There is an interesting article at Mashable on why businesses must embrace the foreign language Internet. I agree with many of the points but implementing a truly local version of a web site in many languages is a difficult task. I am focusing here on the translation of your own web content and not on the other aspects that the article discusses regarding localizing social media content and SEO relevant keywords. We face that task as our own web site is translated – manually – from English into 7 other languages. Since we originate from Sweden, our first language was actually Swedish but with the growth of our company (and notably in the US), we have been using English as our staple language from which we then base our translations from. Many businesses or organizations don’t have the time or resources to embrace on relevant translations of their original content in other languages. Also, content is increasingly being updated making it even more difficult to keep up with the pace of translations. In some cases, machine translation services are used but these don’t always provide an accurate transcription of content which needs to be precisely understood. Adding another way to access information using online text to speech services is a solution which can help web sites bridge the understanding gap. Offering a speech-enabled version of your content to a visitor who’s mother tongue is not that of the language you write in increases your ability to convey your information to him/her. Some of your users will have a greater facility listening to the non native content that you propose than reading it. There are several advantages in converting your online text into speech to reach out to more visitors:
- You are providing a choice to your foreign visitors in either reading or listening to your content thereby increasing the probability of comprehension.
- The choice between reading and listening is a step forward in making your content more available for users who are outside your home market.
- You are using your available text content and don’t have to reformat it to produce the audio output from it. In effect, you are repurposing your existing text content into a different media.
- If your site is already translated into several languages, pairing each of these with a spoken version further enhances your ability to reach out globally.