Sunday, January 24, 2010

Social Media As the Universal Translator

Two very interesting blogs last week - the first "Bloggers from Non English Speaking Backgrounds – Share Your Tips and Stories Here" addresses the problems faced by bloggers from non-English speaking backgrounds. According to the blog, they have two main issues:

Not knowing which language that they should blog in – should they blog in their own first language and have a smaller potential readership or blog in English where their readership could be larger but where they had challenges in writing as well?

Feeling isolated from other bloggers – a number reflected that at times they felt that they were not taken as seriously by bloggers in other parts of the world and found networking difficult.

Whereas the blog posting itself is short, the 179 comments (as of 13:30 Sunday) are a serious eye-opener into the hegemony of English in the business world. Reading through some of them, I would agree with the first of the two issues - some of the "Englishes" are so painful to read that it might turn potential audiences off.

To which the second blog entry, titled "Can Social Media become a Universal Translator?", albeit interesting, does not provide any tangible solutions. Automated internet based translations give the gist (sometimes) of what is said, but blogging is not about merely saying things. It is about showcasing how smart you are, your expertise, your marketing abilities. So to me, writing poorly in English, or writing in your own language and letting fishes or microbes or any other such animals translate for you into poor English is one and the same thing.

Is there a market for translators here?

I am very tempted to blog in two languages, having parallel translations of what I write in both English and Arabic. The only problem I have is finding the time to do so, coupled with the lack of any statistical data on how many Arabic-speaking readers are into blogging about translation, language and business.

Then there would be the problem of localising, as not everything acceptable in English would be culturally acceptable in Arabic. Localising, of course, could open a can of worms, with some bilingual readers wanting to know why the translations are localised (i.e. slightly different from the original) or - even worse - attempting to do their own translation of the source English. Maybe starting a brand new blog would provide a solution, but then you are losing your optimisation share (the search engines see it as two blogs, instead of a massive and continually updated single one).

I am open to suggestions.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

1 comment:

Aisha said...

Interesting. I tweeted you.