Entering the Polish market? Most important tips about localization of proper names into Polish.

Since Poland is one of the biggest markets in Central Europe, many global companies are willing to enter this market. This process is undoubtedly impossible without a product’s professional translation and localisation from English, regardless of the type of product. Many companies fail to enter the Polish market due to improper localization of its product names or marketing content. Here are a few points you need to follow to make the text adequately localized into Polish.

Proper names – translate, adapt or not?

Firstly, let’s consider the localisation of a product or company proper name. Polish language is tricky in this case. The general rule is that whether to translate proper name or not depends on its habitual use in Polish. A good localization specialist needs to check if the given English name has any Polish equivalent. If there is one in common use, the name should be localised as per habit.

As most companies are new to entering the Polish market, professional localization process will help to establish the product localized name in the new market.

Ordering something delicious or take away?

An example of international company name in Poland whose name is localized is, for example, the food delivery brand ‘Takeaway.com’ which is localized into Polish as ‘Pyszne.pl’. The word ‘pyszne’ does not mean ‘takeaway food’. The meaning is ‘delicious’. I guess the name was localized, and a different meaning than the original was used, as takeaway food by some Polish people might be associated with fast food or bad quality. In this case, adequate product name localization was used to make the product or company name attract more clients. The main factors were culture and customer’s associations with certain words. The word ‘delicious’ has a much more positive connotation to everyone in Poland than takeaway food. The localized product name has already been well-established and become popular in Poland. An interesting point is that the name ‘takeaway.com’ is used with the original name in localization into other European languages.

Conversely, some products are recognised in Poland by their English name. A popular example is ‘Facebook’, which is not localized into Polish. The direct translation would be ‘twarzowa książka’ or ‘książka z twarzami’, meaning word by word ‘ book with faces’. Both names sound strange when translated into Polish. Also, the application is targeted at young people and in this case the English name sounds better. What is more, Facebook is a global brand, the name has no bad connotations and the words ‘face’ and ‘book’ are generally easy English words to remember or to pronounce by non-English native speakers. To conclude, the original name ‘Facebook’ was well implemented into the Polish language.

Anglicisms

Secondly, when localizing any marketing text regarding products into Polish, we should not overuse anglicisms. All words or expressions which have a Polish equivalent used in common life should be translated or localized. A marketing text with too many English words might sound unnatural to its Polish audience. Some loanwords from English exist in Polish, but using too many of them would make marketing text sound unnatural. Again, we need to apply the rule of what is commonly used and also who the audience is. We need to consider the type of product as well. For technology products, English names are commonly used and usually sound better for most, but not all of the products – for example ‘smartphone’ sounds better in English as a product name for the Polish market, but using the word ‘headphones’ instead of the commonly-used Polish name ‘słuchawki’ sounds strange to the Polish customer.

Gender – addressing the product

Another important thing is addressing your product to the audience, as in Polish you address differently to women and men due to different verb endings. In this case you need to eighter decide which gender the product is targeted at or use some general addressing type to sound neutral.

Localization specialist

As you can see, there is no one common rule of how to localize your product name or marketing text into Polish. The best option is to contact an experienced localization and translation agency which will advise and provide the services of a localization specialist.

To sum up, product localization is much more than translation, and localizations specialist for the Polish market should always be a Polish native with both marketing knowledge, translation and localization experience. Last but not least, the specialist should have marketing ‘flow’ and knowledge about cultural associations and the reception of certain words among different customer groups.

(M.K.)

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