In many nations around the world, multilingualism is the norm. For example, in South Africa there are 11 nationally-recognized “official” languages, including English, Afrikaans, and nine Bantu dialects. In Luxembourg, all four official languages are aggressively taught in compulsory schooling, so nearly every citizen of Luxembourg is fluent in Luxembourgish, French, German, and English.
Interestingly, however, two of the wealthiest and most commercially influential nations in the world - The United States and The United Kingdom - are notoriously monolingual.
But as globalization has taken hold, less people are seeing the need to learn English and are instead coming to expect that services will be available in their native tongue. This is just a natural progression as the global economic situation continues to evolve, and one that English-speaking businesses are beginning to understand and embrace. In fact, according to Common Sense Advisory’s research, “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: Why Language Matters on Global Websites,” 60 percent of global consumers only buy items sold in their preferred language.
On the surface, this should be a simple and refreshing change for companies to make. But speaking practically, it has instead become a major challenge facing American and British businesses trying to compete on a global scale, and, even locally as well.
In the conclusion of a recent article discussing “9 of the World's Most Multilingual Countries”, the author made the following sobering statements:
“Thanks to a large immigrant population, languages from all over the world are spoken in American cities. However, about 75 percent of Americans are monolingual in English, though there is a rapidly growing section of the population that is bilingual in Spanish and English. So although the number of languages spoken in the U.S. is huge compared with many other countries, the percentage of multilingual citizens is quite low compared with the other countries on this list.”
Although the terminology may be unfamiliar, the concept is simple:
Translation is a major component of localization, and is the process of converting a source language into a target language.
Localization refers to adapting communications to various markets or localities so that the message being presented seems natural to that particular region. For example, replacing culturally incorrect words, phrases and graphics that would get in the way of a full and correct understanding.
So, with that in mind, it becomes quickly apparent that a successful translation and localization process is vital for any business that wants to compete in an increasingly multilingual environment. With a multilingual customer base wanting and needing the products and services English-speaking companies provide, it also reflects a potentially huge untapped source of revenue. The Common Sense Advisory study also revealed that 50% of senior executives believe localization leads to profitability and growth.
In the United States and Great Britain, however, business leaders run into a significant challenge: the available supply of multilingual staff is very low, and competition for hiring them is stiff. So, while they may want to offer immediate improvements to their localization and translation process, they simply don't have the capacity to handle it internally.
That puts a roadblock in the way of growth that could otherwise be had.
LanguageLine Solutions offers a suite of technologies and language access solutions that can provide expert translation and localization results for any business. With a global reach, LanguageLine Solutions is in a prime position to assist businesses to bridge the language and cultural gap. Rather than allowing your growth to stagnate as the world continues to grow smaller and smaller, embrace this change and get started now with an exceptional localization and translation process powered by LanguageLine Solutions.