Multilingual customer service

Is Multilingual Customer Service Worth it? Here’s why we think it is

Taking over the world is a tricky business. You might think globalisation would mean you could get away with a one-language-fits-all approach to your marketing materials, website content and customer services, but the truth is that we all have a significant native language bias. Even our language spoken with a non-native accent, or written with spelling discrepancies i.e. American/British English, is often enough to prevent us parting with our cash.

So, when you’re trying to meet the unique needs of customers in foreign markets, is multilingual customer service really worth it? We think it absolutely is, and here’s why…

1. You can boost customer loyalty

It’s lovely to be looked after by a business. When you receive fast, honest and effective customer service, delivered with a smile, it’s such a rarity these days it’s something most customers will remember.

One of the biggest factors in the quality of the customer service you receive is the language it’s delivered in. A report from Common Sense Advisory found that 74 percent of customers would be more likely to buy from a company that offered after sales support in their native language.

A further report from the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) found that:

  • 72 percent of customers said support offered in their native language improved their level of satisfaction;
  • While 58.4 percent said it increased their loyalty to the brand.

And that what it’s all about. You treat your customer well and there’s a good chance they’ll be back for more.

2. It builds trust

You’re a good, honest business that sells products and services for a fair price, right? You want your customers to recognise you for what you are. Consumers prefer to hand over their hard earned cash to companies they trust, and they are more likely to trust companies that speak their own language.

Speaking the customers’ language makes it easier to build relationships and help them understand how you think. Customers also tend to believe the information they are receiving is more accurate if it’s delivered in their native tongue.

3. Native speakers understand what customers want

Customers from different cultures have very different expectations of the customer service they receive. Everyone wants their problems solved in one way or another, but some nationalities like to discuss their problems on the phone at length, while others prefer a live chat facility that takes as little time as possible. In some countries, up-selling is quite acceptable, while in others it is considered rude.

Having native speakers to deliver your customer service function ensures an intimate understanding of the target market. The result is support that meets the customers’ preferences and their particular needs.

4. Even bilingual customers prefer their native language

It is not uncommon for businesses to expand into countries where English is spoken as a second language to reduce the costs associated with translation and transcreation. However, just because your customers can speak English, it doesn’t mean they want to.

Most customers feel more confident checking the details of a product or service, or communicating their disappointment if their expectations are not met, in their native language. Removing the anxiety associated with speaking a second language can improve the customers’ experience.

How can we help?

At Linguistica International, we can help your customers get the support they need in a language they understand. Our translation and transcreation teams can create word perfect user guides, customer support pages and FAQs in your customers’ language. The result is happy customers, and a successful business.

For more information, please call 02392 987 765 or email: info@linguistica-international.com

American English vs. British English

American English vs. British English – The Major Differences

We’re not sure whether you’ve noticed, but there’s a pretty big election going on over there in the States this week. The Republican Donald Trump, a shy and retiring type, is going up against Democrat Hilary Clinton, who, if successful, will become the first female President of the United States.

The wall-to-wall media coverage has made us think just how different the US and the UK are. You can say what you like about our political system, and the perceived weakness of some of the parties at the moment, but at least we’re not likely to elect a crazed megalomaniac anytime soon, are we?

Despite the very obvious differences between the two countries, one similarity must people cite is the language. There is an old saying that America and Britain are “two nations divided by a common language.” But while American and British English might sound the same, apart from the respective volume each is spoken, on paper it’s a whole different ball game.

So what are the major differences between these two variations on a common theme?

1. Spelling

One of the obvious differences most of us would immediately point to is spelling. Noah Webster, an American lexicographer who gave his name to the Webster Dictionary, now the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is the one man you can thank for the discrepancies.

Having become infuriated with the many inconsistencies in the English language, Mr Webster set about reforming the American spelling in the late 1700s. Perhaps sensibly, he wanted words to be spelt the way they sounded. In many cases this involved dropping the U so the spelling matched the pronunciation. Colour became color; honour became honor; and labour became labor.

