But Does Not Everyone Speak English?: A Case for Business Translations
Faced with the desire to allocate sparse resources wisely, many businesses question whether inter-personal or inter-business communications should require translations. While several native English-speaking businesses have established branches in non-native English-speaking countries, this hesitance toward translation reflects the global business language. Currently, English still possesses that title, the language of commerce with a dominating presence of nearly two billion speakers. Why then, as many businesses inquire, should translations be considered in the light of English as a predominant language choice?
Knowledge of a language does not equate to proficiency within it. While several English speakers are present throughout the world, not even native-speakers are fully proficient in every aspect of the language. For example, some legal documents contain legalese that a college graduate would not be able to discern, despite being a native-speaker. Likewise, while speakers may have knowledge of the general communication terms used in business, the slightest variation could cause confusion that could be avoided with translation, hindering work productivity.
Cultural differences can influence work environments and communication. While the American style of business is often to swiftly close deals with concise brevity, a style such as Sweden’s would consider this approach brazen, instead settling deals in multiple meetings in a far longer process. Business communication is often structured along these varying metrics, a nuance that translation would better address than merely resorting to English.
Employees that feel respected will respect the business and its brand. A good—accurate, communicative—translation indicates a level of respect for the employees from the business. Translation takes time, effort, and money, all positively coded in the business realm—employees that are met with understanding are more inclined to understand in kind. This mutual understanding does not necessarily remain regulated to inter-business communications, however—content, proficient employees are far more likely to vocally express support of the business and brand, drawing in either clientele or future employees. Employee recommendations factor highly in the public eye and are perhaps worth the investment.
With these three factors in mind, businesses can assume that while their employees and clientele may speak English, the deepest breadth of understanding is often found in the native language. Certainly an investment, translations do indicate dedication and awareness on the company’s part—and foresight. For if English were to ever fall out of favor as the lingua franca of the business world, those who had translated their work into native languages would already be prepared on the global front.