Translation Pitfalls in the Hispanic Marketing Niche

Translation Pitfalls in the Hispanic Marketing Niche
Translation Pitfalls in the Hispanic Marketing Niche

Communicating a message and persuading a group to take action is a difficult proposition in itself.Add to that a group with cultural and linguistic differences and you will miss the opportunity entirely.

This is one of the pitfalls that marketers face when translating marketing copy to the Hispanic market.

 Many marketers still use the “one size fits all approach” when translating copy to the Hispanic group. This path of least resistance is a general practice because it  keeps  their strategy more  organized and general across the board  and  their ideas easily accepted by  management.

Yet this approach clearly  does a disservice to  them as marketers as well as the target audience they are trying to reach. It lends itself to  generalizations and stereotypes that does not speak nor  realistically represent the target market.

Marketers that continue to practice this strategy  are missing great opportunities in tapping one of the markets with the most growth in the US: The Hispanic market.

Not only is this market growing but they are a young group with a growing disposable income, but also are tech savvy, highly involved in social media, and highly influenced by family and peers. All of the factors that contribute to a marketers dream;if only done properly.

The Hispanic market is a diverse group and although most are acculturated and bilingual, they take pride of their cultural differences and hence respond to ads that are cultural relevant to them.

On the other hand, overemphasizing on the cultural aspect of the group can lead to generalizations and stereotypes that would otherwise backfire in the ad or worse yet bring the opposite response to the ads call to action.



  • Hispanics are not a homogeneous group
  • Lack of bicultural and bilingual staff
  • Assuming that Hispanics are a lower-income bracket
  • Translating  copy into Spanish but sending the wrong message
  • Misunderstanding and misusing connectors and symbols affiliated with each culture
  • Translating a website into Spanish but lacking Spanish-speaking customer care representatives
  • Fail to establish  relationships with key community influencers and leaders

*As published in Top Ten Mistakes Companies Make Marketing to Hispanics



  •  Cultural relevancy – We cannot stress that enough yet this strategy is still not applied in a large number of cases and marketers fails over and over again.  If you are targeting a specific Latino group, have someone well versed and well-rounded in the group’s culture that can pinpoint the needs and wants of this group.


  •  Partner with influencers and community leaders Establish a relationship with businesses that already have ties with Hispanic communities. This  could help you ease the cultural barrier and bring your product or service to their attention. By partnering with these companies they can help your business increase exponentially both on and offline.


  •  Decreasing the language barrier Many companies believe that by translating a message from English to Spanish they are targeting them. Yet, they don’t fully embrace the customer or the customer relations aspect of the business. Although the majority of the Hispanics are fully bilingual, most buying decisions are influenced by family and  peers and  these members may still prefer to be catered in Spanish. Marketers have to be ready  to service them fully as well.






30 Online Resources for Business People in the Translation Industry (PART 1 )


                                                                                               the keyto workingproductively-1

Because I am always searching for new applications and programs to work more productively, I compiled the following list of resources that I currently use, have used in the past or trying out for possible alternatives.  It is by no means an exhaustive list, the amount of resources and programs available out there is overwhelming and confusing that researching all of them becomes  a bit of information overload. So I selected several programs within each category.



1. Trello-


Trello is  project management tool that allows you to work on several projects at once.  Each project  board allows you to list, color code, and name tasks according to priority and due date.  When assigning tasks to a team, by double-clicking  on the “card” or task and  adding comments, attachments, and instructions it allows  you to “chat” with your team members and get a general progression of your project. Although considered a collaborative  project management tool,  it is great for freelancers who are tackling many projects at once or who freelance in more than one area ( as I do).  The beauty of this program is its flexibility; you can arrange it to fit your needs. The kanban board (workflow board) is a very practical feature. As you move and complete tasks, you can drag and drop them under the To do, Doing and Done columns of the board, so you see your own progression. I personally use this program and love it so far. I can have several projects( boards) open at once and can set weekly tasks by date for each project. I use it  mainly as my content calendar and social media schedule board for each of my blogs and keep track of my translation projects as well.


