Checking language-related articles yesterday, I came upon this very interesting infographic that made me think about the importance of this “second languages” in the translation industry.
Let me give you an example: India. When we think about translating documents for the Indian market, usually the first thought that comes to mind is to go for Hindi translation, since Hindi is the most widely spoken language in the country, with more than 400 million speakers.
Truth is, however, that Hindi is mainly spoken in the regions of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan. There are parts of India missing here. Look at that map!
India has a total of 22 official languages, and some of them are actually spoken in regions where Hindi is not that extended, like Kashmiri, Assamese, Bengali, Kannada or Urdu. Their numbers of speakers are well in the millions, despite not being comparable to the number of Hindi speakers.
Another example is the US. While English is undoubtedly predominant in the country as a whole, each state is definitely a world of its own, and in some regions it is currently hardly spoken. 229 million people speak English in the US. 35 million speak Spanish.
There is a big difference, yes. But take out the first part of the comparison, and focus on the second: 35 million Spanish speakers in the US!
If that number doesn’t make you think twice about the language strategy for your communications in the US, I don’t know what will.
My point is that translation is not black and white anymore. It is not as simple as choosing a country and simply translating your documents to the language that is mainly or traditionally spoken there. Statistically speaking, you will probably reach a wider audience. But is it really the audience you are aiming to target?
Furthermore, you don’t have to choose just one language: it is not an elimination game. Not when you can work with an agency that can provide you with the means to target all the different communities in their respective local languages. The investment will be a little bigger, but the number of potential customers that you will reach will grow exponentially.
And if the agency is trustworthy and manages its translators efficiently, really, the costs won’t rise all that much.