Archives for Language - Page 2
She says that the Foreign Office is launching the Diplomatic Academy, essentially a finishing school for diplomats, to help them through these social and cultural minefields and make them the best in the world.
Of course, it’s not just diplomats who need this sort of knowledge – it’s everyone in business who wants to export their products to other countries or has a multicultural workforce. As Jenni puts it:
‘How many of us know that Finnish acquaintances should never be hugged or kissed; that two or three-minute pauses in conversation are common and should not be interrupted, and that a careless British phrase such as “We should have lunch” will be taken as a solemn invitation when all we mean is: “I like you but I may well never see you again”?
‘Or that the Dutch get down to frank business negotiations immediately and will proceed fast once consensus is reached, whereas the Portuguese expect several discursive meetings before any clear results? That the French would prefer you to blow your nose in private, that Americans expect brief questions and answers in social situations and get uncomfortable if anyone holds the floor for a long time; that you should not show anger or attempt to tell jokes in Singapore? That Turks will be deeply offended if the sole of your shoe faces them? Or that in some Asian cultures, by advancing on anybody with your arm outstretched, insisting on eye contact and saying: “Hello, I’m Bill”, (or Jane), you might be offending on three fronts at once?’
Our Go Global product includes notes on culture for each language you want your documents translated into – and of course, we can translate documents and provide interpreting for your workforce too.
You can read the full article here (paywall)
Tess Wright Chief Executive
image credit: Henkster www.free.images.com
One in four people worldwide understand English at a useful level.
Three out of four don’t.
Let me introduce my cousin Tina. She’s a primary school teacher living and working in Bielefeld. Naturally enough, German is her first language. Fortunately for her monoglot British relatives though, Tina is one of the 1.75 billion people worldwide who use English very effectively as a second language. While my German was not so much taught as inflicted by teachers drilling grammar by rote, Tina had fun singing along to the Rolling Stones and watching American films. No prizes for guessing that when we get together I’m doing the usual British thing, squirming with embarrassment because I can’t switch between languages as she does.
Skilled as she is in English, though, there’s a limit to Tina’s patience, vocabulary and conversational comfort zone. She would not be impressed by the sales director I met recently at a trade show and who declared unequivocally, “English is the international language of business. Why should I communicate in anything else?”
The short answer is that most of your customers aren’t in business, and whatever they are doing, they most probably aren’t doing it in English. Just like Tina when I’m not visiting, your customers are getting on with their own lives – in their own language. Tina’s got two children and elderly parents to care for. Like all customers everywhere, she’s got a life, and she lives it in her mother tongue.
So while Tina is happy chatting with me in an English punctuated with a little German and some sign-language over lunch in a Bielefeld bistro, when it comes to spending her hard-earned cash, she, quite reasonably, prefers to weigh up the pros and cons of features, benefits, price, quality and delivery options in her own language, thank you very much.
Six more reasons sticking with English will lose you export sales.
Or – why my cousin Tina – who could be your next customer – prefers to buy in her own language.
- “Yes, I can speak English, but I make decisions in German.”
- “If you speak to me in up-to-date, everyday German, I’m much more likely to take on board and remember your marketing messages.”
- “My family like British brands, but our lifestyles are different. Show me how your product fits in my day-to-day routine here in myhome, not yours.“
- “You want to me to spend money with you. Show me you care about me.”
- “I’m much more likely to trust your promises about customer service and product support if you’ve taken the time and trouble to translate them for me.”
- “I’m a busy person. The bottom line is, if you speak my language, you’re making it so much easier for me to do business with you.”
Wenn Sie mich verstehen, dann werden wir uns gut verstehen!
Guest blogger Kaye Coleman-Rooney runs marketing communications agency, Doing Words . She’s a member of Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce Communications sector and is a coach with Accelerate Cambridge, part of the Cambridge Judge Business School.
blog image credit: mebell / www.freeimages.com
As I chopped it, I started thinking about words with basil in them, wondering how they are connected (I know, an esoteric pursuit, but if you work in the translation business it’s an occupational hazard!)
Basil, basilicum, basilisk, basilica – how do they relate? Well, the proper Latin name for basil is Ocimum basilicum, so that’s easy. But then I remembered reading about basilicum ointment used on horses in the 19th century, and wondered if it contained basil.
A quick search revealed several references to Basilicon ointment for the treatment of wounds, which includes rosin, from conifer resin. A longer search led me to Basilicum ointment, which seems to be the archaic form – and I found a recipe from a book called Domestic Medicine from 1785, containing ‘yellow wax, white resin and frankincense’ plus the main ingredient of hog’s lard – but not a hint of basil.
It was Nicholas Culpeper, the 17th century herbalist, who connected them for me: ‘an herb of Mars and under the Scorpion, and therefore called Basilicon’. He also related it to Basilisk.
Why? Because the basilisk was reputed to be the king of serpents (able to kill with one glance) – and basil comes from the Greek basileus, meaning king.
It’s still considered the ‘king of herbs’ by many cooks – royally deserved, in my opinion. That’s enough weight for a few small leaves to carry. As for Basil Fawlty – that’s a whole other story about use of language!
Tess Wright, Chief Executive
I was listening to Midweek on Radio 4 last week and was fascinated by a guy called Benny Lewis, who says he couldn’t speak any foreign languages when he left school but now speaks ten, including Mandarin, Arabic, Portuguese and Hungarian!
I don’t think he means he can speak them well enough to do interpreting or translation, but enough to hold a conversation with the people in whichever country he is in that goes beyond ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘where are the toilets?’
Enough to give him an impression of the language and culture – by joining in – that is much richer than the superficial impression most visitors would receive if they can’t understand the language.
He does it by total immersion – going to live in whichever country whose language he wants to learn and refusing to speak English. One of his main techniques seems to be don’t make excuses such as ‘it’s too hard’ or ‘I’m too old’ or ‘they’ll think I’m an idiot’ – these rang a bell with me!
He’s just been made National Geographic’s Traveler of the Year on the back of all his learning trips.
You can hear the programme via the Radio 4 website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03y13zd
and you can visit the website of the man himself at http://www.fluentin3months.com/about/
So what do you think – is it possible to learn a language well enough in three months to do more than get by as a visitor? And is it just the British who are scared of looking stupid when they try and speak other languages?
Look forward to your comments below.
Tess Wright, Chief Executive