A referendum is being planned, and soon we could see the full independence for the autonomous territory, which has a total population of over seven and a half million and boasts Spain’s second largest city, Barcelona, as its capital.
Although, in a 2009 study, by the government of Catalonia, it was recorded that the majority of Catalonians claim to primarily speak Spanish, there is a large slice, 35%, who speak Catalan. If full autonomy was to be granted to Catalonia, then you would imagine that this percentage would rise further, with nearly 12% already claiming to speak both.
Indeed Catalan, along with Aranese, which is spoke in the Val d’Aran region, is an official language of Spain, alongside, of course, Spanish itself.
Catalan and Translation
The Catalan people, like many others in territories seeking autonomy, are very proud of their culture and thus their language. Indeed, this spirit has brought a great deal of support to the Catalan football Club, Barcelona, from a number of secessionist countries, such as Kosovo.
With over seven and a half million people, of which just short of 50% speak Catalan, either alone, or in combination with Spanish, this is a prime example of why localization is key within professional translation.
As far back as 1297, the first Catalan Bible was produced, and indeed, in the modern day it is one of Google Translate’s 66 functioning languages. With such pride, comes the power of communication and connection, which can be harnessed through language. It is scary to think how many companies are translating their content into Spanish, but not Catalan, and in doing so, missing out on fully connecting to nearly 15% of the total population of Spain.
Why is this important?
Localization services are a crucially important aspect of translation. One recent study even suggested that approximately 56% of individuals place native tongue ahead of price, when looking for a suitable website, through which to purchase services or goods. Indeed the percentage of Chinese who claim to feel ‘more comfortable’ with a Chinese language website is an astounding 95%.
Of course, the Catalan example is different to a lot of localization, which revolves, not around independence or secessionism, but rather dialect and culture.
If you look at the ‘global languages’; French, English, and Spanish, in particular, it is immediately apparent that these languages change as the location does. French, for example, is spoken, as an official language, in 29 countries, as diverse as; Luxembourg, Canada (Quebec), Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti. To take the example of English; it is an official language in an incredible 54 countries, namely; Australia, India, Kenya, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, to name a few. You could hardly get more diverse. Spanish, too, presents a similar tale.
All of this contributes to the necessity of localization within translation. It is not as simple as having French translators and English translators and Spanish translators. Rather, there needs to be location-specific translation experts within an agency. The example of Catalan is just the tip of the iceberg and rather highlights the importance of research, as opposed to localization, but all of it comes back to the same thing; the ability to connect.
The Catalan referendum on independence, if successful, may well lead to an increase in the use of the Catalan language, but it is now that companies need to connect. Although, of course, Catalan is an autonomous territory, it can be overlooked during the translation process and this results in a failure to connect, or indeed, communicate properly with the population.
Further to this, different dialects of languages, and indeed, different cultures, require a unique approach and specific linguistic and cultural knowledge and expertise. With an increasingly competitive market, within a wide range of sectors, this is crucial, in order to put you ahead of your competitors.
Every company is aware of the importance of communications, and in the modern, globalized world, multi-lingual connectivity is just as important. It builds trust, and illustrates respect and positive ethos. Localization can truly help you to build new networks of clients, customers, friends and partners across the globe.