From the Editor
Welcome to the February edition of Language Lines!
Thanks to our business growth last year, Language Translation Inc. moved into new offices in January 2007. Our current facilities triple our previous space and enable us to take on even larger projects. Here is our new address:
Language Translation, Inc. | 4379 30th Street, Suite #7 | San Diego, CA | 92104-1323
This month's newsletter features the subject of interpreting, or oral translation of spoken language, which is one of our company's specialties. We will explain exactly what interpreters do and how their services can help your company build better business contacts. In fact, the need for translators and interpreters is on the rise in the USA and worldwide because, contrary to popular belief, English hasn't quite become a “world language.”
In the news, we will take a look at marketing products in China, the increase in international meetings, and language issues in the workplace.
March's feature topic will be the language learning boom in the USA. Whether for pleasure, travel or business, many Americans are getting interested in learning or perfecting a foreign language. Perhaps our next issue will encourage you to take up a new tongue or reactivate long-lost knowledge from your school days!
As always, we would be pleased to receive any comments, questions and story ideas at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
II. This Month's Features: Language Interpreting for Business
What do language interpreters do exactly? Their tasks are diverse, and they play an important role in numerous sectors such as business, law and health care. Basically, interpreters convert one spoken language into another, contrary to translators who deal with written language.
An interpreter's work begins before arriving at the jobsite. He or she must always be familiar with the subject matter that the speakers will discuss, a task that may involve preliminary research. Next, the interpreter usually travels to the location where his or her services are needed. It is generally important, especially in business situations, that the interpreter see the communicators in order to hear and observe their interaction.
There are two types of interpretation: simultaneous and consecutive. In simultaneous interpretation, interpreters listen and speak at the same time. This type of interpretation is required at international conferences and is sometimes used in courts. Consecutive interpretation begins only after the speaker has verbalized a group of words or sentences. This form of interpretation is used most often for person-to-person communication, during which the interpreter sits near both parties, and it is often the appropriate solution for business negotiations, receiving foreign visitors, and small meetings.
If your company has foreign business contacts, an interpreter can ensure that all parties understand negotiations and meetings perfectly. Using interpreting services can thus be a key to successful cross-cultural communication.
A January article from Time magazine confirms the boom in the US language service industry. “Translation Nation” by Jeffrey Ressner explains the increasing need for translation, interpretation and localization services in the USA.
Part of the demand is linked to the war in Iraq, and job offers for interpretation posts in that country are not so easy to fill. But companies and other structures are seeing the advantages of translating written and oral English in many sectors, including health care, law, and business. Of course, high technology is also a growth sector for language services, as websites and software must be translated and localized (culturally and technically adapted) for markets worldwide.
As the Time article points out, machines can do a bit of translation work, but the demand for human linguistics specialists will still rise significantly over the next seven years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of interpreters and translators is projected to increase from 18 to 26% in the next seven years, reflecting strong growth in the industries employing interpreters and translators. Machines simply cannot yet detect language nuances, and nowhere is a human presence more important than in interpretation situations: at conferences, around the negotiations table, or when receiving foreign visitors.
If you're a native speaker of English, the answer is probably no. And not adapting to the colloquial may actually put you at a disadvantage in international transactions. “English, unlike most other languages, is spoken as often, or arguably more often, between non-native speakers as between native speakers,” reports Forbes.com. “In addition, the fact that someone has spoken a language since childhood is not necessarily an advantage.”
How can this be so? Little by little, as more and more non-native speakers use English to speak to each other, a simplified, grammatically-limited form of “World English” may be developing. Koreans use English to do business with the Japanese; the French use English to do business with Swedes. And in these transactions, all that matters is being understood.
Although there are no standard rules for “World” or “International” English, ESL (English as a Second Language) speakers often speak slowly, with a simple vocabulary. And if you join in their discussions with heavily accented American English, full of colloquial expressions and the latest business jargon, communication can easily break down.
That's why interpreters can be essential in important business deals, even with foreigners who possess basic English skills. When it comes time to sign a final contract, you don't want to leave anything to chance – or to miscomprehension of your “perfect” English!
In the news
How do you market a new product to a culture that has never used anything like it before? Procter & Gamble's Crest brand has made remarkable inroads in the Chinese market, despite the fact that ten years ago, most Chinese citizens never brushed their teeth. Now Procter & Gamble sells more tubes of toothpaste in China than in the USA , but setting up a successful marketing strategy in China has been a difficult challenge.
“For most multinationals, entering China is a no-brainer,” writes Noreen O'Leary for Adweek Magazine. ”But the reality of cracking the market is far more difficult.” O'Leary's in-depth article analyzes Crest's penetration of the Chinese market, and examines other marketing cases as well as China's consumer bracket structure. Language Lines highly recommends this article for companies interested in launching a product in this dynamic but complex country.
Despite the cost of such events, Business Travel News Online reports that an increasing number of companies are planning international meetings for 2007. While some firms do use remote conferencing tools to reduce overseas travel costs, many businesses still feel the need for face-to-face meetings and events.
Corrie Dosh's article presents a Meetings Monitor survey which demonstrates that U.S.-based multinationals appear motivated to allocate even more of their budget to the organization of meetings abroad.
Whether international meetings take place on-site or remotely, interpreting services will often need to be figured into your meeting budget.
Many American workers are now bilingual, which leads to questions of etiquette regarding which language they should speak at work. In an article entitled “Choice of language a new work issue,” Margarita Bauza examines the increasing linguistic diversity of the American workforce.
While some bilingual or ESL (English as a Second Language) workers are very careful to speak only English at work, others find themselves slipping into their native tongue when communicating with colleagues who speak the same language. Employees who speak English only have differing reactions to working in a multi-lingual environment. “Across the country, the increase in foreign-language speakers has led to a rise in English-only policies in the workplace as well as legal challenges to such policies,” writes Bauza.
Some employees, however, enjoy working in an international atmosphere. "‘What I have seen over the years is a shift of people embracing other cultures, not that they didn't embrace it before. But there was some hesitancy. I don't think it was bad intentions or outright prejudices. But hesitancy,'” explains Judy Ravin, owner of the Accent Reduction Institute in Ann Arbor. In the article, Ravin emphasizes that attitudes are evolving as the American workplace becomes more open to international markets and customs.