With the world getting ever smaller, the effective use of global communications that transcend different regions, cultures and languages is becoming more and more important. For those entering a new market, particular attention should be paid to names and how these are treated in different places, especially when it comes to conducting surveys or laying out forms. This article looks at some name variations from around the world and tips on getting around these in your communications.
Names are treated differently in different parts of the world, so generic templates for a form or a survey will not necessarily work. One example of this can be seen when comparing English and Chinese. Generally, English names are written from given name to family name when reading from left to right. Chinese names are written in the opposite sequence, with the family name coming first, followed by the given name. This is also the case in places such as Hungary, Japan and Korea. In some places, such as Southern India, Malaysia and Indonesia, many people only have given names, with no family name.
When you are designing forms for different markets it is important to decide whether you need different fields for given names and family names. If you feel it is necessary to separate names then how you label these is important. A good tip is to avoid using labels such as first name, Christian name and last name, as a first name in England has a different meaning to a first name in China. Instead, use terms such as family name and other/given name. For English speakers it is also important to remember that not all languages use the Latin alphabet and those that do use it often use accents and other characters. This can have a huge impact on how on-line forms on multilingual websites are set-up.
The best way to avoid issues when it comes to translations of this nature is to fully explain to your translator exactly where and for what purpose your translation will be used. Our team here at NZTC International will be able to properly guide you and give you the best advice so you don’t experience any cultural mishaps when sending your translation to a new market.