Why you need to get the English right first.

One of the of the key topics for online exporters concerns language and translations.

How much of your site you translate and into what languages is a big question. You need to be clear what are your target markets and how to deal with them, and that’s too big a question for this short article.

However, one thing to be aware of is that even if you leave all of your site in English, a visitor from overseas will find his browser attempts to translate the site into his local language.

Whether you are going to have your site translated or not, the important thing is to make sure you have the English right.

In England we love language and like to make plays on words and puns. We like to create clever headlines and smart phrases. What we must remember is that these just don’t translate. So the first golden rule is avoid clever English and keep it simple. Forget the smart puns.

Jargon should be carefully considered. In technical communications it may be valuable. However, ensure that the jargon is internationally understood. Even in English speaking markets what appears obvious may be confusing. Something so simple as a 'spanner' is a 'wrench' in the US. Then non-English speaking audiences may translate using US English or UK English, with potentially confusing results.

The next task is to go through and ruthlessly eliminate all colloquialisms and slang. Terms like; “top notch, thinking out of the box, down your street, plain sailing, even red-hot,” may just not translate. Worse, they may translate with inaccurate, bad or even damaging results.

We have all smiled at funny or catastrophic translations into English on imported packaging or restaurant menues. While those items may be amusing on a business website they could result in lost sales and cost you money.