Need to create doc outlining culturally sensitive issues
Thread poster: McJenni
McJenni
Local time: 11:14
Oct 15, 2014

I have been tasked with creating a doc that outlines culturally sensitive issues in the following languages:
fr_FR
de_DE
it_IT
es_ES
ja_JA
cn_ZH
en_GB
pt_BR
ru_RU

Looking for books, websites, training, etc. so I can begin compiling a list.


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Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:14
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
Too generic Oct 15, 2014

It seems to me that your question is a bit too generic, a bit like writing a book "about culture". Literally nothing and everything is a culturally sensitive issue in absolute terms. However, it might be meaningful to talk about such issues in the context of something else: issues in doing something, in a field of activity, in a situation etc. As you are asking on this forum, there might be culturally sensitive issues for (specific types of) translation in specific language combinations. But I do not think that you can ever compile a sensible list of such issues for any single language in itself, without reference to translation into another language.

And, if you want to even scratch the surface about each possible bilingual permutation in your list of languages, you have probably set the stage for a very large doc - possibly several years of work.

I hope this helps.


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McJenni
Local time: 11:14
TOPIC STARTER
More specific Oct 15, 2014

OK- to narrow it down- I work for a large online retailer, and these are some of the products I am working on:
• Software for a dropbox type product
• Game Apps and interface
• Customer facing videos
In the past I worked on Trading Card games and there were several issues we avoided. To name a few, in China, we could not use illustrations with skeleton bones as this was disrespectful to the dead. In Germany we could not use text that could be construed as a reference the Holocaust. Also, on game packaging we had some issues in certain countries in regards to the physical appearance of people portrayed (I can’t remember the exact issue, I think in certain countries we need to use fair haired people).
I understand there are a lot of complexities in gathering this information and I certainly can’t create a comprehensive list, but these “taboo’s” for lack of a better word do exist, and translators and in-country marketing reviewers seem to be aware of these issues. Wondering how I can try to capture some in order to improve our Internationalization process.


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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Too generic ... Oct 15, 2014

and it's part of the job you've been assigned to do.
Happy researching! Before the www, you would have had to take up permanent residence in a library.



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cecilea7
United States
Local time: 14:14
Member (2010)
Portuguese to French
+ ...
Too broad... Oct 15, 2014

That is why machine translation will never be able to replace human translation, and that only native speakers can best translate into their language.

[Edited at 2014-10-15 17:07 GMT]


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franbr
Local time: 14:14
Portuguese to English
Book Recommendation Oct 15, 2014

A few years ago I came across a book called: Recruiting, Retaining and Promoting Culturally Different Employees by Donald Rutherford. Not sure if that will help if your task, but it's a great resource for understanding culturally different people in the workplace.

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McJenni
Local time: 11:14
TOPIC STARTER
Collecting your past experiences Oct 15, 2014

OK- maybe I am not being clear... of course we use native speaker translators and editors....

We are just trying to create some guidelines to educate internal folks as they develop the product. Sadly, localization is often an afterthought to US Product Developers and at times, the entire product has to be reworked at the end of the process, when localization is occurring. I'd like to document red flags that could be avoided.

For example- I came across this article: http://www.wintranslation.com/2011/04/01/culture-and-business/

Perfect- noting that using the Qur’an in this manner is definitely unacceptable.

I'm sure that as translators/editors, you've experienced issues such as these, and know a whole host of issues that could be avoided. Hit me with them! I'd love to use this thread to hear about past blunders and things you look out for when you receive products for localization.


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McJenni
Local time: 11:14
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Oct 15, 2014

Thanks for the book recommendation- I will check it out!

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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:14
Portuguese to English
+ ...
''Hit me with them'' will not work here Oct 16, 2014

Seems to me your company is trying to save money or thinks this is not worth paying for. Note that depending on your company's exact business area and/or product needs what you need to do is hire cultural advisers and/or localisation teams.

[Edited at 2014-10-16 09:19 GMT]


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Cilian O'Tuama  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:14
German to English
+ ...
Where to start? Oct 16, 2014

Diana wrote:

Seems to me your company is trying to save money or thinks this is not worth paying for. Note that depending on your company's exact business area and/or product needs what you need to do is hire cultural advisers and/or localisation teams.


