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Reasons why culture is important to localization: French

In this series on why cultural localization is important for business, we’ll open with French and why a localized marketing strategy is needed based on where a language is spoken.  

As the world becomes more and more interconnected through technology and travel, it is becoming essential for business platforms to diversify within the global market to stay relevant and competitive. This has increased demand for translation and localization services as it has become increasingly essential for international business on websites, eLearning platforms, and various eCommerce services.

What is cultural localization?

Cultural localization is catering a product or platform for a specific market or region, which factors in the local language and its cultural diversities, beliefs, values, experiences, and social constructs. Why is this important? When culture is considered for localization strategies, people show more interest in the content or product. Further, cultural considerations create relatable products, increasing positive perceptions of the product and its sales.

To show you how important cultural localization is, here’s a look at the French language and how a one-size fits all approach doesn’t work for every region it’s spoken in. 

French – a forthcoming language for globalisation with a rich history

There are approximately 80 million native French speakers worldwide, and it is the official language of 29 countries. French is highly regarded as one of the most important business languages as it is one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, and more. It’s also a language renowned for its history and culture; in fact, the word ‘culture’ is derived from French. 

Map of French Speakers in the World

Geographical Distribution of French speakers in the world – Image by Carnetfrancaise

History of the French language

French originated in Gaul, now part of France and Belgium, after the Romans took over. The Germanic invasions also had a large influence on the language, and by the 9th century, French was well established as its own distinct language.

translation and localization for france

French flag – Photo by Cecile Hournau on Unsplash

While French variants in different countries are generally well understood by any French speaker, there are still many nuances depending on where it is spoken. 

French vs Canadian French

In 1534, Jacques Cartier left to find an expedition route to China and found himself in the new world, modern east coast Canada. As French settlers expanded in the area, the French language became the native language of its growing community.

translation and localization for french

Quebecois and French flag – Photo by Nicolas Raymond on Flickr

Canadians continued to speak French after Canada was ceded to the British in 1763. As Canadian French developed in isolation from the rest of Europe, it created its distinct cultural variant. 

  • Canadian French sounds older.

    Due to its isolation from Europe, Canadian French has managed to retain French verbs, expressions, and accents that date back to 17th and 18th century France. 

  • Canadian French has more vowel sounds.

    After France ceded Canada to Britain in 1763, the French-speaking community became more isolated, allowing certain phonetic sounds from the elite French-speaking classes to remain. 

  • Canadian French includes more Anglicisms

    As the French-speaking parts of Canada are near the English-speaking parts of Canada and the United States, they adopt more words from the English language. Further, some words are even adopted from the indigenous population of Canada, such as carcajou (wolverine) and atoca (cranberry).

  • Canadian French is less formal

    Canadian French uses more informal means of address. The informal tu (you) is used more often than the formal vous.

  • Canadian French uses more religious vocabulary, especially when swearing.

    Catholicism is the most practised religion in the French-speaking regions of Canada, whereas France is more secular. 

French is now the lingua franca of around 7.4 million Canadians, making up nearly 22% of the country’s population, as well as being one of the two official languages in the country. In the province of Quebec, 95% of the population uses French as their first or second language. Differences in slang, idioms, and religious beliefs are some of the biggest differences between these French variants. They are essential considerations when creating a localized strategy for your business.

French vs African French – The future of French 

Canada isn’t the only country deeply influenced by the French. After the colonization of Africa and even after the French withdrew from many of the African nations, the language stayed and is often spoken alongside many of the indigenous languages. 44% of French spoken today comes from sub-Saharan Africa, with estimates that by 2050, 85% of the continent will speak the language. 

French is no longer just the language of France, and this evolution of the language is something to pay attention to when forming a good localization strategy. 

Reasons why cultural localization is important

Blunders in cultural localization can ruin any localization strategy. For example, if you were promoting an eCommerce business that sells items for children, the word gosses in France is a playful word for child; however, in Canadian French, the word means testicles! This would be a serious, albeit hilarious, mistake in any marketing strategy. The same goes if you wanted to reach the market in France but used informal tones or Canadian idioms and slang in your approach; it would make your strategy appear tone-deaf and make your product less attractive to the local market in France. While these may appear as subtleties, it’s this type of attention to culture that can make or break a localization strategy.

Related: The Top 10 Translation Blunders in Advertising

Things to consider when creating a cultural localization strategy

  • Use professional multilingual translation services

    Hire marketing, translation and localization specialists to create a localization strategy that ensures quality translation that involves the appropriate cultural research needed to create a successful marketing strategy. 

  • Use the right language for your audience

    Consider idioms, jokes, and sayings specific to the region’s language. 

  • Create culturally relevant and specific product information

    Consider the context of the culture when selecting images for products for an eCommerce platform or eLearning course. 

Cultural localization and creating a good localization strategy may feel overwhelming if you’re looking to enter a new global market, but it doesn’t have to be!

Into23 specialises in translation and localization in all major global languages offering global language solutions for your business. All we need is a website or file to get you started with a free quote. Contact us today for all your global quality translation needs.

Can English continue to be a dominant global language?

No other language has held sway the way English has globally. Can it maintain its dominance as the most important language for business? 