  • Full integration with Dropbox, MailChimp,  Evernote, Twitter and others (paid version), Calendar view, desktop notifications for important tasks.
  • Web, IPhone/ IPad, Android, and Kindle applications.
  • Available on Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer browsers.  It is a free tool with unlimited board capability. You can upgrade for more functions.


  • No time tracking but does integrate with time tracking apps in the paid version.
  • Phone apps are not fully integrated with all the features of the web application making tasks difficult to access.
  • Less powerful than other tools because its lack of features. Although it has the ability to comment, there is no ability to “chat” with team members on the task (on the free version).

Best for:

This is great  for freelancers to visualize, brainstorm and collaborative ideas.

Continue reading 30 Online Resources for Business People in the Translation Industry (PART 1 )

Career Options in Translation, Interpretation and Foreign Language Studies

I created the following infographic as a result of my research to uncover areas where my writing and language skills would be needed the most and used to its full potential.  Although most of us have an established career in translation and have been doing this for some time, you wonder (or at least I do) “what else can I do” and “where else could my skills be needed.” Well, as I discovered, there are many options and within many industries too.

As we become more globalized, the demand for translators and interpreters  grows and with it the demand for them within certain industries.  If we look at the numbers, (All figures are taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and reflect the latest figures per occupation), some areas are growing exponentially while others seem to be shrinking (travel for example).  The biggest growth is in computer software,web development, and research while others have a moderate growth. Overall, the numbers show that  there is a growing need within every industry specified.

Yet, it is not only the translation skills you offer but the “soft skills” that you have developed in the field that are equally important, valuable and transferable to other areas of business, law, sales, or teaching for example.

The chart is quite self-explanatory.  However, I will include the web link  because I did have issues embedding it properly into the post. I do hope you find it useful and informative. Back over to you.  Do you think you  could make a difference using your skills?  How can you assist?

Back over to you. How do you assist and how do you feel that you have made a difference in your profession?   All of us have worked in many areas so your comments  would be an interesting read.


Thanks for reading.


Awesome Tips About Language and Translation From 8 Unlikely Sources

Awesome Tips About Language and Translation from 8 Unlikely Sources


“Don’t Insist on English” Patricia Ryan

Sometimes you find tips about our industry in the unlikeliest of places. Although TED talks are highly recognized and are a great source of information and insight, not too many of them focus on  translation or the language industry per se.  In the following  lecture, Patricia Ryan discusses language loss and the globalization of English. Because of globalization and economy, English has been  the most preferred and spoken language for business around the world, and because of this cultural globalization and language education, we may be contributing to language loss and the diffusion of new ideas. Focusing solely on English, she argues, we are diminishing the importance of other languages and the importance of  contributions other cultures have to offer.




Who’s ‘They’?- by Amanda Hess

Language is continuously changing and evolving. In the following article, the author discusses the use of  the pronoun “they” as an inclusive gender pronoun for the transgender and LGBT community.   The “they” or “we” as gender pronouns give more ambiguity and a more gender neutral quality to speech that results in a more inclusive and accepting reference.  It also avoids a static role to the person that otherwise does not or cannot relate to their gender identity. On this vein, the author refers to  a study that has  found that when there is a distinction between “he” and “she”,  behavioral patterns change even among children when referred to  as “boys”and “girls” reinforcing  the behavioral  stereotypes that both these pronouns have. Clearly when there was no distinction and a more inclusive reference was made, people were free to make their own. Although “they” is becoming the more accepted form of speech as a gender neutral pronoun,  it is  ultimately up to the person to tell you how they want to be addressed.

Continue reading Awesome Tips About Language and Translation From 8 Unlikely Sources

Marketing Your Services

I have been reading  many discussions in my LinkedIn groups and most center on a  particular common need : How do we  market our services. In a pool of many professionals with the same qualifications and /or language pair, how do you stand out from the crowd? We have all heard about  branding, specializing and finding your niche and although it is a very big part of the marketing strategy, networking  for me, and lots and lots of it, has played a  crucial part of my business.  All of the above would not be valid if you did not do your part of putting yourself out there and be known. I know it sounds obvious but what I  see from these LI groups ,  is that it  is something that not  many are doing. Done right, this is where you establish  yourself as a professional and are able to set yourself apart.  Face to face meeting and building relationships are  still the name of the game, always was and always will be regardless of profession. Continue reading Marketing Your Services

Machine interpretation?

