Localisation – what it is, why it’s important and how ecls can help

Have you ever launched a marketing campaign in another part of the world only to find it fall flat or not have the desired impact? Chances are your product or service wasn’t localised for the target audience.


Localisation involves adapting content for the cultural and linguistic expectations of a specific target market and, when done right, it balances international brand consistency with local nuance and authenticity to build trust and help target audiences see themselves reflected in your offering. It goes without saying that the impact of this can be huge for your reputation, building relationships and the ultimate global success of your brand.


Read on for more about what localisation is, why it’s important and how we might be able to help thanks to our years of experience – from localising film and TV series titles and software strings, to cultural consultation and global e-commerce projects.


So what exactly is localisation?


Localisation can be broadly defined as “the process of making a product or service more suitable for a particular country, area, etc.” (Cambridge English Dictionary). In other words, localisation is a global marketing strategy that involves adapting content – anything from software to pharmaceutical labelling – for the cultural and linguistic expectations, standards and preferences of a specific target market. In the context of the language industry, localisation therefore often includes translation or adaptation to a different language variant (for example US English rather than UK English) but also goes beyond this to include anything that will help a text, product or service resonate with a target audience and fulfil local requirements.


What does localisation involve?


As well as linguistic aspects such as tone of voice, formality, idioms, slang, jargon, brand names, cultural references, slogans and tag lines, localisation also covers other modes of communication, such as:


  • Symbols
  • Colours and imagery
  • Music or other sounds
  • Typesetting and formatting issues
  • Social norms and etiquette
  • Currency
  • Measurements
  • Date and time formats
  • Number formats
  • Legal requirements, and more.


The aim of localisation is to create content that appears as if it was originally a product of the target culture, removing any potential friction that might arise from mismatches between the target audience’s needs, expectations and preferences and the features of the text, product or service.


Why is localisation important?


When expanding into a new market, localisation can help your brand establish a positive reputation and build relationships with potential customers. Equally, if your brand already operates internationally, tailoring your strategy for each locale ensures you get it right with all your market segments, where an overly broad-brush approach would risk alienating some markets, harming your reputation, or even incurring financial or legal penalties if local laws and regulations are not adhered to.


Successful localisation balances international brand consistency with local nuance and authenticity to build trust and help target audiences see themselves reflected in your offering, ultimately leading to a higher conversion rate. As the Harvard Business Review reports, in a survey of 2430 web consumers, 72.4% said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language, while 56.2% said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important to them than price. In addition, the “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy – B2C” report on a survey of 8000 consumers across 29 countries reveals that 40% would not purchase a product or service that is not available in their language. As these statistics show, translation and localisation are key to removing linguistic and cultural barriers that stop potential customers from engaging with your brand.


How ecls can help


Our team has many years of experience in supporting businesses with their international marketing efforts. Some examples of the services we offer include:


Localising film titles and TV series titles – our regular clients include a major streaming platform who we support by localising the titles of films and TV series for English-speaking audiences (see the full case study here:


Software strings for various English-speaking markets – another ongoing client in the HR sector relies on us to localise their software strings to ensure that they are suitable for the UK and Australian markets.


Cultural consultation – we recently completed a cultural consultation project to help our client, a UK-based creative marketing agency, determine whether their ideas for new slogans as part of a global marketing campaign would be well received in specific target markets, including Mexico, Dubai, Singapore and Germany. Our localisation specialists are available to carry out in-depth analysis and research to determine any possible connotations of slogans in target markets, identify how easily they are likely to be understood, and explain the anticipated impact, assessing whether they would be better received in the target locales if they were translated into the target language.


Global e-commerce – another recent project saw us localising around 150,000 words of German catalogue entries for a global e-commerce platform for US English just in time for Christmas. As well as translating the text, we localised prices, units of measurement and any other culture-specific information to ensure that the shopping experience would be as smooth as possible for the target market.


If you are wondering whether a localisation strategy might be a good fit for your business, our experienced team is here to help. We offer a range of localisation services backed up by linguistic and cultural expertise and can advise on the best approach depending on your requirements, objectives and budget. Get in touch with us – our team would be delighted to help.

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A (re)introduction to our team at ecls translations

Our team is made up of translators, proofreaders and project managers who specialise in technical and marketing translation. If you’ve recently watched any foreign language series or films on the world’s largest on-demand streaming service, there’s a high chance our team has had something to do with localising the content for you. With translators who specialise in everything from robotics user manuals and automotive product descriptions to creative websites, AdWords and press releases, we have a huge range of expertise between us and ensure we are constantly updating our knowledge to stay on the cutting edge of the fields we work in.


Hear from our team in a recent interview about their role in the industry, how this has evolved over the years, the impact our clients enjoy as a result of working with us and top tips for those looking for a reliable translation service provider.


Can you talk us through your role as a linguist PM at ecls? What does your typical day look like?


Becca: My role as a linguist at ecls is incredibly varied because I translate, proofread and manage projects. I’ll usually have a few translation and proofreading projects on the go, and the rest of the day is spent responding to enquiries, preparing quotes, scheduling new projects and finding the best team for the job, communicating with our customers and suppliers, and ensuring that projects are delivered on time. I also do some content writing and other sales and marketing tasks. No two days are alike, which is part of what I love about working at ecls!


Have you found your role has changed over the years as the industry evolves and if so, in what way(s)?


Laura: Yes and no. In some ways it has changed, especially regarding new technologies (machine translation and AI). A lot of clients are interested in these new services and for me it is important to always stay up to date so that I can recommend the best service for my clients’ specific project. In other ways, my role has not changed, as the majority of clients still value personal communication and prefer to work with the same trusted translators for their projects.


