How do you manage different written languages?

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         hgfhfhgfgg  As an internaggggggggggggggtional company, we have over 20 different native languages spoken/written by our associates. Our current policy for the Clearspace comgggggggggggggggggggggggmunity's written language is as follows:

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Use English please. This community supports an international team of corporate employees that communicate primarily in English. Also, we ask that native English speakers write plainly without too many cultural frames of references that are unique to a single region, area, or business unit -- and, be patient with non-native writers.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    How are the rest of you handling this issue? Is confining the community to English only a usage good idea? Should we allow international teams to create spaces for communicating in their native language?

     

     

     

    Hi Carl,

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Check out Nike football for one example of managing multiple languages within a thriving community.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    nikefootball.png

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Thanks for posting this question - it'll be interesting to hear what the other opinions are.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    In the past I've recommended starting with your approach -- one language. Over time, you can create new spaces or areas of the community for speakers of other langauges if there's enough demand for it. It's the same approach for adding new communities - start small and add them over time.

     

     

     

    I was visiting a customer in the Canadian government who by law has to provide their services in English and French. One of their chief collaborators brought up the issue of language. Although this person was a strong English speaker and presenter, she said that her complete opinions and voice only come out in French. It was interesting to hear her opinion from such a proficient English speaker.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you are interested Carl, I can pass along your contact info to my contact there.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Regards,

     

     

     

    Jim

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I like the Nike idea of selecting your language Thanks! The only problem I see with our company is someone selecting their native language yet trying to collaborate with someone in another contry utillizing thier native language (like european spanish and english). Will the claerspace solution support the translation capabilities automatically for these instances?

     

     

     

    I like the Nike idea of selecting your language Thanks! The only problem I see with our company is someone selecting their native language yet trying to collaborate with someone in another country utillizing thier native language (like european spanish and english). Will the claerspace solution support the translation capabilities automatically for these scenarios?

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This is not to mention all the rich media content that is language specific, we would need to find a way to replace the content on the fly to support the language of choice.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If not we go back to a common language theme in which Carl mentioned earlier.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Interesting challenge. What to do???

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Bruce

     

     

     

    Great discussion! In my experience as an IBMer - one of 350,000 worldwide employees - it was understood that the international business language was English. So, if you needed to collaborate internationally, everyone used English. Otherwise, use your native language. Trying to create an environment where everyone can understand everyone else, is, in my opinion, unrealistic. Unless everyone can speak "math". :)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Also, using machine translation servers to translate content has never really worked. They're good at translating the gist of the content, but not the nuances, colloquialisms, etc. Ain't nothing like a real human being doing the translation.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I've seen companies employ translators to translate critical content into supported languages, but everything else is left to grow organically.

     

     

     

    I fully agree with you.  The technology for doing this (especially on the fly) is not perfected.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Have you run into anyone that refused to standardize on a common language for their communities?

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    On another note we have found in places like Argentina that the people prefer to write than speak.  They feel (and so do I) that there english is better written than spoken.

     

     

     

    Good discussion and relevant for what "fun" i'll be dealing with in future, throwing my weight into this just for the heck of it.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    "How are the rest of you handling this issue?"

     

     

     

    In much the same way, "english" being the standard, however as a mainly social venture theres abit more flexibility for us, a "common curtosey" rule will be inplace, simply "While english is preferd, if those you are currently engaged with can -all- understand and communicate in an alternate language feel free until the situation changes".

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    "Is confining the community to English only a usage good idea?"

     

     

     

    In a very wide and "fluid" community setting a "standard" is a very good idea, unfortunatly some may feel "left out" or worse "discriminated" against, however you cant "please" everybody.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The downsides to it are primarily exclusion, not just of people who cannot yet speak english who could bring needed talents or experience, but also of idea's, language its long been proposed "dictates" thought, people who do translating sometimes note that how they veiw something or conceive of an idea changes based only upon the "language gear" their mind is in.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    "Should we allow international teams to create spaces for communicating in their native language?"

     

     

     

    So long as you have people "loyal" enough to tell you what is being said in the languages you cannot understand and the spaces created for/by the international teams have a large number of "crossover" points with eachother and the main community such a move -could- be beneficial to all concerned.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    the main risks are

     

     

     

    "backstabbing" if you dont understand the language the group could easily be being discurteous of someone outside it.

     

     

     

    "fear of backstabbing", one group being"paranoid" of another purely because whats being written isnt understandable but mentions a name.

     

     

     

    "Divorce" if the international groups cease communicating outwards as often as they did while under the "english only" rule, the groups themselves can drift further and further apart to the point of becoming "introverted" and ineffectual.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    [Fin]

     

     

     

    Great discussion!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We, as a company, not as a community site, operate an English only policy. We have customers from all over the world, Middle East, Continental Europe, Africa, etc, but just don't have the capacity to: employ multi-lingual translators, or to pay for translation services.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We do find that in the industries we sell to, English is spoken by almost everyone, but perhaps we are missing out on some customers who can't, or don't want, to speak English.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We also have some fun on the forums when using our British English and some of our customers and partners use American English

     

     

     

    Hi Carl,

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    One of the issues missed here so far is that of cultural blocks to participation based upon language skills. In our work with SAP many years ago, we did a lot of research into this issue. While most senior level managers are very comfortable using English in business, many lower level employees who are considered bi-lingual are not comfortable using English in a community. They will if required, but their participation levels will be lower than expected. The main reason is that they do not want to make a public mistake in front of superiors.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We've found that starting in English is fine, but to capture the rest of the audience local languages will be necessary at some point. Most employees in English required companies (SAP, Cisco, Intel, IBM) will use the site just fine without any problems.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    As for requiring translations to make sure you know what's going on, that's a trust issue. Either you trust your employees to use the tool properly or you don't. If you must know every word that is put into the community, then keep it in English. But that kind of defeats the purpose of internal collaboration, no?

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Regards,

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Mike

     

     

     

    Being in Canada, we have a sizeable amount of French speakers.  The content posted online will always primarily be English but a good start would be for us to be able to offer our users the ability to change their interface language -- something that I understand Clearspace is supposed to be able to support but apparently it's not quite there yet.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We are looking to expand our community internationally through a partner organization so this discussion is very relevant to me.  As we are in aviation, which uses English as a semi-official language, it would be very easy for us to simply say that everything will be in English.  That probably will be what we *mostly* do.  Latin America can be a bit of a different beast, though, and we may set-up a Nike-approach Spanish community or set of communities in which the content would be Spanish primarily.

     

     

     

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