Alexa Steele en beBee in English, Digital Marketing, Marketing Win your customers' hearts (and wallets) with custom content writing • The Website Wordsmith 10/10/2016 · 2 min de lectura · 1,2K

Why localization matters in the English-speaking world

Why localization matters in the English-speaking world

English. It’ s one of the most widespread languages on planet Earth. Roughly a billion people speak it as either a first or second language. It is often used as the official language of business, international trade, and diplomacy.

Yet, even among native speakers, English is not universally understood.

The Doctor and the American

Ah, The Doctor. That loveable, ancient, time-travelling madman in a blue box.

If you’re not familiar, The Doctor is the lead character in the BBC’s long-running science fiction series, Doctor Who. He’s an alien whose spaceship is also a time machine. In it, he travels throughout history and the universe using brains, bravado, and far-fetched technology to fight monsters and evil robots.

The Doctor is famous for fast-talking gibberish. He confounds friends and enemies alike with babble about timey-wimey, science-y stuff.

But as an American watching the show, it’s not talk of quantum locks, vortex manipulators, or pocket universes that throw me off. It’s the everyday expressions; the ones I haven’t encountered this side of the Atlantic.


Why localization matters in the English-speaking world

4 Britishisms I learned from Doctor Who

#1 Snog

For a man who is supposed to be over 900 years old, The Doctor sure has a way with the ladies. And why not? He’s brilliant, funny, handsome. . . and he’s got a time machine.

But when I first saw this scene from The Girl in the Fireplace,

Why localization matters in the English-speaking world
I had no idea what snogging was. Not that it was all that hard to figure out.

#2 Stag Night

The Doctor’s way with the ladies sometimes leads to tension with the fellas (or blokes – but that’s another word I never hear Americans say). For example, the time he crashed Rory’s bachelor party in The Vampires of Venice. Only bachelor party is not what they called it:

Why localization matters in the English-speaking world

#3 Lodger

When I read the title of this episode, the words The Lodger had no meaning to me. I also hadn’t yet figured out that flat means apartment.

Why localization matters in the English-speaking world
But I quickly learned that if a strange man shows up on your doorstep with a bag full of money, go ahead and rent your spare room to him. He might just save you from the sinister alien living upstairs.

#4 Torch

When I hear torch I think, “burning stick.” And quite frankly, burning sticks would have looked right at home as The Doctor and Queen Nefertiti ran from Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. Apparently, though, torch is just another way of saying flashlight.

Why localization matters in the English-speaking world

Since we don’t have a TARDIS translation matrix...

Encountering words from a different English dialect can be fun. Confusing at times, but mostly harmless and humorous.

In a professional setting, though, communicating with precision should be your highest priority.

Localization is the process of adapting communications (especially marketing materials) for a particular audience. Its importance is epitomized by embarrassing mistranslations, like the time KFC’s “finger-lickin’ good” became “eat your fingers off” in China.

Cultural faux pas can leave your customers baffled, or worse, offended. And that’s just not good for business.

Localization, even within the English-speaking world, helps your customers relate to you. So when you’re targeting the US market, always hire an American copywriter. Someone who will naturally write in a voice familiar to your audience.

Alexa Steele is an American copywriter and sci-fi junkie. She is available to help your brand develop US-focused content marketing and native-English communications. 

If you enjoyed this post please give it a buzz. And if you’re a Whovian, leave a comment with the name of your favorite companion.

Max🐝 J. Carter 18/12/2016 · #7

As a fellow Scifi junkie I love the approach.

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Alexa Steele 12/10/2016 · #6

#4 Oh, that's good, Dean! Although most of us call the "waste paper basket," the "trash." Or for the more eco-conscious, "recycling bin"

Alexa Steele 12/10/2016 · #5

#3 You're right, James, there are many, many more. And it is fun to make comparisons even between, say, the Southern accent and the Northeast accent in America (y'all vs yous guys). You might enjoy this post

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Dean Owen 12/10/2016 · #4

Reminded me of this hilarious clip -

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James O'Connell 12/10/2016 · #3

Hey Alexa, nice read, there are 100's more only I'm struggling to come up with them! A more modern term for 'snogging' is 'shifting'. The BBC do real well at keeping the 'terminology' on a level that is suitable to viewers outside the UK while maintaining a familiarity to native or local folk. Dr Who is a great example of clearly British script writing for a wider audience.
I'm Irish living in UK, so have another range of examples from back home, like 'ejit' meaning idiot. I find English language great & quite amusing. For if I didn't it would sure stress me out, what with all its rules and exceptions to those rules unlike other languages which stick to their rules. And then their is the whole pronunciation ...aagh don't get me started haha
Have you heard much cockney slang? That's a London specific localisation.
Back to your point though, it is very valid in terms of marketing & advertising to get the language(slang included) right for the audience. A good example of error at present in the UK is how the Cadbury's brand is being delivered. It's a whole story which I won't go into [actually I might do a piece on this] but basically the current style is far removed from what the Brits have known and loved about the previously British brand most grew up with. (' ' ,)

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Alexa Steele 11/10/2016 · #2

#1 Never heard that one either, @Deb Helfrich. Learn something new every day.

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Deb Helfrich 11/10/2016 · #1

Know what the bachelorette version of stag night is, Alexa? Hen do.

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