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Localising Election 2015 messages

union jack umbrella London in the rainSpeculation about the role of the Scottish National Party after Election Day on 7 May has got me thinking about how a higher profile for Scottish MPs at Westminster might just benefit the translation and interpreting sector. For a start, we might find some new untranslatables making an appearance:Movie A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

Dreich is the Scots shorthand for dark and dreary days of bleak, cold and depressing rain. That should work well for English and Welsh voters too! Smirring is an altogether gentler rain although responsible for some real bad hair days. Most women could make good use of a (printable) word to describe that fine, drizzling wet you can’t quite see, that comes with a powerful frizz action.

When you give something a shuggle you shake it about, or loosen it up a bit. Perhaps a new, post-election coinage might encapsulate politicians shuggling along together in coalition?

For all those voters who keep changing their minds, there’s swithering, which is almost onomatopoeic. And lastly, there’s my particular favourite: wabbit, a unique mix of tired and exhausted, defined by a Glaswegian friend as feeling ironed to the bed sheets. A fair few politicians might find that a useful term come May 8.

So, I’m looking forward to an injection of vividly descriptive new words for our translators to get their heads round. Can we also anticipate a run on our localisation services? After all, whatever the precise outcome of the election, it’s a fair bet that many of the new MPs, regardless of party, will have a worldview and familiar cultural references very different from the current Westminster bubble.

As someone who pays close attention to just how connected politicians are to the electorate, I can’t help wondering where the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon gets her messages? In Scotland, when people talk of getting the messages, they’re not talking focus groups and hard-working families. No, in Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Fort William, getting the messages means you’re just popping off to Tesco or the Co-op, not taking in the kind of electioneering designed to persuade us that our politicians really do know the price of a pint of milk!

This carefully localised message was crafted for a British audience by me, Tess Wright, Cintra Translation’s CEO. Our translators and interpreters are experts in localising your marketing materials wherever in the world you do business.

Photo Credit: Thank you to pjohnkeane via Compfight cc

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Planning to export? Financial help for new exporters

Fiona Tester, International Trade Manager, Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, with Cintra Translation Business Development Manager, Anthony Gray

Fiona Tester, International Trade Manager, Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, with Cintra Translation Business Development Manager, Anthony Gray

Planning to export? Read the Cintra Translations’ how-to on researching new customers and markets abroad

For the fourth and final blog in our Planning to export series, we’re answering the question we’re most often asked by companies thinking about exporting: How can we cut the cost of exporting without cutting corners and damaging our reputation? 

There is financial help out there for first-time as well as experienced exporters, most of it in the form of grants towards specific types of expenditure – research, translation and interpretation, and training your staff. In fact there are real financial incentives to seeking advice even when your export plan is still very much at the back of an envelope stage.

Where to start? You really can’t do better than head straight to the UKTI and the British Chambers of Commerce. Find your local international trade team on the UK Trade & Investment website at Visit

The UKTI can offer first-time exporters subsidised training and free export capability assessments under the UK Trade & Investment’s Passport to export scheme. There’s tailored advice and support that’s largely free. Find out more about the Passport to export scheme: They’ll point you to the range of financial help currently on offer from the Government, including help with the cost of visits to overseas markets and trade shows. The Export Communications Review Scheme offers help with in-depth advice from regional experts on your on- and offline marketing material, helping you build a do-able action plan from adapting your website to finding quality translation and interpreting services. (Don’t forget to check out discounts we’re offering exporters in our Go Global export packages!)

Have look at our post,  Using – and affording – commercially available sector-specific market research While commercial market research doesn’t come cheap, both the UKTI and the British Chamber of Commerce do offer help with projects either done in-house or by a specialist agency.

Get leads for free Once you’re plugged into the UKTI and Chamber of Commerce networks you can sign up for their newsletters and help forums. All free. They’ll invite you to free or low-cost seminars, webinars, information and networking events. All can be valuable sources of market research, contacts and even business leads. Check out Innovate UK’s EU Enterprise Network site too. They promote sector-specific opportunities, including details on grant funding in agri-tech, biotech and engineering innovation.

