Language works on the web to shut as many doors as it opens

This blog is written in English. You have probably noticed this already, perhaps placing you in the twenty-six per cent of American internet users who use the world wide web in the language. At just over a quarter of the users, it’s the most widely used language for websites read by those surveyed by the Pew Research Centre. Around 21.5% of users read the internet in Chinese, and a further 20% is read in a multitude of other languages. The surveys were undertaken in Spanish and English, so it isn’t a perfect representation, but the raw data is supplies does still demonstrate that monolingualism is an excellent way to shut out most of the world!

If your business’s web presence is only in English, this is still sufficient of course for many if not most purposes.. After all, a quarter of the world’s internet users is still a sizeable market. However, the possibilities out there suggest that translation services offer a gateway to an even bigger one. For global businesses, it’s surely essential to offer a multilingual platform. To have a website is potentially to reach out to the entire world (that’s why it’s called the world wide web!), so why focus on the part of it that speaks English? Or, indeed, your version of English. Even within that twenty five percent there’s room for exclusion. As a famous man once said, “England (I presume he meant the British Isles*) and America are two countries separated by a common language.”

Nevertheless, the online challenge is to make your business feel like a one-to-one interaction with a customer – to make it feel personal – and to achieve this you will need to be able to translate your products/services into correct, idiomatic language for your markets. Research shows you only have eight seconds to make an impact online, but if you are able to translate your website that will bring your products and/or services to a truly global market with literally millions of potential new customers.

Rosetta Stone, Global Connects

* the phrase is attributed to George Bernard Shaw, who was, of course, Irish.