Friday, February 03, 2006

Translation Issues Impede Business

This article points out issues that warrant cross cultural understanding--the focus of Bridging Culture.

Korea Times

Why are sales of Apple's global bestseller iPod much lower than those of local-made MP3 players in South Korea?

And why does U.S. giant Google struggle in the Korean Internet market and is less respected here than anywhere else? One big reason for such unpopularity of foreign brands in Korea is their poor translation into Korean on Web sites, user manuals and software programs, users say.

When using Apple's iTunes program, I'd rather use the English version than the Korean one even though I am not a native English speaker, said 31-year-old Lee Sang-hak, who owns an iPod MP3 player and an iMac desktop PC. It is easier to understand the English version because the Korean translation is unnatural and sometimes looks very awkward.

On Apple users' community sites such as and, people say that unnaturally translated words on Apple products such as bihwalsonghwa (inactivate) should be replaced to easier, and more commonly used terms like kkum (turn off).

Americans say that iPod is easy to use, but Koreans say it is difficult to use. Does it mean that Koreans are dumber that Americans? a user said on I don'tt think so, considering Koreans are generally very fast in learning new gadgets.

The Web sites of several foreign companies have also been criticized by Korean users for their poor translations.

Google has often been blamed for unnatural translations in its Korean services where English words are often just spelled out in Korean rather than being translated into proper Korean terms, as in cases like Brausing (Browsing), Aekses (access) and Bukmak (Bookmark).

I believe there are Korean employees in Google, but then why they can't do better than this? a user said on Google Korea's blog.

Both Apple Korea and Google declined comment, citing corporate policy.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:18 PM

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