Catch up with the earlier blogs in our Planning to export? series

Planning to export? There’s a lot on offer from the British Government via the UKTI

Planning to export? Your local Chamber of Commerce – a one-stop shop for export expertise

Planning to export? Using – and affording commercially available sector-specific market research

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Planning to export? Using – and affording – commercially available sector-specific market research

DSCN4826The third in the Cintra Translation Planning to export? series focuses on finding and affording relevant commercially available sector-specific market research.

Hot drinks, cold drinks, men’s grooming products, cold and cough remedies, small appliances, medical appliances. Whatever market you’re in, and wherever you want to export, commercially available reports will help you crunch the numbers and get a feel for the extent of new opportunities. Before you buy, though, get in touch with your local UK Trade & Investment trade team. Ask them to talk you through their Export Marketing Research Scheme. It’s free, and in addition to helping your in-house staff to research markets alongside their day job, UKTI advisors will help with briefing any specialist marketing agencies you may decide to bring on board. And so that you’re not reinventing the wheel on research that’s already out there, the UKTI will also help you pick a path through the stacks of commercially available in-depth reports. Best of all, they can offer some financial help towards buying relevant off-the-shelf publications.

Leaving aside off-the-shelf publications for a moment, we’ve mentioned in a previous blog that you can actually commission British consulates overseas to compile information specifically for your business. The Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) is accessed through the UKTI, and is a fast and cost-effective way to get reliable, up-to-date answers to country-specific questions. Typically, costs for full in-country reports are equivalent to half a long-haul airfare and they’re researched by people with local know-how.

What else is out there?  Euromonitor and Mintel are the big names in commercial market research. Each year Euromonitor publishes more than 17,000 reports on 27 industries, 200 sub-categories and thousands of companies in 80 countries. Mintel has a similar reach, and like its competitors, cuts its research into packages on new products, trends and market size. Reports don’t come cheap, but this is exactly why it pays to find out more about theUKTI  Export Marketing Research Scheme.

Avoiding risky business A bit further down the export route, once you’re considering hooking up with new partners and customers in your marketplace, Experian International Business Reports can help you manage risk. Available through your local chamber’s export services, and the British Chambers of Commerce website, these reports help you do your due diligence on over 45 million businesses in more than 238 countries worldwide.

Top Tips. A subscription to your trade association could repay you handsomely with sector-specific knowledge and experience of markets abroad. Find out if your sector is represented at the Trade Association Forum.

What do you do with all that research once you’ve got it? We come back to the value of your local UK Trade & Investment trade team. They’re the ones with the expertise to help you shape it all into a plan and then turn that plan into profit!

Planning to export? Read Cintra Translation’s other how-tos on researching new customers and markets abroad

What’s on offer through the UKTI – the British Government’s Trade and Industry arm.

Expertise on tap from the British Chamber of Commerce and your local Chamber of Commerce.

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Planning to Export? Go Global with support from your local Chamber of Commerce.

Go GlobalnetworkThe second in Cintra Translations’ series on how to research new customers and markets abroad focuses on the ways your local Chamber of Commerce can plug you in to a hugely valuable international network of expert advice and practical support.

First stop is the British Chambers of Commerce international trade website, ExportBritain. For companies at the early stage of evaluating opportunities and researching target markets, the British Chambers’ Overseas Market Intelligence services offer regularly updated market snapshots sharing data and insight.

Use the International Directory to get in touch with British Chambers located overseas in just the markets you’re considering.

Export_Britain___British_Chambers_of_Commerce Your local Chamber of Commerce will already be running regular events highlighting opportunities for export. There’s real depth and breadth to seminars and workshops exploring potential growth markets. Over the next couple of months alone, the Norfolk Chamber is assessing opportunities in Kuwait; Surrey is looking at doing business in Brazil’s massive marketplace, and Cambridgeshire is planning an event with the UKTI to help businesses find out more about what wealthy Saudi Arabia can offer UK exporters.