What’s been the impact for clients who have chosen to work with our team?


Emma: Our clients come to us for lots of different reasons: they’re launching a global brand campaign and need help understanding how their suggested slogans might be received around the world so that the most effective strategy can be chosen; they need support communicating change to their internal teams along with providing training manuals in their teams’ native language to get buy-in and quickly implement new technology; they’re looking to expand their operations and open up new markets abroad and understand how important it is to communicate with clients in their own language. We were even recently asked to help contact a local company in Singapore for a conference and, as we had a local team member on the ground, we were able to respond to the urgent request in time for our client.


One of our clients recently described working with us as follows:


“The impact of working with ECLS has been transformative for our organization. Their simple and straightforward workflow has significantly enhanced our operations, resulting in improved efficiency and productivity. Their attention to detail and commitment to delivering high-quality results have undoubtedly elevated our performance and allowed us to meet our KPIs consistently.”


We take the time to understand our clients’ needs, working collaboratively and adaptably. We also keep things smooth and efficient, which, along with our team’s expertise, saves our clients both time and cost in the long run. Clients who have chosen to work with us have benefitted from our local connections and the trust that this builds, have seen increased customer retention, an enhanced reputation overseas and boosted global sales.


How did you get into translation?


Becca: I was lucky enough to grow up with parents who were very interested in languages and travelling, so I got to visit lots of places in Europe as a child, an experience that inspired my love of language learning. After first picking up German and Latin at school, I went on to study Modern and Medieval Languages at university, where I also learned Italian from scratch and spent time working and studying in Germany and Italy. Translation classes were one of my favourite aspects of my time at university, and after I graduated I spent a couple of years working as a project manager and proofreader in the non-profit medical publishing sector before deciding to return to university for an MA in Translation and Interpreting Studies. I then worked as an in-house translator before joining ecls translations as a project coordinator, translator and proofreader in 2021.


What have been the highlights of your work here? What do you find most interesting/challenging?


Naomi: Working as a translator can sometimes be a lonely experience but working with ecls means being part of a team of friendly, experienced language professionals. We have regular online team meetings and occasional in-person meetups and communicate on a daily basis via various channels, including Slack and Outlook. I enjoy being part of a team in which my work, ideas and suggestions are valued and constantly benefit from my colleagues’ experience and expertise.


The most interesting aspect of my work is the opportunity to become familiar with new clients and topics and to consolidate existing skills – from proofreading and transcreation to adaptation and subtitle editing.


The challenges of this work include meeting tight deadlines while maintaining high levels of quality, using new software and translation tools, and getting to grips with new clients’ requirements and expectations.


How about advice for people looking for a translation service provider?


Laura: When you are looking for a translation service provider, I would recommend looking for a small to medium-sized agency where personal contact with the project managers is possible. This way you can establish a valuable and long-term relationship and know your translation projects are in experienced hands. My second piece of advice is asking about the company’s process and ensuring that the chosen agency only works with the so-called “native speaker principle”, meaning translators only translate into their mother tongue, among other professional requirements.


Why do you think clients keep coming back to ecls?


Naomi: ecls delivers a high-quality service that offers clients excellent value for money and meets their needs effectively. Clients come back to us because we take the time to understand their needs and expectations right from the start, ensuring we deliver excellent translations on time, every time. Our friendly, approachable project managers communicate clearly and effectively to resolve any issues quickly and satisfactorily, while our team of experienced linguists ensures consistency and creates added value. Reliability leads to trust. And trust leads to repeat business.


If you have any language requirements or need some general translation/localisation advice, our team would love to hear from you! Contact us on:



ecls’ application to join the Department for Business and Trade’s Investment Support Directory a success

We are delighted to have started the New Year as a member of the DBT’s Investment Support Directory. The Directory comprises a collection of companies with the skills and experience to support overseas businesses to set up or expand in the UK.


Hosted on the website, the online platform connects international investors with UK-based service businesses, providing a tool for potential investors to search for support and find experts according to the specific industry, region, experience and language expertise.


The platform, often used by British embassies and consulates as a starting point to connect international investors with professionals in the UK, is making information more accessible and has been designed to help drive foreign direct investment into all corners of the UK.


With its business-friendly environment, robust infrastructure, one of the largest (world-class) labour forces in Europe and its open, liberal economy, the UK is an outstanding place to invest as well as being a straightforward market in which to start and expand a business.


Since 2016, we have been supporting businesses in countries including Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland and the USA from the technology, manufacturing and marketing sectors to expand, diversify and gain access to new resources and technologies around the world.


We’re thrilled to be included in the DBT’s Directory and for the opportunity to increase our visibility to foreign investors and to support them in achieving their international expansion goals with our first-class translation service.


ecls' profile within the DBT's Investment Support Directory can be found here:


For more information on the support available, please contact our team at – we'd be delighted to explore how we can help.


The importance of inclusive language and translation

What is inclusive language?


Inclusive language means using words carefully to acknowledge diversity and ensure that no one is alienated from your communications. It’s a respectful way of engaging with every member of your audience, particularly marginalised individuals and groups. It means avoiding bias and not making assumptions about gender, race, ethnicity, ability or sexuality.


Inclusive language isn’t just a “nice to have”; it’s critical to connecting with your target market. Failing to be inclusive with your communications means that you are likely to lose many potential customers from the get-go – not only under-recognised* groups, but also younger people and anyone else attuned to issues of equality and inclusion.


