about the culture of your target market in order to
expand your world
have really everything in common with America nowadays,
except, of course, language. - Oscar Wilde
(1854–1900), Anglo-Irish playwright, author.
How to reach your audience via the
How to reach your audience via traditional media
reach your audience via the
Surfing the Net and encountering an Internet site
in a foreign language can often happen. All the
wonderful technology of the Internet is still unable to
overcome the basic barrier of a foreign language without
the help of a translator.
Distribution: "What if all of these
documents, all of these steps, could be managed online,
interactively and untouched by human hands?". A
scenario of a paperless society capable of moving
critical information through the Internet in a matter of
minutes, instead of days, this has as large an impact on
how business is presently done, as the Pony Express of
the old American West had on communications in its day.
Announcements: Email can be used to inform
international customers of product information updates.
Download: Customers can have access to
documentation by downloading the information from your
server to their local operating system.
Customer Interaction: Internationally capable Web
sites can guide customers to the information they need.
Availability: The Internet is truly an
international communication device as it allows average
human beings to share the experience of their daily
working lives. Not only is the Internet an international
communication device, it is often considered an
international, and virtual, information resource in its
own right. "If you need specific information or a
pointer to a resource, a virtual community is like a
Instant Access: An informed customer is a happy
Faster Updates: Your customer can act upon
updated information more quickly.
Reduced Costs: Internet distribution, after
initial setup costs, can eliminate the cost of shipping.
Dangers: The amount of information and the nature
of information that business transfers in the future
will become enormous, highly technical and, in many
cases, very sensitive and valuable. "Because
information on the Internet is digital . . . it can be
copied as soon as it is seen". Each company must
consider just how much it is willing to publish on the
Proprietary Information: Be sure to understand
the legal ramifications of making your translated
information available on the Internet. The Internet is
not a totally secure medium.
Web Hackers: The Internet is accessible to
millions of people, many who are always looking for a
way to make money dishonestly, or are looking to simply
Misdistribution: Be sure of where you are sending
information. Internet users are often very impatient
with receiving large packets of misdirected digital
information and will often retaliate in kind.
The marketing aspect of the Internet leads the way for
international technical communication through the
Internet. Since the Internet is a profitable means of
conducting business, more business people are using the
Internet as an information exchange medium. Once
Internet profitability has been established in the sales
arena, other types of information become commonplace:
from accountants' spreadsheets to engineers' drawings,
from automobile repair manuals to space shuttle
replacement parts order forms, from the commonplace to
the most fantastic imaginable. And all this information
is required in many different languages if it is to
support a global marketplace.
Conclusion: Young people
around the world who are using the Internet as an
electronic playground today will enter the workplace
soon, bringing the skills they garnered through the use
of the Internet with them. They have highly honed
computer and communication skills learned while surfing
the Net for the latest fad in music or for the latest
computer game. The Internet has already have become an
integral part of their lives. They do not have to
overcome the fear, or have to transverse a learning
curve to be productive on the Internet.
But they don’t speak, or read, the same language.
The information produced for business may require more
translation, more often, if it is to be useful in an
How to reach your audience
via traditional media
Expand Your World View: If you don't have the
time to study cultural anthropology, take the time to
exposure yourself to a broader "worldview."
Culture: Learn about the culture of your target
market. This will help you avoid xenophobic statements.
Taboos: Learn about the taboos concerning
language, color, styles, and graphics. Nova (an
exploding star) in English has a completely different
meaning than no va (no go) in Spanish.
Sensitivity: Try not to step on toes, beware of
thin-skinned overseas contacts, and realize your toes
will get stepped upon, so develop a thick skin. Use very
formal modes of address, e.g., Sir, Madam, Mr., and Mrs.
Clear, Concise, and Complete: Good writing in
English will come across in any language.
Clear: If your information is clear
in English, it can be translated clearly.
Concise: The less information you
need translated, the fewer margins there are for error.
A side benefit of concise is a cost saving.
Complete: Be sure to tell the whole
story. Your customer may not have access to a
“1-800HELPME” line available in their language.
Proactive Style: Use your research and writing
skills to create information that is translation ready.
Translatable: There are many different models to
help you write for translatability. Choose the best fit
for you and your company.
Verifiable: Don’t translate inaccuracies.
Verify and update your information, then translate.
Visual graphically presented information can cut across
the barriers of language. But remember to pick a callout
style suitable for your style of information