Localization!

June 26, 2023 08:30 AM By Paul Boucher

Bilingual content is often adapted or translated for another region or country for large corporations. 

The practice is called localization.

Localizing content to a specific region's culture, language, jargon, and values can significantly impact how the local learner receives and understands the content. By tailoring the content to match the cultural norms and preferences of the region, it becomes more relatable and resonates better with the locals. Localization helps in creating a stronger connection between the company and the learners.

A bilingual voice actor has inherent advantages when it comes to voice acting for localized content. Fluent in multiple languages, the voice actor grasps the nuances and subtleties of languages, including cultural references, idioms, and colloquialisms. This understanding enables them to deliver a performance that accurately translates the words and captures the intended meaning and tone behind the original content. It ensures that the voice actor can effectively convey the source material's emotions, humor, and cultural context to the learners in the region's language, for example, US or Canadian English. They really can be different, eh!

Choosing a voice actor with experience and knowledge about the nuances of corporate culture is crucial. Corporate culture encompasses the values, beliefs, and practices that define an organization and often varies between regions and countries. A voice actor who understands these nuances can accurately portray the corporate culture in localized content. This clarity helps maintain consistency and authenticity across different cultural contexts.

Localization is not just about translating words; it also involves adapting the content to fit the cultural context. Using the correct or relevant cultural idioms demonstrates an understanding and respect for the local culture and helps build rapport and trust with the audience. It also avoids potential misunderstandings or the ever-popular "unintended consequences."

There have been numerous examples of translation mistakes that have hurt the reputation of companies or individuals. One famous example in advertising is the case of Pepsi's slogan "Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation," translated into Mandarin as "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave." This translation error caused confusion and offended the Chinese audience by referencing a sensitive cultural topic. That mistake highlights the importance of thorough localization processes and the need to hire professional translators and voice actors. They know cultural nuances and can help the client's instructional designers avoid those pitfalls.

The long and short of it is this: localizing content to a specific region's culture, language, jargon, and values is crucial to create effective learning content, effective communication, and building connections. Bilingual voice actors with an understanding of multiple contexts have advantages in accurately conveying the intended meaning and emotions behind the content. Adapting the context and using the correct cultural idioms in translated or adapted content is vital for relatability and avoiding misunderstandings. Translation mistakes can significantly impact reputations, emphasizing the importance of professional localization and the expertise of voice actors as the "last stop" in bridging cultural gaps.