He also proposed the word ‘women’ should become ‘wimmen’, but that proved to be a step too far.

2. Vocabulary

The differences in American and British vocabulary are the source of plenty of derision between the two countries. Some of the most well-known variations include:

British English American English
Trousers Pants
Flat Apartment
Bonnet/Boot Hood/Trunk
Caravan Trailer
Crisps Potato chips
Drawing pin Thumbtack
Lift Elevator
Pavement Sidewalk
Pub Bar
Maths Math

We could go on, but I think we’ve made our point. While there are clear differences, most Americans and Brits can usually guess the meaning of a word through the context of the sentence. However, that doesn’t prevent the look of bewilderment you invariably receive when you invite an American to the pub.

3. Grammar

There’s no grammatical gulf in the American and British use of the English language, but there are some noteworthy quirks. For example, in respect to irregular past tense verbs (we’re going back to school now), in British English we have the choice of dreamed or dreamt, burned or burnt, leaned or lent, while in America they would always opt for the –ed ending.

There are also slight differences in our use of collective nouns, which are used to refer a group of individuals. In American English, collective nouns are singular, so they would say “the band is good”, or “the team is playing tonight”. In British English, collective nouns can be singular or plural, so you could say “the team are playing tonight”, or “the staff are happy with how it went.”

The final difference relates to auxiliary verbs, which add information to the main verb. In this case, Brits tend to use the word shall to express the future. For example, “I shall go home” or “shall we go?”. In America, the word shall is very formal and is rarely used in conversation. They would be more likely to say “I will go home now” or “Should we go?”

Far more similar than you might think

While you might think a linguistic chasm exists between American English and British English, there are actually many more similarities than differences. Our accents certainly exaggerate the few differences there are.

So, whatever happens on election day, we better get used to the fact that we’ll always have at least one thing in common with our American neighbours. And, if Mr Trump wins, at least we can enjoy his interesting take on the English language more often.

How can we help?

Whatever the native language of your business, we can help you speak word perfect English on either side of the Atlantic. We can also translate and localise your business assets into 200+ languages worldwide.

To discuss your project or for a translation quote, please call 02392 987 765 or email: info@linguistica-international.com today.

The importance of technical translations

Technical Translations: How to find the Perfect Translation Partner

The role technical translation has played in the success of global businesses should not be underestimated. The product or service itself will typically undergo very slight tweaks, or even no changes at all, as it is released in foreign markets. It is the translation of your brand message and identity, as well as the accompanying technical documents, which makes the product relevant to the new regions.

Whatever industry you work in, there will always be specialised language that details how particular products work, the service agreements that are in place, and safety and compliance information. For obvious reasons, these documents need to be produced in the native language and communicated as concisely as possible. While this technical information might not be the sexiest side of your business, it is vital to your operation.

What is technical translation?

Technical translation is a specialised form of translation involving documents typically produced by technical writers, such as owner’s manuals and user guides. The documents convey complex information and require a high level of subject knowledge and mastery of the relevant terminology to be translated correctly.

Why is technical translation important?

A high level of technical translation significantly reduces the likelihood of a misunderstanding and the subsequent risk involved. The accuracy of a translation is paramount to the health and safety of the reader, whether it’s a customer, a client or a member of your workforce. Online translation tools are not capable of producing the level of accuracy you need. Only human translators can convey such specialised information without the risk of an error or mistranslation.

What should you look for in a technical translator?

1. Industry experience

Given the importance of accuracy and a comprehensive understanding of the terminology, it probably goes without saying that you need a technical translator with industry experience. If the provider is an established translation agency with a few strong testimonials from companies in your industry, they should be a pretty good choice.

2. Accreditation

It’s a good idea to pay attention to any accreditations the translation team may have. ISO9001 is a standard that applies to all businesses and shows there are sufficient quality control mechanisms in place. You also look out for translation-specific quality standards such as EN15038 or ISO17100.