It’s estimated that more than 1.75 billion people around the world speak English, that’s a quarter of the world’s population. Around 400 million people speak English as their first language, with more than a billion knowing it as their secondary tongue; it’s also the official language in at least 59 countries and the lingua franca of many more. While English is not the most spoken language around the world, English is the language of business, diplomacy, science and much more. If we were to rate English on a financial level, its GDP would massively overshadow other languages. Yet English is just one of 7000+ languages spoken globally, so how did it become the most important global language, and will it continue to hold its business and cultural dominance?

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Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels – The English language has shaped how we do global business but will its dominance remain?

A brief history of the English language

Map – Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels – Caption – “English has its roots in the nomads that used to roam the southeastern European plains some 5000 years ago.”

Belonging to the Indo-European family of languages, English is a West Germanic language that has its roots in the nomads that used to roam the southeastern European plains some 5000 years ago. As migrations happened in the 5th and 6th centuries, Old English began to take form. Words were taken from French during the Norman conquests of 1066, and in the 12th century, English transformed from Old to Middle English as Greek and Latin words began to enter and influence the language. In the 1500s, English began transforming the modern English we recognise and use today. Between trade, conquest, religion, and British colonialism, English spread worldwide. 

Fun fact:

The closest modern relative to the English language is Frisian. It is 80% lexically similar to English and is a language still spoken in parts of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, though by only around 450,000 people.

English’s success is a result of money, status, and politics, as well as the ease with which it borrows words from other languages and its flexibility in adapting to changes in the world and technology. Economic and technological development has played a major role in English dominance. The US still leads economically and has been one of the most dominating modern cultures, which was heavily influential to English dominance during the birth of the internet. The result of this history and influence has led other countries to place a high value on English speakers, in that those that can speak and use English have a higher chance of getting ahead or entering the global elite, thus furthering English’s influence and dominance in business and more. For example, China has the most speakers of English as a second language than any other country. 

While English generally remains the international business language, global business is changing, and its dominance is starting to waver as more and more companies aim to enter other markets and expand using a localized marketing and advertising transcreation strategy for their business.

How technology has changed the prevalence of English

advertising transcreation

Photo by www_slon_pics on Pixabay – eCommerce business and other global markets are changing English’s prevalence in business.

When the internet started in 1998, there were around 70 million internet users, with English speakers accounting for over 80% of them. However, since then, there has been a steady decline in the percentage of web pages in English. In 1998, 75% of the internet was in English, whereas now it’s only around 25.9%. Today Simplified Chinese alone accounts for 19.4% of web content, just shy of English, which shows the growing trend of companies expanding into different global markets with the use of technology and the necessary use of translation and localization for websites, eCommerce translation services, eLearning platforms, and more. 

Further studies have also found that more than half of consumers would pay more for a product if it were presented to them on a platform in their native language. This shift away from English has even been noted by The British Council as far back as 2006, when it published a report that stated that even though English is becoming more widely spoken, its dominance as a language appears to be fading. This shift is happening for a variety of reasons. 

Related: The Top 9 Emerging Languages for Business

Countries with large populations now have more access to technology than they did in the past, and many of these same countries also have a growing number of middle-class consumers that are eager to spend money. With 72.1% of consumers spending most of their time on web pages in their native language, the demand for localization and translation services and a shift away from English has increased. Other factors, such as continued globalization in general, changes in the economy, and other creative alternatives, such as emojis, may also influence the prevalence of the English language in business and online.

English’s future as a global language

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Photo from Pixabay– Other languages are starting to make their way into mainstream business and culture.

It’s estimated that 50-90% of the world’s languages will be extinct in the next century. This is because linguists believe that with more people moving around and native languages not being passed on to younger generations, there will be a drop in the overall number of global languages.

A Dutch sociologist named Abram de Swaan classifies languages into four categories. The peripheral language category includes 98% of the world’s languages but is spoken by less than 10% of humanity. The national or central category includes languages that have a territory to call their own and are written and taught in schools. Next, in the category of super-central languages are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swahili, as each host around 100 million speakers or more and are the most commonly spoken second languages worldwide. At the top is the ‘hypocentral’ language. It is the language that holds the whole language system together, and that crown is held by none other than English. Japanese novelist Minae Mizumura, who has written on language, similarly described English as a “universal language” and that this status is held not by the number of native speakers of the language but rather by the greatest number of non-native speakers.

With that said, it seems likely that English will continue to hold its super-power status for the time being; however, it will also have to continue to make way for other super-central languages that are growing within political and economic spheres. For example, China’s presence outside of Asia continues to grow. As other countries and populations continue to gain traction in online consumer markets, businesses will need to adapt and recognise that business is no longer an English-only affair.

If you’re ready to start localizing your business or need high-quality translation services, Into23 can help you transform your business for any local market. Specializing in Asian languages, Into23 offers English to Chinese translation services and more, as well as website localizationtranslation and localization marketing strategies to suit your business needs. Contact us today for a free quote!

The Top 9 Emerging Languages for Business

Looking to enter different global markets? Pay attention to these languages.

