How Miami English Creates an Opportunity for Localization
The emergence of a new dialect in South Florida known as Miami English has captured the attention of news media and linguists. Phrases such as “I made the line to pay for groceries” have become popular due to sustained contact between Spanish and English speakers in Miami. The growth of Miami English illustrates the dynamic and natural evolution of language. There are more than 7,000 languages in the world, and most are spoken by fewer than 100,000 people. The proliferation of regional languages creates both a challenge and opportunity for businesses to connect with customers in diverse markets. Localization professionals can help them. Let’s take a closer look.
What Is Miami English?
Non-English words and phrases work their way into English parlance all the time through contact between different cultures. Over a period of years, Miami residents have adapted entire phrases from Spanish to English especially amid a large influx of Cuban residents to the city since the 1960s. For instance, linguists have observed individuals using phrases like “get down from the car" instead of "get out of the car.” This linguistic preference is influenced by the Spanish expression “bajar del carro,” which, to non-Miami speakers, translates as “get out of the car.” However, “bajar” actually means “to get down,” so it’s logical that many Miami residents conceptualize leaving a car as "getting down" rather than “getting out.”
How a Business Might Incorporate Miami English
The existence of Miami English presents a challenge to businesses: how to incorporate the dialect into their operations. More than 6.2 million people live in the greater metropolitan area of Miami, and 40 percent of its residents speak Spanish, which helps explain the popularity of Miami English.
A business might incorporate Miami English in several ways. For instance, consider customer service chatbots. To interact with Miami English, a chatbot would need to do more than understand Spanish and English. It would need to comprehend the meaning of idiomatic phrases and the translation of specific sounds. For instance, some phrases are popular among the immigrant population, such as “throw a photo,” from “tirar una foto,” as a variation of “take a photo.” A well-trained customer service bot would understand the phrase instead of becoming confused and asking for clarification. In turn, the bot would be able to fluently use the idioms.
A business that understands Miami English could also adapt many other applications, such as advertising campaigns, social media content, and website copy. This is where localization experts would come into play.
How Localization Experts Can Help
A localization partner is equipped with the skills to navigate the nuances of different dialects and cultural contexts. Localization goes beyond mere translation. It involves adapting content to resonate with a specific target audience, considering cultural sensitivities, regional preferences, and language variations.
A localization partner would rely on local experts in Miami to research and catalog Miami English. They would ensure that the content is culturally appropriate and respectful. To achieve this, the localization partner would collaborate with local linguists, benefiting from their insights and understanding of the local linguistic landscape. They would also rely on several inputs, for instance conducting online surveys and gathering feedback from users in specific regions.
The AI Factor
AI would be a valuable tool for a localization partner, but AI must be used responsibly. Let’s say a bank wants to train its chatbot to understand and speak Miami English. A localization partner would use AI in many ways, including training the chatbot. Localization experts are already using generative AI to prompt AI-fueled tools to do tasks such as learn different languages. Generative AI can be used to train a chatbot with phrases such as, “I want you to respond accurately to the following phrases using Miami English , , , ” But off-the-shelf generative AI tools are fraught with issues such as bias. A localization team might need to rely on a customized LLM.
AI can help in many other ways as well, for instance:
Natural language processing (NLP) techniques enable AI to understand and process human language. NLP helps in identifying language-specific nuances, idioms, and cultural references, ensuring that the localized content is culturally appropriate and accurate. A bank with a chatbot could use NLP to understand which types of Miami English phrases are negative, positive, or neutral. This understanding could help the bank detect, say, a customer’s tone when they are asking a service question.
AI can assist in adapting visual elements, such as images, icons, colors, and layouts, to align with local cultural preferences. A business could use AI to recommend how social media copy could be customized for an audience comfortable with Miami English.
These are just a few examples of how AI would be used. Our white paper The State of Localization contains more detail.
We recommend businesses align with a localization partner that:
Keeps humans in the loop. People are needed to understand the emergence of dialects and to manage the use of AI to act responsibly and in an inclusive way. An AI assistant without proper training might flag phrases in Miami English as “not correct English” and reject them simply because the AI has not been trained properly. People who understand the idiom in context need to remain involved.
Ensures diversity. A localization team needs to draw upon a diverse group of local language experts so that that input received from on the ground reflects the wide spectrum of human experience – ranging from different ages to gender identifications. Doing this ensures that all cultural applications of the dialect are understood.
At Centific, our intelligent enterprise solutions offering helps businesses with all forms of localization. We enable businesses to gather local market, persona-based insights on your global customer experience while simultaneously delivering ROI data on your globalization and marketing investments. Contact us to learn about our localization services.