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Summary of 2016

Believe it or not, another year has passed and we are in 2017. We still do not have flying cars, nor humanoids that can take over our jobs, we did not fix our pollution and overpopulation issues, man did not land on Mars, we do not have social control via electronic devices… or do we?

Yet another year has passed we are, more than ever, prepared to face the challenges ahead.

But first a review of our 2016 blog.

During the Costa del Sol cold winter we were discussing blunders from big brands at Brands, language, and culture. We showed you samples of how a business or product name can create some confusion, if not properly set in the proper cultural context.

At the beginning of the beautiful and blooming Andalusian spring, we described how Danish and Spanish companies can be great business partners at Translation and Business between Danish and Spanish companies. Because what one lacks the other has!

In April there was a historic celebration, the 400th anniversary of the death of Cervantes and Shakespeare, and as we are Translation and Literature enthusiasts we wrote a wonderful article about this in our blog.

Right at the beginning of the summer, we celebrated that one of the first persons to be hired at Jensen Localization Benelux reached 12.5 years with us! In the localization industry and in our fast changing world this is a huge merit. Happy Jubilee, Hendrika!

During the hottest summer days we were discussing air conditioning systems of cars and we realized that there are huge vocabulary differences in car manuals for various Spanish speaking countries. If you want to learn more you can read this article: Automotive Translations – Latin American Spanish equals LAS? When translating, remember that there is no one Spanish for all and all for one Spanish, but a lot of countries that speak Spanish with huge regional differences.

As usually summer brought lots of tourism to Costa del Sol and e-commerce sites flourished to provide services. But to be successful you need to know a few Tips for localizing e-commerce sites.

During the last month of the summer, we started thinking about the October Medical devices event in Munich looking back to all the projects we have worked on in this field. Our experience taught us that Medical devices and localization are indeed a strategic tandem.

In September we also celebrated A day to honor translators and interpreters all over the world. As the 30th September is the International Translation Day.

Autumn arrived with more time to spend at home. Nothing better than sitting on the sofa with a warm blanket and some Web-based Casual Games: Easy to Play but Difficult to Translate to enjoy the indoor time.

The colder weather brought more work and even more staff were hired at Jensen Localization, included yours truly. If you are curious about my personal background you should read our article: Meet our new Business Development Manager, Nicolás M. Fontana.

Or maybe you are worried about health as many illnesses usually are related to cold weather, and illness requires medical devices for their cure. That is why I was at the Munich MDIP 2016 looking for The Experts’ Opinion on Health Care Localization.

Most probably you will be a bit tired of our articles at this point. But keep on reading because we are about to tell you the secret of success… indeed it is what you thought! Unity Makes Strength!

To crown our 2016! We visited the NTIF, which this time was organized in Malmö to better know The Translation Landscape in Northern Europe to prepare ourselves for winter time.

As every year, we once again welcomed Saint Nicholas in Poland and the Three Kings in Spain and spent time with our families following traditions related to Christmas time. Remember, celebrations are also to be taken seriously, and remember that in China they do not celebrate Christmas, which is why languages specialist like us are important to set your translations to the right cultural background.

We hope that you enjoyed reading our blog and that you found useful tips to help you succeed in your business and personal life. If you would like to give us your opinion, if you have questions or any other type of requests please contact us! At Jensen Localization we would like to wish you a successful and prosperous 2017!

Christmas traditions: Saint Nicholas in Poland and the Three Kings in Spain

December 6th is a special day for all Polish children because it is the day when Saint Nicholas (Święty Mikołaj) comes bringing gifts to them. He knows exactly what their wishes are. To avoid being disappointed on the morning of his arrival, children send him letters describing in detail what they wish for. There is a common saying in Poland, St. Nicholas will only visit those who have been good throughout the year.

image of St Nicholas in Sina

A 13th-century depiction of St. Nicholas from Saint Catherine’s Monastery, in Mount Sinai. Source: Wikipedia.

However, why is St. Nicholas not visiting the Spanish houses on December 6? Is it a kind of punishment for bad behaviour or is it just because of lack of time?

Spanish children will receive their gifts, but not on December 6th, and certainly not on December 25th.

Although the Anglo-Saxon custom of giving presents on December 25th is becoming increasingly popular in Spain, the day that has always been considered dedicated to Spanish children is January 6th, a month later than in Poland.

Three Kings vs. Santa

Despite Santa is gaining popularity in Spain, the Three Kings are still the favourites for Spaniard children.

January 6th is a Christmas-related celebration that is, in fact, part of Biblical history. The Three Kings Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, the “Kings of the East” (aka The Magi or The Three Wise Men), who, more than 2,000 years ago, gave baby Jesus gold, incense and myrrh, have not suffered from high unemployment rates due to the economic recession. They are still in charge of the important task of bringing gifts to little Spaniards.

