Cultural diversity and the impact on your multilingual message

Cultural Diversity and the Impact on Your Multilingual Message

Anyone who works across international borders will have been exposed to the dramatic changes cultural diversity can bring. Simply crossing the border from England into Wales or Scotland can expose you to distinct societal differences, so it’s hardly surprising just how much of a culture shock we can experience when travelling to the other side of the world.

Culture can be defined as the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society. Acknowledging and understanding this diversity has a huge part to play in communicating between cultures, and effectively marketing your business. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the major key cultural differences at play, and explain how we can help you navigate them safely.

Are rules important?

Well, it depends who you ask. The majority of English-speaking countries generally like rules and believe they should be followed. This includes the UK, USA, Australia and Canada, as well as parts of Northern Europe such as Germany and Switzerland.

Fly east, to India, China and Korea, and rules are seen as more of a guide. They prefer to assess the situation first to see whether the rules need to be applied. In these countries, Latin America and parts of Southern Europe, it is often the case that a relationship is more important than the rule.

Who likes change?

In the US, the Netherlands and Australia, there is a real emphasis on change and innovation. They like to look towards the future, rather than relying too heavily on the past.

In China, Iran, Poland, and even over here in Old Blighty (although to a more moderate degree), we feel more comfortable if everything stays the same. We believe tradition to be extremely important and prefer to be informed by the past.

Is there enough time?

Time is central to countries that appreciate structure and prefer to complete tasks one at a time. This is a trait typically found in Northern European and North American cultures, as well as Japan.

The ability to be fluid and flexible and not be ruled by time is embedded in the cultures of much of Southern Europe, Latin American and the Arab world.

Is privacy important?

Privacy is extremely important to many Western cultures, including here in the UK, where many of us prefer to have a clear distinction between our work and private lives.

If you travel east, openness becomes more important. Those in Arab and Asian cultures are happy for the lines between their private and working lives to blur.

What about status?

Status carries very little weight in Scandinavian countries, North America and Northern Europe. They prefer to treat people similarly and try not to stress differences in social and professional standing.

Cultures primarily in Asia, Latin America, and the Arab world, and to a lesser extent Southern and Eastern Europe, are more likely to respect and honour the status that comes with age, position and even traits like gender.

Why is this important?

If your business is going global, you will have to compete with local companies who are armed with an intrinsic knowledge of their customers’ cultural values. To compete with native companies effectively, it’s essential every piece of marketing you produce, from your brand name to the language, lifestyle and behavioural patterns you promote are culturally relevant to your target market.

At Linguistica International, we only use mother tongue linguists who are native to the country of your target market. The result is culturally relevant, localised marketing messages which speak volumes for your business.

Get in touch to find out more about our transcreation services. Alternatively, if you have some cultural differences of your own, please leave your two cents’ worth on Facebook or Twitter.


Foreign Language Skills in High Demand from UK Companies

The UK has long been criticised on the European and international stage for its reluctance to embrace foreign languages, and its inability to promote their teaching in our schools. Now this lack of enthusiasm for foreign language learning is threatening to stifle the UK’s economy, with businesses unable to hire employees with the linguistic skills they need.

For some time, English has been the international language of business, but in an increasingly globalised economy with more emerging markets than ever before, there has never been a better time to learn a foreign language.

Given the economic rise of non-English speaking countries like Russia, China, Indonesia and Colombia, effective communication across multiple languages is a greater challenge than ever before. Learning languages is an indispensible tool for relationship building and financial success, but research conducted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) shows that the UK’s apathetic approach to language learning is creating a skills gap we’re struggling to fill.

An ‘alarming shortage’ of Brits with foreign language skills

Of 300 UK companies survey by the CBI, two-thirds said they were more likely to hire people with foreign language skills than those who only speak English. Despite claims from the UK government that more school children are learning a foreign language, the British Council believes there is still an ‘alarming shortage’ of people with foreign language skills in a number of major languages.

The most sought after languages

Perhaps surprisingly, given the global economic shift in recent years, the three languages that are most sought after by UK firms are based a lot closer to home. In a recent poll, British companies said they believed French, German and Spanish to be the most useful second languages, with 50 percent, 49 percent and 44 percent of the vote respectively. However, the importance of emerging markets was also reinforced, with Mandarin (31 percent) and Arabic (23 percent) also on the rise.

Low foreign language take-up in UK schools

So do young people understand the importance of learning a language? With A-level entries for languages falling over the last few years, and acceptances for language degrees in 2013 dipping to the lowest level in a decade, on the surface of it, the answer would appear to be no. However, on closer inspection, the picture seems to be more nuanced.

Research conducted for the Guardian reveals that of 1,001 young people (aged 18-24) surveyed, almost 20 percent spoke another language at home with their family, whilst 70 percent would be interested in learning another language in the future.

There is also evidence that young people in the UK understand that learning a language can help to open up economic, social and cultural opportunities in the future. However, this is countered by the fact that 39 percent of students are put off by the belief that ‘most people speak English’, and 14 percent by the misconception that ‘most other languages are not useful’.

The importance of language translation agencies

Thankfully, what the UK lacks in foreign language speakers, it more than makes up for with high-quality language translation companies that are on hand to bridge the gap.

At Linguistica International, we get to know our clients’ brands and build close partnerships to help them achieve their international goals. For more information about how we can be your team on the ground, get in touch with our language experts today.