Queen's Enlgish or American English?

Question posted by Jeanne-Elise M. Heydecker, on behalf of Sannam S4 in India

When developing a global strategy that focuses on English speaking markets worldwide, which English do you use for your web site, paperwork, documentation, and sales literature? What do you do when also targeting markets such as Portugal, Brazil and African countries whose main language is Portuguese? There are distinct differences. Any suggestions?

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Jeanne-Elise M. Heydecker, on behalf of Sannam S4 in India.

Sorry for the typo. No way of fixing it at this time...

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Sue Marsden Gilpin, on behalf of UK Trade & Investment USA in United States.

Hi Jeanne-Elise,

Speaking for the United States market, we always recommend that companies translate their marketing materials into American English, to use imperial measurements rather than metric measurements (except for scientific products), and to have their literature and website checked for US spelling changes, grammar, and nuances.

For companies that rely on their websites, we suggest that they develop US websites (.com rather than .co.uk) with US pricing and shipping terms if appropriate.

Additionally, in the US, company literature is generally produced in 8.5-inch by 11-inch format, so we urge UK companies pursuing the US market to consider producing marketing literature in this size (rather than A4), so it will fit into US files.

Best regards,
Brittany Banta
researchusa@fco.gov.uk

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Nitin Dahad, on behalf of TechSpark Ltd in SG4.

Hi Jeanne-Elise

I've produced collateral for global markets for over almost 25 years, and the solution that has always satisfied the needs of all (apart from those in the UK) is American English, which is what Brittany has suggested in her earlier answer.

One more suggestion regarding printed collateral. Again, I have always done this for companies or clients who understand the issue. Print all documentation in 'Mid-Atlantic size'. Mid-Atlantic refers to a sheet size that can be inserted in both C4 and American Quarto envelopes, allowing the same piece to be used in Europe and the USA. It is therefore cut in both directions to the maximum size for either envelope, which is 279mm x 210mm.

Hope this helps.

Nitin Dahad

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You have to use US spellings and idioms for a US market. Latin America, East Asia, and the Middle East tend to follow US spellings, but elsewhere no one style prevails. In Europe, there's a preference for British English.

Of course many non-native readers of English aren't even aware that US and British usages differ. Bear in mind also that there are many more Englishes out there than American and British. If you want to get a sense of how much variation there is, The Oxford Guide to World English is a good starting point.

The concept of world or global English is developing fast. There are several guides to writing English for international audiences. An Amazon search for 'world English' or 'global English' will pull them out.

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Dear Jeanne-Elise,

As a translation company that deals and develops contracts worldwide, I can assure you that every language needs to be addressed to the appropriate nation. It is not possible to compose a contract 'economizing' the language factor! It is really similar to when kids learn how to complete puzzles putting pieces that actually belong together, otherwise you risk to be misunderstood or ignored. So you can see how important it is to sew your proposal language to the appropriate company.

Whether you’re exploring the idea of international trade, considering an overseas expansion or negotiating a lucrative contract in a new market, you could decide to trust and use our services. Veritas can convey the intricacies of your exchanges with all the subtle linguistic and cultural nuances that may be expected by your counterparts. Something as simple as a misspelling, a misuse of grammar or a misunderstanding of local convention could compromise your reputation and credibility.

Our comprehensive and professional translation services will make sure that this never happens to your business. We offer a fully scalable service, working closely with you and your web developers, designers and administrators to ensure that every document, website and piece of marketing material that you produce will be accurately and appropriately translated.

Please get in touch with us if you would decide to use our services! http://www.veritaslanguagesolutions.com/

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Chris Ward, on behalf of PDCA Consulting Limited in LA9.

Dear Jeanne-Elise,

You will probably fail if you try to market to a Portuguese-speaking country using materials written/spoken in English of any kind.

I met the following contact at a UKTI Brasil event last year. I've not had need of his services to date so I can't make a specific recommendation, but it gives you another option to explore if you need an interpreter/translator.

Marc Starr
07712 179 346
www.marcstarr.com
marc.starr@btinternet.com

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Mike Hunter, on behalf of betterlanguages.com Ltd. in Nottingham.

Dear Jeanne-Elise,
It's an interesting issue which version of a language you use. Unfortunately there isn't really a "one size fits all" answer. On the question of UK or US English, I think it entirely depends on your target market. There is no question that localising for an individual country is the best option, this isn't just about language and spelling, it's also about having an appropriate message for the target market. A few examples: we recently quoted to translate a website into Arabic, which includes a prominent case study about work done for the brewing industry, as the client is in the construction industry, there isn't a direct issue re alcohol and an Islamic nation, however an Islamic audience won't easily relate to the case study, so better to provide one which the target market can relate to. This might sound a bit oblique in answering an issue re UK v US or other English speaking countries, but its actually very easy to have content which doesn't relate to your audience. For example one of our largest clients is Mothercare, we are very pleased to have them on our client list, and trot out references to them very regularly, guess what, although they are in 60 countries and counting they don't have a US presence, so they would be largely irrelevant as a case study or reference when pitching for US business.

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