3. Affordability

Translation is one industry where you’d be wise to not necessarily go with the cheapest provider. Price and quality are closely linked, so you must always be mindful that a significantly lower price is likely to mean a lower quality service. Finding a translation agency that delivers quality work without breaking the bank might require a little research, but it will be time well spent.

4. A sample translation

The only way to really gauge the quality of a translation agency is to ask to see a sample of their work. An agency that has no problem delivering on the promises they make will be happy to provide a small sample for you to review. This also gives you the chance to see whether they have the necessary knowledge of your industry, products and practices.

So there you have it, four simple tips to help you find your perfect technical translation partner. The truth is that there’s no shortcut to finding a technical translator, but you will be rewarded for taking the time you need.

How can we help?

At Linguistica International, we are committed to delivering the highest standard of technical translations, as is evidenced by our ISO 9001:2008 accreditation. We are also fully compliant with the translation-specific EN15038.

To discuss your technical translation project, please call 02392 987 765 or email: info@linguistica-international.com today.

What is legal translation?

What is Legal Translation and How can you Find a Trusted Translator?

If we take a look at the definition of legal translation then you are likely to find something like this from our good friends over at Wikipedia:

“Legal translation is the translation of texts within the field of law. As law is a culture-dependent subject field, the work of legal translation and its products are not necessarily linguistically transparent.”

While we award full marks for effort, this definition does not necessarily capture the full scope of this field. Despite its name, legal translation does not only apply to the legal sector, but just about every business in operation today.

So, as well as the legal work you might expect, such as translating witness statements, legal rulings, filed patents, official reports and financial documents, there are also plenty of projects involving the translation of employee contracts and supplier agreements for firms that are branching out into new markets.

The importance of legal translations

There are very few fields of translation where the cost of making a mistake can be so high. In the case of a witness statement, a mistranslation could jeopardise the ruling of a court, while improperly translated patent or financial documents could have serious implications for the future of a commercial enterprise.

There’s one infamous legal mistranslation that illustrates this point perfectly…

In WWII, the United States issued the Potsdam Declaration, which demanded the surrender of Japan. In his statement responding to this declaration, the Japanese Prime Minister used the word ‘mokusatsu’, which translates into English as ‘ignore’. In Japanese culture its meaning is more nuanced, and more along then lines of letting a topic lie, or indifference.

However, in a press conference relating to the declaration, the word ‘mokusatsu’ was translated as ‘reject’. This apparent defiance subsequently played a part in America’s decision to order the atomic bomb to be dropped on Japan.

The problems associated with legal translations

When dealing with different cultures, it is often the case that there isn’t a single, definitive translation from one language to another. This is particularly the case with legal terms, where cultural and linguistic sensitivities need to play a part.

For this reason, moving from literal to legal translations requires an extremely high level of skill and experience, as well as an intricate understanding of the technical terms. Simply put, when there is no room for error, you need to work with a team you can trust. You cannot make do with ‘nearly-correct’ terms.

Finding a legal translator

It is essential legal translators have demonstrable legal and linguistic understanding of the languages used in both the source text (the original document) and the target language (the finished article). The legal sector itself, and the legal documents that are integrated into every industry, have a terminology or dictionary of words all of their own. Only a qualified legal translator with specific sector experience can ensure that no ambiguity, which could prove so costly, remains.

We understand that budgets are tight, but when you’re looking for a legal translator, you need to think seriously about the quality of their work. There is always a balance to strike between quality, time and cost, but at Linguistica International, we work hard to get this balance just right.

To discuss your project or for a legal translation quote, please call 02392 987 765 or email: info@linguistica-international.com today.

our-clients-the-world-tribe

Introducing Our Clients: The Worldwide Tribe

In this edition of the Linguistica International blog, we wanted to take a brief sojourn from our usual array of top translation tips and insights, to shed some light on the work of one of our fantastic clients. Needless to say the internet is an extremely crowded space, where endless celebrity photos and infinite ‘how-to’ articles compete for space, but amongst all this white noise there are some really important messages that are struggling to get through.

