Language Mixing on the Rise

Do you speak ‘Hinglish’? Perhaps ‘Spanglish’, ‘Franglais’ or ‘Denglish’? If you were brought up in a bilingual home or live in a bilingual country, code-mixing – the mixing of two or more languages in speech – may be a natural part of your daily communication.

Indeed, these “hybrid” languages are nothing new; for centuries languages have been borrowing words from each other. In many cases, we borrow words from another language and incorporate them into our own without having any knowledge of the source language.

Today however, code-mixing has gone far beyond a fashion trend and just borrowing a few words here and there; whole new “languages” are evolving. Take for example, ‘Hinglish’, a portmanteau of Hindu and English. English is an associate official language of India, so naturally code-mixing was bound to happen, and did happen since colonial times. But to what extent, probably no one ever imagined.

Currently, more than 350 million people in India speak Hinglish, and it is so widespread that British diplomats are being urged to learn the ‘language’ before taking

their posts in the country, lest they be left lost in translation, which could seriously affect communications and business deals.

Hinglish is so ingrained in the culture, society and business world of India that even multinationals have realized they need to address their audience in this up-and-coming language. Pepsi’s slogan “yeh dil maange more!” (The heart wants more!) is

a prime example as is McDonald’s “what your bahana is?” (what’s your excuse?).

The mixing of languages is a natural outcome of increasing globalization. So, what should we expect

in the future? A hybrid of a hybrid?

 

The 1, 2, 3s of Arabic numerals

You want to translate your website into Arabic and decide on using Arabic numbers, i.e. (٠‎١‎٢‎٣‎٤…) rather than the numbers we all know and use in many parts of the world today (01234…).

Stop right there because the numbers we are familiar with today are actually Arabic

numerals and the numbers we call “Arabic” are not even Arabic at all, they are Hindu. In fact, both our numbers (Arabic numerals) and the numbers the Arabic language uses (Hindu numerals) are variations that originally stem from India and are more correctly known today as Hindu-Arabic numerals. However, for the purpose of clearly distinguishing between the variations, Arabic numerals and Hindu numerals are used independently here.

So why are our numbers called Arabic numerals? Why does the Arabic language use

Hindu numbers instead?

It all started between the 1st and 5th centuries AD when a numeral system was developed in India to represent the numbers 1 to 9. At this time the concept of “0” was known, but no symbol was used to represent it.

A few hundred years later in the 9th century AD, the Hindu numerical system made its way into Persia and the Middle East when Muslim mathematicians adopted it. During this century, the first use of “0” as a number was recorded in India, although interestingly at about the same time it was also being used throughout Persia and the Middle East.

Within the Islamic empires, variations of the Hindu numerals began to develop. What is known as Eastern Arabic numerals developed in present-day Iraq and are used today throughout Egypt and the Middle East (Persian and Urdu have their own variation). A century later, Western Arabic numerals, the “European” numbers we are familiar with today, developed in North Africa and Al-Andalus – the states governed by Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula.

Western Arabic numerals were at first only used in North Africa and Al-Andalus and it was not until the early 13th century that they were introduced into Europe via the Arabs, hence the name “Arabic numerals.” Italian mathematician, Leonardo Fibonacci, was a major player in promoting the Arabic numerals in Europe. He believed, and rightly so, that Arabic numerals provided a much simpler and more practical means of performing calculations than the Roman numerals currently in use then.

Although Arabic numerals were used in European mathematics as early as the 12th century, it wasn’t until the 15th century and the invention of the printing press that Arabic numerals were widely accepted and replaced Roman numerals. From there, Arabic numbers spread to the rest of the world.

Increase your Website Traffic with dakwak

Translating your website gives your company global exposure; but more importantly, it drives traffic to your website, which in turn can lead to increased sales and revenues – what every business ultimately wants to achieve.

The fact that 85% of consumers require information in their native language before making an online purchase cannot be emphasized enough. That is about a billion internet users surfing the web looking for information or something to purchase in a language other than English. When you “speak” the language of your potential customers, it builds credibility, communication, trust and loyalty. Why would any business, large or small, want to miss out on that huge opportunity? Just imagine if you could reach out and be visible to even just one percent of those people!

So how do you go about reaching your target audience and driving traffic back to your website? You may be thinking: easy, just use a free online automatic translation tool such as Google Translate and you will instantly be visible to the world.

Not quite.

Online automatic translation tools do not offer the valuable features that technologies such as dakwak provide to effectively reach global audiences:


Search engine visibility:
our technology allows your website to be found by users searching in their native language. Online translation tools do not add search engine

visibility to the translated versions of your website.