Find out more on the events page at Export Britain: You’ll also find webinars you can attend from your desk or your iPad. Expert-led discussions on prospects in India and China, and in niche sectors such as agri-business opportunities in Colombia on are on the current schedule.

Are you ready to export? While you’re looking at how ready and receptive overseas markets will be for you and your products, how prepared are you to take the leap? Have you got the staff, skills, resources and logistics in place to make a go of it? Probably not – at the moment – but chances are, it won’t take much to fill the gaps. Find what they are and how to get in shape via the Chambers’ Export Readiness Assessment  service.

Seeing the wood for the trees You’ll have realised by now that figuring out if export’s for you and where to focus your efforts isn’t going to be a journey you make on your own. It’s clear there is plenty of support out there for SMEs. In fact, there is some criticism that there’s so much on offer, businesses feel daunted and can’t see the wood for the trees.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Member of CambridgeshireTo provide an encouraging and genuinely supportive, and yes, we have to say it, joined-up, approach very much in mind, the British Chambers of Commerce, the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been in formal partnership since 2012. They’re also working with businesses like us here at Cintra Translations to help businesses find the extra skills and professional support services they need to get into those new markets on the front foot. As an example, take a look at the package of services and benefits for exporters on offer from the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce. We’re proud to signpost you to our contribution to their Global Membership package – including exclusive discounts on Cintra Go Global translation services! Find out more





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Planning to export? Here’s how to go global

Go Global, planning to export series UKTI 1Planning to export? Read the Cintra Translations’ how-to on researching new customers and markets abroad

Today on the Cintra blog we’re kicking off a four-part mini series that will help you find, research and compare potential new markets for export.

We’ll also point you to sources of information for insights on the spending power, habits and preferences of your new customers. And you won’t want to forget a thorough analysis of competitors all after slices of the same pie.

Sounds time-consuming and expensive, not to say daunting? Yes – you certainly need to invest time and there are costs to any expansion plans. But don’t be put off: there’s plenty of expert help around. Much of it is free online. But there’s no substitute for sitting down face-to-face with a real expert, though, and the good news is, the UK Government agrees. In its search for the income and boost to UK growth exports deliver, there’s substantial help available free and at heavily subsidised rates through the UKTI – the British Government’s Trade and Industry arm. That’s the subject of our first blog here, so read on.

In blogs to follow we’ll explore how membership of your local Chamber of Commerce will tap you into an experienced network, offering help with the challenges of logistics and paperwork, as well as marketplace snapshots and in depth analysis.

And we’ll explore the range of financial help, including grants to help you afford commercially available sector-specific research from the big names in market analysis. There are even grants towards professional translation and interpreting services, so do stay tuned! 

We’ll start with what’s on offer from the UKTI:  support, advice and even inspiration for growing your business. You wouldn’t necessarily expect it from a government organisation, but in our experience, the UKTI’s big strength is in its personal touch.

Start by booking your free appointment with one of the UKTI ‘s Export Advisers. Why?  On average, companies earn £100k in additional sales within 18 months of working with UKTI, and most of the advice given by their trade experts is FREE.

UK_Trade___Investment_-_GOV_UKAll you need to do is apply on the UKTI website: Fill in the contact form. There’s also a phone advice line: 0300 456 3565

Go to export events  If you’d prefer to dip in just a toe before getting up close and personal on a one-to-one level, look out for regular events with an export focus organised by the UKTI. These offer a chance to network with other companies at different stages on the export route.

Find out more and register for updates and invitations:

Did you know that you can actually commission overseas consulates to compile information specifically for your business?  That’s a step that was vital to the export success of specialist engineering company, Meltech. Have a look at their case study on the UKTI website. “We have commissioned several Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) reports to get vital local knowledge,” says Meltech sales director, Peter Drever. “If we are looking at a new market, one of the first things I would turn to is an OMIS report. Look at it this way: one such report, containing comprehensive local information, typically costs the equivalent of half an airfare.”

