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Multilingual Website: The Convergence of Language and Website

Language is a system of communication used by people to relate with others. You take note of the word “system.” It means that language has arrangement and classification. For instance, a French businesswoman cannot understand a Filipino entrepreneur because she speaks French and vice versa. French language is arranged and classified for French nationals and so as to Filipino language is intended for Filipino people.  However, there must be a medium for language to reach the intended receiver/s. A medium can be a person (for verbal communication), papers (for written communication), radio and TV (for mass communication), and the focus of this article: a website (for new media communication).

A website is one of the dominant marketing tools for business endeavors. In connection, the use of language is one of the crucial things for websites. Take a look in this: according to your business plan the target markets are Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Americans, and Portuguese. But your website is only presented in English. So, how can you convene with Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and Portuguese web visitors? The solution is to boast a Multilingual Website.

Multilingual Website is the process of producing a website with different language translations. However, most businesses today utilize English Language for their website, but what they do not know is that world users of internet are drawn more than just English Language. According to Internet World Stats, the top ten languages used by web users in 2010 were English, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, German, Arabic, French, Russian and Korean.

With this truth, it is really undeniable that there is a need of LANGUAGE and WEBSITE convergence.  Underneath we give you a description about the three basic and general characteristics of language. Followed by each characteristic is its application to a multilingual website.

1. Language must be chosen. Choose the language not only for your own sake, but more importantly, for your users. The reason why you want to setup a multilingual website because you want to be understood by your target market. You cannot employ the language that others cannot relate and vice versa. Both parties must have a familiar language for an effective convergence and most of all, for a successful communication.

APPLICATION: The initial step in constructing a multilingual website is to determine carefully the right mix of languages for your online arm. This will depend in your target audience. Obviously, you want a multilingual website because you need to connect with your intended users; and eventually, let them imbibe the message. It is wrong if you apply the multilingual approach only for international-arrive purpose and not for market-oriented goal.

2. Language is culture-based. There are different languages because people have different cultures. A culture limits the vocabularies of a language. There are some English words that do not have a direct translation in other languages. For example, the word keigo is the Japan culture-based lingo for honor or respect. The Japanese term does not have a direct translation in English. Therefore, the word keigo (manner of speaking that shows respect to the listener) must be explained when translating it to any foreign vernacular.

APPLICATION: After determining the right mix of languages, you must dwell into the specifics. Specifics- in the context on this article are the terms used in web contents. As stated on the second characteristic, some words do not have specific translation to other languages because of culture. The translated contents must clearly point what the culture-based terminologies mean because there are some expressions that may offend the culture of other countries. So, attention to details is a must when developing a multilingual website.

3. Language is dynamic. People are naturally creative, as a result, language changes. There are two scenarios: there are words we hear today that do not exist before and there are terms that develop new meanings. Before, the word media is limited to print, television, and radio. But language is not stagnant and media now broadly connote website and mobile phones.

APPLICATION: Generally, web contents must be updated. The need for updated contents increases for a multilingual website because your site carries different languages. Surely, you do not want to confuse your web visitors with the words that are not appropriate for the current situation, as well as with the words that have expanded meanings. To avoid confusion, have time to review your multilingual web contents because language should not be static.

Moreover, not all websites need to become multilingual. A multilingual website need not that much if your business is targeting the local clients. However, if the objective is to break-in the international market, you must opt multilingual for a quality website.

Also, a quality multilingual website does not end in tool/software-based translation or superficial language translation. To effectively communicate your goal using a multilingual website, you must take a deeper understanding on the languages that you will use.

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