Date: 27 September 2021
While we all understand the concept and intention behind translating from one language to another, fine tuning these translations to be localized to the region you are targeting is often the difference between relating to your target market or missing the mark in your communication with them.
Within the English language itself, there are so many different variations and nuances within the way we use the language to express ourselves in different countries. The way a South African
communicates will be different to the vernacular of the British or American or Australian.
Trevor Noah once spoke of how he referred to his race group as “coloured” while on tour in the United Kingdom. He was met with shock and outrage from his audience. In South Africa the term
“coloured” is the popular and neutral term for “mixed race”, but in the United Kingdom it is an offensive and derogatory term. By not correctly localizing your translations, you can fall prey to not only missing valuable opportunities to reach your target audience, but also making these nuanced errors and causing offence.
As this blog is English based, let’s take a look at some of the diverse expressions and commonly used phraseology that are used in English speaking countries around the world.
The land down-under has a whole host of terms and phrases that are completely unique to them. Did you know the term “selfie” (which is now officially in the English language dictionary) came from Australia?
Here are some of our favourite vernacular from this vast continent:
1. Arvo: Afternoon. Australians love to abbreviate!
2. Ankle-biter: Child. This specifically refers to a small child only large enough to reach an adults ankle.
3. Bludger: A lazy person
4. Brolly: Umbrella. Yes again – another abbreviation!
5. Chuck a Sikkie: Taking a sick day. This is most commonly used when you aren’t actually sick but taking a sick day anyway.
6. Coppers: Police
7. Eksy: Cooler. Taken from the word Eskimo, this term refers to a cooler bag or cooler box.
8. Facey: Facebook. Yes – they really do like their abbreviations!
9. Milk bar: The corner shop. Ironically they do sell a lot more than just milk!
10. No wuckas: No worries. It really is a language of its own!
While England managed to colonize most of the countries that now speak English as their first language, England still have a lot of localized terms for things that the average English speaker would not understand. The UK has around 40 different dialects of English, each with their own accents and slang.
Here are some of favourite from the land of the Union Jack:
1. Barmy: Crazy. It’s barmy how many different dialects there are in the UK.
2. Buzzin’: Excited. You may be buzzin’ about the upcoming summer holidays.
3. Creps: Sneakers. To make things even more complicated, the Brits call them “trainers”
4. Dosh: Money.
5. Fag: Cigarette. An innocent term used in the UK, that could be considered very offensive in other english speaking countries.
6. Gaff: Home.
7. Gagging: Thirsty. We know the Brits love their beer. They are gagging for it.
8. Gordon Bennett!: An expression for surprise. Used as an alternative to “my goodness!”
9. Minted: Wealthy. Wouldn’t we all love to have this expression used to describe us.
10. Pigs Ear: A mess up. “You really made a pigs ear of that parking”
Many of the words, phrases and terms we use in English, have their origins in the USA. This is mainly due to the wide-spread viewing of American television series, documentaries and films watched world-wide. However, they still have a host of words that haven’t quite caught on yet in the rest of the world.
Here are some of the terms commonly used in the US, that leave the rest of us English speakers scratching our heads over:
1. Fire: Amazing. Those shoes are fire! Don’t worry, no need to call the fire department, the person making this statement just like your shoes.
2. Bet: Term of agreement. Taken from “you bet I do” – now just shortened to bet.
3. G.O.A.T: Greatest of all time.
4. Tea: Gossip: Taken from the term”spill the tea” if you are “bringing the tea” you are bringing the latest hot news.
5. What’s Good?: How are you. This certainly makes it sound like the person only wants to hear your good news. Maybe you should keep your sad stories to yourself when chatting to
someone who asks you this.
6. Drip: Extreme style.
7. Juiced: Eager. In this case you could be juiced about juice if you really are a fan of it.
8. Simp: People Pleaser. This term does have a derogatory sound to it.
9. Stan: A devoted fan.
10. Cap/Capping: To tell a lie. No capping here!
South African slang can be especially hard to understand for other English speakers. This is because there are 11 official languages in South Africa, and many of the slang terms used within the English language are taken from or derivatives of these other official languages spoken. South Africans tend to effortlessly reference these languages within their usually English speech – confusing tourists no end!
Here are some of the most common terms used within the Rainbow Nation:
1. Babbelas: Hangover. This word is derived from the Zulu term for hangover – ibhabhalazi.
2. Bliksem: To hit someone. This word is taken from Afrikaans, and can also be used as an expression of surprise.
3. Boerewors: Sausage. Literally meaning ‘farmer’s sausage’, this is a savory sausage and again derived from Afrikaans.
4. Braai: Barbecue
5. Hayibo!: To express something unbelievable. This word is taken from the Zulu language.
6. Sarmie: Sandwich. Just like the Aussies, the South Africans love their abbreviations.
7. Jol: Party. “We jolled hard at the braai last weekend”
8. Dala: Do. “Dala what you must” meaning – do what you have to is a very popular expression.
9. Dop: Alcoholic Beverage.
10. Just Now/Now Now: In a bit. “I’ll do it just now”
To speak to a person in not only their language, but also their vernacular is to truly communicate and resonate with them. As humans we are all most open to what we understand and relate too,
and for this reason localizing content and material is just as important as translating.
At Translation Assist we understand the importance of nuance and localizing, and this is why it is a pivotal part of our process. Whether you are a marketing company needing to reach your
audience on a colloquial level or a corporate needing to express your businesses terms in the best understood vernacular – we are here to assist.
At Translation Assist we enable you to reach the world with our range of Translation, Transcription, Localization, Interpretation, Writing and Editing and Digital and Multimedia services.
We offer our services in over 120 languages, using native speakers to do these translations, allowing you to reach whomever you wish to worldwide.
Our focus is on providing you with service excellence. Our services are tailor made to your requirements and budget – and we offer the best industry pricing available.
With over 10 000 happy customers, and over 1 000 000 words translated, you can trust us to provide you with translations that are accurate, fast, cost-effective and exactly to your
requirements, Furthermore our team of astute project managers will ensure the process is smooth, efficient and within the timeline you require.
Contact Translation Assist for a quick and easy no-obligations quote today.