English-only multinationals are a bad idea

You can decree that the employees of your company speak only English.

You can train everyone.

You can test everyone.

And you can get everyone to speak English in meetings, just as you mandated.

But be careful what you wish for.

Just because everyone speaks English doesn’t mean everyone is communicating.

Doesn’t mean everyone is comfortable.

And, most importantly, doesn’t mean people are as effective as they want to be.

The fact is, global companies have been around for centuries and they somehow figured out how to function with many shared languages.

As this Harvard Business School article points out, the rise of “Englishnization” is causing problems in the workplace.

Windows 8 primed to win tablet war — at least in languages

When it comes to tablets, Apple is far and away the leader.

But later this year Microsoft is expected to unveil its Windows 8 tablet and, in doing so, will quickly take the lead.

In languages, that is.

That’s right. Microsoft recently announced that Windows 8 will support a whopping 105 languages (and I’m assuming this includes the new Metro interface).

This is impressive, particularly when you compare it against Apple iOS, which supports a paltry 34 languages. (Android 4.0 is at 57 languages.)

We are getting into slightly murky waters when we compare Windows 8 with iOS, because Windows 8 is for both PCs and mobile devices; Apple’s iOS is strictly for phones and tablets. But since phones and tablets are where the growth is globally, Microsoft’s investment in languages is smart and Apple’s relative frugality is short-sighted.

I’ll be curious to see how Apple responds with its updated OS later this year. And not just with its OS.

Can we finally see an Apple website in, say, Arabic or Hebrew?

I think it’s time.

 

 

Facebook: From 1 to 100 languages in two years

It was just over a year ago that Facebook started localizing itself for the world.

As I noted then, the company utilized crowdsourcing to spur its translation efforts. And though volunteers aren’t the only people translating content, a year later, Facebook has done an impressive job of going global.

Om Malik recently reported some key stats from Facebook’s global expansion efforts. Among them:

  • Facebook is available in 43 languages and is in the process of being translated into another 60 languages.
  • 40 percent of Facebook users are not using English.
  • 25,000 volunteers helped translate Facebook into Turkish last year, and there are now 9 million Turkish-language users signed up for Facebook.

facebook_gateway

Even though only 43 languages are available now, if you add the Facebook Translations application (which i really recommend doing if you’re into this sort of thing), you’ll see the other 60 languages in the pipeline — many of which look pretty much good to go.

facebook_gateway3

Here’s what the Translations pull-down menu looks like:

facebook_gateway2

So many languages my computer is lacking for fonts.

It’s a very safe bet to say that Facebook will support more than 100 languages a year from now.