In  last month’s issue of  The Economist the article “Conquering Babel”  states that companies like Microsoft and MTT DOCOMO ( A Japanese mobile communications company) are now perfecting voice recognition software to translate speech and act as an interpreter in a conversation.  Although these  technologies have been around for some time; the interpreter facet of them has not. By using speech recognition it “translates” speech  and  with the use of headsets,  the other person would listen in. (This particular software is to translate phone calls) They all normally work in the consecutive mode, specifically question and answer and according to the article, the speakers have to speak slowly so as to capture and translate accurately.

The article continues that of these two companies, Microsoft seems to have an edge on this technology. In October, one Microsoft executive was able to use this technology to do a simultaneous interpretation  of  an entire conference in China by  speaking into the device and projecting the output not only verbally but onscreen using text. Well, judging by Monday’s  State of the Union Response ( video below) from Senator Marco Rubio  I beg to differ. Although the video is in Spanish, the translation to his speech appears in the bottom with a wonderful disclaimer that “This text may not be 100% accurate” Really?  (ABC’s version of the video). Furthermore, his speech  had  been written  prior to  the President’s speech (and judging by the transcribed version quite unrelated to Rubio’s speech itself and  the translated transcript, which used this voice recognition software, does not follow the material spoken but is nothing more than  incomprehensible  text. Therefore I do find it hard to believe that it will ever be a substitute for a human interpreter. The same way that I believe (as I have written in the past) that machine translation will never substitute a translator.  So here is the video and judge for yourself.

Two More Bilingual Data Resources for Your CAT Tool

Several months ago I wrote a  blog post  listing a couple of online data resources for your CAT tool. Although there is an abundance of resources online, most of them are pricy and sometimes are not fit for the specialized translator. For this reason, I am always researching  for online  resources that I don’t  have to pay or download . Whenever  I am asked to download  a program I do get quite weary of it. Many of these sites are not  often registered sites and others as in the case of E-Type  which appeared  to be legitimate program, are actually computer viruses ( a dangerous one if I may add). I found the  following website  that resembled the resources I previously discussed in my original post and could quite possibly be the sixth bilingual data resource you could work with in your translations. The other I found is  not necessarily a TM  but rather cloud translation tool, which I found quite convenient and resourceful as well.


I came across Glosbe as another translation memory online tool. Not only is it an online dictionary but  it acts pretty much like MyMemory and Linguee, which I personally love and use often. It is a relatively new website ( early 2012)  and as the other two, will search phrases and  gives you samples of compound words and  context using the desired words. What a true TM supposed to be, a collection of human translated segments or clusters of text that is not based on Google translate but rather on translators contributions that you can upload through the TMX  file.  It also gives you  the possibility to contribute a translation through a TMX  file as well.


I can compare this cloud translation tool as a mix between Evernote and Dropbox . It is a web based translation tool in which you can translate directly online, save and  tag your translations according to subject and access them online whenever you need to.  I do love the idea of tagging my files, after many translations  your files do get quite cluttered and sometimes I forget how I actually named the file. This feature helps you find them quickly (at least in Evernote). Since they are in the cloud, like Dropbox you can access your files by logging into your account, sharing your files with other Ebiwrite users, building your own dictionaries and personalizing your account.  Given that is is web based it can be accessed by your smartphone and actually type in sample translations to be edited later. This is a paid feature but they have free plans as well.

Ok, there you have it.  I did not intend to have this post be a follow-up  of my original post but somehow they were quite related to each other.  I hope you found them useful as I have.

AT&T Partnering with Language Line Services to Offer Interpretation Services

On June 18th AT &T announced its partnership with Language Line Services, a  an interpretation and translation company,   to provide On Demand interpreters to its customers. For now it is only available to federal agencies and businesses that by opening an account, will have access to 170 language interpreters when they so need.

