English retains its number one status as the world’s leading international language, even if there are competitors and even languages that are spoken by more people, especially as a first language than English. That includes Spanish and Chinese. If you are running a business that is based in an English language speaking country you may be forgiven for harbouring the illusion that all you need to market your products overseas is to use English.
It’s just not true, however many people speak English as a second or even third language! It’s even less true for a business based in Germany, Austria or Switzerland where the official language and the preferred language of the business is almost hardly ever used anywhere else in the world except by communities of German speaking migrants. German translators are an indispensable asset as far as a German speaking business is concerned.
So what of the world’s several hundred different languages should a German translation agency or English speaking business concentrate on if the business is in the process of expanding.
Here are Five Candidates
This might at first sight seem unlikely. Portugal, after all, is only a small country in Europe and its economic purchasing power not as great as that of other European nations. Portugal is an ex-colonial nation and has bequeathed its language to ex colonies in South America (Brazil), Africa (Cape Verde, Angola, the Republic of Congo, Mozambique) and Asia (Macao and Sao Tome). The combined potential market that can speak and understand Portuguese is much larger than you might imagine.
Russia’s economic potential is not as much as its population size and geographical mass might suggest, but there is a minority of Russians who have made themselves extremely rich – the so called oligarchs. Russian is also spoken by many of Soviet Russia’s now independent republics where the language is a second language but is widely spoken
Spanish is not only spoken by millions of people in Europe, it is like Portuguese, spoken as a first or second language from the Mexico / U.S. border right through to the tip of South America and many islands in the Caribbean like Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican republic. In fact, there are probably more Spanish speakers with increasing affluence and buying power in the U.S. alone than in continental Spain.
Long overlooked as a language for German translators and translation agencies generally, Arabic speakers are found from Morocco in West Africa through to Iraq and the Gulf States. While some Arabic speaking nations are heart-breakingly poor, others are extremely wealthy.
China, of course, is the world’s factory and an economic powerhouse with a population nearing 2 billion, and that’s not counting the millions of ethnic Chinese migrants and communities found scattered all over the world.