Language facts: Malay
Malaysian (sometimes called also Malacca) is the official language of Malaysia and Singapore. The language is also known as Standard Malay and is closely related to Indonesian. It is the native language of some 10 million people but is spoken by many ethnic minorities and the overall number of speakers is now estimated to about 290 million, making it a major world language.
Language with mixed heritage
Malaysian was declared the official language of Malaysia in 1957 and is today officially known as Bahasa Melayu. While Malaysian is the sole official language of Malaysia, English is still widely used throughout the country, especially in professional and commercial fields, and also in superior courts. In fact, the language can be said to be a mixture of many languages as it has borrowed many words from Arabic, Indian dialects, Persian, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese dialects, and lately English in the colonial era. In the field of science and technology, many English terms have been adopted. It is then heavily influenced by the Indonesian language. Around the 15the century, Malay was even a lingua franca of the Malacca Sultanate during which time the language evolved fast, mainly thanks to the big influence of Islamic texts. Malaysia being bordered by seas on the east and west coasts as well as in the south, Malay has also been widely used also as a language of trade.
Malaysian uses the standard 26 letters in the Latin alphabet without any diacritics.
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How to communicate on international exhibitions #1: Choosing the right language
It may be once in 5 years, annually, or twice a month, but no matter how often you promote your company and products on international events, such as trade fairs or industry exhibitions, presenting internationally and transferring your message from the company's native language to the languages of potential target markets is not an easy task to accomplish. Unless, of course, you are prepared.
As translation and localization of your content are demanding both on time and resources, it's prudent to evaluate localization priorities and the languages to focus on. Here are few things to keep in mind in this area:
1. Have all your content prepared and maintained in English – even if it's not your native language.
English is the language business of present times, there is hardly any dispute about that. Because of the popularity and extensive use of English in basically all areas of modern communication, the best translation rates you can usually get on the market are for language combinations involving English. Eventually, when the need arises and you need to translate from your not-so-common native language to not-so-common languages of your target markets, you won't pay a fortune for a translation of an "exotic language pair", but a reasonable price of the english-external language pair.
2. English is international, but you want to be local.
No, it isn't contrary to the first point and, of course, this doesn't mean you absolutely must communicate in English, especially not if you've already done your homework regarding the first point.
It's merely not safe to presume everyone of your potential clients understands English or the even more dangerous idea: that since they do understand, localization of your message to the languages of your target markets is just a waste of resources. Even if your company is relatively small and headquartered in a non-English speaking country, once you decide to step onto the international scene and wish to appeal to other non-English speakers, going the extra mile will pay off. Think of it this way: When you're in a foreign environment, it feels good to stumble upon somebody who speaks your language in the sea of the currentlingua franca, doesn't it?
3. Integrate localization into your marketing strategy.
As translation and localization are closely tied to the company content and overall message, these undertakings typically are handled by the company's marketing department (and/or the documentation department). After all, analyzing the opportunities and preparing for expansion into new markets is what marketers do. Your very presence at international exhibitions or trade events is a direct result of the company's decision to focus on certain markets and clientele. The marketing department should implement localization into all international development strategies and determine the level of localization and its priorities for key international markets. As a consequence, the company message and content should be customized and localized on all communication levels, from native sales reps through localized websites and sales material, even down to paid online advertising.
To learn more about the different forms of multilingual communication and the channels to employ for your next exhibition presence, read our following blog.
Language facts: Romanian
Romanian is a Romance language, primarily used in Romania and also Moldova, being an official language in both countries, as well as of the European union. It is closely related to other Latin languages, such as Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian, and evolved from Vulgar Latin. It is also related and very similar to Moldavian language, used in Moldavia. Romanian has around 24 million native speakers.
Romanian or Moldavian?
Romanian and its grammar rules were constituted in the second half of the 18th century. Interestingly, the first Romanian grammar was published outside Romania, in Vienna. As with most of the East European and Balkan languages, Romanian also got formed by wars, conflicts, and nationalistic brawls of Romanians and Moldovans and, obviously, the Russian and Ottoman influence in the region. In fact, Romanian and Moldovan are merely two names for the very same language (the only real difference is the script – Moldavian is written in Cyrillic, while Romanian in Latin).
After the Russians annexed the Bessarabia region (the part of Moldova that used to be under the Ottoman rule) in 1812, "Moldovian" was established as an official language, while the area itself became de facto bilingual, with Russian being the language of the higher class. Romanian was, however, banned from official administrative use and was taught as a foreign language only. This subsequently led to the awakening of a Romanian national movement that asked for the Romanian language to be reinstated in schools as the main language of education.
During the Soviet era, the term "Moldovan" was forced through to describe the Romanian language, which was meant to destabilize the Romanian nationalist movement and try to marginalize Romanian as merely a dialect.
In addition to the standard English alphabet, Romanian has specific sounds …Ă, Î, S, Ţ.
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Why innovative manufacturers should translate their sales material into Scandinavian languages
Scandinavia is well-known for its highly innovative and progressive approach to society and development as a whole, as well its industry. Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland) are leaders in what is called the green industry. In fact, out of the top 5 eco innovators in the European Union, three of them are Scandinavian countries – with Denmark's industry being by far the most eco innovative. According to 2016 Yale's Environmental Performance Index (EPI), the first 4 ranks in the list of top environmental-friendly countries are occupied by Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark.
Scandinavians are willing to pay more for innovative products
Scandinavians simply prefer what's transparent and clean, and this notion transfers into the consumer behavior itself, which is demonstrated in an observable tendency to invest more into innovative, energy-efficient and nature-saving products.
In other words, if you are a manufacturer that has invested a lot into innovative technologies and eco-friendly products in order to set you apart from the competition, Scandinavia represents a focus consumer market where the investment will pay off in a fast and straightforward way. Based on Euromonitor research, Nordic consumers tend to put high relevance to factors such as energy efficiency, durability, design and overall functionality in their decision-making, while the price becomes the significant determinant only if the above-mentioned factors are met. As a result, Scandinavian consumers are willing to pay extra, e.g. for appliances and consumer gadgets in the highest energy class.
Green is good but often off-scale
Even though the demand is there, the supply of eco-friendly products is sometimes limited for small local producers who are often unable to compete against the bigger players supported by multinational capital and economies of scale. For innovative manufacturers and multinational companies who are able to serve the market and speak its language, time for expansion couldn't be better.
So, maybe it's time to start thinking about translating your catalogs, product information and sales material into Danish, Swedish, Finish, or Norwegian and then head north to try to boost sales?