The correct localization is essential when we are talking about new markets expanding. Web, mobile applications, SaaS, and websites have a lot of attributes that should be adapted perfectly. There exist various rules and best practices for internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n); the first step for you will be to find a linguistic/translation expert(s). These people will be crucial to a successful process and reduce the most significant issues. Nowadays, the success or failure of the product's worldwide expanding closely related to covering the consumers' expectations. Many competitors in any area imply that customers choose not only based on product/service quality but also personal preference.

One of the constant trends is personalization and quality localization - the latest statistics say that 40% of customers will not buy if there is no available native language on the website or application. Regarding the product's regional adaptation, we should keep consistency within all content (social media, web resources, apps, etc.) That means that our tone of voice, including the type of vocabulary, formality, a grammatical person, must be formed and spelled out conveniently in a style guide. This article describes one of its components - formality, specifically formal and informal language.

The formal and informal in different languages and cultures

Unlike German, Ukrainian, Spanish, etc., English doesn't have a formal appeal. English speakers always use the form "you" in any context. Of course, based on the situation, there are different forms of vocabulary, from "Dear Sir/Madam, I am writing to express my interest in... Best Regards" to "Hey, what's up? I saw you yesterday at..."

When talking about localization, we should consider the rules of the region. The German language, for instance, has two forms of appeal - "du" as informal and the formal "Sie." Correct formality can be significant when developing business applications and websites. If the particulars of a language are not upheld, the audience will quickly lose trust and respect. For example: "Hans, do you have your coat?" can be translated as "Hans, hast du deinen Mantel?" using 'du' as the English word for 'You.' However, 'du' is used because Hans is a close friend. Otherwise, 'Sie' would be used for strangers or people that are not known so well. Only god, children, pets, close friends, and family members are addressed as 'du.'

Ukrainian also has two forms - "ти [ty]" - like informal and "ви"[vy] - the formal one. The rules of usage are the same as in German. The exception is the elderly - almost always, they are addressed in "ви"[vy]. At the same time, the youngest generation often, after the first friendly greetings, asks to move to an informal option as it is more natural. Also, different companies have a culture of informal appeal to create a laid-back atmosphere in the team for everyone, regardless of age and position. Also, using the formal form changes the endings in the verbs. For example, in English, you can say, "You run fast." Talking about Ukrainian, it will be "Ти(you) біжиш(run) швидко(fast)." or "Ви(you) біжите(run) швидко(fast)."

Particular attention should be given to Eastern countries. Their culture is very conservative and often consists of rituals. In Japan or China, it is essential to use formal language to show respect and hierarchy. It is often used in the working environment and when speaking to elders or superiors.

Avoid the problems of incorrect language usage

If you are working with international users, the most critical task is to be "your own." If the first screen of the banking application uses informal language, the significant change is that users will close it and never open it again. In some industries, like mobile gaming or beauty services, the informal address will be ok, but it really depends on the country and its culture. One more example is if an application uses people's contacts. It could be important for specific individuals to be categorized and highlighted differently, such as essential business associates or close family and friends. Ensuring the correct privacy settings are communicated correctly and used for each type of contact could define the application's success.

How to keep the correct formality during the project?

Before starting any localization, you must build a deep strategy and understand your users. Based on this data, you can create a style guide, glossary, and primary rules for the translating team. Lingohub provides a list of tools that will facilitate this task for you.

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