Web should prepare for a non-English majority
June 14, 1999
by Nancy Dillon
(IDG) -- By 2002, the majority of worldwide Internet users will be non-English-speaking; and three years later, six out of 10 Internet users are expected to speak a language other than English, according to Computer Economics Inc.
This predominance of non-English-speaking users means it's imperative for companies to begin offering multiple language choices on their Web sites, the Carlsbad, Calif.-based research firm concluded.
"We've seen astronomical growth in the presence of Japanese and Chinese on the Internet," said Michael Erbschloe, vice president of research at Computer Economics. "And we think multilanguage sites are going to become the norm by about 2001."
Erbschloe said that sites interested in marketing to a worldwide audience aren't just faced with the burden of language translation, but also with the issue of cultural translations. "People on the content creation side have to do much more than simple language translation," he said. "They have to be culturally literate." He said they have to have a grasp of the idiomatic sayings and "quips" that make marketing successful. "Companies work hard getting traffic to their Web sites, so it's ludicrous to then just commit suicide with bad communication or some [poor] translation software getting in the way," he said. "For sites to be successful, they need to communicate and build a relationship with the buyer."
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