When I started out in interpretation, I researched and applied with Language Line Services and  at first t seemed like a great opportunity for a beginner yet as I researched further particularly as I read recommendations (or not) of former employees, to then  be totally taken aback by them.  However, LLS  has become the language service company particularly in  phone interpretation, so this partnership goes hand in hand with AT&T. It is a very needed service and I wonder if this partnership will extend  to the customers at large. They already serve the larger community in certain sectors, such as medical, insurance and general business but wonder if it would be through the same partnership program.  I know several interpreters who work there and would love to see how this has affected them. (Hopefully in their pay scale!).

At the rate of $ 2.99 a minute for the use of the service, and  a monthly fee these federal government agencies who have always been the mayor buyers of language services, will use the service  for interpretation of unclassified information and have  access to the service at the push of a button.  With these fees I am sure they will see an increase to their revenue that according to reports, had seen a decrease in several years. I did thoroughly  research this company because I believed it was a good start to my interpretation career, but I did step back because it was not in sync with what I wanted or wanted to get out of the experience with them.

Although Language Line Services do target other sectors as in the commercial, medical and insurance fields, this is just another expansion of their services.

Gamification and Crowdsourcing in Translation

A while ago I wrote a post on crowd sourcing and how the idea has been implemented into our industry particularly in web translation. Sites like Duolingo that use crowd-sourcing to translate the web, are also implementing the idea of gamification into their model. The idea of gamification is to increase people’s interaction and motivation to an otherwise mundane task. The gamification process,  by using badges for accomplished work is used as a form of reward as you advance and accomplish the task. Taken from the gaming industry, the idea of badges, points, and other rewards, has demonstrated to increase interaction, participation and engagement in the social media world.  So much so, that there re businesses implementing the idea in their marketing efforts. Duolingo also has another great incentive as well : learning a language while helping translate the web.  It is a brilliant combination one that truly works hand in hand.

Another example of  gamification and crowdsourcing in translation is Twitter. When I first saw the Twitter Translation Center, I actually  looked into it in order to participate (at that time I had no idea what crowdsourcing was nor did I know that it was on a voluntary basis) and they also use the same badge system that Duolingo uses, the only difference is that Duolingo uses it to measure progress rather than task completed as in the case of Twitter. The best quality translations get voted and you are rewarded a badge in your profile.  According to the Twitter  site, you have to rank among the 20%  to receive one and your translations are voted among your peers  for accuracy and relevance.  I don’t know how much of a motivation that is for me really. As a professional, I cannot imagine the level of proficiency and accuracy these translation can actually have when in the case of  Duolingo they  are being translated by beginners and intermediate students of a particular language. It does have the advantage that instead of using machine translation, (which is equally as bad) they actually use translators.

Other examples of this new gamification idea  is Foursquare where they reward their visitors with badges too or name them “mayors” whenever you visit a place often . I believe this is the biggest example of the idea  although it is a purely social site Yet,  in the end there is a monetary reward by deducting a certain percentage off your bill if you frequent a  place enough. (Great publicity for the  venue, and not spending a dime in advertising) . Other than social media I do not see a place other than the gaming industry for the use of the system, particularly in business and marketing.  Other than in sales , I guess where you have to reach a certain  goal, this system would be flawed in other areas.  Yet, now they are hosting gamification summits to help business improve engagement. Mine however do not come in the forms of badges. and furthermore, other than the examples above gaming and translation do not go together, however gamification and crowdsourcing seem to go hand in hand. (Why else would you contribute?)

To a certain extend, Linkedin had done it as well by placing the status bar of completeness in your profile. I have read that is truly not an example of gamification and I have to agree to a certain degree. What gamification does is offer incentives to have you complete a task not necessarily to say how far you are on your task, which is what the status bar indicates. Yet, they put it as an example . There are other examples of course but I wanted to keep it relevant to our industry and how this gamification idea coupled with crowdsourcing is affecting to a degree our competitive edge.