April 29, 2024 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 it. 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 create a stronger connection between the company and the viewers.

Many low-value productions are now using AI to create text-to-speech narrations from one language to another.

As text-to-speech technology keeps improving, it's important to note that AI can only “simulate” human nuance. It doesn’t take long before an inflection or tone sounds “off”.

Unfortunately, that can leave a negative aftertaste about your brand in the viewer’s mind.

A human bilingual voice actor has inherent advantages when it comes to voice acting for localized content. Fluent in multiple languages (and usually, cultures), the voice actor grasps the nuances and subtleties of languages, including cultural references, idioms, and colloquialisms. This understanding 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!

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.”

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 hiring professional human translators and voice actors. They know cultural nuances and can help the client's instructional designers avoid those pitfalls. Don’t even get me started on machine translation services!

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 content, effective communication, and building connections. Human, 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.