London is known for its truly diverse linguistic landscape. But how do companies in the capital go about determining which are the best London business languages to work with? Below we’ll look at how to figure out which London languages are the best for your business. First, we’ll take a quick look at how to find a top translation agency to work with.
How to Find the Right Translation Agency
When it comes to finding a translation agency for your London business, start by asking around your network to see if anyone has had a good experience with a local service. You can also find a selection of top translation agencies online. You’ll need a translation agency that prioritises customer support as well as language expertise. Ofer Tirosh, CEO of Tomedes, repeatedly emphasises the importance of this. There are many top translation experts in London: it’s a benefit of being in one of the most linguistically diverse cities in the world.
Once you have a shortlist of companies you might like to work with, make sure to assess their experience with the languages you need translated. They might be able to prove their experience with past work samples in a portfolio or client testimonials. You can also ask for references and check independent reviews of the quality of their translation online.
Be sure to ask plenty of questions when considering which language service to use. Ask about how the service manages projects and stays on deadline. You might also ask how they ensure accuracy, what the credentials of the translators are and what specialist areas of expertise the agency offers.
The Most Popular Languages in London
How many different languages are spoken in London? The BBC estimates that over 300 London languages are spoken in the capital’s schools. That puts the city as being one of the most linguistically diverse cities in the world (as well as creating some interesting challenges for London’s teachers).
According to the 2011 Census, London had the highest proportion in the UK of people who spoke a main language besides English, at 22.1%. London also had the highest proportion of people who could not speak English well or at all, at 4.1%.
London languages tend to be concentrated by area. For example, three-quarters of people who reported Yiddish as their main language live in Hackney.
The top 10 other languages besides English in England and Wales included Polish, Panjabi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Arabic, French, Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish, in that order. Polish sat at over 500,000 speakers and Spanish had over 100,000 speakers. Many of these languages can be found in clusters in London, creating some interesting opportunities for businesses to expand their customer base.
Popular Business Languages
What are the best languages for business? That answer can vary depending on who you talk to, but the consensus for the best languages to know for business besides English tends to include Mandarin, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Arabic, French, Japanese, Russian and Hindi.
These languages are commonly cited for both how many people speak them and how active their use is in global trade. Consider, for example, China’s prominence as a manufacturing hub, or Germany’s position as a powerhouse of engineering.
Of course, finding the best London languages to use is more complex than simply selecting the current “it” language…
How to Find the Best Language for Your London Business
In order for your translation efforts to be successful, you’ll need to start with some market research, which you can use to build and informed strategy. As a London business, a good place to start is by looking at local demographics to see which languages are spoken most in the boroughs in which you operate. If you have a product or service that might appeal to that local culture, then it makes sense to reach out to that customer base.
Many London businesses also use translation services when they want to expand overseas. If you’ve been eyeing breaking into a certain foreign market, that’s when it would be necessary to use the most popular business languages.
It’s also convenient that some of the top business languages match the most popular London languages, such as Arabic, French, Portuguese and Spanish. Areas of overlap like this might be a good starting place to help expand your operations both domestically and internationally, thus getting the most out of your investment in translation.
If you decide it might be worthwhile to use translation with a foreign-speaking market, spend time looking at local demographics, consumer habits, trending social media topics in that market and how products/services close to yours perform in that market. Going in with solid research and a strategy can avoid costly mistakes. It can ensure you expand into the right market at the right time, whether you choose to do so domestically or internationally.