According to tradition, those who have misbehaved last year will receive coal – which, by the way, is a sweet that is visually similar to coal but prepared with sugar and water with a black alimentary dye.

Some people also give it to good children as a warning so they know what can happen if next year they do not behave properly.

In Poland, January 6th is more a Catholic celebration, during which Polish people participate in the afternoon mass to bless their homes and have them protected against bad things. They usually write with chalk on the door “C + M + B = (and the current year)”. The letters here are an abbreviation of the Latin phrase Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means “May Jesus Christ bless this house”.

Another version relates those three letters with the initials of the names of three kings (Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar), but there is no special celebration.

In Spain, they do celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings (Reyes Magos). During the weeks before January 6th, children prepare their letters to the Three Kings, and they give them in person to their assistants (pajes). On January 5th in the evening, the Three Kings arrive in the Spanish cities on a traditional parade called the cavalcades (cabalgata). Together with their assistants, they throw sweets into the crowd of children that are watching them on the street, and you can see the tonnes of gifts on their floats, including all the toys children asked for on their letters. On the night of January 5th, children clean their shoes to proof that they have been good children and leave milk and food for the Kings and their camels so that they can have a snack on such a busy night.

The Cabalgata de Reyes Magos celebrated on January 5th in Alcoy (Alicante, Spain) is considered to be the oldest in Spain and perhaps the oldest in the world. In the picture below, you can see a cabalgata in Churra, Murcia, back in 1956.

cabalgata in Churra, Murcia, Spain

Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos in Churra, Murcia, in 1956. Source: Wikipedia

Modern times brought us colourful cavalcades, like this one in Malaga.

cavalcades in Malaga

Cavalcades in Malaga, 2015. Source:

As mentioned before, it is becoming increasingly popular to give presents on December 25. However, I do not think that Santa Claus will ever replace the Three Kings in Spain.

Christmas traditions, a mixture of biblical history and pagan celebrations that are important to know when you translate, since language, history and traditions are part of the culture of a country that may be distant to the target culture.

A day to honour translators and interpreters all over the world

Today, 30 September, is an important day for translators and interpreters all over the world. Today, we celebrate International Translation Day.

Why on 30 September? Because it is the feast of St. Jerome, the first translator of the Bible. If you want to learn more curious facts about the translation history, click on this video.

Both professions have a common goal: enable communication.

There are lots of different situations where the task of translators and interpreters has been crucial to save lives, to decide if a person is guilty or not, and even to avoid business blunders. You can find a few on the book Found in Translation, which we talked about long ago in this blog.

We have asked our staff to let us know some words they like, either in their mother tongue or in any foreign language they speak, and we are surprised by all the different words they came up with.

Some are a reflection of their character and the things they like most. For example, Isabel, one of our PMs in Spain, chose the English term wanderlust and the French one dépaysée, two feelings shared among many travellers who, like her, love to feel out of this world when they are in a place completely new to them.


Wanderlust, a word many travellers share.

Our CEO, Brian Jensen, is a very practical person, and he always tries to follow this approach: KISS (Keep IT Short and Simple). Maybe this is why he chose two words: sinasaappelsap, a Dutch term for orange juice (is there anything simpler than an orange juice?) and hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliafobi, a Danish Word meaning phobia to long words.

orange juice in Dutch

Sinaasappelsap, Dutch term for orange juice. Sometimes, simple things are best.

If you follow our Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus profiles, you will see more words chosen by our staff in so many different languages like Finnish, Papiamento or Zuid-Afrikaans.

Just before we finish, we want to talk about the Spanish Word “chícharo”, selected by our project manager in Spain Susana Villodres.

Chícharo is a word used in some regions in Spain and Latin America, and it is another word for guisante (pea in English). The story behind this name is kind of interesting.

Chícharo comes from Latin term cicer – ciceris, meaning chickpea. Romans used this name because chickpeas are rounded and have a small protuberance. As the Roman politician and philosopher Cicero had a bump on the tip of his nose, people started to call chickpeas cicer.

When Romans conquered Spain, the meaning of the word evolved to chícharo due to the Mozarabic dialect, but it lost the sense of chickpea and preserved the meaning of pea.


Chícharo, another term for pea in Spanish.

We hope you enjoyed this curiosity about etymology. We want to wish translators and interpreters all over the world a Happy International Translation Day and want to thank them for their hard work to enable communication between people and cultures.

