For any business wanting to expand globally, it is important to take the business to where the customer lives and speak to him in a language that he recognizes. We have talked about this before, in our blog dated June 4. A general knowledge of other cultures is of essence: it is often not enough to translate, word for word, your original message to the target language, and think that this will be enough to ensure that your message will be correctly received and understood. Many different aspects go into intercultural communication: language, or the words we choose and the sentences we form with those words, is one thing, but just as important is matters that are not necessarily said or translated through the words themselves. Matters of cultural, social, and regional reference, intonation, a way of living, existing – and for you, as the business person, a way to correctly interpret and understand these signals, use them to your advantage and reciprocate, with your customers, within that same field.
Here at BMT Micro, because we have customers and vendors from all over the world, we receive communications, oral and written, in many different languages. Of course, we are located in the United States, with a mainly American staff; however, one of our strengths, compared to many of our competitors, lies within our ability to reciprocate in many different languages and that we have an understanding of the various cultural frameworks associated with languages from different regions. BMT Micro receives emails from people speaking German, French, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese… and many, many more languages! Granted, we do not speak them all, but we are a company of multilingual capability and we do respond to emails in all the languages mentioned above. We are also always looking to add languages to our repertoire: our shopping cart is available in most of the languages mentioned above, with a Dutch version coming out soon. We are also currently looking into a Russian translation of our shopping cart, complete with system messages and order info in that language.
There are many facets to intercultural communications and providing a multilingual service; more than just adding languages and/or being able to conduct a rudimentary conversation in a foreign language. At BMT Micro, we are aware of sociolinguistic aspects of communication and have sufficient linguistic experience to be able to decipher not only communications in various regional variations of one and the same language, but also communications that are incomplete or contain colloquialisms or slang words. One must make note of the fact that not all communication comes in the form that you may have learned it at school: when you receive a phone call, the communication is instant and it bears with it e.g. aspects of the individual’s regional origin through the phonetic intonation in itself, but also perhaps through the choice of words. Canadian French is not exactly like the French that they speak in France. Yet, at BMT Micro, we answer phone calls in French and resolve customers’ problems in both. In written communications, sometimes, we get messages with such “inventive” spelling and incomplete sentences or sentence fragments that school book grammar would not suffice. For many companies dealing with global communications, Google Translate would be a go-to source to make sense of what your customer is saying. But Google Translate would not make sense of slang or inventively written language – it would only return an error or the message in the same language again! Google Translate may be useful to a certain point, but a lot of times, it presents more errors than it does proper language. Nothing beats a real, live person having the intercultural and multilingual skills necessary to properly communicate and aid customers and vendors with whatever inquiries they may have!