Working with multiple languages

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Working with multiple languages

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Are you finding that your business is at a stage where you need to use multiple languages to communicate with clients, partners, and staff in different countries? If you need to make that critical jump from English only to two or more languages, there are a few things to consider in order to get it right and avoid the pitfalls of sub-standard work that can do more harm than good for your business.

Who is your audience?

Are you making your first foray into new markets and testing the waters? This could be in the form of joining trade missions to target markets or it could be that you have opened up a new office and are hiring local staff. Either way, the first step is to define who your audience is and determine what the content should be for each.

Get the content right in English

It may sound obvious, but getting the content right in your master language is key to getting the translation right in the next stages. Depending on your target markets it may be that you need to be flexible with branding and product names so it is important to know what you need and be willing to adjust. This is where your first engagement with translators will help as they can advise on what may or may not work in their language. It is easy to use ‘false friends’ – words that sound the same in another language but actually mean something completely different – putting your potential clients off before you get a chance to tell them how great your product or service is.

Cultural awareness

Linked to branding and product names, cultural awareness is another potential stumbling block. What may be funny and engaging in English may be offensive in another language. Use your translator’s knowledge to make sure that what you are saying is appropriate and will work in each language. You may end up with a slightly different tone or approach but your product or service will be better targeted for your audience and therefore more likely to succeed.

Evolutions in language

While professional materials should always have a business tone, it is still important to keep up to date with evolutions in language. Your high school French may be great for getting by on holiday, but when it comes to business texts the changes that have taken place in the use of idioms and expressions will show your customers that you are fully conversant with the language. Get it wrong by being out of date could amuse your clients but it will also get them wondering what else in your business is not up to speed.

Legal differences

Different countries have different legal requirements when it comes to presenting materials or what you can and cannot say. Your translators will be able to advise whether they can do a straight translation of something or where it must be presented in a different way; where legal advice may be required to ensure compliance they will let you know.

With over 5,000 trained professionals, Language Link UK is ideally placed to assist whether you need single or multiple language translation. Get in touch with us using our contact form and we will get back to you to discuss the details.