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6 WordPress plugins every multilingual site needs

If there are two things that are essential for any growing company today, it’s online presence and multilingual content. So if you’re looking to set up or improve a multilingual website, you’re already ahead of the curve.

Using WordPress as a content management system (CMS) makes things a lot simpler and cuts down fusing with coding; but at first glance it can limited. However, the vast assortment of third-party plugins that WordPress supports enables users to customize and supercharge the site to their advantage. Since multilingual content has its own host of challenges, here are some tips on the plugins you should start using right away.

1. Yoast SEO

Your website is pretty useless if nobody ever finds it. Most people rely on search engines to navigate the world wide web, which use algorithms to decide what to show. If you have have an idea of what those algorithms are, you can adjust your web content to play by them more effectively. This is called search engine optimization, or SEO. But not all of us can be SEO experts, which is why it’s great to have Yoast take the lead. Yoast SEO is a one-stop shop for sprucing up your content and better position it in search results.red ink editing

Yoast won’t do all the leg work though (you’ll need to write the content or hire a multilingual copywriting agency with SEO knowhow for that), it acts more as a friendly proofreader. It will tell you if your copy is too wordy, advise you on keyword density, coach you on optimizing the URL of each page, and so much more. When you put so much work into a web page, there’s no reason not to do all you can to ensure it gets to your audience. Plus, Yoast offers an explanation of each suggestion, so you can learn as you use it.

2. Google Analytics by Monster Insights

Google Analytics is indispensable for any website. It lets you know which keywords brought people to the site, so you can understand who your audience is and better cater to them. And this function is especially useful for websites with multilingual content. After all, no matter how well you know a language, you won’t necessarily know how speakers of that language behave online. If you’re using a perfectly accurate word, but the word clients happen to be searching for is a different synonym, it won’t matter how perfect the translated text on your page is; no one will see it.

Beyond search keywords, Google Analytics will show you the regions your page is getting hits from. This is obviously a huge asset for multilingual content providers, as it will let you gauge your success in marketing to foreign audiences. It could also let you know if you’re getting traffic from unexpected new regions and need to provide new translations. Those viewers could be interested in your product but frustrated by a lack of content in their language. If you’re not aware of this, you might miss out on a potential new market.

3. BlogVault

Nobody wants to lose content from a site they put hard work into, but if your site is stocked with high-quality translated content you commissioned from a professional, a tech meltdown could be an even worse blow. That’s why it would be smart to start using BlogVault, a plugin that backs up your entire WordPress site on a regular basis. Once you install it, you don’t have to think about it again—it works automatically and in the background.

crying with computer

Don’t let this be you.

4. Redirection

Redirection is a free plugin that manages page redirects on your site. A redirection is when a viewer opens a page and is automatically moved through to another page instead. Why is this useful? Some multilingual content sites use automatic redirection to spare their visitors the work of finding a button to switch languages. By setting up a redirect based on a user’s location—you can give your clients a more seamless experience. Trying to set this function up yourself can involve complicated and irritating back-end work, and could lead to error messages if you get it wrong. Redirection makes the process user-friendly and ensures functionality.

5. Multisite Language Switcher

If you don’t want to fuss with redirection, Multisite Language Switcher is a more traditional multilingual content manager that can help organize translated content for both you and your customers. The plugin will help you add flag icon displays to take visitors to the language of their choice. Some other language-selection plugins have fallen into disrepair as their developers stopped updating them, but Multisite Language Switcher is up-to-date and highly rated for its simplicity and handiness.

flags

6. Blog2Social

It’s no secret that social media is vital to a company’s online presence. When your audience is international, it’s wise to maintain multiple multilingual social media accounts to serve each region. However, this can get a bit daunting when every new site post needs to be cross-shared from each account.

Blog2Social can help you with this task. It lets you share a page to multiple accounts all from one place, with customized comments added to each. This way you can announce the update in the language of each different account, and share across cultures and platforms with much less hassle. The time saved on logging in and out of accounts, copying and pasting links, and trying to keep track of what you’ve already done will be time better spent elsewhere!


Need the professionals to take the headache out of running a multilingual blog? VeraContent manages multilingual blogs and social media channels so our clients can reach as wide an audience as possible.

Inside Game of Thrones: the origins of the Dothraki language

The other day I came across a Dothraki blog hosting a competition for the best Haiku written in the Dothraki language. That’s right, Dothraki, one of the fictional languages of the popular series Game of Thrones. People are writing poems in the language of the horse lords of Essos. But what are the origins of this fantasy language?

A Song of Ice and Fire, the fantasy series invented by George R.R. Martin, has recently been adapted into the HBO television series Game of Thrones. Martin had a large vision for his invented world of Westeros and Essos. He imagined making a world so rich it couldn’t be adapted to the screen. That is, until HBO agreed to produce the series without compromising Martin’s epic vision.

Creating the Dothraki language was just one element of shaping a nuanced fantasy world. Martin had the larger dream of making a world that could stand up to Tolkien’s Middle Earth. 

