Mastering tone of voice

Do you dedicate much time and thought to the way you say what you say?

Contrary to popular belief, content isn’t everything. Not in isolation, anyway.

Tone of voice is crucial if you really want to stand out in your market – rather than just in it.

Continue reading “Mastering tone of voice”

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The Essential Guide to International Domain Names

If you are reading this, chances are you already understand a bit about International Domain Names (IDN) or at least the concept of fully localising your website to suit local market needs. Perhaps you are wondering how important they are for your business. Do you really need to worry about IDN’s? Do other companies similar to yours have them?

To clarify, IDNs are domain names represented by local language characters. When a user types out a URL address in local language characters, an IDN resolution process is required to locate the corresponding website or e-mail address. The goal of IDN’s is to improve the international accessibility and functionality of the Internet by allowing users to register domain names in non-English languages.

Here are three examples (UX Magazine):

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Domain names in general are hot property. Securing even a local one in your brand name can involve high costs and negotiations with existing proprietors, and most start-ups will need to consider available domain names before deciding on a brand name.

People are growing increasingly aware of the importance of international domain names. Once ‘.com’ (the world’s most popular top level domain) goes multilingual, it is safe to assume costs for IDN’s will soar and availability reduce.

Securing an IDN in your brand name now could be the best investment you make this year.

I’m not operating an international business – why would I need an IDN?

The internet opens us all up to a global market, whether we intentionally target overseas or not. Ensuring your brand ‘translates’ in international markets is essential in maximising the online success of your business.

A new European Union study – Born Global: The Potential of Job Creation in New International Businesses, supports the opinion that start-up businesses should look to tackle overseas markets regardless of how established they are in home markets. The study suggests that start-ups driven to do more business abroad in the early stages of development tend to be more profitable and innovative than those that don’t, showing faster growth and incremental work hires.

English currently dominates the number 1 position for languages used on the web, but Chinese and Spanish are not far behind. We tend to forget that most of the world’s population is non-English speaking. Globalization and the adoption of technology by indigenous and less developed countries means that the web is now more multilingual than ever before, and we can expect this sociographic trend to continue.

LC Top languages

China now has 564 million internet users and an internet penetration score of 42.1% according to the China Internet Network Information Centre. Populations will naturally perform internet searches in their native language – this is where localisation plays an essential part in your online success. Adoption of an IDN is just one element of localisation, but an essential one. Without ensuring your site is as searchable as possible, additional localisation efforts will come to nothing as traffic will not be driven to your pages.

Who else has made the move towards international domain-ation?

Russia

In 2010, Russia opened its own top-level IDN, .Рф (which is the Cyrillic abbreviation of Russian Federation) for registration. In less than a year, nearly one million IDNs were registered, making .Рф the most popular IDN and one of the world’s most popular country codes.

India

With over 20 official languages using a range of scripts, India now boasts seven approved IDNs.

So what next?

By registering all international domain names you think you may need for your products and services now, you will ensure you are at a distinct competitive advantage in a global marketplace.

Businesses have already started paying above market value for IDN’s currently owned by other companies so get researching and secure the global future of your brand.

Suffering the loss of lingo – why do languages die?

What is the role of language?

The first word that springs to mind for most people is ‘communication’. But if we dig a little deeper, language is so much more. Language is a cultural institution that informs the social and intellectual life of the speaker.

Most of what humans know about nature is encoded in language. A combination of stories, songs and histories passed down from generation to generation – a collection of expressive attributes that define a community.

In losing languages, we lose traditions.

Linguistic diversity is disappearing at an alarming rate. Every 14 days a language dies, taking with it a wealth of knowledge about the history, culture and environment of its society. The Centre for Linguistics confirms that although we have lost languages since the beginning of time, the recent acceleration in the speed of extinction is alarming.

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Why do languages die?

Throughout human history, the languages of smaller communities have given way to more powerful groups. Children in smaller literary circles grow up learning dominant languages in school and online, and many will not see the need to teach their children the smaller, less recognized vernaculars of their local community. Many believe that the education system is biased and encourages speakers of dominated languages to develop disdain towards their mother tongues. Consequently, speakers of such dialects migrate to mainstream languages.

Although one must acknowledge that proficiency in English grants social and economic mobility, the lost languages of our ancestors past must be recognised as the building blocks behind entire civilisations.

Among factors discouraging speakers to forget their heritage are concerns that local languages don’t cultivate material benefits or economic growth. These beliefs are fuelled by continued technological development and globalisation.

Preservation

A number of professional bodies including The Human Resource Development Ministry, National Geographic and the Institute for Endangered Languages are striving to preserve endangered languages by identifying the places under greatest threat and documenting details of the languages and cultures within.

This is a useful way of preserving ‘the words of languages past’, but surely prevention is better than cure? Can ‘spoken’ languages survive in today’s society despite the increasingly globalized nature of our world? And more importantly, does the solution lie in reformation of the education and employment systems?

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