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Global Watchtower
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2013 WOW Benchmarks for 116 Economically Significant Digital Languages
Last week Common Sense Advisory published its annual update to the total online population (TOP) and world online wallet (WOW) numbers, including the details on 32 new languages. Today we released the top 30 languages on that list to non-members, along with an explanation of the data and benchmarks. Below, we suggest how they can be used for strategic

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Every Day Is International Translation Day
Last week linguists celebrated International Translation Day, the birthday of St. Jerome, patron saint of translators. However, every day presents an occasion to thank those who make global communication possible. We clipped a few mainstream news articles from the past few weeks in which language played a role. Product manuals bedevil users whether

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What Global Brands Can Learn from IKEA’s Blunder
In its 2013 catalog for Saudi Arabia, furniture retailer IKEA removed women from its pages (see image) in a half-hearted bid to “localize.” The ensuing controversy forced IKEA to admit its mistake and say that the images should not have been re-touched after all. However, there’s more to learn from this debacle than just

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Google Takes a Stand for Endangered Languages
Back in 2008, we wrote about Language Death and Why It Matters, lamenting the loss of “repositories of information and understanding that took thousands of years to gather.” In 2009, Google began a project to collect and preserve audio, video, and other digital artifacts of at-risk languages before they disappear altogether. Famously, the

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India Contemplates a Billion Web Users
As the dream of universal access moved in the past two years from laptops to tablets, the Indian government awarded an ambitious contract to UK-based Datawind Ltd. in the hope of bringing web-enabled tablets to students for under US$50 per child. We wonder what languages these devices will support. With over 700 languages spoken among the target population

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Viral Videos, Kolaveri Di, and Lessons for Localization
How did a song in Tamil become a viral video success? Within 10 hours of its release this past November, Why This Kolaveri Di? (which means, "Why this murderous rage, girl?"), became the most-searched YouTube video in India’s history. It was also the first Tamil film song to be premiered on MTV. As of January 11, 2012, this song from the Tamil

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Using Crowdsourced Translation to Create a Multilingual Newsroom
As the online digital divide becomes smaller and smaller, language still remains one of the last true barriers to consuming content anywhere, anytime. The Global Voices Lingua Project has found a way to overcome this barrier, and at the same time, build a multilingual newsroom. We interviewed Paula Góes, Multilingual Editor at Global Voices,

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South-to-South Trade: Is the Translation Industry Ready to Support It?
International trade has been changing directions. While trade used to work primarily in a North-South direction, there has been an increase in trade happening within the Southern hemisphere for some time now. This has happened because of various reasons – for example, the Northern economies have shrunk, Southern economies have opened up and achieved

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What Adding an "S" to "BRIC" Means for Language Service Managers
The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) officially added the "S" (South Africa) to their acronym in April this year during the third BRIC(S) Leaders Meeting in Sanya, Hainan (China). Not only were the 11 official languages of that nation added to the list of possible languages to be considered by translation managers, but so were the 2

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Search, and You Shall Find. In Your Own Tongue
The internet is becoming a more inclusive place as far as languages are concerned: Browsers with multilingual functionality are not a big deal at a time when domain names are being registered in many Indian languages. The minimum number of languages a website needs to have in order to be competitive is 16. So, why not search in your own language? Users

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Move Over Brad Pitt, Hollywood Wants Rajnikanth
In 1993, those Indians who enjoyed watching American movies in English may have cringed at Jurassic Park in Hindi, the first movie to be simultaneously released in English and Hindi in India.  However, so immense was the success of desi dinosaur talk that they soon had to accept dubbed Hollywood movies as part of life. Yet, not every dubbed

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ICANN Allows IDNs in Indian Languages
In 2009, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced its method for assigning internationalized domain names (IDNs) for non-Latin generic top level domains (gTLDs). Now ICANN has granted approval to India to administer gTLDs in Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali and Telugu. The new “dotBharat” namespaces