More broadly, inclusive language is a way to effect real change in the world. Language is power, and it shapes our cognition. The more we hear stereotypes reinforced through language, the more we’re likely to believe them. Conversely, inclusive language chips away at implicit bias and contributes to making our world more accepting, equitable and tolerant. If that sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, read on!


Inclusive language, translation and added value


Attitudes and approaches to issues of inclusion vary between cultures and languages. What’s acceptable in one country might come across as outdated, insensitive or downright offensive in another, so it’s crucial to get it right when you’re targeting an international audience.


At ecls translations, we don’t just convert words from one language to another. Instead, we spend time carefully analysing the source text and crafting a message in the target language that will truly resonate with the intended audience. This means that if we come across something in a source text that won’t sit well with a target market in terms of its inclusivity, we’ll flag this up to you and suggest some possible adaptations rather than simply translating word for word.


It’s important to remember that language is constantly evolving, and what might be the inclusive term today could cause offence in the future. That’s why we ensure that we are always up to date with cultural and linguistic changes to remain as inclusive as possible.


Inclusive language around the world


Just as attitudes to inclusivity vary around the world, so do linguistic strategies of inclusion. This is a vast and complex area, but let’s take a brief look at some of the hot topics in the three main languages in which ecls translations specialises: English, French and German.


In the UK, identity politics is currently a hotly debated issue. Regardless, gender inclusivity is becoming more and more important, with many individuals and institutions recognising that gender is not binary, for example by implementing a policy of stating preferred personal pronouns (such as she/her, he/him, they/them, ze, sie and xim). The UK’s National Health Service has also begun to adopt gender-neutral language, so that, for example, you might see information for an expectant parent referring to “birthing person” instead of “mother” and “chestfeeding” instead of “breastfeeding”.


In terms of race and ethnicity, there’s a movement towards using the term “global majority” rather than “ethnic minority” to describe people who are Black, Asian, Brown, dual-heritage, indigenous to the global south, in recognition of the fact that these groups represent some 80% of the world's population. If you’d like to explore these issues in greater depth, inclusive language guides are a great starting point – for example, a guide to writing about ethnicity published by the UK Government can be found here, while a guide to writing about disability is available here.


In France, language is a famously political issue. The Académie Française was established in 1634 to protect the “purity” of the French language, and even today it plays an important role in deciding what’s “correct” in terms of grammar, spelling and vocabulary. However, it’s often seen as old-fashioned and out of step with the times: recently, it has criticised the use of trendy anglicisms such as “big data” and “drive-through” in public life. More controversially, the Académie has also opposed attempts to make French more gender-neutral. One topic to come under fire is the inclusive neologism “iel”– a gender-neutral pronoun that combines the masculine “il” and the feminine “elle”. However, the debate also extends to the structure of the language itself. As French is a grammatically gendered language, speakers generally need to specify either the masculine or feminine version of occupations and pronouns – for example, “le traducteur”/”la traductrice”. Many people see this as problematic because when gender is unknown or unclear, or when a group of people are referred to, the default is the masculine, which arguably reinforces patriarchal ideology and erases women and people of other genders.


Various strategies have been developed to get round this and make the language more gender-neutral and inclusive. One of these is the use of an interpoint (∙) or other symbol to combine the masculine form of a noun phrase with feminine suffixes, known as a truncated doublet – for example, “Les traducteur∙rices sont actif∙ves”. The Académie Française has decried such constructions as a sign that French is in mortal danger, while the French Sénat has voted for an extensive ban on gender-inclusive writing. Admittedly, such constructions are perhaps a little difficult to read, and don’t work well when spoken out loud, but there are also alternative solutions such as full doublets (“les traducteurs et les traductrices”) and the use of epicene terms, which are gender-neutral – for example, “la direction” rather than “le directeur/la directrice”.


The picture with the German language is similar – as another grammatically gendered language, German also has the same challenge that gender usually has to be specified when you’re talking about someone’s occupation or other characteristics. Faced with the gender-non-specific term “the teacher”, for example, a translator from English to German would have to decide whether to translate this as “der Lehrer” (male teacher) or “die Lehrerin” (female teacher). Just as with French, the generic masculine has historically been the automatic choice in German in cases where gender is unknown or mixed. This means that when talking about a group of people – even a group of 99 women and one man – the masculine plural would conventionally be used (“die Ärzte” (male doctors) rather than “die Ärztinnen” (female doctors).


To get round this, a range of strategies have been deployed since the 1980s, from the “gender gap” – “die Student_innen” – to the use of a capital “I” – “die StudentInnen”. However, these attempts to make the language inclusive were largely limited to academics and subcultural groups until the last decade, when the “Gendersternchen” (gender star or asterisk) – “die Student*innen” – began to go mainstream, becoming the standard style for many schools, universities and institutions, including some governmental bodies. Nevertheless, there has been pushback from conversative groups in Germany: the right-wing populist party Alternative für Deutschland has campaigned against gender-inclusive language, while the Christian Democrat government in Saxony has banned the use of gender-inclusive language such as gender stars in schools. Other, less polarising options include doubling up (“die Lehrer und die Lehrerinnen”) and non-gendered synonyms (such as “die Lehrkraft” (teaching staff) instead of “die Lehrer/Lehrerinnen).


In 2021, eight German news agencies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland announced a range of measures to avoid linguistic gender bias, including putting women first in constructions such as “Leserinnen und Leser” (female readers and male readers), but stopped short of recommending the use of the gender asterisk or other novel orthographic strategies.