With more than 6000 languages worldwide how do you decide which ones to use for your business platforms? The belief that English is the language of business isn’t valid anymore with the increase and demand for online shopping, eLearning platforms, and eCommerce services like Shopify.

Historically, English has been the international business language but the emergence and reliance on the internet has completely altered the way we do business. In the mid-1990s, around 70 million people used the internet with Native English speakers making up for 80% of these users. However, today there is a whopping 4.6 billion internet users worldwide but English users make up for just 25.9% of that number.

Global internet usage

Overview of global Internet use

If your business aims to enter the international market you need to speak to customers in their own language, meaning that integrating translation and localization into your business platforms is crucial. A survey performed by Common Sense Advisory looked at 2,430 different internet users across eight different countries and found that,

  • 72.4% of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service if the website and information displayed is in their native language.
  • 56.2% of these consumers said that having information in their own language was more important than the price of the product or service.

So while languages like English and Mandarin have long been some of the most important languages to learn for business, they are not the only ones to consider as eCommerce business continues to expand globally. Countries that have been on the sidelines in terms of global business now have a fast-growing number of internet consumers. Take a look at these top nine emerging languages for your business platforms.

eCommerce business

While languages like English and Mandarin have long been some of the most important languages to learn for business, they are not the only ones to consider as eCommerce business continues to expand globally.

Portuguese 

Portugal is a relatively small European company but its language, Portuguese, has a large number of native speakers around the world, approximately 258 million.

Brazil is generally the main attraction in terms of business as Brazil is Latin America’s largest eCommerce market, it also ranks in the top five for the internet market as well as the smartphone market. Its growth has also not gone unnoticed, the British Council created a report on the ten most important languages for the future in the UK and Portuguese ranked in at number six.

Arabic

Arabic is a widely spoken language, making for 274 million speakers globally. It’s also the official language of at least 23 different countries.

In the same report by the British Council that Portuguese ranked in, Arabic came in at second which, is no surprise as there are several Arabic-speaking countries that rank in the UK’s top 50 export market for goods.

Despite some of its political difficulties, many parts of the Middle East have a wealth of internet consumers and a steadily growing economy. With many Arab people only able to speak Arabic, translation services or localization is crucial for reaching this market.


Russian

Russian is spoken by 258 million people worldwide, with the majority of them located in Russia. Russia is the up and coming hotspot for eCommerce as Russia lacks a main eCommerce platform like Amazon which, makes them the last remaining major market without a dominant online retailer. According to Morgan Stanley, eCommerce sales in Russia could triple by 2023.

Capitalising on the Russian market will require, at minimum, eCommerce translation services, as the large majority of Russians do not speak English. The best method, of course, would be a localisation strategy from a certified translation company.

Hindi

Hindi is the official language of India with 600 million people speaking it, that number in and of itself says a lot. While there are many other languages spoken in India, English has often been used to conduct business, however, that is changing. Hindi is quickly becoming more prominent among new entrepreneurs as 85% of India does not speak English. In a CSA Report, Hindi saw a gigantic 67% increase on the top 100 online languages chart, making Hindi a language and a market to pay attention to.

Japanese

While Japan had a rough go after WWII it has since become one of the most rapidly growing eCommerce markets in the world. It’s estimated that 93% of the population in Japan use the internet and with 126 million Japanese speakers, it’s a consumer market worth noting.

Relatively few people in Japan speak English, meaning that to succeed in this market translation and localization will be required.

Indonesian

Indonesia is home to 277 million people and a rapidly growing eCommerce market, thanks to an increase in middle-class consumerism and a high percentage of smartphone use.  In a report by McKinsey, the consulting firm has predicted that the value of the Indonesian eCommerce market will rise 800% by the end of 2022. To enter this market, translation and localization will be essential to your eCommerce business plan.

Korean

Korean itself doesn’t rank high in terms of the world’s most spoken languages but they do have nearly 47 million internet users and a very expansive and popular eCommerce market. Currently, 96% of the Korean population use the internet with its total eCommerce transaction sales amounting to 135 billion dollars USD in 2020 alone. This makes Korea a hub of interest for eCommerce business that is sure to continue growing.

Vietnamese

77 million people speak Vietnamese and it is the main language of trade within Vietnam. With an increase in eCommerce consumerism, it’s predicted that Vietnam will have 70 million online shoppers by 2025. Engaging with the Vietnamese market and its consumers will require translation and localization as a crucial part of any eCommerce business plan.

Polish

Poland is the ninth largest country in Europe with 41 million people speaking Polish. Poland is already home to many eCommerce companies that operate in Europe and worldwide such as Amazon. Even United States officials have taken note of Poland and the importance of eCommerce on its economic development and its intense growth over the pandemic. It’s worth considering Polish when choosing what languages to add to your business platforms if this is a market you want to break into.

Into23 offers global language solutions with quality translation and localization services. With 24/7 accessibility and fast delivery, Into23 can transform your business to enter the global market and reach even more customers. Whether you’re looking to enter the Chinese market and need English to Chinese translation services or you want to step up your website or eLearning platform, Into23 specialises in helping companies with Asian languages. Getting a quote is easy, just show us your website for a free quotation on our translation services.