Cultural Sensitivity in Language Use

It’s no secret that localization holds the power to make a brand soar effectively across the globe. Numerous factors come into play such as the analysis of the target market, favorable economic conditions, technological trends, but more importantly, the complexities of cultural diversity.

The first time I was exposed to drastic differences was when I was an incoming college freshman. I was so excited to start the next chapter in my life 300 kilometers north from my hometown and it was the first time I’ll be apart from my family for a long period. I was eagerly looking forward to face a new environment but I didn’t know what to expect. Baguio City is a melting pot of various cultures of the north. The rich traditional culture and practices of indigenous groups and communities are celebrated and inculcated in the modern society. Naturally, for non-native people like me, there are certain norms and conventions that are expected to be followed.

I had three roommates – two of them were from the Ilocos region and the younger of the two calls our eldest roommate “manang”. Out of sheer interest in their language and with the intent of blending in, I also used this term to address her. In Ilocano, it literally means older sister but it can also be used to call an older female. However, for people outside the Northern bounds, it usually has a negative connotation. Although I only intended to use it in the most neutral sense, she took it negatively and refused to be addressed as such. I didn’t understand then what it meant to be culturally sensitive. Through the course of my four years of living in this diverse environment, I have developed a deeper understanding and awareness. Since then, whenever I’m travelling to foreign places, I make sure that I research first what’s culturally acceptable and the taboos. This is cultural sensitivity on a personal level.

Now that I’m working in the localization industry, I can observe it in every aspect of our company’s operations, whether it’s with client relations, employee management or providing top-of-the-line services. Lexcode understands the risk of losing a culture’s identity in the process of shifting from one language to another. That’s why it has very strict standards in its translation services.