Living in a country that speaks another language is a humbling experience.
I’m currently living in Austria (for the second time) and learning German, which is no easy task.
If there’s anyone reading this that has successfully learnt German – I salute you. It’s one tricky language and most of the time I’m lost.
Where do I start with trying to understand Akkusativ and Dativ grammar rules?
How do I know whether an object like a table has a male, female or neutral definite article (der, die, das)?
Or how can I tell if a newly-learnt word is Hoch Deutsch (proper German) or Austrian dialect?
Honestly, it’s a mystery.
But the conundrum of trying to learn German in a dialect region of Austria has got me thinking about how we communicate in English as writers.
Are we as clear as we can be? Do we write assuming everyone can understand?
Basically, can we do better?
I say yes – especially when writing for an international audience or global clients.
Let’s keep it simple
English might be the business language of the world but it doesn’t mean it’s everyone’s native language. Or even a second language that they are completely fluent in.
This means by being a bit more considerate and thinking about the target market, we can make our writing more accessible to a wider audience.
The key is to use clear, simple language – whether writing a blog, an eBook, a press release or a landing page.
And a quick and easy way to do this is to swap some complex or formal words for a simpler alternative.
Like these examples:
A more in depth approach is to check the text for regional slang words and phrases.
For example, writing about making a brew (a cup of tea) might work with a UK audience, but if the target market is more global it will probably get lost in translation.
Don’t forget to consider the structure of the copy too. Is it stiff and formal – and boring? Or can it be loosened up with some lightness and personality?
A few small tweaks can make a big difference and result in an inclusive piece of copy that everyone can understand.
Of course, there are times when complex and formal language, or even dialect, is needed. The same applies to slang and cultural phrases.
But, more often than not, the message just needs to be simple.
I’ve been working with international clients for years. Get in touch to find out more about communicating with a global market.