Tribute to the Scary Translation Masters:
Brazil: World Cup, Waxing and Carnival?
It’s a Global Economy…
But it’s surprising to think that huge companies (like Wal Mart) wouldn’t take the time to learn the culture of the countries they want to expand into.
More and more, companies are heeding the battle cry of overseas expansion, assuming that because of “globalization” doing business overseas is a snap.
But just because you have wifi access doesn’t mean that you’re going to be well received in a new country. There are more examples of failures in overseas expansion than successes, but for whatever reason, leaders feel that since they can go overseas, they should.
Language is about communication. It’s about conveying a message that someone else can understand. When two groups don’t speak the same language, translators come in to aid the process.
But what about the case that the goal is to not be understood? In military tactics, one of the most crucial requirements is the ability to quickly and reliably send messages that your enemy cannot understand, but your friends can. It’s a tough balance to strike. And at the height of World War II, the Allied forces found themselves in a pickle.
Dona Maria’s Translations into Spanish
Today Mexico has the largest population of Spanish speakers in the world. Of those 117 million people, 60% trace their ancestry back to Spain. That’s more people than the entire population of Spain itself. How exactly that came about is a complex story involving things like guns and boats and sheer dumb luck, but it boils down to this: the Aztec empire was brought to its knees by a 17-year-old girl named Doña Marina doing translations into Spanish.
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