Can we have that in Farsi please?

posted by Bob Mills

Over the years we’ve had many requests to create marketing materials in other languages – mostly French, sometimes Spanish, and occasionally Japanese. Usually these requests come from universities, government organizations or tourism marketing agencies and we always rise to the occasion.

Recently, however, we had a request from the City of Hamilton to create a recycling brochure in 11 different languages. Turns out there are lots of newcomers in our city trying to figure out how to sort their blue box waste and it’s hard enough remembering all the rules without having to figure it out in a language you’re still struggling to learn.

Fearless as we are, I confess we wavered at the prospect of setting type in Arabic, Mandarin, Tagalog and Urdu. In a world where anything that can go wrong does go wrong, it just seemed wiser to take a pass on this one.

So, right now you’re probably thinking “what’s the big deal – can’t you just cut and paste the translation into your layout?” And the answer is, OF COURSE NOT, don’t be silly, if it was that easy would I be writing this blog post right now?

Turns out Adobe doesn’t speak all these other languages unless you know the secret handshake – which is what we needed to figure out. All those right-to-left-reading languages really mess things up when you’re trying to cut and paste your way to recycling happiness.

Well, long story short, we accepted the challenge and now the City of Hamilton has multilingual recycling brochures for all the wonderful colours of the world.

All, that is, except Klingon. We’re drawing the line at Klingon. Seriously.