In my previous entry I said that I think multilinguality should be a strategic issue for companies. When companies operate globally, they should think about the impact of languages on customer satisfaction, internal efficiency, increased sales, feedback from product support to prodct development etc., instead of just looking at translation costs.

For compliance alone, language can have a huge effect. What if your Chinese subcontractor did not understand your English instructions properly, and made a serious mistake? Who is responsible? How do you ensure or measure the language understanding level of your subcontractors or employees in other countries?
I would like to welcome comments on this issue. Is it enough to say “Our corporate language is English” and that takes care of it? Does the personnel all over the world speak English so well that this is a non-issue? Do non-native English speakers spend more time reading and writing in English, and would it be easier using one’s own language?

I know several Finns who say they prefer to read everything in their special field in English, as that is the language in which they have learned their speciality. Is this the norm, or would working in own language be preferable? (When talking about working, I mean both writing and reading in a language.)

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