Inclusive language: the way forward


Whatever language you’re communicating in, it’s vital to pay attention to inclusivity to avoid alienating people and to reflect the diversity of your audience. The wide range of strategies might seem bewildering, which is why working with a professional translation agency like ecls translations can be invaluable in helping you find the right approach. As experts in the language and culture of your target audience, we can help you navigate the benefits and drawbacks of different approaches to find the perfect solution based on your target audience, the purpose of your communications and the tone of voice you want to achieve.




*We have deliberately used the term “under-recognised” rather than “under-represented”. For the rationale behind this, see

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Human translation in the era of machines and AI

Since the first experiments with machine translation in the 1950s, attempts to create a “fully automatic high-quality machine translation system” have been met with hopes as well as fears. Debates around the possibility of replacing human translators with computers go to the very heart of what language is – and what it is to be human. While for decades there’s been an undercurrent of anxiety in the translation industry that human translators might one day become obsolete, this hasn’t happened yet…Why is this, and why do professional human translators continue to outperform computers at almost every level? In this article, we’ll take a look at what machine translation is and how it works, the benefits and drawbacks of machine translation, and how to weigh up whether you need professional human translation, machine translation or a combination of the two for your localisation strategy.


What is machine translation and how does it work?


As the name suggests, machine translation is translation of a text from one language to another, performed automatically (and practically instantaneously) by a computer. There are several types of machine translation, but the main types used today rely on a large number of pre-existing translations arranged as parallel texts, known as a “corpus”. The computer analyses this corpus to find the probability that a certain string of words in the source language (called an “n-gram”) will be translated with a given string of words in the target language, choosing the most likely combination as its final translation. More recently, neural machine translation tools have been developed that have the ability to “learn” and improve their performance as time goes by. Note that “computer-assisted translation” isn’t the same as machine translation: this refers to a range of software tools used by human translators to ensure consistency and efficiency.


What are the benefits and drawbacks of machine vs human translation?


Computers can translate large volumes of text within seconds, so when speed is your main priority, machine translation is hard to beat. The pace at which a human translator is able to translate varies depending on factors such as the complexity of the text, but on average a professional will translate around 2000–2500 words a day. This also means that machine translation generally costs less, because even when you factor in a “machine translation post-editing” stage (known as MTPE, a check carried out by a human translator), the overall time taken to reach the final translation is considerably reduced.


On the other hand, because machine translation relies on a corpus, the quality of the translations it produces depend on the quality of the corpus. This also means that it will replicate any biases in the corpus, potentially leading to issues such as sexism in the translation output. For example, if you take a gender-non-specific term such as “the doctor” in English and use a popular machine translation engine to translate it into Italian, you get “il dottore”, the male doctor. Do the same thing with “the nurse” and you get “l’infermiera”, the female nurse. Problematic, right?


Another problem with the corpus-based approach of machine translation is the fact that it relies on frequency of terms and phrases, which means that the computer will struggle with anything novel or niche. Creative language, neologisms, or unusual technical terminology are all significant stumbling blocks for machine translation. Once again, we can use a well-known free machine translation tool to illustrate this: take the catchphrase from the TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race, “condragulations” – a play on the words “congratulations” and “drag”. Google translates this into Russian as “pozdravleniya”, which is simply the usual word for “congratulations” and has none of the humour, creativity or wordplay of the source text. The human translators who create the Russian subtitles for the show, in contrast, have come up with the perfect solution: “pozdragliayu”. In more technical fields, a human translator specialising in the relevant field will have the background knowledge to know exactly which word to use to translate a niche term, unlike a machine translation engine trained on general texts, which is likely to use entirely the wrong term or not be able to provide a solution at all.


Machine translation also lacks what we call “common sense”, which means it sometimes comes up with some nonsensical – and often amusing – translations. To give a real-life example, we recently edited a machine translation where the German word “Kater” had been translated as both “male cat” and “hangover” in the same text. Both valid translations in some situations, but not in content related to veterinary medicine! This wouldn’t cause any issues for a human translator, who would instantly know which word to use based on the context, but the statistics-based machine translation tool is prone to mixing terms up given that it has no real-world knowledge or understanding of the bigger picture.


What does the future hold?


Despite the issues we’ve described, machine translation is here to stay – and is likely to become a key part of the toolkit of many international companies in future, thanks to its speed and low cost. Used wisely, it can be a brilliant way to lift barriers to international communication at scale. While human involvement is still needed in most cases, the level of intervention depends on a number of factors, including the characteristics of the source text, the quality of the machine translation tool and the purpose of the final translation.


In a similar way, generative AI is already widely used outside the realm of translation and localisation, for example for content writing, website and app design and support chatbots. As with machine translation, human input is still needed in the majority of cases, particularly where anything non-routine, critical or complex is involved. As a result, new services are emerging such as post-editing of AI-generated copywriting.


Only time can tell how the interaction between machines and humans will develop, but the possibilities of this emerging field are certainly exciting. At ecls translations, we have years of experience in leveraging the potential of machine translation while deploying the strengths of a team of specialist human translators, so we’re perfectly placed to advise you on the best approach for your unique business needs in a rapidly changing environment.


Human translation or machine translation?


There are certainly times when machine translation is a useful and appropriate solution: when you need to get the gist of a text in a foreign language, for example, or when you need a fast translation of a straightforward, non-specialist text. While we would always recommend getting a professional translator to check machine translations for accuracy, they can be a great, fast and affordable option in the right circumstances, offering a way to translate large volumes of text at speed. If this sounds like something you might be interested in, we offer a machine translation post-editing service that is a quick and cost-effective solution while still offering the peace of mind that a professional human translator brings in terms of accuracy.


