Today is Friday the 13th, known by many as the unluckiest day of the year (as most of Jason Voorhees’s victims would probably agree). Indeed, in the Anglo-Saxon world and in some other parts of the globe, Friday the 13th still has the potential to paralyse and invoke irrational dread. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, announced that an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the US are affected by this day – so much so that they would go out of their way to avoid having to face the day – thus making it the most feared day in the history.
Also known as paraskevidekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th stems from a phobia for the number 13 or, triskaidekaphobia. The anxiety surrounding number 13 is so wide-spread that businesses are ready to go the extra mile to keep customers satisfied by skipping the number 13 in hospital floors or hotels. Sometimes, airlines will skip the 13th seat or row, and some airports might not have the gate number 13.
So how is this relevant to localization?
Effective localization is not only about translating your website and your help documents to another language, but also about being culturally aware and ensuring that your business content adheres to the different cultural nuances and diversity of a region.
For instance, if an American hotel chain decided to expand into Italy and skipped the 13th floor, it would serve no purpose other than to slightly bemuse the Italian guests. Because, in Italy Friday the 17th is the unluckiest day of the year – not the 13th! That’s why the Italian airline Alitalia doesn’t have a row 17 on any of its aircraft and Renault sold their R17 model in Italy as R177.
In fact, in Italy, 13 is often considered a lucky number, except of course when 13 people sit at a dinner table. The reason? See the pretty self-explanatory image below.
Why is 17 unlucky in Italy? The reasoning behind this superstition has a macabre logic behind it. Being Roman decedents, Italians found that the Roman numerals XVII can be rearranged to spell the Roman word VIXI meaning “I have lived,” and was often found on ancient tombstones.
Again, in Hispanic cultures and in Greece, Friday the 13th holds no relevance. It is Tuesday the 13th that you need to watch out for! This is because, Tuesdays were seen as being dominated by the influence of Mars, the god of war, as etymologically ‘martes‘ stems from his name. The superstition found further affirmation after the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade on Tuesday April 13 1204 and its fall to the Ottomans on Tuesday May 29 1453.
In some other regions like China, Korea and Japan, it’s only number four you should be worried about. In Chinese, four is nearly homophonous to the word ‘death.’ Nokia for instance showed immense cultural understanding when they decided leave out the number 4 from almost all of the phone series numbers.
So, understanding of cultural differences is extremely important when businesses are entering new markets. The first step to localization is translation. However, eCommerce companies, businesses in the travel and leisure industry and many other industries often work with time or budget constraints. eCommerce companies require a highly scalable translation solution – fast, while some businesses in the travel industry need their translations to be less expensive than the traditional translation model.
Custom Machine Translation (CMT) is the ideal solution in these cases. Businesses can use CMT engines to translate high volume of content quickly and effectively. This hugely reduces the translation cost, after which, translators with relevant linguistic knowledge and intimate cultural ties with the region can post-edit the content faster, resulting in better localization and consequently higher revenue for your business.
To know how KantanMT’s translation automation solution can help you to localize more effectively, mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Till then, wish you a happy and safe Friday the 13th from the KatanMT team.
Poulomi is a Content Developer in KantanMT and avid horror fan (to put it mildly). She is ‘celebrating’ the evening with three movies lined up back-to-back: Jason X, Freddy vs. Jason, Friday the 13th. She has an M.Phil in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. If you would like to share your ideas for our blog, write for the KantanMT blog, or even talk about your interest in horror, mail her at email@example.com or connect with her on Twitter @DublinBrogue.