Looking to Grow, US Firms Go Global in Local Language
A decade ago, a Gallup poll showed that over a quarter of Americans could speak a second language fluently enough to hold a conversation. Now, American companies are outstripping their European counterparts in the translation and localization business of translating websites.
According to Lingo24, a global translation company based in the UK, American companies now dominate almost fifty percent of the market.
“These results tell a very different story about a country not willing to engage with overseas cultures," says Christian Arno, founder of Lingo24.
With the global economic shift currently taking place, more and more US-based companies are also looking to expand in overseas markets where ready consumers await. A cursory view of social media platforms backs this logic. On a typical day, Twitter's top trending topics are in Portuguese. More in-depth, over half of Google searches are in languages other than English. The explosion in other language use is led by Chinese and Spanish users, but almost every language has experienced usage growth that far outpaces English.
So, why are American companies leading in the web localization and translation business despite the common belief that Europeans are better at languages? One reason might be the broad language pool in the US that allows for translation to a target language by native speakers. According to US Census data , in 2008 over ten states reported more than 25% of their population spoke a "language other than English" at home. Such a wide language pool becomes useful when one considers what Arno, describes as the "great awareness and sensitivity" needed by translators to make accurate and relevant localization. It's not enough to have a website in your target language, it must also address the audience and connect businesses with consumers.
US companies that have made that connection, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia and Mozilla, were the top five of 100 websites ranked for their multilingual and global traffic by the research firm Common Sense Advisory.