“Congratulations! Your booking was successful” is the sort of message you expect to see after booking a train, a flight or a hotel. If you use English-language websites on a daily basis, you are probably used to pop-ups congratulating you for your booking or kindly thanking you for your visit.
However, if you decide to have your website translated into a different language, it is important to note that cultural factors influence language more heavily than you would think.
Let’s take the Italian market, for example; a translation of “Congratulations! Your booking was successful” does exist, but would never be used on an Italian websites – in fact, being congratulated for having clicked on the right button may seem a little patronising if not even offensive to the average user.
If you wanted to explore the cultural reasons behind this, anthropologists differentiate between high-context and low-context cultures. These definitions may seem a little daunting, but they simply mean that for high-context cultures (American), information and politeness have to be made explicit, while low-context cultures (Italian) rely much more on context and are more straight-forward. So while an American website is likely to thank its users, congratulate them and offer a warm “well done!”, an Italian website will simply communicate that a booking is successful.
Differences in the importance of context also exist between the British and the American culture, even though they share a common language. This is why cultural awareness is pivotal in the translation and localisation of websites, especially in the case of booking or travel websites, where you want customers to feel at ease while booking the holiday or hotel room of their dreams.
When superfluous information is translated, the end result won’t feel natural to a native speaker even if the translation itself is idiomatic and correct, and it may even be off-putting for perspective customers. Never congratulate an Italian on their booking!
If you want to know more about website localisation and how we can help you grow your business abroad, try our professional website translation services?