Which language should your business translate into?

Translating your business content into other languages shouldn’t be an afterthought. Brands around the world are adopting localisation into their global strategy – and rightly so.

Translation often arises from a need – usually due to an increase in website traffic or consumer demand from a specific market. It might be that your business is ready to go full ‘belt and braces’, and you want to translate your documents and website into 15 languages, but if you’re working on a limited budget, it’s important to know which languages will bring you the best value for money.

Who and where is your audience?

Providing information and content only in your source language isn’t enough – you could be missing out on a whole new area of business opportunities. Ensuring that you’re choosing the right language for your international audience is imperative and can help to save unnecessary translation costs further down the line.

Doing business in

Europe – FIGS

FIGS represents French, Italian, German and Spanish – 4 of the major European languages and economies. FIGS are not only widely spoken as first languages; they are also common as second languages. Due to the large audience of speakers and the strong economies of these markets, many businesses choose to localise into 1 or more of these languages, if they are expanding into Europe.

Doing business in

South America

Choosing to localise into Spanish can open even more doors – it’s the 2nd most widely spoken language in the world after Chinese, and an official language of 21 countries. Nevertheless, it’s important to take note of the cultural and linguistic differences between European Spanish and Latin American Spanish.

The term BRICS represents emerging world economic powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), and consumers in these markets account for 40% of the world’s population.

Let’s focus on Brazil: both physically and economically. Brazil dominates South America and signifies a huge opportunity for international businesses, but it’s important to bear in mind that unlike the rest of South America, the language most widely spoken here is Portuguese.

Doing business in


Also included in the BRICS group are India and China, 2 Asian markets full of business potential. Chinese is the most spoken language across the globe, with 955 million native speakers, representing 14% of the world’s population. It goes without saying that localising into Chinese will expand your potential market enormously.

Online retail in China is growing at a higher rate than that of the U.S., so e-Commerce brands could make big wins here.

The 2nd most populated nation, India is now the world’s fastest-growing economy, ahead of the likes of China. The rate of internet adoption is also huge, and in the past year, internet users in India increased by 30%, in comparison to internet users in the UK, which increased by 0.9%. Localisation could be trickier for India though, as there are 22 official languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Urdu and Punjabi. So if you’re looking to localise for India, it’s worth ensuring that you have a dedicated audience or demand, and then researching which languages are relevant to those particular segments.

Doing business in

Africa & Middle East – Arabic

The world’s 5th most popular language and one of the six official UN languages, Arabic is becoming more popular in business translation. Modern Standard Arabic is the most common variety in writing and formal speech. As the official language of 27 countries (including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria), it’s important to know where your Arabic-speaking target market is, and then tailoring to that specific dialect.

Choose your language wisely

Using data from your website analytics or customer database tools can help you to narrow down the location and language of your target market – this information is gold dust as you have direct insight into your audience.

If you’re unsure which language or dialect is best for your business, one of our language experts can help guide you through the process.

View our international business guides below, or get in touch using the form.



As well as being a self-confessed language geek and baking fanatic, Fiona is the Digital Marketing Manager at Capita Translation and Interpreting. When she's not writing blogs, she often dreams of touring France one patisserie at a time.

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