Our client, The Worldwide Tribe, is one such organisation that’s doing some amazing work and is truly deserving of every bit of attention it can get. The Worldwide Tribe is an organisation that has been created to highlight the humanity behind world issues, and inspire social change through creative storytelling and by bringing the everyday experiences of hundreds of thousands of people around the world to life.

We all know there are some terrible things going on around the world, but without honing in on the experiences of individuals, it is all too easy to dismiss these events as simply too big to solve. The reality is that there is something everyone can do to improve the lives of these individuals.

Their Work – ‘The Jungle’

Working on the ground in refugee camps in Europe gives the team an understanding of the needs of the refugees, first-hand, and the small ways their lives can be improved. On a recent trip to ‘The Jungle’ in Calais, it quickly became apparent that being able to communicate with family and friends in other parts of the world was just as important as the material essentials like food and clothes. When fleeing warzones and embarking on notoriously dangerous journeys, sometimes all you want to do is let your family know you’re safe.

To make this wish a reality for the Europe’s refugees, the team have installed WiFi in The Jungle as well as in rural areas across the Africa. As well as communicating with their families, internet access will also allow refugees to learn more about their rights and the different processes they can expect as part of their asylum claim. Then there are the huge number of language learning and education opportunities online…

Turkey, Jordan & Lesvos

The Worldwide Tribe has also done some magnificent work in Turkey, Jordan and the usually idyllic Greek Island of Lesvos. The team have been on the ground working to improve the lives of refugees, improving the structure of the camps and helping to care for some of the most vulnerable refugees. The team were able to install WiFi at the Pikpa camp in Lesvos, and address the immediate needs of new arrivals to the camp by facilitating donations of clothing, food, shelter and medical provisions.

They have also developed their own programme of school talks and workshops, to encourage open discussion about current world issues and to teach young people about the refugee crisis and what they can do to have an impact.

Do your bit

As a charitable organisation, The Worldwide Tribe is reliant on the donations of people like you to continue this work and make a real difference to the lives of refugees. So, please read some of team’s stories, watch some of their eye-opening films, and if you feel this is work you can support then please make a donation today.

Keeping your business translation costs down

How to Make your Business Translation Budget go Further

The translation of technical documents, website content and marketing materials is a necessity for some projects, but it is often a cost that’s overlooked by UK businesses of every size. By the time you realise the importance of translation in the successful delivery of the project, most of the budget will be accounted for and you’ll want to spend it as little as possible to get it done. Sound familiar?

With 17 years’ experience in business translation and transcreation, we’ve picked up a few tips along the way to help you keep the cost of your translations down, while still receiving top quality work.

1. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Preparing your business translation project in advance and getting everything in place early will not only help to keep the costs down, but it will also reduce the turnaround times of the translations. Planning in advance allows you to do your research and find a provider you can trust (did we mention we work for organisations like Santander, Orange and Manchester United?), rather than digging around at the last minute and turning to the first translation team you can find.

This will give you the time to get all the relevant documents and information together, as the more information you can provide about the project, the more accurate the quote will be. You should also ensure that any documents you send us are the final copies, as any changes to the source materials during or after the translation process will inevitably add to the cost.

2. Get the documents to be translated in order

Over the years we have found it’s beneficial if you can spend an hour or so preparing the documents for translation before you send them to our team. To do this you should:

  • Proofread the copy to remove any mistakes or typos and make sure it is clear and concise;
  • Remove anything that is unnecessary or does not need to be translated for the intended target market – this includes references to UK culture, such as place names and phone numbers etc;

3. Send us the original documents

Sending us the original documents for your business translation means we do not have to spend time extracting the text and re-creating layouts. Documents that can be more difficult to work with include:

  • PDFs – It can take time extracting the text for translation and recreating the desired layout in Word. We can access a wide variety of files, so if you do have access to the original document, please send it over to our team.
  • Faxed and scanned documents – This type of document can present its own problems as the copies we receive can be grainy and difficult to read.
  • JPEGs and PNGs – When translating graphics and illustrations it is usually easier if we can access the original Photoshop (.psd) or CorelDraw (.cdr) file. The result is a faster and cheaper business translation.

