I’m not here to talk about censoring video games, I’m just a lowly blogger in the language services industry. What I am speaking about is the business perspective. Could this franchise, for instance, localize its content to suit their target market’s taste and increase profits with a globalized version of the game?

I actually think they could and it has, in fact, been done successfully.

Mario Bros. 2 was originally a game called Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki PanicA Japanese adventure game. The sprites were redesigned for the North American market and it became a commercial success!

So what do you think? Obviously video game localization is necessary as far as technical aspects but should cultural aspects also be localized?

Comment and let me know what’s on your mind or visit Able Translations to find out more about Localization

If I Could Speak a Million Languages – Poem

If I Could Speak a Million Languages

– Michael Thorpe (Able Translations)

If I could speak a million languages, my message would still be true

With all the words available

I’d tell you I love you

I’d say it in French, in Polish, and Swahili

With all the words available

You wouldn’t need to translate me

If I could speak a million languages, my message would be the same

I’d tell you that I need you and that will never change

I’d say it in Arabic and German

or chirp it like the birds

But I’d really rather show you

Because actions speak louder than words.

Able Translations


Dogs, Widgets, and Internationalizing Your Brand

Advertising boils down to basic sociology. Of course there are external factors that can change the behavior of consumers, but at the core, society functions on the idea of shared meaning. Shared meaning, or consensus, is at the root of communication. For example, if I type the word dog, in most instances, everyone will picture the same thing.

Well, wait a second, if I said “dog” to a non-English speaker, would they picture the same thing? Perhaps not…but I’ll come back to this later because it’s important.

Okay, where was I? Oh yes, shared meaning. I’ll give you another example. Carl Jung’s work centered on the idea of archetypes. Essentially, he spoke about universal symbols and experiences. These symbols and ideas are recognizable to most people.

They aren’t part of the Jungian archetypes, but I’ll give you an idea of some universal symbols and ideas. Ready? Here are a few to get you thinking: Family, friendship, love, sadness, good and evil, and life and death.

(You might be asking how this fits into brand internationalization. I’m getting there, I promise.)

Let’s revisit my point about the dog. The word “dog” might be meaningless to a non-English speaker but most people would recognize a dog if they saw one. The qualities attributed to the dog might also be different. I think of loyalty, friendship, and family but you might think smelly, dirty, and unruly (my dog storm is a combination of all of those). So depending on your perspective, a dog might mean different things.

The Point

You have two options when internationalizing your brand. You can either create a new brand image in every market OR you can create an international brand identity and make small changes to your graphics, idioms, and language. The second option is not only more efficient at creating a strong brand but it’s also more cost-effective. You won’t have to re-brand in every market.

Basically, you need your brand to be based on a universal but make tweaks to the dog. Confused? Let me clear things up with an example:

Widgets and Doohickeys Canada wants to internationalize their brand. Looking at their sales demographics, they see that their widgets and doohickeys are bought by married couples with two or more children. Naturally, they decide to base their international brand image on the universal idea of family. So, they create their Canadian advertising. It shows a family skating together during a snowy Canadian winter.

The caption reads: “Keeping Families Warm When It’s Cold Outside”.

A great Canadian piece of adverting that absolutely won’t be effective in Puerto Rico.

Widgets and Doohickeys want to keep that “family” message; it symbolizes what their brand is all about. So, they make tweaks. They change the language, the graphic, and the idiomatic expression to suit the tastes of those in Puerto Rico and how they view family togetherness.

With this method, they are cultivating an international brand image using the universal notion of family but are making adjustments for cultural perceptions of what family means.

The Role of the Language Services Provider

Language Services Providers offer what is known as localization. We work with your universal appeal but target it to the tastes of different cultures. This might mean adjusting graphics to give it local appeal, changing colors to those that a culture associates with your main message, arranging typesetting and content flow to appeal to cultural standards, and translating your message to engage your target audience.

The goal is to maintain your global brand image while also carving a niche in a local market. Taking this approach ensures that you avoid a generic marketing message. This helps you leverage your communication efforts and differentiates your product from local offerings.

