Businesses looking into branching out into other countries need to look at the language barriers. Not every country speaks English and for most, English is a second language. Business communication has changed in recent years with the world getting a little bit smaller due to the Internet. People from different nations, cultures, languages and backgrounds are meeting and communicating with one another more today then they did twenty odd years ago.
Forming business deals and partnerships overseas, and expanding into new territory will mean having to adjust and find common ground. While learning a new language is an option to communicate, outsourcing translators is probably easier then struggling with words and pronunciation while flipping through pages of your dictionary.
Unless you are completely fluent with a language, you could end up insulting your new business partner without even realising it. According to recent statistics there are a total of 1,739,899,271 people that are able to speak English out of about 6,622,407,440 people in the world. That is 73% of the world's population is able to speak English, of which 32% are second language speakers.
With 6,912 currently known languages in 194 countries, learning each one of them will take years. The original concept is that English would be the common and standard language for the world, however with emerging countries who don't traditionally speak English, such as China, that is changing.
It might be strange to think that there are places on this earth where English isn't the mother tongue. American humour columnist, Dave Barry, is quoted as saying "American's who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that despite all progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak foreign languages."
It is crucial for public relations that companies conduct business in the language of their customers or partners. If you are wishing to propose an idea or plan to another on their home ground, then having a translator is a symbol of respect as well as making everyone comfortable. Having cultural and linguistic knowledge is essential to form long-term successful relationships with foreign partners.
Mark Amidon is quoted to have said "Language is the means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery." Having meetings where people can talk freely and not have to try and find the words is ideal for everyone. The results will be better communication and a more relaxed setting as you can concentrate on the idea and not the translation.
Having a reputation of respect towards others and not having to struggle with the barriers will result in new business opportunities. Already existing relationships will improve as the company can expand into areas previously inaccessible, as said by Ludwig Wittgenstein "Limits of my language mean the limits of my world."
But the concept of needing a translator, is best expressed by an old Indonesian saying: "Bahasa jiwa bangsa," translated "Language is the soul of a nation."