Go online for help and advice on every aspect of the planning and practicalities of exporting. Case studies, financial support, training courses and country specific advice: – it’s all there on the UKTI Business is Great website:

Does exporting add up for your business?  If you’re looking for basic, big picture and up-to-date economic and demographic information, one place to start is with regional and country summaries from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The FCO factsheets will kick-start your desktop research with population stats, and country comparisons and rankings on levels of development and ease of doing business. And complete your target country PEST(LE) analysis (see our earlier blog) with robust information on political, economic and security risk, including assessments on bribery, threats to intellectual property and levels of crime. Go to:

Get the rest of the Cintra Go Global Planning for Export Success series straight to your inbox. Sign up in the left-hand navigation bar on this page. 


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Machine translation can make Cupid look stupid!

Like us, you probably googled for Valentine’s Day gift inspiration. As we whiled away a lunch-break looking for something beyond the usual flowers and chocolate, we were struck by just how hard marketers and retailers are working to get us in the mood – all those websites awash with luscious over the top language.

And that’s when two of our translators, German Jakob and Svetlana, from Bulgaria, decided to have some fun. ‘Let’s take some of the floweriest gift descriptions we can find, and see what Google Translate makes of them.’

We’ll confess to a love/hate relationship here. We’re translators: we’re never going to be sending red roses, champagne or chocolates to a machine that is great at mathematical relationships but can’t manage the fine nuances of human communication.

Jakob and Svetlana love chocolate any time of the year, so they started by feeding some luxury truffles into Google Translate:

Created to make you feel utterly pampered and adored – with sparkling pink rosé, luxurious Pink Champagne Truffles and Eton Mess Slab – presented in a stylish ribbon-tied bag.

Jakob was a little disappointed at what he got out the other end. Google’s English to German machine translation was a bit of a grammatical mash-up.

Erstellt, damit man ganz verwöhnt und verehrt fühlen – mit funkelnden rosa Rose, luxuriöse Pink Champagne Trüffel und Eton Mess Slab – in einem stilvollen Band gebunden Beutel.

Here’s an English version that shows the sort of impression the German product description made on Jakob’s sensitive ear:

Created so that you feel completely pampered and worshipped – with sparkling pink rose, luxurious Pink Champagne Truffles and Eton Mess Slab – bound in a stylish Belt. Tied. Bag.

‘In German, the first part of the sentence doesn’t mean anything,’ says Jakob. ‘The machine has put in a plural verb, fühlen, for a singular noun. And the last clause, which is meant to get you excited about the look of this special present, is just three words strung together – the German is literally Belt. Tied. Bag. Even if it were correct, the adjective ‘gebunden’ (tied) has no agreement with the noun, so it jars on the ear.’

That’s a thumbs down on the machine-translated truffles then. Better luck with the bubbly and body butter gift hamper? Sadly, no. This is the luscious original:

Indulge and pamper her with a box of everything she loves, from a bottle of bubbly to sensual body butter and the very best of our chocolates.

And here is Google’s translation:

Verwöhnen und verwöhnen sie mit einem Feld von allem, was sie liebt, von einer Flasche Sekt auf sinnliche Körperbutter und die besten unserer Pralinen.

As a machine, Google Translate doesn’t have the aesthetic sensibility to make indulge and pamper two distinct verbs, so it uses for the same word for both – Verwöhnen und verwöhnen – losing the sense of luxury in the original.

In another context, such as talking about a spreadsheet, the word Feld could be a reasonable translation for box, as in tick box. But in this context, Jakob says, ‘Feld doesn’t mean a box of chocolates or some kind of hamper. It means a field like on a farm or a spreadsheet, or it can mean a mathematical array. Google struggles to manage context’.

Here’s how Google back-translates its German product description into English:

Indulge and pamper you with an array of all she loves from a bottle of sparkling wine in sensual body butter and the best of our chocolates.

A bottle of sparkling wine in sensual body butter could catch on, but it’s not what the high-street chocolatier is planning to sell customers in its indulgent Valentine gift box!

Maybe Svetlana had more luck with Google Translate’s Bulgarian?