It's a formidable task for even one language/culture, but nine!?

Get well soon,
Cilian


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McJenni
Local time: 11:14
TOPIC STARTER
I think this is getting blown totally out of proportion... :) Oct 20, 2014

I think this is getting blown totally out of proportion... I was not looking to make a comprehensive list...
We do use well established, in-country localization teams (Lionbridge, Moravia and others). I was just trying to put some guidelines in place for the in-house English content and video creators in order to prevent issues before they reach localization. Just good Internationalization best practices.

What I'm finding really interesting is the lack of support for this effort. I've worked with Localization teams (both freelancers and vendors) for 15 years at several different companies (Cranium, Wizards of the Coast, Microsoft, Amazon) and they have constantly asked me to educate the English teams on these issues so they don't create content that is difficult and/or impossible to localize (?).

[Edited at 2014-10-20 19:08 GMT]


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Sarah Lewis-Morgan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:14
Member (2014)
German to English
It really is too broad a question Oct 20, 2014

What I'm finding really interesting is the lack of support for this effort. I've worked with Localization teams (both freelancers and vendors) for 15 years at several different companies (Cranium, Wizards of the Coast, Microsoft, Amazon) and they have constantly asked me to educate the English teams on these issues so they don't create content that is difficult and/or impossible to localize (?).

[Edited at 2014-10-20 19:08 GMT]



I usually find this forum to be very supportive. The problem here is, as others have said, your question is too broad. It is rather akin to a student writing to William Shakespeare (assuming that he is still around to answer questions) saying that (s)he has to write an essay addressing the main themes of Mr Shakespeare's play and could he please tell the student what these themes are. Ok, there are 37 plays so maybe the main theme of nine of his plays. That is a big question, and one that requires a fair amount of work to answer - and indeed why should the Bard be doing the student's homework? Specific questions are easier to handle. Questions about one culture are quite hard enough, but about nine? If people don't have the answers at the tip of their fingers it's not that they are being unhelpful but that they don't have the time themselves to do the research.

[Edited at 2014-10-20 20:51 GMT]


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McJenni
Local time: 11:14
TOPIC STARTER
Just looking for personal examples Oct 20, 2014

I wasn't expecting people to do my "research" or work... I was simply hoping I could collect some examples of issues translators and editors have experienced in the past, and what better group of people to contact (to do my research) than Translators and Editors?

I contacted several freelancers I used to work with asking if they had worked on projects that were poorly internationalized, and they gave examples such as:
- Game packaging: family photos did not represent the local culture
- Japanese issue: one translator worked on a project in which the number 4 was integral to the product name, but in Japan, 4 is considered unlucky because it sounds like the word for "death". English product had to be completely reworked.
-Chinese issue: Working on a trading card game skeleton bone imagery was rejected by Chinese marketing managers as disrespectful to the dead, artwork had to be reworked.
German issue: English text on a trading card game made references to a war between creatures as a "holocaust", taboo in Germany

These are the kinds of situations I am looking to collect. This isn't a formal doc that the company is demanding. We were in a meeting and a couple translation mishaps were being discussed and I volunteered to put something together having heard and experienced many issues over the past 15 years. Since I am not the one who usually encounters these (as a Loc PM I sometimes hear about them), I need to get these examples from translators. I am not asking, for example, a Spanish Translator to go out and find all the potential culturally sensitive issues for their country, just to tell me of some funny/frustrating issues they have experienced first hand with text that was not internationalized. Do I think putting together a doc like this will solve localization issues? Not at all! But it's great for raising awareness of localization to the US product development teams, who are typically ignorant of the issues.

Maybe I am posting to the wrong forum...I thought the audience here consisted of Translators and Editors (?).


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McJenni
Local time: 11:14
TOPIC STARTER
Specific question Oct 20, 2014

And so, to make my question very, very specific, here it is:

Can you give an example of a time when you worked on a product that was:
- Poorly (or not at all) internationalized
- Culturally insensitive for the target market

What was the issue? How was it resolved? Did the entire English product need to be re-worked?

I'd love to especially hear about funny, topical and blatant mishaps.


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