Market Entry Strategies and Localization

Neither companies nor consumers are limited to do business in their home country. Both for companies that just want to export their products and for those that want to open a branch in a new market, there are many important factors to take into account before actually making the move. Among these factors, the knowledge of the local language and culture is important. In this article, written with the help of our Marketing Assistant, Helia Lavassani, we want to talk about entry modes and the barriers a company can have in a target country, including cultural barriers.

Entry modes

There are many different entry modes, all of which have different levels of engagement and risks.

If the market you are trying to reach is both geographically and culturally distant from the home country and you are not 100% sure if it is the right market for you, you might want to make use of low risk entry modes such as agents or distributors, to gain local knowledge and get a better inside feeling of the market. Note, however, that these entry modes imply very little control from your side, so make sure you have the right people around you.

Aiming global, international marketingMaybe you are sure about the market and want to enter but do not have the resources to go all in. In that case you might want to look into partnering up with the locals through joint ventures or franchising. These entry modes give you more control over the distribution of your products, but you share the risks with your partners. Again, choosing the right partner is crucial in order to reach your goals.

For companies who have the needed resources and are completely confident in the markets they want to enter, entry modes such as sales subsidiaries or off shoring will be ideal. These entry modes give you full control over your products, the production and the distribution. It is a high risk entry mode as you have to be really sure about the specific markets, but if done right this will give you closeness to the market, which in the end will lead to closeness to your consumers.


Before deciding how you want to enter the new market you have to do a market research, especially for the markets geographically and culturally distant from your home country. When doing research, there are many important factors to look at. Here we will use the PESTEL model as an example of factors you might want to look into:

  • Political environment
  • Economic environment
  • Socio-cultural/demographic environment
  • Technological environment
  • Ecological environment
  • Legal environment

The above model gives you more of an understanding of the environment in the targeted country and what barriers you might meet.

When looking at the cultural environment in any given market you look at language, differences in business ethics, morals, etc. When you want to adapt your products to a new market, a local person will not be enough. Here you will need to look into the localization business. While translation helps you translate documents, websites, labels, etc. to the specific language, localization companies like Jensen Localization consider the cultural aspects as well. Localization companies know the differences in ethics, writing, culture, etc., which are important in order to get close to the market you want to reach. Locals want their products to seem as if they were created just for them, and localizing your products is therefore important to avoid misunderstandings and to reach the costumers the same way as local rivals do.

We hope this article has given you an overall understanding of the different things to consider when reaching new markets. To learn more about the importance of localizing your products, please read our older entry: Why do we need localization?.

At Jensen Localization we work with Marketing and Business Internationalization consultants. Together, we help companies make a successful entry in their target markets by adapting their products to local language and uses. If you want to learn how our language services can be of help to your international business strategies, feel free to contact us.

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Ethics in Translation

Globalization is enforcing the appearance of new language pairs and new fields of work. In order to accommodate the increasing need of bridging the language gap and make content available to people in their native tongue, we get jobs that were not that common some years ago.

This need, together with the current social and political scenario, makes us think about ethics in the translation profession. We are not talking about your ethics in terms of commitment to quality standards, confidentiality and other issues related to the translation business, but to the ethical decisions taken by translators in order to accept a job.

Responsibility and Ethics in translationOur values are part of our personality, and these values are acquired either by the culture and traditions of the country/region we were raised in and what our family has taught us.

Can these values confront with our decision to accept a job? We know the answer is not easy, but we think that it may indeed raise some ethical controversy, as is the case with doctors, lawyers and other professions.

Some of these ethical dilemmas are related to the following topics.

Religion. Would you reject a job because of the religion you follow? Here we are not only thinking about religious texts, but about texts in which religion may raise some controversy, such as abortion or circumcision.

Sex. Would you feel comfortable translating erotic texts? We know that after the release of 50 Shades of Grey, the translation of erotic novels has probably become a renewed niche, as it happened with crime and thriller novels after the Millennium trilogy. But not all people may feel comfortable with it.

Politics. Even if you do not belong to any political party, you may not agree with a given party or ideology in your country and, guess what, you are asked to translate the program for the next elections. You read it and you think that it is something that you know they will not be able to comply with.

If you accept the job, do you think your personal values would affect the way you would translate the text?

At Jensen Localization we always advise our clients to write their content in a neutral way, in order to avoid such issues. But sometimes they are just unavoidable, because they are also individuals that belong to a culture and have their own values.

We think that, even if it is difficult, translators, as interpreters, should remain neutral. Our job is to transfer the meaning of a text, not to give our opinion on it. But we understand it is difficult, as it was the case in the Nuremberg trials, mentioned in our review of the book Found in Translation.

What about you? Have you ever been faced with such a dilemma?



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