The Southeast Asian market is one of the very diverse and strong prospective markets in the world. The countries located in this region are the followings: Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Brunei, Laos, Burma (Myanmar), the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
When you try to tap into the huge potential this growing market has to offer, you don’t know what languages to prioritize. Once you know the popular languages, you can get the translation services you need for your global expansion.
Here’s our list of the top 3 languages that you simply can’t ignore when launching in the Southeast Asian region.
If you’re looking to break into the Southeast Asian market like Thailand, then seeking Thai translation services is the best way to do it. Compared to the other 74 plus languages spoken in Thailand, Thai is the official language of the country, with over 80% population speaking it.
It is interesting to note that Thai has many loanwords from various European languages such as German and Spanish. It also has similarities with Vietnamese and Chinese. Other countries in which people speak Thia are Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos. The official language of Laos is Lao which also has a great influence on the Thai language.
Based on who you’re addressing, there are primarily 5 ways to speak Thai. All these ways are dependent on context. And the names include formal Thai, informal Thai, royal Thai, religious Thai, and rhetorical Thai. All this shows how deeply conscious Southeast Asian society is when it comes to addressing people with different relations.
There are also multiple dialects of the language according to various regions of the country. If we talk about Thai letters, the language does not use any upper or lower case letters. There is no use of a full stop to end the sentences. With that said, spacing between sentences doesn’t exist either. All these factors make Thai a very difficult language for content translation. And unfortunately, you will struggle to find experts in Professional Thai translation services, since there aren’t many out there. So, always make sure you work with ones having a proven track record, such as Mars Translation.
Filipino is one of the two official languages of the Philippines, with English being the second. Estimates show that almost two-thirds of the Philippines’ total population speaks Filipino. Having said that, it is the lingua franca (i.e. the most common language) that binds the various communities living in the country. The language is increasingly used in schools, government institutions, radio, press, and literature.
One interesting aspect of the Philippines’ languages is that many people confuse Filipino with Tagalog. This is a common problem that many international businesses when they try to enter the Philippines. Most of the time they are not sure whether they need Tagalog or Filipino translation services for their launch.
To make things simple, Filipino and Tagalog are not exactly the same. Language experts say that Flipino is, in fact, the standardized or modernized version of Tagalog. This also indicates that Tagalog is the original foundation of Filipino. However, when we consider grammar and vocabulary, there are no significant differences between the two.
The grammatical structure is the same. Also, up to 90% of vocabulary in both languages is similar. What about the remaining 10% of vocabulary? It’s due to the fact that Flipino reveals quite a lot of nativized words from other languages such as English, Chinese, Malay, and Spanish.
The Filipino language in itself is written in Latin script and has a lot of forms and variations in the country. So, if you want to connect with Flipino-speaking audiences, you need in-country experts on your side. The kind of experts who know Flipino pretty well and can provide professional Flipino translation services with confidence.
Malay or Bahasa Malaysia is the national language of Malaysia. More than 80% of the country’s population speaks this language. Having its origins in Malaysia and Indonesia, Malay is not used only in these two countries. In fact, many speakers of Malay are located in Sumatra, Vietnam, and Borneo.
Compared to other Southeast Asian languages, it uses a relatively small amount of English loanwords. However, it’s a fact that when terms enter a new language, their pronunciation is usually altered. The same is the case with Malay. Like the English word “science” when entered Malay, it became “sains”. To form a plural in English, we simply put an “s” at the end of a noun. But Malaysians do this differently. You will see them repeating the whole word in order to form its plural.
Put all such challenges together and you begin to realize how Malay translators offering professional translation services tackle such challenges. They have to utilize many methods to overcome them successfully. For instance, they might sometimes substitute a term with its possible equivalent in the target language.
However, it also requires extreme consideration because the target audience should easily understand it. When they encounter untranslatable words and phrases, they often have to skip them or borrow words or phrases from other languages that convey similar meanings. However, it’s very tricky and only experts know how to use them carefully.