Why Bother With Anything Other Than English?

onOctober 28, 2016

inGeneral

English

It’s a fact that if you travelled round the world twenty or thirty years ago and you were a native English speaker, you would have had a harder time than the same journey today making yourself understood. You may not have thought of using the services of a professional translator as you travelled around, but it would certainly have been useful. English has now become the de facto international language, to the point where many businesses are wondering whether there is any point in translating anything anymore into other languages. Surely, English is so widespread that it’s a waste of resources?

This attitude is delusional. English may have become the world’s most spoken language, but only if you take into account second language speakers. There are many other languages that rival English when considering how many first language speakers there are. Spanish, Chinese and Hindi are contenders for most widely spoken first languages. More to the point is that even if someone can just about understand basic English, it doesn’t mean that they don’t prefer reading about something new in their own language.

In fact, marketing research shows that a majority of Internet users prefer websites that are written or professionally translated into their own native language. That means that if you are attempting to sell something or get a message across to people in Brazil, for instance, ignoring the use of Portuguese is marketing suicide.

An Indian market research company called JuxtConsult, did some research within India where despite Hindi being widespread, there are many regional languages, some of which are linguistically very different from Hindi. The research showed that over 75% of people surveyed preferred to actively seek out information in their own native language.

A similar survey in Europe made by an organisation called the Common Sense Advisory found almost exactly the same percentage of European consumers preferring the same thing.

The point is that if you rely on using only English for your marketing material, then you simply won’t reach three quarters of the potential market you are thinking of selling your products too.

It’s not just overseas markets, either. Most countries these days have sizeable home based populations who may very well speak the national language adequately, but prefer to read web pages in their own native language if they have a choice. This is well understood in the U.S., for instance, where many websites are bilingual in English and Spanish, the most important second language in that country.

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