Linguistics


The last thing you need is to fall in love with a name that has inappropriate or negative connotations for some segment of your target audience, whether they speak Spanish, or German, or Swahili. That’s why it’s absolutely critical to submit names headed outside the U.S. to a rigorous linguistic and cultural evaluation.

Catchword’s Global Performance Scorecard (GPS) is a highly structured analytic system for identifying all of the potential snags and strengths of a particular name candidate in your key markets. To give you an example, our GPS once saved a company from naming their new kids’ game the equivalent, in Mexican Spanish, of “He Screwed Up.” It also saved a global brand from calling itself “To Vomit” in German. The cautionary tales abound.

More than a disaster check, the GPS assesses the strengths and weaknesses of name candidates across a variety of criteria. Besides probing for undesirable associations, we research whether a name is hard to say, sounds odd in a particular language—or resembles a competitor’s.

We also consider whether a name is appropriate for both the brand and the culture it must live in. And we assess how well a product name or company name transmits desired messages.

Of course, an evaluation is only as good as the evaluators. Catchword’s global linguistic team is the best in the industry.

We have immediate access to language experts who speak virtually every language and dialect in the world. Even Canadian. (See below.) And unlike typical translation services, our network of specialists is comprised of native speakers who actually live in the countries in question. So they’re aware of cultural nuances that a translation service might miss. They’re also knowledgeable about branding and advertising, so they can evaluate names (as well as logos and taglines) from a marketing perspective. And they conduct probing interviews that go well beyond “person-in-the-street” reactions, to identify potential branding issues and cultural concerns.

We conduct linguistic testing in just about every spoken language on Earth, and have had some exposure to Klingon and Ewokese. However, here are the ones we most commonly encounter:

Europe
Albanian
Armenian
Basque
Belgian Dutch
Belgian French
Bulgarian
Catalan
Croatian
Czech
Danish
Dutch
Estonian
Finnish
Flemish
French
Georgian
German
Greek
Hungarian
Icelandic
Irish
Italian
Latvian
Lithuanian
Luxembourgish
Macedonian

Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Romanian
Russian
Scots
Gaelic
Serbian
Slovak
Slovenian
Spanish
Swedish
Swiss
German
Turkish
Ukrainian
Uzbek
Welsh

South America
Argentine Spanish
Brazilian
Portuguese
Chilean Spanish
Haitian Creole

East Asia
Cantonese
Hmong
Japanese
Khmer (Cambodian)
Korean
Laotian
Mandarin
Mongolian
Shanghainese
Singaporean
Taiwanese
Thai
Vietnamese

North America
Canadian English
Cuban Spanish
Mexican Spanish
North American English
Puerto Rican Spanish
Québécois

Africa
Afrikaans
Hausa
Ndebele
Somali
South African
English
Swahili
Zulu

Australasia
Australian English
Cebuano
Fijian
Hawaiian
Ilokano
Javanese
Kiribirati
Malay
Maori
New Zealand English
Philippine English
Samoan
Tagalog
Tok Pisin
Tongan

Middle East
Amharic
Arabic
Dari
Farsi (Persian)
Hebrew
Yiddish

South Asia
Bengali
Burmese
Gujarati
Hindi
Kannada
Kashmiri
Malayalam
Marathi
Nepali
Punjabi
Tamil
Telegu
Urdu