International Business: Do You Speak the Language?

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) More and more we hear the term “global marketplace”. But do we speak the language?

KMOX News asked Susanne Evens, founder and CEO of St. Louis-based AAA Translation. “English is still the business language. English has been transformed from a matter of the elite, to nowadays a skill needed for the entire the workforce.”

But Evens adds, its helpful to know even a few words of a business counterpart’s native tongue, “If you’re very forthcoming and you’re willing to meet people and you’re willing to learn about the culture and know a few of the words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, that opens up the world for you.” And if you want your children to be able to better navigate an international marketplace she says there are a number of language options. Evens says Spanish is the top recommendation she hears, along with French, “some people are saying Chinese would be a good language and then Arabic. I’ve noticed a lot of people that I run into on the international level are studying Arabic.”

Of course Evens recommends a translator for business discussions. She says relying on computer software isn’t a safe bet. In one case for a pharmaceutical company it created a deadly error. “In English the instructions told patients to take a pill once a day. The translating software translated the word ‘once’ into Spanish correctly but instructed the patient to take the medication eleven times per day.”

Evens says computer programs can’t catch nuances; words in some languages don’t exist in others, programs don’t compensate for dialects, and may miss puns and metaphors.

Copyright KMOX Radio

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