/// Portuguese in the translation market

Portuguese has always been a language of global communication. As such, it comes as no surprise that it is present in most translation and localisation projects.

Portuguese means business

Portuguese is one of the most important languages in the translation market, being one of the top 8 languages into which translation projects are created. The major driving force for this position is Brazilian Portuguese, which is explained by the fact that Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world. European Portuguese is always present in projects targeted for the European market, or that involve more than 10 languages. This means that any company managing global translation and localisation projects should have a very reliable provider for European Portuguese.

Both directives from the European Union and national Portuguese legislation require good localisation and translation strategies into European Portuguese. In Portugal, as part of consumer protection legislation, importers are obligated to have all documentation related to use, guarantees and security translated into Portuguese. In some cases, legal action has been taken against companies, and products have been taken off the market because these key elements were not translated into European Portuguese.

Localisation policies

When clients are aware of the need to prepare their localisation projects adequately, the only question that arises when it comes to Portuguese is how to handle the two varieties. To make this decision, one needs to consider each project from a marketing and communication perspective. If you have a commercial interest in Portugal, Brazil and Africa, you must communicate effectively with this entire population, and that can only be achieved if you invest in a specific localisation strategy for both varieties of Portuguese.

Any text written in one of the varieties will never be received as a local text by speakers of the other variety, even if it is fully understood by local readers. This affects the quality of the communication, since readers perceive these texts as "foreign".

Did you know that...

Clients sometimes ask whether we can produce a "mixed" version of both varieties or a so-called "neutral" version of Portuguese. However, there is no such language, and it is impossible to achieve this by making minimal adaptations (such as spelling only) to one of the varieties. This has been tested and the results served only to confuse users: the resulting text is never received as “local” (which is the whole purpose of translation), and users end up considering it unreliable.

Research indicates that people only buy products that they understand. Furthermore, companies that save on words and communication struggle to succeed. Consequently, anyone wanting to maintain clear communication for European Portuguese audiences should choose the best service providers, such as TIPS.

Success stories

Before 1994, computer users in Portugal had the option to buy software in either English or Brazilian Portuguese. This did not help the general population to start using computers, and computer magazines were only read by experts. The feeling was also that the adoption of Brazilian terminology created more problems than simply using English terms - not only did you have to learn how to use the technology, you also had to use terms that had no connection to everyday language.

In 1995, the first complete localisation project in Portugal turned this situation around. Microsoft decided to test the localisation of Windows 95 into European Portuguese. The success of this initiative was such that the industry bloomed, and users from all ages and education levels started feeling comfortable using high-tech resources. Soon, Portugal was considered to have one of the most modernised public administration systems in Europe. This experience had a significant impact on Microsoft as well, and its Portuguese subsidiary has been repeatedly considered one of the best in the world. The company also opened one of its most important departments in Portugal: the Microsoft Language Development Center. The ability to hire highly-qualified personnel with good English skills also helped Microsoft make this decision.

None of this would have been possible if Microsoft had not decided to make a major investment in a "small" localisation market such as European Portuguese. Other companies, like Cisco, Nokia Siemens and Vodafone confirm that this is a market worth investing in.

Another example of success based on investment in localisation for European Portuguese is the evolution of the mobile phone market: Portugal is among the top countries in the world in rate of mobile phones per person. Although more than one-third of the Portuguese population speaks at least one foreign language, such widespread use would not have been possible had it not been for the requirement that all mobile phones have all their software efficiently localised into European Portuguese.

The localisation industry is full of success stories, and some of these are located in Portugal. Such success can only be achieved with the commitment of language service providers such as TIPS.


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