Dothraki language

Image courtesy of: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/115193702941824345/

To achieve this same level of depth, Martin realized he had to learn more about his own creation of Westeros and Essos. He began drawing maps and creating family trees in an effort to keep the characters straight and avoid contradicting himself. He also began piecing together the Dothraki and High Valyrian languages.

Who created Dothraki?

Martin includes fragments of the Dothraki language in chapters of A Song of Ice and Fire. The extent of the language’s vocabulary consisted mostly of proper nouns: names of towns, rulers, and customs particular to the Dothraki people. For example, “Adakhakileki,” meaning “The Cannibals,” is the name of a ruined city. “Vaes Tolorro” translates to “The City of Bones.” “Rhaesh Andahli,” meaning “The land of the Andals,” is the Dothraki name for Westeros.

While this limited development of the language served for the purposes of the novels, the HBO version (also adapted by George R.R. Martin) needed a fully formed version of the Dothraki Language.

Dothraki language

Image courtesy of: http://magikmouse.com/game-of-thrones-recap-the-real-housewives-of-the-dothraki/

HBO sent out a job offer for the official creator of the Dothraki language. David J. Peterson, a linguist who had perfected the art of language creation through his extensive studies, entered the winning proposal. He expanded the existing words and phrases penned by Martin into a learnable language of over 1,700 words.

Peterson used George R.R. Martin’s improvised phrases to establish a grammatical structure. Once he established the grammar he had the task of coming up with the thousands of words a Dothraki warrior of Westeros might find himself using. What’s more, the actors had to be able to pronounce their lines. This extensive proposal deemed David J. Peterson the first master of the Dothraki language.

Is it learnable?

Amazingly enough, Peterson was so thorough in his creation of the Dothraki language that anyone can learn it. The fact that people have actually attempted to read and write in this fictional language shows the hardcore dedication of fantasy fans. But it also speaks to Peterson’s mastery of language structure. Peterson describes Dothraki’s sound as a mix between Spanish and Arabic.

David J. Peterson is now the official translator of all Game of Thrones lines in Dothraki and High Valerian. In fact, he’s the only translator. But even he has to refer to his Dothraki dictionary.  

The Dothraki language is described as guttural and harsh: a true representation of the Dothraki people. Just as any language reflects its speakers, Martin wanted the Dothraki language to have just the right sound. David J. Peterson used what he knew of the Dothraki society and paired it with his extensive language skills.  

Inside the Dothraki language

The grammar structure has similarities to English. It has 23 consonants and three vowels. Verbs can be conjugated in past, present, and future, as well as two different types of imperatives (the Dothraki give lots of commands), and the verbs must agree with the speaker or number. There are also rules for word order and sentence structure.

David J. Peterson did a great job of using the story’s plot to make decisions about the language. For example, the Dothraki language does not have a written component. This detail fits with what we know about the Dothraki: they are mainly a nomadic people and have not developed much of the technology of city life.

             

The Dothraki vocabulary is reminiscent of the culture. For example, the Dothraki language has three words that mean “to kill” and no word for “thank you.”  Three versions of the verb “to kill” reflects the Dothraki’s tendency for war. Similarly, their absence of the word “thank you” speaks to their general lack of appreciation.

Why include fictional languages?

Why did George R.R. Martin and the producers of Game of Thrones opt to expand Dothraki into a learnable language? Today, consumers of entertainment are ruthless. Even the smallest inconsistencies are highlighted with screenshots, memes, instant replays and “15 cinematic mistakes you may have missed” articles on Buzzfeed.  

Dothraki language

In short, even consumers of fantasy want to be immersed in a world that can stand up to reality. Advances in cinematic technology means a director can shoot a rocket blasting into space. Monsters can exist, and they can look more life-like than we had imagined. George R.R. Martin’s world attracted devoted and attentive fans. To satisfy those fans, this multilingual epic didn’t just need special effects, they needed a linguist.

Game of Throne’s extensive fan base and high ratings speak to the quality of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy. His themes of war, power, and sex are universally recognized, turning a medieval tale into something larger. The creation of the Dothraki and High Valyrian languages by George R.R. Martin and David J. Peterson added the element that turned a great story into a captivating fantasy world.


At the time of writing, VeraContent does not offer multilingual content services in Dothraki. But our team of expert linguists can help bridge the communication gap in more than 20 languages.

Three ways translation technology is making sci-fi real

We’ve already talked about about why machine translations aren’t reliable enough to replace us humans. But good professional translators know that translation technology isn’t the enemy—it’s actually an asset to us. It handles the grunt work in big swaths of text and frees us up to wrestle with juicier issues, like why there isn’t a more satisfying Spanish translation for “fancy.”

So new advances in language technology are good news for translators, the companies who hire them, and sci-fi geeks alike. If you’ve ever dreamed of living in a world of futuristic translation gadgets, read on to see how that world might be closer than you think.