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European Online Language Preferences Revealed in Flash Eurobarometer Report
The European Commission (E.C.) recently published a 125-page Flash Eurobarometer report (#313) based on a Gallup survey of language preferences among internet users in 23 European Union (E.U.) countries. The data stems from telephone interviews conducted at the request of any service of the E.C. at the end of January 2011.The report charts volumes of

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Web Globalization: How Well Does Your Company Score?
Who’s the master of the web universe? We started our annual internet pilgrimage last fall in order to answer that question. Our team of multilingual testers on three continents logged their journey and took snapshots of the signposts, words, and images that today’s global web traveler encounters. As we went through the web, we asked questions

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Predictions for 2011: Increased Visibility for Language Services
Each year since 2005, Common Sense Advisory has issued predictions for the language services industry based on our extensive qualitative and quantitative research. In 2011, language will appear more prominently on the radar of global and domestic organizations than ever before: Marketers of everyday products feature built-in language support

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Vietnam: The Future Is Now
A survey from the Associated Press-GfK earlier this year shows that Vietnam’s economy is on the rise. A full 85% of respondents stated that the economy is stronger than it was five years ago, and 87% said that they expect it to be even stronger in another five years. How can international businesses prepare to enter this market, and what do providers

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Obama Expands Executive Council to Increase U.S. Exports
On March 11, 2010, President Barack Obama announced the National Export Initiative (NEI) to "double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America." This week, the White House announced that Obama would name 18 American executives to the Export Council, an advisory group that he created to focus on expanding

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India and the U.S. Survey Their Linguistically Diverse Populations
As the U.S. government attempts to count its population of roughly 300 million people, India gets ready to do the same – except it has nearly four times as many people. Two multilingual countries, two major Census initiatives. How exactly do they differ where language is concerned? We take a closer look: Asking the language question. In

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Google Aims to Protect Knowledge -- in 10,644 Language Pairs
We've written before about the wide gap between those members of the translation community who fear technology and those who embrace it.  Some critics say that efforts to automate or digitize any aspect of the translation process cannot possibly have the best interests of humans at stake. A recent announcement from Google proves the opposite to

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Twitter Migrates into Multilingual Markets
Twitter announced last week that it would be making its site available in French, Italian, German, and Spanish (collectively known in the language services industry as "FIGS"). As countries in the northern hemisphere head into winter, is the blue bird migrating to other markets in search of a warm reception? From a multilingual marketing perspective

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Twitters, Tweets, and Translating Buzz into Global Business
Last month, the Washington Post reported that Dell earned US$3 million in web sales from Twitter followers, making the company one of the first recognizable brands to turn its online cadre of followers into a tangible source of revenue. Dell occupies a coveted spot on the list of the 100 companies with the largest follower counts, along with just a

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Translation World Showcases a Multicultural Nation
At Translation World this week in Toronto, we met Michelle Munroe, the Central Coordinator of Parent and Community Involvement for the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). She facilitates the delivery of language services – including translation in 12 languages and interpretation in 175 – for more than 550 schools. TDSB allocates funding

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A Tale of Two Cities: Supporting International Commerce Well and Badly
After a week of diving in the Red Sea, we found ourselves wandering around Hurghada al Bahr al Ahmar in Egypt. We couldn’t help but notice that every street vendor queried passing tourists in several languages, beginning with German and English, sometimes trying Russian, as he tried to sell his t-shirts or shisha for "just 10 euros." Once he

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To Localize or Not to Localize...
... that is the question. Recently, we've noticed two reports of companies claiming that "it just isn't worth it" to have websites in other languages. Last week, the New York Times profiled several web-based businesses that elected to decrease or eliminate their web presence in some parts of the world, in spite of popularity in the local markets. This

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Multichannel Retail Meets Multicultural Communications
Last week, the National Retail Federation (NRF) held "Retail's Big Show 2009" in New York City against a backdrop of falling retail sales. Wal-Mart and Deloitte executives spoke about the economy, while we discussed the opportunities of multicultural marketing in a multichannel retail environment. During the conference, we journeyed from the subprime

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