4. Find a quality provider

You may well be able to find some dirt cheap translators out there, but in the translation sector you really get what you pay for. There’s nothing to stop someone with no qualifications or very little experience setting up as a translator. If you get a number of quotes and one of them is significantly cheaper, you probably need to ask why.

In the translation industry, there is a price under which it is impossible to deliver a high quality business translation. If you do receive a really cheap quote, it’s likely the company is using translators who are unqualified and sometimes not even native speakers. The result is a translation that is riddled with errors. You then have to pay twice to get the translation either repaired or completely redone.

How can we help?

Choosing a translator based solely on price is a false economy. At Linguistica International, we work with you to put all the necessary preparations in place to keep the cost of your business translation down. To discuss your project or for a quote, please call 02392 987 765 or email: info@linguistica-international.com today.

 

Where Does Language Exist in the Brain

Where Does Language Exist in the Brain?

This week at the Linguistica International blog, we’re going all highbrow with some real, genuine science. Don’t worry, normal service will be resumed soon, but for the next few minutes, we’re going to concern ourselves with where language actually exists in the brain. Externally, language is all around us, to quote a Wet Wet Wet song, ‘it’s everywhere we go’, but where does it actually exist inside us?

You probably won’t need us to tell you that the brain is a very clever thing. If you read a sentence about catching a ball, the neurons related to the motor function in your hands and arms will be activated in your brain. Pretty clever, right? The same can be said if you talk about eating chips, in this case the neurons related to smelling will fire up.

In life, language infiltrates our brains like no other skill. The truth is that it’s almost impossible to do anything without language, whether it’s simply following some instructions, or using our inner voice to talk us through every aspect of our lives.

The left side of the brain

More than a century ago, neurologists established that our capacity to use language is located in the left hemisphere of the brain, and more specifically, in Broca’s area (associated with speech production and articulation) and Wernicke’s area (associated with comprehension). Any damage to either of these areas, which can be caused b y a stroke or a head injury, can lead to speech problems and even a loss of language altogether.

However, in the last decade, researchers have discovered that it’s not quite as simple as that. Language is not just restricted to these two areas of the brain, or in fact just the one hemisphere. And even more startling still, they have learnt that the brain can actually grow when we learn a new language.

Different words trigger separate parts of the brain

In a recent study, neurologists tried to create a 3D atlas of words to show which words trigger each part of the brain.

The results show that a pattern exists in terms of the region of the brain that is triggered by particular word meanings. Although the research was conducted in the English language, previous research suggests that words with the same meaning in different languages will trigger the same parts of the brain.

Bilinguals are constantly suppressing a language

Evidence also emerged in an experiment in 1999 that bilingual speakers have different neural pathways for each of their languages, and that both are active when either language is used. This means that bilingual speakers are continuously subconsciously suppressing one of their languages to focus on the most relevant one. The research also shows that these neural pathways are imprinted on the brains of bilinguals forever, even if the second language is not used and subsequently lost after it has been used. So, even if we think we’ve lost the ability to speak a language, it’s footprints remain in the neurological pathways of our minds.

How can we help?

At Linguistica International, our translators and interpreters are a clever bunch. With relevant professional qualifications and at least five years’ experience in the linguistics field, they use their native language skills to create communications that strike the right chord in any language. For more information, please call our team on 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com today.

How user reviews can boost your business

How Localised User Reviews can Boost your Overseas Business

If you’re planning to enter a new market overseas then there are plenty of considerations for you to think about before you take the plunge. Perhaps one of the most cost effective and influential things you can do to add instant credibility to your business is to include user reviews on your new website from local users. The statistics show that 60 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase products or services from a website if it features reviews, so authentic, localised user reviews can really help you gain traction in a new market.

What does the research say?

The research by Reevoo revealed that a massive 88 percent of customers ‘always or sometimes’ consult customer reviews before making a purchase, while 48 percent said customer reviews were ‘influential’ in their decision. This compares to just 24 percent and 22 percent who said advertising and advice from sales assistants were influential in their decision respectively.