Neural Machine Translation

The latest thing in machine translation is NMT: Neural Machine Translation. Until recently, the dominant model for translation technology has been SMT, Statistical Machine Translation. SMT works by deducing from a large databank what the most likely counterpart is for a source phrase. This is quite a useful model, yet like all robot builders, machine translation researchers are continually striving to create artificial intelligence—a machine that can think like a person does. The AI apocalypse isn’t upon us yet, but NMT is a step closer. NMT systems look at each sentence as a whole rather than a string of words, and they adapt and learn from vast databases of sample text.

machine translator

VeraContent doesn’t look like this yet.

These features allow them to have a little more common sense about translations. For example, NMT programs are able to produce equivalent-meaning translations of idioms, where an SMT system would just spit out a bewildering word-for-word translation. So a non-English speaker could get the drift that a story you heard “through the grapevine” came to you as a rumor and not in a vineyard. Google Translate adopted this technology last year, and it improves accuracy far beyond just figures of speech.

NMT was put to the test in a very unconventional tournament held in Seoul on February 21. Four professional human translators faced off against NMT programs from Google, South Korea’s Naver Inc., and Systran International, a translation tech company. The competitors translated a series of articles from Korean to English and vice versa. When judges tallied the scores, the humans averaged 25 out of 30 points for accuracy, while no machine broke 15. So those of us who trade in language don’t need to worry just yet. Still, the progress is impressive.

Instant interpreter earpieces

From Star Trek to Douglas Adams, many a sci-fi hero has enjoyed a device that lets them chat naturally with alien interlocutors. Present-day earthlings are only meeting other humans, but we still sometimes suffer language barriers that we’d like an instant fix for. So you may have heard buzz about Waverly Lab’s real-time interpretation earpiece.

This little earpiece, the Pilot, isn’t actually a different fundamental technology than machine translation. It works by linking with the company’s text translation app, and thus is of course at risk of the same inaccuracy. But eliminating the smartphone screen as a clunky middleman lets people communicate more naturally. Plus, it’s just plain cool to have a robot dubbing the world in front of you. The video on the gadget’s Indiegogo page certainly makes you want to get one and play with it. It shows the company’s English-speaking boss and a French-speaking woman smiling with wonder as their need for hand gestures and guessing suddenly falls away.

translation earpiece

Your key to the world could be even smaller   than this.

The earpiece comes in pairs so you can let your conversation partner borrow one, which is smart, since understanding someone doesn’t do much good if you aren’t able to respond. You can preorder the Pilot for $249; not exorbitant for a serious world traveler, but not quite cheap enough to have every man, woman and child linked up to the Tower of Babel. But if Waverly Lab’s earpiece is successful, competitors will no doubt be working around the clock to catch up. That means the market could be in the buyer’s favor before we know it. And if you want to sound extra-savvy about it at your next dinner party, don’t let the headlines about “translation earpieces” confuse you. Pros would call the Pilot a machine interpreter, since it works with spoken language rather than written text.

The Rosetta Project

But what if the robots do take over, ultimately fail to maintain society, and plunge our whole history into obscurity? How will the life forms that inherit Earth decode our writings if most of our languages have gone out of use?

That’s the issue being tackled by The Rosetta Project, the brainchild of the Long Now Foundation for forward thinking. Actually, the linguists on the team aren’t just worried about a far-off total extinction scenario. Lesser-known languages are falling out of use even as we speak. The Rosetta Project bases its concept on the Rosetta Stone, the famous Egyptian artifact engraved with the same text in Greek, an Egyptian print called demotic, and hieroglyphs. Because the people who found it understood Greek, they were able to compare the versions and finally comprehend the hieroglyphic system.

rosetta stone

The Rosetta Stone.

The Rosetta Project is setting out to create a similar artifact, but with the benefits of intentionality and modern technology. They have created the Rosetta Disk, “a three-inch diameter nickel disk with nearly 14,000 pages of information microscopically etched onto its surface.” The project members believe that while computers might one day be obsolete, most cultures find their way to some sort of microscope. Thus if they found the durable, decay-resistant disk, they would likely notice its markings and get a closer look. When they did, they’d discover the key to more than 1,000 languages.

This powerful archive will also be available to those of us living in the present. The full linguistic record will be available online and in book form. Or, if you’re a fashion-forward language geek with $1,000 to spare, you can have a necklace with a reduced-size Rosetta Disk inside. We recommend being buried with it, for the chance that your skeleton could lead archaeologists to all of human knowledge. They might even name it after you.

Nothing beats the usefulness and versatility of learning a new language. But few of us have time to master even one, let alone the full gamut of human speech. In our global world, everyone at some point finds themselves in a situation where a precocious robot could really help them out. And for those of us who trade in multilingual content, advances in linguistic technology make our work smoother, better, and less of a headache all around. Keep your eyes peeled for new gadgets on the market—you might be amazed what they come up with next.


The future of translation is right around the corner. But the assurance of a translation service offered by a dedicated team of transcreation experts is hard to beat for now. VeraContent will be here for all your multilingual content needs in the present and the future.