Отдайте се и я поглези с кутия за всичко , което обича , от бутилка шампанско за чувствено тяло масло и най-доброто от нашите шоколади .

Okay, so your Bulgarian’s not so hot. As it turns out, Google Translate hasn’t spent much quality time in Svetlana’s home country recently either.

‘Google’s version is more like Double Dutch’ she says. ‘The grammar and semantics are wrong, the words don’t coordinate properly and Google turns Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 14.17.08 into  Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 14.17.15!’

Google Translate’s Bulgarian reads like this to Svetlana:

Give yourself (plural) and spoil her (singular) with a box for everything that she loves, from the bottle of champagne for sensual body oil and the best of our chocolate bars.

We asked Tess Wright, our Chief Exec, what she thinks of Google Translate and other machine translation tools. ‘I would never say that Google Translate doesn’t have a place in the translation world – it’s a free, quick tool that can give you the gist of a communication and is often better than nothing. Often, but not always – if you’ve spent months crafting a slogan for your brilliant product, and Google renders it ridiculous – or even insulting – in your chosen markets, you’d have done better to stick to English.

‘Like most technologies, translation tools need humans to make them work intelligently. If you want to be taken seriously in your chosen markets, or if it’s vital for legal or safety reasons to have an accurate translation, or even if you want to be funny, relying on Google Translate is a big risk. For anything complex, subtle or playful, you need a good human translator. People tend to assume that translation is rather like maths – there is one right answer and that’s that. In fact, it’s often much more of an art, full of nuance and colour, just like life!’

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Seven reasons sticking with English will lose you export sales

shoppingReason one:

One in four people worldwide understand English at a useful level.

Three out of four don’t.

Let me introduce my cousin Tina. She’s a primary school teacher living and working in Bielefeld. Naturally enough, German is her first language. Fortunately for her monoglot British relatives though, Tina is one of the 1.75 billion people worldwide who use English very effectively as a second language. While my German was not so much taught as inflicted by teachers drilling grammar by rote, Tina had fun singing along to the Rolling Stones and watching American films. No prizes for guessing that when we get together I’m doing the usual British thing, squirming with embarrassment because I can’t switch between languages as she does.

Skilled as she is in English, though, there’s a limit to Tina’s patience, vocabulary and conversational comfort zone. She would not be impressed by the sales director I met recently at a trade show and who declared unequivocally, “English is the international language of business. Why should I communicate in anything else?”

The short answer is that most of your customers aren’t in business, and whatever they are doing, they most probably aren’t doing it in English. Just like Tina when I’m not visiting, your customers are getting on with their own lives – in their own language. Tina’s got two children and elderly parents to care for. Like all customers everywhere, she’s got a life, and she lives it in her mother tongue.

So while Tina is happy chatting with me in an English punctuated with a little German and some sign-language over lunch in a Bielefeld bistro, when it comes to spending her hard-earned cash, she, quite reasonably, prefers to weigh up the pros and cons of features, benefits, price, quality and delivery options in her own language, thank you very much.

Six more reasons sticking with English will lose you export sales.

Or – why my cousin Tina – who could be your next customer – prefers to buy in her own language.

  1. “Yes, I can speak English, but I make decisions in German.”
  2. “If you speak to me in up-to-date, everyday German, I’m much more likely to take on board and remember your marketing messages.”
  3. “My family like British brands, but our lifestyles are different. Show me how your product fits in my day-to-day routine here in myhome, not yours.“
  4. “You want to me to spend money with you. Show me you care about me.”
  5. “I’m much more likely to trust your promises about customer service and product support if you’ve taken the time and trouble to translate them for me.”
  6. “I’m a busy person. The bottom line is, if you speak my language, you’re making it so much easier for me to do business with you.”

Wenn Sie mich verstehen, dann werden wir uns gut verstehen!

Kaye Coleman-RooneyGuest blogger Kaye Coleman-Rooney runs marketing communications agency, Doing Words  . She’s a member of Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce Communications sector and is a coach with Accelerate Cambridge, part of the Cambridge Judge Business School.

blog image credit: mebell /

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