However, if you need to translate a technically complex, creative or humorous text, we would usually recommend working with a human translator. This is also the case for documents with legal validity or anything intended for high-visibility publication. Our team of professional human translators are selected for their specialist experience and knowledge and can be trusted to create high-quality, accurate and fluent translations that will resonate with your target audience.


Whether you’ve decided which service you need and want a quote, or you’re still not sure whether you need a human translator, we’d be delighted to talk you through the options: just get in touch with the ecls team at












Should translators be worried or excited about the future of ChatGPT?

Whether you’re interested in technology or not, it’s been hard to avoid hearing about ChatGPT in recent months. The AI chatbot has been all over the news and social media, leaving some people feeling anxious about the impact it will have on our jobs and education. Even key players in the AI sector called for training of AI systems to be temporarily suspended back in March of this year, arguing that they pose a threat to our society. Others, however, are embracing the technological advances that ChatGPT has to offer. Whichever side of the debate you fall on, it’s certainly an interesting topic and one that isn’t going away any time soon.


With the ability to produce text that could’ve been written by a human, it’s understandable that ChatGPT has also got the translation industry talking. We’re going to take a look at what ChatGPT is and how it’s likely to affect the translation industry in the future.


What is ChatGPT?


You’ve probably heard lots about it, but you might not be entirely sure what ChatGPT actually is. Well, ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer. And if that doesn’t help, it’s essentially a very advanced chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to produce human-like text. It does this by identifying patterns in huge quantities of data from sources like books, journals, websites and news articles. ChatGPT is also known as a large language model (LLM), which is basically a computerised deep-learning model that’s trained to generate text that reads as if it’s been written by a human.


You can ask ChatGPT anything you want. You can ask it to plan your next holiday for you, write a poem for your loved one or prepare your to-do list. But it’s not just trivial matters that ChatGPT deals with; it can also write computer code and essays. It doesn’t always provide the right answers though and there are certain things it can’t do. For example, it is currently limited to analysing data up to the year 2021. Users have also pointed out that it often reproduces racist bias that it finds in its source data and the technology can even ‘hallucinate’ sometimes. This term is used to describe AI giving answers that sound as if they could be correct but that are actually wrong. So, it certainly has its limitations.


Can ChatGPT produce translations?


The simple answer is yes. Currently ChatGPT is able to understand and produce text in around 95 languages, so you can certainly ask it to produce translations for you. One advantage that ChatGPT has over other online translation services, like Google Translate, is that you can provide the chatbot with more information or context to give it a helping hand to produce an accurate translation. For example, you could ask what a sentence means in a certain context or explain that what you’re trying to translate is an idiom. This should help ChatGPT to produce a more accurate translation. You can also provide more information on the style and tone you want your translation to have.


However, as mentioned previously, you can’t fully rely on ChatGPT’s output being correct. Even ChatGPT itself will tell you that the translations it generates might not be accurate and might need proofreading. Issues with its translations may be linguistic, whether it’s the grammar or vocabulary, or they may be cultural. Like other machine translation tools, ChatGPT can’t fully understand idiomatic expressions and cultural nuances yet.


How will ChatGPT affect the translation industry?


It’s still too early to say exactly how the translation industry will be affected by ChatGPT. As we’ve already explained, the quality of its output is not yet reliable enough for us to trust it to produce accurate translations. If you were to use ChatGPT to translate content that would be seen by your clients or that would appear on your website or in other publications, you would most certainly need a qualified human translator to proofread the output. ChatGPT’s linguistic knowledge is limited to the data it’s been trained on and although it certainly has access to a huge database of written texts, humans are still able to access a lot more information. For particularly niche topics, for example, ChatGPT might struggle! Similarly, translations for industries with strict regulations, such as the legal and medical sectors, would need to be adapted by professional human translators to ensure they are in line with industry standards. Another concern when relying on ChatGPT for translations relates to data security. While it does have some security measures in place, anything you enter into ChatGPT is ultimately saved by OpenAI, the company that developed ChatGPT, in order to improve its output. ChatGPT could also be susceptible to cyberattacks if hackers were able to access and edit its code.


So, with all these limitations, is there any way that ChatGPT could have a positive influence on the translation industry?


Despite the fact that large language models like ChatGPT can’t yet produce accurate translations in a range of subject areas, the translation industry is still open to embracing the technological advances it has to offer. In fact, the German Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators, the BDÜ, recently published a press release explaining that new technologies like ChatGPT are simply changing the way the translation industry operates, disputing claims that they are putting professional human translators out of work. They argue that the role of human translators is changing thanks to the huge technological developments we’ve seen in recent years and are calling for professional linguists to be compensated fairly and not burdened with unrealistic expectations, especially as the role of a translator has in some ways become more complex due to changes in technology.


The benefits of ChatGPT are likely to be similar to those of MT (machine translation) methods that are currently used in the industry. Machine translation post-editing (MTPE) is already widely used by professional translation providers. This involves a machine or piece of software producing the initial translation output and qualified human translators then adapting the output to make sure it’s suitable for use. MTPE tends to be most effective for more straightforward texts without any cultural nuances, such as technical documents. It’s also important that the source text itself is clear and free from any errors. This approach to translation combines the speed and reduced cost of machine translation with the skill and accuracy of a human translator, making it very popular within the industry. The MT output is also constantly evolving and being improved. In this sense, ChatGPT could produce lengthy translations within a short space of time, meaning that clients don’t have to wait as long to receive their final translations. Of course, time would still need to be factored in for proofreading by a professional linguist. ChatGPT might also change the current requirements of MTPE to include additional tasks such as fact checking.