Localized text and media content: online translation tools only offer strict machine translation; however, dakwak allows you to control the text and media content uniquely and dynamically on each translated version of your website. Furthermore,

unlike on-the-fly translation tools, with dakwak you can replace specific sections of content or present different content for each translated version of your website. This means you will be delivering localized content and creating a fully localized experience for your visitors.

Fully functional translated website: online translation tools are limited to page translations based on your visitor’s demand. dakwak, on the other hand, offers fully functional translated versions of your website.

A multi-layered translation system: creates great flexibility by allowing you to choose between three levels of professional translation in addition to machine translation, crowd-sourced translation and translation by your team. Online tools only provide machine translation and crowd-sourced translation is only available for improving the quality of the machine translation and not the translation of the website itself.

Still not convinced? Why not try dakwak free trial, available here

Scholars Complete Dictionary that Translates Ancient Egyptian Language

Thirty-seven years in the making, scientists have finally completed a dictionary that translates Demotic Egyptian – a language that has been dead for over 1500 years.

Unlike hieroglyphs, which

was a more formal script used by the elite, Demotic Egyptian was the spoken and written language of everyday life in ancient Egypt from around 500 B.C. to A.D. 500.

The dictionary, called the Chicago Demotic Dictionary (available online), has recently been completed by researchers at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and will “provide a wealth of information about the Egyptian-speaking population in Egypt” and is “an indispensable tool for reconstructing the social, political and cultural life of ancient Egypt during a fascinating period,” says Janet H. Johnson, an Egyptologist at the Institute.

The scholars were able to compile the 2000-page dictionary from Demotic script found on stone carvings, pottery pieces and papyrus. Demotic, hieroglyphs and Greek were the three languages found inscribed on the Rosetta Stone, which enabled the first Egyptologists to decode the hieroglyphic script.

Surprisingly, although the language has been extinct for over 1500 years, the dictionary reveals that several words live on today, such as “adobe” (passed on to Arabic and Spanish), and “ebony.”

Effective Website Localization: Some Aspects to Consider

Since its launch, English has been the dominant language of the World Wide Web; however, in the last few years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of users whose native language is not English.

These days, to access international markets, reach potential customers, increase traffic to your site and ultimately grow your business, website localization is a must. If you are not familiar with how website localization can help your business go global, read our post about the benefits of website localization.

But before jumping into action, there are a few things to consider when localizing a website. First of all, localization is not just simply translating a website. Yes, translation is a major part of it, but in order to reach the end user, a website has to be adapted not only to their language, but to their culture as well.

Languages: What language(s) should you translate your website into? It really depends on your target markets and audience, and in-depth research into where you want your products and services to be visible can help clarify your marketing goals. That said, the so-called “killer” languages – the top five languages accounting for almost one billion Internet surfers are Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, and German.

Sometimes, localizing your website for a specific language can be tricky because some languages are spoken in more than one country that not only have different language usage, but also different cultural traditions. For instance the Spanish spoken in Spain is somewhat different to that spoken in Latin or South America and the cultural customs and values are also different. Likewise, the French spoken in France differs from the French in Belgium, Switzerland or Canada. In these cases, it may be best to localize a website for a specific country rather than a language.

International content: Translating a website is not as simple as it may appear, regardless of whether it is machine or professionally translated. So, it’s always a good idea to keep the source content of a website simple, consistent and if possible free of cultural references. This makes it easier to translate and will increase the likelihood of the content still making sense in another language.

Images and colors: Images can have a huge impact on potential customers and the last thing one wants to

do is offend the very people one is trying to reach. When localizing a website, it is important that images are adapted to conform with the target market and culture; an acceptable image in one culture could be considered negative or offensive in another. For example, in Scandinavian countries equality is highly valued; so an image depicting a director sitting alone behind his desk will not be viewed positively. But an image of a director mingling with his staff would. While some countries find it acceptable to portray women wearing little clothing or bikinis, other countries would find it offensive.

As a general rule, it is best to avoid images or symbols that have a religious connotation, any nationalistic symbols, or images that show body parts and hand gestures.

Although it seems trivial, your website colors can also affect traffic to your site. Colors have different associations in different cultures; in the Far East particularly, colors are deeply engrained in the culture. In China, black is a symbol of death and in Japan, white is the color of mourning.

Numerical data: A very simple yet often neglected detail is to check all numerical data when a website is translated and localized to make sure it adheres to the format used in a target country. This includes dates, weights, measurements, use of decimals and prices – which ideally should be in the local currency. Websites that have online payment methods should offer preferred methods in the target country (some countries have unique payment methods).