From the research, it’s clear that reviews play a critical part in the purchasing decisions of consumers, so making sure reviews are available in the local language could boost your chances of success.

The role of user reviews

Although customer reviews can range widely in their quality, usefulness and thoroughness, done well, can have a powerful effect on the behaviour of your customers. Authentic customer reviews support the credibility of your brand as it enters a new market. They can reiterate the benefits of your products and services and reassure customers that a particular product is right for them. The most powerful and believable way to do this is in the language and voice of the local consumer.

How do global preferences change?

Research has found that the way consumers use reviews varies between cultures. Research published in Digital Intelligence Today found that US consumers have more trust in reviews written by friends and acquaintances, while those here in the UK prefer reviews written by professionals and past customers.

In some of the markets UK businesses typically enter into, such as India, Malaysia and Brazil, 60 percent of consumers would seek an expert opinion before making a purchase. In the Middle East, there was also a preference for expert reviews. In China, there’s plenty of weight placed on customer reviews, with 40 percent online shoppers regularly reading and writing product and service reviews.

The importance of authenticity

Generally speaking, wherever they are in the world, consumers are excellent at spotting fake reviews. They are also less trusting of reviews they find on company-owned assets, such as websites, due to the editorial control the brand will have.

In the UK our cynicism shines through, with only 17 percent of consumers believing the reviews they find on company websites. In the more trusting (or perhaps naïve) US, 28 percent of consumers said they trusted the reviews they read on company websites.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, a negative review can actually be beneficial for a brand. Clearly more negative reviews than positive reviews will have a detrimental impact on sales, but a small number of negative reviews can actually engender trust from consumers and make the positive reviews more believable.

How can you create local language reviews?

Getting customers to leave reviews is often a case of ‘easier said than done’. Most customers will simply want to make their purchase and get on with other things. Those that are the keenest to write a review tend to be those who have something negative to say about their experience.

To get a customer who has a positive experience to leave a review, there are a number of different things you can do:

  • Ask customers to leave feedback;
  • Use the customer’s email address to send a follow-up email and request a review;
  • Incentivise customers to leave reviews – for example, by offering free products or money off in exchange for reviews.

How can we help?

If you want a number of user reviews for your launch into a new market, you can localise some of your existing reviews with the help of our expert transcreation and localisation team. While this strategy is not recommended in the longer term, it can provide the reassurance your new customers need while your brand becomes more established. For more information, please call 02392 987 765 or email: info@linguistica-international.com today.

5 International Marketing Facts from Around the World

5 International Marketing Facts from Around the World

Are you doing enough to market your online business to customers around the world?

Opportunities abound to sell your products and services to consumers overseas. But if you think taking a one-size fits all approach to your international marketing campaign is enough to attract customers from far and wide, you need to think again.

These 5 international marketing facts illustrate the true scale of the opportunity available; however, they also provide plenty of food for thought if you think your monolingual and monocultural marketing campaign will bring the international success you crave.

1. Asia has more internet users that North America and Western Europe put together

Source: We Are Social

If you’re planning to sell your wares overseas then East Asia is currently the biggest market you can enter. The costs of entering into the East or South Asian market will be higher than the North American market due to the wide range of different languages and preferences you will need to cater for. However, get it right and the rewards will certainly be worth it!

Local social media networks should also play an important part in your marketing strategy with 48 percent of people in East Asia and 37 percent in South East Asia active on social media.

2. Web traffic on mobiles is growing exponentially

It’s official: mobile phones are taking over the world. Although desktop computers and laptops still account for a greater proportion of the world’s web traffic, take a look at that smaller figure beneath the 56 percent. It shows that web page views on desktop computers and laptops have fallen by 9 percent year-on-year. Compare that to the year-on-year growth of web page views on mobiles of 21 percent, and you’ll soon see that marketing your products to international mobile users plays a key part in future proofing your business.