Join Me on Facebook Tomorrow
I will be doing a Q&A on interpreting, translating, localization, internationalization, and anything else you can think of. Just like us at: www.facebook.com/abletranslationsen

Cost More Important Than Quality, Says the Translation Bureau

I was reading the Benchmarking and Comparative Analysis report which was released by the Translation Bureau and a quote caught my attention:

“With some exceptions such as certified or legal documents, quality is not considered as important to clients as cost”.
The Translation Bureau – Benchmarking and Comparative Analysis (2012)

Before delving into what this quote means to translation businesses, I want to explain the “fast, cheap, good” pricing strategy and how it fits into an overall consumer strategy for buying and a company strategy for pricing. This pricing method has been a mainstay in business for decades. Here is a quick rundown:
Essentially, a customer can pick two of three of these qualities when purchasing a product or service: fast, cheap, good”.

• If you want it fast and cheap, it won’t be good
• If you want it cheap and good, it won’t be fast
• If you want it fast and good, it won’t be cheap

In the market in general, we’re seeing a shift in consumer behavior. In my opinion, quality has become assumed and companies are left to compete on price and speed. This isn’t a problem in highly regulated industries but I think it spells disaster for consumers when purchasing services from industries that aren’t required to adhere to national and international standards.

For the translation industry, this purchasing strategy (cheap>quality) is dangerous. With the high availability of machine translation software, consumers may run the risk of improper translations from companies that choose to neglect quality in favor of price and speed.

In our industry, consumers should focus not on cost, but on return-on-investment. If you follow the news, we’re seeing countries spending exorbitant amounts of money correcting poor translations on public signage. What was cheap is no longer. In other areas, just as an example, a poorly translated website may be less costly initially but errors in translation can lead to fewer conversions in international markets. You may even end up offending someone because of differences in cultural context. Before deciding on a company purely from a cost-perspective, at least ensure they adhere to third-party standards. Price is important but quality translations are critical to your organization in the long run.

To my readers, are you finding this in your industries? What effect do you think this has had on your pricing strategy? I’m interested to know.

For More Information on This subject visit Able Translations atTranslations Toronto

Sign Here, Please?

Accessibility is at the heart of the Canadian medical system. We often think of accessibility as our ability to receive medical care regardless of geography, income, or if you’re a persons with a disability. For a moment, I’d like you to think about accessibility in terms of wait time. After all, doesn’t increased wait time impede our access to health care?

Now, I’m not writing about how long it takes Canadian’s to see a doctor; space here is limited. I’m writing about the wait time faced by the hearing impaired. Imagine this: you arrive at the hospital needing urgent care. You sign to the triage nurse that this is an emergency. The nurse responds in pseudo-sign language the “one moment please” finger while she furiously tries to find an American Sign Language trained staff member. After 30 minutes, you are finally able to get the care that you need. You breathe a sigh of relief.

This is a problem faced by over 310 000 Canadians. Language services providers (LSP) have found a solution. It’s what those in the industry have dubbed VRI or Video Remote Interpreting. For the first time, doctors and nurses will be able to access an American Sign Language interpreter almost instantly; an invaluable tool in those crucial moments. But VRI isn’t limited to sign language only.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say an emergency room physician gets a patient that speaks only Tamil. The doctor would sign into a web-based application, where they would request a Tamil to English interpreter. They would then be linked through a two-way video interface to the interpreter. This is significant because visual cues are sometimes critical in aiding the doctor’s diagnoses of the issue.

Basically, what we are seeing here is the on-demand aspects of over-the-phone interpretation coupled with the amount of information that can be processed by an onsite interpreter. No longer will clients have to choose between quickness and descriptiveness. They can have both.

For More Information on This subject visit Able Translations atTranslations Toronto

How to Choose a Language Services Provider

There has been a large influx of language services providers in the market place. This has made it difficult to differentiate between “mom and pop” language services providers and those that offer high quality, comprehensive services.

Here are the top five criteria you should use when trying to find a language services provider.


  1. Is the language services provider accredited by third-party “standards” organizations?


When choosing a language services provider, always make sure they are recognized by a local association that monitors quality and standards. If the company has offices internationally, make sure they are also accredited by international organizations.

Certifications to look for include: ISO 9001, CAN/CGSB – 131.10-2008, and EN 15038. But never accept the bare minimum.

  1. Have they made significant investments in the field of language services?


This is an important one. Is there evidence that the company is making significant investments in improving the provision of language services? Do they offer innovative services like “video remote interpreting” (this service will be explored in my next post)? Did they develop the interface or did they license it from another company?

A company that invests in “added value” types of language services is generally better equipped to serve you, both technologically and in terms of personalized service.

  1. Do they use human translations instead of machine translations?


With the advent of Google Translations and other translation software, organizations may opt to do their own translations. This is a huge mistake because this type of software does not take into consideration context or cultural nuances. An even bigger mistake is spending your hard earned cash on a language services provider that relies on this type of software to do their translation work.

