Are five languages enough to guarantee global success?

Globalization, Language

With more than 6,000 different languages spoken worldwide, providing translation services for every known language is no simple feat. Fortunately, companies looking to expand into the global market need look little further than the (far more reasonably numbered) five primary languages of the G7.

Consisting of seven of the world’s major economies — the US, Japan, Germany, UK, France, Italy and Canada — the languages of the G7 carry a great deal of influence both in global business and politics. According to statistics from the UN, the countries of the G7 alone account for more than 46% of global gross domestic product and represent approximately 58% of global net wealth. Businesses looking for global success would do well, therefore, to start with conquering the business environments of the G7 — and these figures are to say nothing of the other countries translation in these five languages can provide access to.


Informally considered to be “the second language of the world” due to its high number of non-native speakers, English is an incredibly powerful language within global business and political spheres. It has more than 1.5 billion speakers worldwide and is an official language of more than 90 countries worldwide — from Antigua and Barbuda to Zimbabwe.

For this reason, it should come as little surprise that English translation services are some of the most sought-after in the entire translation industry, as companies use this language to take on markets around the world.

The economies of native English-speaking countries are also among the largest in the world. The US alone possesses a GDP in excess of $20 trillion — the largest single economy in the world and obviously an attractive target for any business looking to expand into English-speaking markets.


French is one of the world’s fastest-growing languages. The official language of 29 countries, spanning five continents, French is second only to English in regard to the sheer breadth of its influence.

According to UN statistics for 2017, France itself is the sixth largest economy in the world, with a GDP of more than $2.5 trillion.

Due to population growth and economic development throughout Africa, where around 50% of native French speakers can be found, the influence of the French language is to grow rapidly. As such, French translation services are likely to be of key importance to any business looking to expand globally.


While perhaps not as broadly spoken worldwide as English or French, German is one of the most widely spoken languages in Europe and is a language of great political and economic significance.

Germany itself possesses the largest economy in Europe, with a GDP of around $4 trillion. Additionally, alongside French and English, German is one of the major procedural languages of the European Union. As such, German translation services can open access to the second largest single market economy in the world, accounting for a GDP of more than $18 trillion.


Italy is home to another of the world’s largest economies, with a national GDP of around $2 trillion. Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world and is a hub of world culture, with 53 World Heritage Sites — more than any other country in the world.

Alongside the obvious popularity of the Italian language within Europe, Italian also carries a great deal of influence in South and Central America and even across parts of Africa. Italian translation services can thus offer a prospective global business the opportunity to expand into a number of new markets on both sides of the Atlantic.


Although distribution of the Japanese language is anomalously dense, with more than 124 million of the language’s 128 million speakers living in Japan and its neighboring island groups, Japanese is nonetheless a language of great importance in global business.

Japan possesses the third largest single economy in the world, with a national GDP of almost $5 trillion. It is a manufacturing and electronic engineering powerhouse; Japanese brand-name products are found in households worldwide. Additionally, global investment in Japanese industry has long been some of the highest in the world. In 2015, Japan was home to home to 254 Fortune 500 companies. With Japanese business so significant worldwide, Japanese translation services are a vital tool for a company looking to ensure its global success.

Translation services

Through professional translation of just five languages, a global company could theoretically possess the linguistic skills necessary to expand into more than 100 countries, spread across all seven continents. That is, if specific country regulations and local language variations and cultural questions are not an issue.

Language barriers need not be an obstacle to guaranteeing the global success of your business — just a few languages can provide the springboard to launch your company around the world.

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Louise Taylor manages content for the Tomedes Translators blog. She has worked in the language and translation industry for many years.


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SDL Tados 2021

Reaching a global audience to maximize your startup’s potential

Globalization, Language in Business, Localization Basics

Globalization maximize startups

The Global Policy Forum reported as far back as the year 2000 that the pace of globalization — the process by which organizations start operating or influencing internationally — was quickening. Technological advances have been key to this change of pace. Globalization is not without its drawbacks, but many leading economists and business analysts believe it is better than the alternative. Indeed, Deloitte reports that after the global financial crisis in 2008, leaders around the world pledged to avoid protectionist measures to boost growth and speed up the global financial recovery.

The global environment we now live in poses both challenges and opportunities for new businesses. Startups today have a wider audience at their fingertips than ever before. A vast international customer base awaits those with the vision and courage to reach out to it. Technology can help with this, and the next issue of MultiLingual, on startups, will cover this when it goes live in a few days.

But the human element is still essential. Let’s look at language as an example of this.

Microsoft has just announced its latest machine translation (MT) success: achieving parity with the quality of human translation for the Chinese-English language pairing on 2,000 sentences in a test environment. However, there is still an incredibly long way to go before MT can rival human translation services. As such, startups that want to promote their products globally are reliant on professional human translators in order to assist them.

Adaptation and localization services are also essential. An image that is perfectly acceptable in one country can cause sufficient offense for arrest warrants to be issued in another. Any business with global aspirations therefore needs to use specialist local knowledge when globalizing its brand. Doing so does take time, but the rewards can be well worth the effort.

Our company, for example, recently launched 11 new websites targeting clients in various new countries as part of its globalization strategy. The French site is targeted to customers in France, Belgium, Canada and other French-speaking countries. Meanwhile, the German site is aimed at German-speaking territories, such as Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

The choice of languages for the new sites was the result of extensive research. Supply and demand were the cornerstones of the research. The demand front covered the number of speakers of the languages being considered, local business activity, size of potential customer base and search engine statistics (anchors, keyword volumes and more). On the supply side, we investigated competition and concurrency in the relevant markets, availability of local translation and localization experts, cost of advertising, cost of pay per click/SEO and similar parameters.

For companies just starting out, global dominance may seem a tall order. However, the right product can have almost boundless appeal. Have you heard of Slack? If you haven’t, you’re behind the curve. Founded less than a decade ago, the business messaging system is now available in more than 100 countries around the world. Meanwhile, TV network Netflix, founded in 1997, is available in all but four countries (China, Crimea, North Korea and Syria).For companies just starting out, global dominance may seem a tall order. However, the right product can have almost boundless appeal. Click To Tweet

Not every startup will want to go global. However, even the smallest of ideas can go a long way in the global environment in which we live. You might dream of simply running a local coffee shop, but that’s how Starbucks started too. The world’s largest coffee company, it now operates in 62 countries.

Whatever your business niche, it’s likely that there’s money to be made by turning globalization to your advantage. A carefully devised strategy, based on appropriate research, is the starting point. Identifying target countries and languages through a measured approach will ensure that time and money are both used efficiently when it comes to international expansion plans.

If you have a great product or service, the world really can be your oyster.

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Louise Taylor manages content for the Tomedes Translators blog. She has worked in the language and translation industry for many years.

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