The Importance of Protecting and Preserving Languages

Language is more than just a means of communication, it’s also an inseparable part of our culture. That’s why International Mother Language Day (21 February) is observed annually, led by UNESCO, as part of its work to build peace through international cooperation in education, the sciences and culture.

The theme for this year is ‘Fostering multilingualism for inclusion in education and society, to highlight that preserving differences in cultures and languages helps to build tolerance and respect for others. UNESCO calls upon “policymakers, educators and teachers, parents and families to scale up their commitment to multilingual education, and inclusion in education to advance education recovery in the context of COVID-19.”

UNESCO reports that current data indicates that at least 40% of the 7,000 languages used worldwide are at some level of endangerment. This specialised agency of the UN states, “while reliable figures are hard to come by, experts agree that indigenous languages are particularly vulnerable because many of them are not taught at school or used in the public sphere.”

As international PR experts, we celebrate multilingualism and its importance in culture and communication. When a language disappears, the beliefs, culture and knowledge of the people who spoke it are also lost, constituting a loss to all of society.

To successfully engage with audiences, the marketing of your product or service internationally requires adequate research and preparation. There are plenty of examples of branding slogans that didn’t translate appropriately in international markets. Translation of content needs to consider the different communication styles in your target markets and cultural references, using a process called transcreation.

Conveying your marketing message to an international audience is not as simple as inputting your message into Google Translate and sending it off. It is often not possible to say exactly the same thing in another language, particularly when you are marketing an idea, product, or service. You must understand your audience and the nuances of their culture and language.

The thought of branching out into completely different countries might take many companies out of their comfort zones. However, the right communications agency can make the process an easy, enjoyable, and successful one. The same outlets and opportunities exist in most countries across the world – trade magazines, websites, blogs, exhibitions, networking events, etc. – but the key is knowing who they are, and how to communicate with them, and this is where your partner agency will prove their worth.

Making new international connections could boost business in ways you may never have imagined, giving access to new markets, and also challenging your organisation to approach issues from a different perspective, considering world cultures and societies.

To find out more about how we can help you successfully engage with audiences nationally and internationally, let’s talk!