While ChatGPT is not yet close to producing accurate translations that match those of professional human translators, it could still offer some benefits for the industry in terms of speed and reduced costs, especially as the software develops and becomes more advanced. It’s likely to take on a similar role to other machine translation software tools and its output will still require proofreading, editing and potentially fact-checking by a qualified human translator.

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ecls translations shortlisted for Northern Powerhouse Export Award 2023

In May 2023, we were delighted to have been shortlisted for the Northern Powerhouse Export Awards in association with the Department for Business and Trade, with sponsors including the Greater Manchester Chamber, UK and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, with campaign partner Alibaba Group.


As part of the process, we were assessed on:


🤝 How we support companies in the technology, manufacturing and marketing sectors to diversify, to gain access to new resources and technologies, and to attract new customers around the world for increased sales and profits.


✈ The export journey we’ve enjoyed so far and the countries we currently export to, which include Germany, Switzerland, the USA, Belgium and France.


💡 Our innovative approaches to export, including technological innovations and new offerings to provide our clients with a more efficient, cost-effective service.


🏆 The impact our clients have enjoyed over the past 12 months as a result of our high-quality, efficient translation service. This has included a better understanding of their clients’ needs to optimise their offering to customers abroad, increased customer retention, boosted global sales and enhanced reputation overseas.


🌎 How our export practices help to achieve the global NetZero Agenda, protecting the environment, tackling climate change, championing equality opportunities with a commitment to upholding rules-based trade.


We’re grateful to all of our clients who have chosen us to help them achieve their export ambitions in what is a very competitive environment, and we’re really excited to continue supporting businesses in the UK and overseas with their export goals.


The awards ceremony takes place on Wednesday 28th June 2023 at Middlesbrough Town Hall and we’re excited to be attending and to meet other exporters from the region.


Navigating ‘false friends’ in German and French communications – our top 10

If you’ve ever studied a foreign language before, it’s likely you’ll have come across a fair few ‘false friends’!


What is a false friend?


A false friend is a word or phrase that sounds or is spelt the same as in your native language but has a totally different meaning in the other language.


There are plenty of examples and while they are certainly amusing, they could potentially lead to some rather awkward or embarrassing situations or even cause offence.


You might think the German language is particularly straightforward with its English-sounding words like ‘Kaffee’ (coffee) and its very logical compound nouns like ‘Handschuh’ (hand + shoe = glove), but be warned! There are some words that are designed to trip you up.


We’ve put together a list of our top ten French and German false friends that everyone (not just translators!) should be aware of.


  1. Gift (German)

Before telling one of your German friends that you’re giving them a ‘gift’, make sure to check its meaning first – the German noun ‘Gift’ actually translates into English as ‘poison’! This is a classic false friend and one that you’ll need to be aware of if you don’t want to scare away any of your German colleagues, friends or family. If you do want to give someone a gift, the correct German translation is ‘Geschenk’.


  1. Rat (German)

Following a similar train of thought, you might feel shocked or even disgusted if you hear that your German friend wants to thank you for your ‘Gift’ by giving you some ‘Rat’… but don’t panic, they’re only trying to help! The English translation of the German word ‘Rat’ is ‘advice’. If you ever need to know the correct German translation for the pesky rodent, it’s ‘Ratte’.


  1. Handy (German)

If you want to talk to your German friends about how useful you found the guidebook they lent you for your summer holiday, don’t assume that the correct German word is ‘Handy’. This word actually translates into English as ‘mobile phone’ (and is pronounced more like ‘hendy’). This should be an easy one to remember, as mobile phones do come in handy a lot of the time! There is some debate around the origins of the German word. Some believe it’s a short version of the early German word ‘Handfunktelefon’ while others say it came from ‘handie-talkie’ – a handheld walkie talkie that was used in World War 2. Either way, it’s shorter and easier to say than the German alternative: ‘Mobiltelefon’. If you do want to describe something as useful, you can use the German word ‘nützlich’.


  1. Mist (German)

Be careful if you want to comment on the weather in German. You might think the German word ‘Mist’ can easily be used to describe the fog in the sky on one of those grey winter days. However, you’re actually more likely to hear Germans using this word when they’re annoyed. ‘Mist’ can be translated into English as ‘rubbish’, or less politely as ‘crap’! It’s also the German translation of ‘manure’. If you want to talk about the fog or mist in the sky, use the German word ‘Nebel’.


  1. Chef (German)

If you want to pay your compliments to the chef in a German-speaking country, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you could use the German word ‘Chef’. Unfortunately, this is another false friend that catches people out! The English translation of the word ‘Chef’ is actually ‘boss’ or ‘manager’. If you want to thank the chef for a delicious meal, you’d need the word ‘Koch’ or the feminine form ‘Köchin’.


  1. Journée (French)

If you’re speaking to a French person about your recent travels and want to tell them about the journey, make sure not to use the French word ‘journée’. Although this certainly looks like a French version of the word ‘journey’, it actually translates into English as ‘day’. If somebody wishes you a ‘bonne journée’, they’re not wishing you well on your travels, they’re simply wishing you a nice day. The correct French translation for the word ‘journey’ is ‘voyage’, hence ‘bon voyage’ – a term that we often use in English as well.


  1. Blessé (French)

Make sure you brush up on your French vocabulary before declaring to someone how lucky and ‘blessed’ you are. While the French word ‘blessé’ (past participle of the verb ‘blesser’) might seem like the obvious choice, you’d actually be saying something that’s rather unfortunate instead – that you’re injured. This false friend trips people up quite often. The correct French translation for the verb ‘to bless’ is ‘bénir’.


