Per’s Pearls: On Dude and Y’all

“We can smell when language is used as an affectation, when it’s not genuine… I may not be able to work a y’all but I can work the hell out of Dude.”

My Father, the King of Italy, Ladies and Gentlemen

I remember a vacation in Mexico, where my Argentinian raised father insisted on speaking Spanish. He was excited to be able to show off, as my mom, sister and I only spoke English and Danish. What we soon learned, was the staff was convinced he was speaking Italian (and proceeded to call him El Rey de Italia). They understood our English and 7th grade Spanish better than my fluent Dad. Why? Because language is local. Or as George Bernard Shaw said: “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” My father’s Spanish was specific to Argentina, had we been in the high Mexican mountains, he would have had even greater difficulty as Mexico is broken into four to ten dialects, depending on who you ask.

In the olden days of email (2003), we were excited when we first added “Universal” Spanish and French to our UI and UTF-8, so our clients could use the tools in their native language and send emails that would render properly. As SaaS has matured, we now routinely see software updates say, “We’ve added Finnish!” That’s awesome for the 5.5 million Finns- 70% of whom speak excellent English. But that’s not where localization of language should be anymore, we shouldn’t just be playing clean-up, should we?

When Pet Supplies Plus started using Sageflo, over the first 12 months, franchisees sent over 2,000 campaigns. Franchisees saw their email click-to-open rate (CTOR) increase by 19%, and average basket size has increased by 12%. Part of this was that they were sending more messages by expanding access to guard railed email-templates sent through Responsys (their existing ESP vendor), but a lot of it came down to language.

I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you are not into the whole brevity thing.

I was on a call with a Partner from Atlanta, she’s a local-born and raised. On the call, she dropped a casual y’all, which got me thinking, could I use y’all in casual conversation and sound authentic? Nope, I am a Marin, CA kid, I live a mile from where I grew up. I may not be able to work a y’all but I can work the hell out of Dude. Dude‘s a great word, it’s multifaceted based entirely on tone. Or, as Kaiser Kuo wrote in The Beijinger when trying to teach Mandarin tonality- “The Dude System”:

1. Dūde, the disapproving tone, as to the clumsy roommate who’s just knocked over your three-foot Graphix and gotten bong water all over your Poli Sci 142 reader: “Dude, I can’t believe you spilled my bong again!”

2. Dúde?, in the concerned but creeped-out way you might address the roommate you discover sitting cross-legged in the dark, chanting “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” and sounding a little brass bell.

3. Duǔde, scornfully, as if your roommate has asked to borrow 50 dollars so his sensei can align his chakras: “Yeah right, dude.”

4. Dùde!, as if you are exclaiming in triumph to your roommate when coming home from class having gotten a date with Elena from your macroeconomics class.

A Pack of Bulldogs go after Trident wielding jocks

As we get closer to the customer, think of your local chain fast food restaurant. When one says, “Come down to Montecito and celebrate our Dogs beat the Trojans! Two for one milk shakes.” Someone from Marin County would know that there has not been a canine attack on ancient Greeks at a town in Southern California. They’d know that the San Rafael High School football team beat the Terra Linda HS team and that you get a discount at the local mall. The localization of language has a lot of subtlety and one can get wrong-footed very easily; we can smell when language is used as an affectation, when it’s not genuine.

By empowering our Franchises, Branches, and Brands to send email, SMS, and Social we solve several issues at once. We allow them to use your existing messaging platforms (you know they’re sending on some janky ESP otherwise) with simplified Templates, Filtering and Reporting; increasing the communication volume and personalizing the content to a degree unattainable to any Corporate Marketing Team, while simultaneously retaining the collected data that comes from focused campaigns which feeds future campaigns. So, when you think language localization, think hyper-local.

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Posted by percaroe

Despite my varied experiences, I'm a salesperson, and for me, that means solving people’s problems. Father of three/ Husband to one wife/ Marketing Junkie/ Voracious Reader/ Foodie/ improbable Yogi