Translations and International Business

Translations and International Business

American advertising has involved with foreign advertising for about four decades.  Ever since European countries chose to allow commercials into their programming. Most of those years have been challenging attempting to utilize American “know-how” and injecting it right into a foreign culture. American multinational advertising Agencies including McCann-Erickson, Ogilvy & Mather, J. Walter Thomson, and Leo Burnett have had to hire local talent to comprehend industry as well as the culture for being effective.

There are translation sites on the internet. There are still many Americans who feel that translation in the mere substitution of just one sentence or word in English for the next sentence or word right into a foreign language. I caution you, these languages are known as foreign to get a reason. They are produced from a different culture sometimes millennia over the age of the American culture.

Aside from witty comments, jokes, and colloquial expressions that are not translatable, there are cultural differences.  I once went with my grandfather to a dutch restaurant when I was twelve. I asked for a “hot dog.” Every American knows what “hot dog” is, however in The Netherlands, they never got word of such a thing. I tried translating, but which simply made the restaurant staff grin. Then, I described it as being a smaller wurst between two slices of bread and I was served just that. Ketchup and American mustard weren’t yet available.

When Mercedes-Benz first found the United States about 1955, they perceived their vehicles as competing with Chevrolet or Ford. Mercedes-Benz had no perception of the premium niche. They were perceived in Europe like a daily vehicle, what about a step above a Volkswagen. Even today 75% of the taxis in Europe are Mercedes-Benz.

In 1962, when Chevrolet thought we would go international the first time, they thought we would export their new compact car, the Chevy Nova to Spain. GM executives thought “Nova” meaning new star or one that shines brightly would be ideal. However, with reliability and available parts in question, the Chevy Nova took over as the GM “NOVA.” (Spanish for doesn’t move.)

Somethings could be more directly translated, for example, a call to action. Push here! Commands tend not to change much. However, Americans do not use the subjunctive tenses in any respect. German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Japanese, Chinese, and also other Asian languages, have two to eight subjunctive tenses. They can in their language communicate over a far more personal level than we can in English. Intonations, meanings, perceptions do not transfer well from language to another. Tonal focus on one part of a word may produce a completely different meaning, and can even alienate your prospective customer.

One can be very successful and profitable, especially as cultures move closer and interconnect. Many American Businesses are already embraced abroad like McDonald’ Hamburgers. But, before one venture in a foreign culture, seek advice from a minimum of two native speakers, who know the language along with the culture.