Certain languages are more widely used and recognized worldwide, often serving as official or national languages in various countries. Over time, these languages have evolved and adapted to incorporate new linguistic and grammatical rules, spelling, and pronunciation to reflect the culture and society they are used in. As a result, new forms(dialects) with the regional standard were built - we are calling them pluricentric languages. Such examples can be attributed to British and American English, Brazilian Portuguese, etc.
If we are talking about languages that were the massive premise for the created pluricentric ones, we can look at the most common official languages worldwide.
- English - official in more than 50 countries
- French - official in 29 countries
- Arabic - official in 23 countries
- Spanish - official in 20 countries
- Portuguese - official in 10 countries
- German - official in 6 countries
The question of pluricentric languages becomes important when we talk about the quality localization of the product. As a simple example - if you sell the "chips" in the UK, you should show the user the potato strips but not the thin round slices like in the USA. For really "working" localization, the language and phrasing that feel natural and familiar for the region are essential for usage. The appropriate dialect, local idioms, slang terms, etc., will demonstrate an appreciation for the audience's cultural identity.
We at Lingohub are fascinated by languages and their variations. In this article, our team described common examples of regional dialects based on the English and German languages and how to localize your product for them effectively.
The variety of English
English is a widely spoken language with approximately 1.5 billion speakers worldwide (over 300 million are native speakers). Due to the rich history of English-speaking countries in the past, nowadays, it has a status as an official/national language in more than 50 countries. This list included the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc.
The famous form of English are:
- British English - is used in the United Kingdom and has its own rules, vocabulary, and a variety of dialects (Cockney, Geordie, and Scouse.)
- American English - as well as British, has its own vocabulary, rules, and dialects.
- Canadian English - lead in the intermediate position between the previous two variants. Using both rules from the pluricentric languages above.
- New Zealand English - has some distinct features, such as the pronunciation of certain words and the use of Māori loanwords.
- Australian English - is related more closely to British and New Zealand English.
- Indian English is characterized by its use of idiomatic expressions, borrowed words from Indian languages, and unique grammar constructions.
Approximately there are 230 million American English native speakers, while 60 million are British English native speakers. Let's look at the difference between these two most famous variations of the English language.
British and American English have different word spellings. For example, the ending of British English is usually "our," while it is mostly "or" in American English. Often you can face this in the words "colour/color" or "humour/humor." The verbs in British English can be spelled with 'ize' or 'ise,' but in American English are always spelled with 'ize' - "analyse/analyze."
One of the most noticeable distinctions between American and British English is their vocabulary. The commonly used words have different meanings in each version (like the example of “chips” at the start of this article. Below we have added a few additional examples.
The variety of German
Another popular European language is German, which is official/co-official in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, and Belgium. Nowadays, in the world exist more than 200 German dialects, and below we have overviewed Standard German and its common variations:
- Standard German (Hochdeutsch) - is the official standard language of German. Besides Germany, exactly this language is official and in a formal context used in Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. Grammatically and lexically, it was based on the dialects spoken in Germany's central and southern regions.
- Swiss German (Schweizerdeutsch) - the term that describes the dialects spoken in Switzerland, which differ significantly from Standard German regarding pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Swiss German is not a standardized language and varies widely between regions.
- Austrian German (Österreichisches Deutsch): This variety of German spoken in Austria has some unique features that set it apart from Standard German. For example, Austrian German tends to use more diminutives, has a different vocabulary for specific terms, and has a slightly different pronunciation.
- Bavarian (Bairisch): This is a dialect spoken in the southern region of Germany and in Austria, which has different grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation features. Bavarian is sometimes considered a separate language because it differs significantly from Standard German.
Standard German vs Swiss German
The Swiss German dialect is spoken by over 60% of the Switzerland population and differs from the standard version. For example the unique German letter eszett (ß), doesn’t exist in Swiss German so the “white” will be “wiiss” not a “weiß”. Below in the table you can find more examples.
Standard German vs Austrian German
Although the Austrian speak the "High German" or Standard German, regional differences exist especially in everyday communication.
Standard German vs Bavarian German
The Bavarian German dialect has no formal writing, and many Bavarian words are spelled phonetically instead of according to official spelling. Despite the lack of clear rules, it is spoken by 12 million speakers, approximately.
|My name is…
|I hoaß …
How to localize to the regional dialects successfully?
As discussed above, using regional dialects during localization can raise your success inside the region, especially if you try to belong to this area and sound natural. How to handle this challenge successfully knows our team.
Find the local expert
Involving local experts in the context of pluricentric language localization is crucial. Only native speakers/local inhabitants can clearly describe the language and culture and possess correct knowledge. Translating idiomatic expressions, cultural references, and other nuances will be hard without them. Additionally, local experts provide insights into how the target audience may perceive and interpret the text, facilitating adjustments to ensure the message is accurately and appropriately conveyed.
Use the style guide
The next step is a style guide. Notice that local experts and the marketing and product team can help you correctly create it. With the style guide, your team will have references for correct writing style, tone, formatting, and other linguistic conventions. Style guides are also crucial for maintaining a brand's voice and image across different markets and cultures, which helps to build trust and credibility with local audiences.
Create the glossary
To consistently localize content, it's essential to consider the variations in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation within a language, especially when dealing with pluricentric languages. The Lingohub term base is a perfect option for adding the appropriate translation for the terms. During localization, the system will offer the proper translation for the linguistic team. Such an approach ensures that translators use the correct terminology.
Use the fallback language feature by Lingohub
Let’s overview this question on the example when we have the ready English (UK version) and German (DE version) and want to localize our product for the Austria region. Based on the ISO language codes , we will have two German locales, de-DE German (Germany) and de-AT German (Austria.) But the question is - how to make this process faster, especially if you have the already translated product at one of the language variations? Should you start from scratch or manually update all the text by adding edits? Lingohub provides the perfect option for localizing pluricentric - fallback languages.
Lingohub fallback language tool. How does it work?
Lingohub allows you to choose a fallback language when translations are missing for text segments during export. In simpler terms, the fallback language displays the content while unavailable in the language you want (translation is not ready, and so on).
Let’s come back to our example. We are using British English (en-GB) as our source language, German (de-DE), and Austrian German (de-AT) as targets. However, the text segment for de-AT is currently empty before exporting. We can choose the de-DE as a fallback language, and the text segment will be automatically filled. If the de-DE is empty - the Lingohub system will use its (de-DE) fallback language.
The cherry on top
Localizing pluricentric languages can be simpler than you think. A crucial aspect of efficient localization is using an appropriate translation management system that simplifies processes and avoids manual tasks. With a number of features like a glossary, fallback languages, style guides, etc., Lingohub makes it effortless to manage pluricentric language localization. Moreover, you will have an accurate content delivery, even when incomplete or missing translations. If you want to get more information or discuss your business needs - schedule a brief demo call with our team to consider your project localization in detail.