Beware the hidden meaning: There’s no such thing as “Plain English”

Are you confident that your message is reaching your multicultural audience? To effectively translate a message, it’s not enough to just translate the literal word. An understanding of cultural nuances is required so that the true meaning is understood.

The Harvard Business Review published an article in 2014 that still rings true today. It highlights how business managers in different parts of the world give feedback differently.

Essentially, more direct cultures, such as Dutch or German, are conditioned to use upgraders to make criticism feel stronger, e.g. “this is absolutely unprofessional”. Whereas indirect cultures, such as the British, use downgraders making criticism feel softer, e.g. “it needs a little more work”.

The important lesson here is that there is no such thing as plain English. Different cultures take your literal word differently, hence why it is so important to translate your message carefully and we at The Lote Agency can help!

See the below “Anglo-Dutch” translation services guide that illustrates how communication issues can arise where a lack of cultural understanding exists.

anglo_dutch_translation_guide not plain english

There are obvious dangers when working with a multicultural audience, that your words can be amplified or muted depending on your audience’s cultural context. It’s therefore critical to do your research and take the opportunity to tailor your message to your audience so that it’s culturally sensitive, relevant and remembered.

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