Translations are in demand as a result of globalization. Companies are expanding all over the world, to explore new market opportunities. Many of our clients ask us to have their content translated into different languages.
As a part of my research in translation, I analyzed various translation jobs we had taken up and found that there were three languages that accounted for maximum volume. Most of our Fortune 500 clients wanted us to translate their content into Chinese, Spanish and German. There are some other languages like French, Arabic, and Japanese, which follow next. However, as shown in the pie diagram below, Chinese language is most popular target language (40%) with German and Spanish occupying equal share (30%) as target languages in translation.
Why are Chinese, Spanish and German most chosen for Translations?
There obviously are many reasons one can think of, for these three being most preferred for translations by multination organizations. I have tried to list some of them here.
Attractive Market Opportunities: Economy of China is growing at a fast pace. The large population of China is one of the attractive factors for organizations for the business opportunity. However, language is a big obstacle. Companies that are looking to expand in European market find Germany as a good option. It is the country with fourth highest GDP, with an added attraction of skilled manpower. Spain is also one of the growing economies with 1.5 trillion GDP. Additionally, Spanish is the official language in many South American countries, making it a language option that cannot be ignored, particularly if organizations are looking to expanding their business in these countries. When firms are operating in these countries, it is important that they communicate in the language that is widely spoken and understood. Hence, translation of business content into these languages becomes important.
Lower Literacy Rate: Countries in Asia have a lower literacy rate. Even in European countries, people working at operations level may not be highly educated. In such cases, English may not be an effective language for communication. Complex processes and methods, legal regulations are best communicated in the language that is well understood. So, it’s better to deliver the training in the native language of the employees for higher comprehension.
Large Number of Speakers: Simplified Chinese or Mandarin with 850 million speakers, is the most spoken language in the world. Chinese is written in two forms i.e. Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. Simplified Chinese is widely used in Mainland China and Singapore, while Traditional Chinese is mostly used in HongKong and Taiwan. Together, they form sizable numbers, which organizations cannot afford to ignore, particularly when doing business with this part of the world.
Spanish is the most widely spoken language in the world after Mandarin. It has around 400 million native speakers and an additional 50 million who are conversant with the language worldwide. German has 105 million native speakers and who take it as their second language together. European Union approved German as its official language, because 70% of European population is able to read, write and speak German. As you see, each of these three languages is important for business expansion and official communication.
Cultural Connectivity with the Recipient: All the three languages have a very strong native culture and language is one medium through which one can connect and bond with the people. Native language is commonly used in formal communication. Therefore, employees are likely to be more comfortable with communication/training in their local language.
Therefore, it makes a lot of sense for organizations to have their content – manuals, guidelines, policy statements, training content etc. – translated into these three languages depending on your need. It will give an added advantage to the firm in terms of exploiting market opportunities as they can relate to their target audience in their native language better. What is your view? Do share them.