3. There’s more to social media than Facebook

If your international social media marketing efforts start and stop at Facebook, you’re missing out on a huge proportion of the market. Social networks like Pinterest and Twitter are immensely powerful marketing tools in the right hands, and are often more effective methods of advertising particular products and services than Facebook.

4. Facebook performs billions of translations – but are they any good?

Facebook’s automated translations service now performs 2 billion translations every day in 40 different languages. But, if you really want to engage prospective customers and clients overseas, is this really a service you can trust?

As with all automated translation services, Facebook falls a long way short of the kind of quality you can expect from a professional translation agency. It also doesn’t take into account the cultural and linguistic nuances that ensure your content strikes the right chord in your target market. But, if you’re happy to publish marketing content that’s less than 100 percent accurate, then at least it’s free, right?

5. Portuguese is the fast growing language on social media

English is the most used language on Facebook and Twitter, but other languages are starting to catch up. If you’re only using the English language to communicate with an international customer base on Facebook and Twitter, you’re missing out on an incredible amount of potential engagement.

On Facebook, Portuguese is the fast growing language, followed by Arabic and German. So, if you really want to deliver a message that chimes with your overseas customers, think about writing it in their language.

How can we help?

At Linguistica International, our mother tongue translation and localisation experts create messages that connect with your customers wherever they are. For more information, please get in touch with our team today.

Language provides a window into national culture

How Language Usage Provides a Window into National Culture

There’s little doubt that language and culture are closely related, with some linguists even going as far as to describe language as a verbal expression of culture. The evolution of language and culture has gone hand in hand, so it’s hardly surprising that a complex and deeply ingrained relationship has developed between the two.

The expression of our thoughts is through language, but our thought processes are also affected by the language we use. For this reason, it is nearly impossible to understand a country’s culture unless you can speak the language, then, through the idiosyncratic linguistic twist and turns, you soon get a feel for the culture.

The link between language and our thoughts

It stands to reason that the more time we spend thinking about particular subjects, the more words we’re likely to have to express these thoughts. The French are famous for their love of food. This fixation has resulted in such a broad food-related vocabulary that restaurants around the world borrow from the French to fill gaps in their own language. For example, how many times do the words canapé, terrine or quenelles form part of our very own culinary lexicon? Just watch MasterChef and you’ll soon find out.

The Mongolian people have a different fixation. As nomadic herders, they spend much of their time thinking about their animals. The result is an unusually large vocabulary to describe the health and condition of their animals.

Japan’s unique national culture

Anyone who takes the long flight to Japan will find the politeness of the people alone is well worth the trip. The level of politeness, deference and respect in the country is unlike anywhere else on earth. This culture is communicated by a language that has huge capacity for social etiquette and apology. Even something as simple as declining an invitation in Japan is a long-winded process.

As well as a reputation for politeness, Japan, with its island climate, also shares a fascination with the weather with us Brits. While words such as inclement, balmy and muggy are pretty tough to beat, the Japanese certainly do not want for choice. With single words for winter rain (凍雨), spring rain (春雨) and even regional rain (局地的な雨), Japan must be a pretty wet place.

Korean collectivism

The Koreans are renowned for their collectivism around the world, and this manifests in an increased usage of ‘we’ rather than ‘me’. In fact, pronoun use in Korea is a world away from here in the UK. For example, Koreans tend to talk about ‘our workplace’ or ‘our school’, rather than using the singular ‘my’. Koreans even use the collective pronoun ‘we’ when expressing their own views or opinions.

In the UK, where we are far more individualistic, this is known as the ‘royal we’, and is more of a linguistic mistake than anything else. In the US, a country even more individualistic in culture than the UK, you will rarely see collective pronoun use at all.

The importance of using mother tongue linguists

If you want to communicate loud and clear overseas, it’s essential you use a mother tongue linguist who understands the cultural nuances ingrained in the language. At Linguistica International, all our translators and interpreters translate into their mother tongue, which ensures the quality and cultural integrity of our work. For more information, please get in touch with our team by calling +44 2392 987 765 or emailing: info@linguistica-international.com today.