Translating Tips for a Global Market

International Approach To Voice MessagesBusiness is a global concern. As such, if you are a company with any sort of international component, and you almost certainly are, than it is important to cover a wide range of languages for your voice messages and other professional voice recordings. In the USA alone, you can reasonably expect callers to have English, Latin American Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, or Canadian French as their primary language. This range only expands when you take into consideration Europe and Asia, not to mention the regional-specific variations on common languages that abound, depending on where you are located and what customer base you are trying to serve. Having an international approach to voice messages isn’t just smart, it’s downright necessary.

But there are some smart policies to have in place in order to get the best translations and the best voice recordings. One question that you should be prepared to answer before beginning a project is what items in the script should not be translated?

When Not To Translate

In our experience, customers doing global projects tend to insist that if nothing else, the company name should remain in English no matter what other languages are involved in a project. This consistency is important for a company trying to maintain a single global brand.

It is important to note that letters and numbers, even if they are displayed the same across multiple countries, and look the same when reviewing a script, are often pronounced wildly differently from one language to the next. Before submitting a script, ask yourself if your audience will be best-served by abbreviations and technical terms (things along the lines of “W-2s”) or numbers (like a phone number, for instance) or website information (such as “w w w” or the “dot” in dot com) being performed in the native tongue of the voice artist, or remaining in English no matter what language the rest of the message requires.

When developing IVR prompts for navigation through your phone system, this distinction applies to the titles of departments and the categories that a customer will maneuver through. And we have seen different approaches taken by different companies. Some clients ask that every single letter, number, symbol, and abbreviation be translated. Others cherry pick individual items and pieces of a sentence to remain in English, believing that this will assist not only with a customer’s navigations but with their own internal assembling of the IVR prompts.


What approach you take is ultimately entirely in your hands, depending on what you think will best serve your system and customer base. But once that decision is made, it is vital to keep that same approach across the board. Do not have a Spanish voice talent read “w w w” using the Spanish pronunciation of those letters, while asking the French voice talent to read the same letters but using the English pronunciation. This sort of inconsistency will lead to confusion not only on your part as you try to sort out and assemble your recordings, but on the part of the vendors who are trying to juggle all your needs to deliver the finished product on schedule while meeting professional standards.

In all matters concerning on hold messages, IVR prompts, and other voiceover recordings and translating projects, it is always best to make confident, informed choices at the very beginning of the project, and to then communicate those choices to your vendors so they will know how to proceed without having to do extra diligence. That way, the process of creating and implementing your voice prompts can be as smooth and painless as possible.

Contact Us Today for an International Approach To Voice Messages

If you’re interested in taking an international approach to voice messages, then contact us today and we’ll be more than happy to provide you with all the resources and expertise we have to help you create the best message for the broadest audience.

Visit our website and fill out the form to download even more tips on creating multi-language IVR prompts.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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