  1. Passer (French)

Another French verb that catches a lot of English speakers out is ‘passer’ in the phrase ‘passer un examen’. An English speaker might be thrilled to hear this news, thinking that they’ve passed an exam. However, somewhat confusingly, ‘passer un examen’ simply means ‘to take an exam’. The French verb ‘réussir’ is the one you’ll need to listen out for to find out if you’ve passed or not. A very cruel false friend!


  1. Déception (French)

As you’ve seen so far, false friends can be very deceiving. You might want to talk about this in French using the word ‘déception’. However, this is a deceiving word in itself. ‘Déception’ actually means ‘disappointment’. Both terms have negative connotations but they’re not exactly interchangeable. If you want to use the correct French word for ‘deception’, it’s ‘tromperie’.


  1. Bras (French)

We’ll leave you with one last French false friend that could lead to some rather awkward encounters! If you see or hear the word ‘bras’ from a French speaker, don’t assume that they’re interested in your (or somebody else’s) underwear… ‘Bras’ is the French word for ‘arm’. The French language actually has some interesting idioms using this word, such as ‘les bras m’en tombent’, which translates literally as ‘my arms fall off’. This phrase translates along the lines of ‘I just cannot believe it’ and can be used if you’re really shocked by something and left speechless. If you do need to know the correct French translation for the undergarment, it’s ‘soutien-gorge’ – slightly longer than the English word!


We hope that you’ve enjoyed our list of German and French false friends and that you can use it to avoid any potentially awkward language encounters. We’d love to hear your favourites, including in other languages too.


How to prepare your documents and website content for translation: our top tips

At the start of any translation project, it’s important to establish the format of the documents you need translating and the format in which you’d like to receive your translations back. Ironing out any issues at this early stage is crucial, as it will make the translation process run a lot more smoothly and will help your provider to understand your requirements and expectations from the start. Your translation agency should be able to advise on the best course of action depending on the type of document you need translating.

To help you get started, we’ve put together a short guide covering the main document types with tips on how they can be prepared for the translation process.

It’s worth remembering that a lot of translation agencies and translators make use of CAT (computer-assisted translation) tools. These help to break texts down into manageable segments and store/create translation memories to make sure that your documents are translated consistently and in line with your style and terminology requirements. Repeated text can also be translated for you at a discounted price. CAT tools work best with editable documents, as they can extract the readable text and prepare it for the translation team.

Let’s take a look at some of the different document types and how these can be prepared for the translation process.

  1. An editable file is a CAT tool’s best friend

If you already have the content you need translating in an editable format, such as a Word or Excel file, the good news is that you probably won’t need to do much more in terms of preparation! Our top tip here would be to make sure that you send your translation provider the final version of the document you need translating without any track changes or unresolved comments. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you’re happy with the formatting of the original document, as the translation will follow the same layout. Make sure to check for any pesky uneditable text that’s lurking in an otherwise editable file, such as images that have been copied and pasted, and check if you have the original versions of these to send to your provider if they do need translating.

  1. How to handle PDFs

PDFs come in all shapes and sizes. More often than not, the document will have originally been created in some other software, such as Word, PowerPoint, InDesign etc. and it will have been saved as a PDF along the way to make it easy for everyone to access. If you have the original file format of your PDF, make sure to send this to your translation agency. It will be easier for them to work with and will reduce any preparation and formatting costs that might be involved. If this is not possible, most translation agencies will work with specialist typesetters who can convert PDFs into Word or InDesign files, for example.

If your PDF is a scanned document, this can make things a little trickier but not impossible! Usually, the translation of a scanned PDF would need to be typed up in a new file, e.g. a Word document, which can take more time and means the translator won’t have access to the CAT tools they would usually use. It’s also possible to type out the source text into a Word document and then run this through a CAT tool for translating. Again, this does take time and will involve some additional costs. It also means that any formatting will be lost and the translation may need some work afterwards if you would like the layout of the original document to be replicated.

The main thing here is to try to make sure that the scan can be read clearly. You can do this by ensuring that the original document is scanned at a high resolution so that the text can be read more easily. Make sure to avoid any blurred edges or anything else that might distort the text and make it difficult to decipher. After all, your translator will need to be able to read the document well to be able to translate it!

  1. Website content

Nowadays, more and more companies are translating their websites to target new audiences overseas. A professionally translated website is key to maintaining your brand reputation, building trust on an international scale and engaging with new clients and customers. But where do you start with getting your website translated?

If your website is fairly small and you already have the content saved in, for example, Word files, these can easily be translated using CAT tools and you can then reinsert the translated content into your website. You could also copy and paste the content from your website into Word or Excel files and follow the same process. This approach is great for smaller websites or if you only need a few pages from your site translating. If you do choose to go down this route, make sure that the files contain everything from your website that needs translating; occasionally things like menu items can be missed.

The other approach is to export your website content in another format, such as XML or HTML. After some preparation, these files can then be opened and processed using CAT tools. Usually, a software developer or website admin will have access to your website content and will be able to export the relevant pages for translation. If your website was created using WordPress, there is also a plugin that enables you to export the content in XLIFF files. This is a well-known CAT tool format and will make the translation process run even more smoothly, as the files shouldn’t require much additional preparation.

Whichever format you choose, your provider should always run a test and send you a pseudo translation to try importing back into your site to check that everything works properly before translation begins.

Our top tips here are to think about which content you need translating from your website. There might be blogs, for example, that won’t be relevant to your target audience and won’t therefore need to be translated. Also, make sure to communicate clearly and openly with your translation provider to ensure the project runs smoothly and your requirements are understood from the start.

