December 03, 2007

Making a point for translations in Second Life

To many, Second Life appears to be a US dominated community. But every one of you ran into the occasional French, German, Italian or Japanese user already. True, English is the predominant language on the grid. But you'll be surprised how many ethnic communities there are throughout SL. As you know I run a translation agency in SL, so my daily challenge is to raise awareness that even though English is widely used and accepted, you are missing on opportunity to not support other languages as well. And also if you have offerings for your German or French commune, you are missing on opportunity if you don't address the English speaking population.

In order to make my point, I had a close look at the key metrics published by Meta Linden, as of early October. Unfortunately, these statistics only list Countries and not languages. And it also does not list the total number of users, but only the countries by activity and hours spend online. As much as I had loved absolute numbers, I decided to go for countries by activity since this is the important number to my clients anyway.

To my best knowledge, I broke the countries listed down to languages, for example splitting Spanish speaking users from the US count, dividing Belgium into French, Dutch and German users, as well as taking away French users from Switzerland. Then I focused on the languages I am offering translation services for, and tried to calculate their share on the active user community. The result looks like this:

Language Percent
English 39,7%
German 15,1%
Spanish 11,8%
Japanese 9,4%
French 8,3%
Portugese 5,5%
Italian 5,3%
Dutch 4,9%

I am well aware that this statistic is - like all statistics - rather skewed. However I think it comes rather close to what I see in SL on a daily basis, and what my clients seem to have realized as well.

As one conclusion to push my point I decided to give a 10% introductionary offer to new clients. If you plan to go international with your second life business, now is the time to do so. And if you think it's too expensive: the majority of translation jobs we do is less thann 1000 L$ in translation fees.

When do YOU plan to go international?
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