Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Project Highlight: Thirvin International Localizes Their Business Name

A Precision Language & Graphics, Inc. client has firsthand experience with translating a company name for use in the Chinese market. Thirvin International, formerly known as East West Wine Company, actually chose to change their English company name in order to have a stronger impact on the Chinese market. After learning that the company name East West Wine would not translate well into Chinese, the executives at Thirvin spent some time trying to think of a name that was not used in commerce anywhere in the world and that would translate well into Chinese. They eventually came up with the name Thirvin, which is short for “thirsty for wine”. The Chinese name, 石玟 (pron.: shiwen), breaks down to mean “stone” () and “pattern of jade” (). This name sounds elegant and powerful and is also easily pronounced in Chinese.

PLG has worked conjointly with Thirvin to overcome any language barriers while operating in Mainland China. Services have ranged from translation of business cards, to translation of product lists… and even a product name. Stateside is a particular name for a very specific line of wine that needs to be localized for the Chinese market. In order to translate the name effectively, Thirvin International was required to explain the meaning of the name. Kim Miller, Chief Marketing Officer for Thirvin International, explained the meaning of Stateside, “[Stateside] is wine that comes from the United States. It’s meant to convey pride and honor [for] the land from which it originates.” Wines produced by Thirvin International are intended to express powerful elegance.

The translation itself has yet to be completed. If you can imagine, creating a transliteration of a name that carries a very specific connotation can be a great challenge. In the process PLG has presented Stateside translations, while Thirvin has collaborated with their China team for feedback. After working together on a few threads of emails and conference calls, the task is almost completed. When attempting to translate business or product names, one should keep in mind that it is no small task. There needs to be a willing effort from both parties to create, rather than identify, a translation.

Thirvin international’s tagline is “California Wine for Every Occasion.” In working directly with the team, it becomes evident that they wholeheartedly believe this. They strive to provide award winning, world-class California wine to Mainland China. The Chinese marketplace has recently seen a surge in wine consumption, and Thirvin aims to please every palate. For more information on Thirvin International, please visit their website at www.thirvin.com.

For more information on PLG’s marketing oriented translations, please visit us at www.plg-online.com.

Happy drinking! 

Translation Warranty, Liability and Loss Prevention: An Industry Overview

A subject of confusion regarding translation projects is liability; who is ultimately liable should an error go to print? It is important for anyone planning to have a translation done to understand liability, should an unexpected blunder occur.
One way to avoid liability arguments and/or lawsuits is to be sure that there is a liability statement in the work contract. This is especially important for projects that carry a high liability. If your translator does not state his or her liability limitations, then you should remember to ask. Many translators and language service providers include a liability statement on their work orders or have a link to a webpage stating their liability limitations. If the translator has liability information but you did not ask, you may ultimately be held responsible and required to live up to their terms.
Certain translators or language service providers choose to be insured with liability insurance specific to the translation industry, which is called Error and Omission (E&O). If a translator or language service provider has liability insurance, they will be protected and able to compensate for damages as dictated by the proper claim process. This provides an extra layer of protection to the translation users.
Remember, translation is a human derived service, and even the highest quality translators could err. Liability discussions should not be a scary thing, but they are important in order to protect yourself from damages in the unlikely event that a critical error is made.
To view Precision Language & Graphics, Inc.’s limited liability policy, please visit http://plg-online.com/limited_liability_statement.html. PLG is a bonded and insured firm, through Underwriters at Lloyd's of London.

Translation vs. Transliteration: Adapting a Business Name for the Foreign Marketplace

Many companies choose to enter the Chinese market because China is a global superpower. An important note for such companies to remember is that the company name is often converted into Chinese, and this can be very challenging. Because company names and taglines are created by professionals to have specific appeal, direct translation does not always have the intended effect.

There are many examples of bad translations or literal translations that have the wrong meaning. A couple famous examples include Pepsi and KFC. When Pepsi created the tagline “Come Alive: You’re in the Pepsi Generation,” the straight translation into Chinese took on a very different meaning with “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead.” KFC had a similar problem when their tagline, “Finger-lickin’ Good,” was translated as “Eat Your Fingers Off.”

To avoid such errors, it is recommended to use a transliteration instead of a direct translation. Transliteration is the process of converting a sound from the source language (e.g., English) with a corresponding character in the target language (e.g., Chinese). Although this process appears to be a simple phonetic conversion, it differs in that it converts a sound to a character. This helps avoid the problems caused by similar sounds in Chinese having very different meanings. For example, the word “gao” in Cantonese can mean dog, nine or penis depending on the tone. Phonetic conversion caused problems for Coca-Cola when the phonetic conversion of their name translated as “Bite the wax tadpole”. When this was noticed, Coca-Cola decided to use transliteration to come up with “ko-kou-ko-le” which still sounds similar to the English name while retaining a meaning that makes sense, “happiness in the mouth”.

There are a few simple ways to avoid such gaffes. The key thing to remember is to use a native Chinese speaker to do your translation. Using a native speaker also helps to avoid potential problems that stem from local slang. Double-check the translation by having a second translator do a back-translation to check the English meaning of the Chinese business name and/or tagline. If your company name and/or tagline carry a specific meaning that may not be clear, it is crucial to convey the meaning to the translator so that they may try to keep a similar connotation with the translation.

Image source: http://www.foodchannel.com/articles/article/la-area-mcdonalds-goes-feng-shui/

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