  1. InDesign files

InDesign is a well-known desktop publishing software programme that can be used for creating marketing content like flyers, brochures, posters etc. Some clients like to copy and paste the text from their InDesign files into Word to get the content translated and then will reinsert the translations themselves. Most translation providers, however, will work with professional typesetters who can take care of the entire layout for you, so that you receive a fully formatted print-ready translation back. If you’re not familiar with the target language, this can be particularly helpful, especially if it uses a different alphabet or reads from right to left instead of left to right! If you do decide to get your translation professionally formatted by your provider, our top tip here would be to make sure to send them all the relevant files. This includes the .idml file, which is compatible with CAT tools, and the original .indd file, as well as any fonts and links. Also make sure to check if there is anything that’s uneditable within the InDesign files, that’s been copied and pasted from a different source, for example, and let your provider know if such text will need translating.

  1. Tips for all documentation types

Whether you need a simple Word file or a complex PDF translating, there are some tips that apply regardless of documentation type. As we mentioned earlier, make sure to send the final version of your document to your provider to ensure the quote for your project is accurate. If you make changes to the text while the translation process is underway, it’s likely that this will incur additional charges. Check for any text that might be uneditable in otherwise editable files and decide whether this needs translating and let your provider know. Similarly, make sure you’re happy with the layout of your document and discuss any issues or specific requirements with your translation provider at the start of the project. If you have short texts that need translating, it’s best to group these together for your translator to work on at once, as most agencies will charge a minimum fee for each smaller text to cover project management time, research, translation and proofreading.

We hope this short guide has given you a useful insight into how to prepare your documents for translation! As you can see, there are lots of factors to consider, but a good translation provider will be able to talk you through your options and help you along the way. Spending some time preparing your documents for the translation process and discussing your requirements with your provider at the start of a project will save you valuable time and costs in the long run.

If you’d like to discuss getting your documents translated, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us:


Why should marketers care about translation?

As a marketing professional, you spend hours, if not months, developing marketing campaigns and messages. It costs a LOT of money, involving pricey ad agencies and brand consultants. 

Your marketing campaign was a roaring success in the UK. You’ve got lots of new
customers; socials are buzzing with talk about your brand; your press coverage is off the scale; sales have rocketed. 

But you launched the same campaign in your international target markets, and it fell flat on its face. A journalist said your translations didn’t make sense; you offended your target market because you didn’t consider their culture, and you’re the laughing stock of the trade press. 

Why did your campaign fail? You didn’t use a professional translation service.

How to make friends and influence people

Some businesses don’t even translate their marketing materials before they launch their product in a new country. Sales suffer, and they fail to get a foothold in their international markets.

A 2020 report by CSA research said that 40% of global customers never buy a product or service if it’s not in their language. 65% prefer to read content in their native language, even if it’s a bad quality translation, and 67% tolerate websites containing mixed languages.

Customers deserve a better experience. What if ALL businesses provided translations that inspired and captivated customers around the world? Increased profits and reputation and a new legion of loyal and engaged customers.


Helping customers understand your brand

High-quality translation should be your number one priority if you want your product or service to succeed in your international target markets. A successful marketing campaign works if it plays on emotion and if it aligns with the values of your chosen market. Get it right, and you’ll break into new territories, increase international sales and win new clients. Get it wrong, and you’ve lost thousands of potential customers and dented your reputation.  

Combining translation and creativity, transcreation uses creative licence to help you maximise your marketing campaigns by using appropriate and culture-relevant content. A professional translation agency translates content AND ideas, aided by its hawk-like knowledge of different cultures and values.

Keeping your marketing message consistent

Professional translators, like our team at ecls translations, are not only native
speakers in their specialist language and experts in their subject; they’re passionate about culture, and understand nuances and the importance of a consistent, global brand message.  

Professional translations cover a massive range of marketing materials, including websites, product descriptions, social content, emails, digital magazines, press releases, brochures, and online search ads...the list is endless. Translators weave your marketing messages throughout all your campaign material, ensuring your intent, tone, and calls to action are as consistent on your website as in your press releases.

Translation protects your business

Marketing needs to be clear and concise, especially when you’re using terminology relating to manufacturing. Imagine an informative blog post telling a customer how to replace the ink in an industrial printer. But there was one small problem: the blog was poorly translated, or not at all. Your customer is injured, and legal action is heading your way.  

Investing in a professional translator helps to mitigate risk, protects your reputation and saves you costly legal fees in the future. Most importantly, marketing translation shows you care about your customers.

Connecting with your audience through colour

Translators consider every element of your translation. Experts in their native language and country, experienced translators have comprehensive knowledge of its history, politics and humour.


They even understand the power of using the right colours to appeal to specific countries. Take orange. In western countries such as Germany and France, orange is associated with autumn and warm weather, while it signifies mourning in the Middle East.


Tempted by free translation tools? Think again

Ever seen a beautiful website with what looks like a fantastic product, only for poorly translated words to let it down? Auto-translated words usually don’t make sense and can sometimes be downright baffling! We often read websites where it’s evident they’ve used a free, online translation tool to translate their website. 

At ecls translations, we offer post-editing services, which combine the speed of
machine translation with the intuition and expertise of human translators. This can be a useful tool if your budget is tight or a large volume of text needs to be translated quickly.

Saying that, nothing beats human translation. Hiring a professional to translate and proofread your marketing materials means your customers will enjoy top-quality content, ultimately increasing sales and building global loyalty.

In conclusion: If you want to enter international markets, using a professional
translation agency will help you break new ground, grow your business and help you win clients. Now, who doesn’t want that? 

Sources: Statistics from “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” - a report by CSA Research.