Choose a company like Able Translations. They only use human translators.

  1. Do they offer more than just interpreting and translating?


The long-term strategic plan of major organizations often involve a plan for global market penetration. Make sure that the language services provider you choose offers more than just the core services. Even if you don’t need them right away, services like multicultural design, application and product localization, and cultural consulting will eventually come in handy. You don’t want to have to switch horses mid-race.

  1. Do they offer free quotes?


Would you buy a car without test driving it? Even more to the point, would you sign the lease before knowing the price? The same situation applies to language services providers. You need to be able to anticipate costs. Getting dinged with a large, unexpected bill for services can disrupt your cash flow. If they offer free quotes, take advantage of it. It will allow you to update your budget and it also shows you that the language services provider is committed to customer services.

There you have it, the top five things to look for before hiring a language services provider.

For more information on Translations in Toronto visit Able Translations.

Proud to be Canadian

Before celebrating the accomplishments of our Canadian competitors, Able Translations just wants to take a moment to congratulate every Olympic athlete on their performance. Top three finish or not, you’re all champions. You represented your country beautifully and you should be proud.

                As in every Olympics, our Canadian athletes showed the world the true spirit of our nation. They exhibited dedication, poise, and sportsmanship. We’d like to take this opportunity to highlight some of our athletes’ accomplishments at this, the Games of the XXX Olympiad.


Our first gold medal was aptly awarded to Rosie Maclennan of King City, Ontario in the Trampoline event. No, no, this isn’t the “backyard tumbling” we’ve come to recognize as trampolining. Olympic trampoline is a highly skilled form of gymnastics involving bounces up to 10 meters high and forces up to 10gs upon impact. Ms. Maclennan, a fierce competitor, edged out Chinese athlete Shanshan Huang by a miniscule 0.575 points. Way to bounce ahead of the competition, Rosie. Sorry about the pun.


Both our woman’s eight and heavy weight men’s eight pulled out all the stops to secure silver medals in Olympic rowing. One of the most physically grueling events in the Olympics, rowing is as much a mental battle as it is a physical one. Our athletes dug deep and came away sporting some Olympic hardware. You guys sure can row, row, row your boat…


Ryan Cochrane (the swimmer, not the Olympic kayaker) and Brent Hayden claimed Olympic silver and bronze, respectively. Cochrane left nothing in the pool as he sprinted the last 50m in the men’s 1 500m freestyle but fell short to China’s power-house swimmer, Sun Yang. Hayden, who was suffering from back pain before stepping onto his block, fought hard in the men’s 100-metre freestyle and finished with a respectable time of 47.80 seconds winning Canada our first medal in swimming.

ImageCanada hit a stride in Olympic synchronized diving, with two of our women’s teams being awarded bronze. Both our 3-meter team (Heymans and Abel) and 10-meter team (Benfeito and Filion) performed flawlessly. Their grace and skill was only outshined by their connection and dedication to each other. Absolutely amazing

ImageOne of our toughest athletes (I mean that in the truest sense of the word), Antoine (Tony) Valois-Fortier, took the bronze after two difficult repechage bouts. Demonstrating that his iron will is just as strong as his iron jaw; he beat out American Travis Stevens to steal the Bronze. This is nothing short of amazing considering Valois-Fortier had fought four bouts in about five hours. 


In a Canadian Olympic first, Christine Girard from British Columbia finished third in Olympic weightlifting. Competing at a mere 63 kilos (138.6 pounds), Christine lifted a staggering 103 kilos (226.6lbs) in the snatch and 135 kilos (297lbs) in the clean and press. Just to give you some idea, that’s like lifting the equivalent of a full-grown male lion over your head!   

We’ll get the rest of these amazing graphics posted as soon as we can. Good luck in the closing days of the games, Canada.

-Able Translations

Translations Toronto


Dear Internet-users from across the globe,

Able Translations is now on WordPress and boy are we excited to be here.

On our blog you’ll find company updates, articles about the language services industry, how-to’s, and other content that will interest YOU.

Drop by our Facebook and Linkedin profiles to share suggestions on some topics that you would like to see explored here at the Able Translations Blog.

Just so you have an idea of what’s in store over the next week, we’ve got some amazing graphics, which were designed by Rui from our creative team, that celebrate our Canadian Olympic medal winners. Exciting, right? we think so.

Until next time!

Thanks for visiting,

Able Translations

Translations Toronto