Three quarters of internet users don’t speak English as their first language.
That’s the picture according to “best guess” statistics from Internet World Stats (see “Crunching the stats” below). This means a vast amount of potential traffic is being ignored by many site admins and developers.
But how do you get to grips with the “other” three quarters of the planet, and which languages should you choose?
Flag icons are a bad choice for language navigation within websites. We explain why, and look at some better options, in the first of our series on multilingual website design.
The internet has allowed an explosion in multilingual communication. Previously companies or organisations had to produce printed publications in a limited range of languages and physically get the right language version in the right place. Now a website can easily be translated into several languages, preferably by a professional translator of course.
The So Bad, So Good website has come up with its list of the best 25 non-English words with no counterpart in English: “25 Handy Words That Simply Don’t Exist In English”. This makes for an amusing read, and it would be interesting to hear what speakers of those languages feel.
Translators, of course, are well used to this difficulty. It is all too common to come across a word that has no direct equivalent or requires further elaboration to explain the implied nuances. Even worse is a word in the source text which has more than one meaning and is ambiguous in context. It may even be that the source text knowingly plays on this ambiguity – then the translation must aim to relay this ambiguity by careful choice of words or expansion and explanation.
It sounds a mad question, but “Does foreign language have a place in translating literature?” Put differently, when translating literature, how many words should be left in the original language? Should “foreign” words in English-language texts convey a sense of a culture, or be used as a last resort for the “untranslatable”?
Tomorrow is International Translation Day, and we have produced a free e-card for you to download or pass on. Each year the day takes a theme, highlighting a different area of translation. This year’s theme is “Translation Quality for a Variety of Voices”.