Global Lingo Blog

The language of the Olympics

Yesterday, 10th Feb, I went to an event in Leeds organised by the London 2012 Games to encourage small firms to bid for contracts for the London Olympics in 2012. There were some very good speakers there who spoke with passion and enthusiasm about the games and all the benefits they’ll bring to London and the rest of the UK.

Some of the building work is amazing, and the scale of the whole production is something I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to comprehend. Which is why it makes perfect sense that small companies can get involved in the games. Sure, a small construction firm form Sheffield won’t win, and didn’t, the contract for the main stadium, but they could win the project to put up the toilets, or the food stalls, or even just the roofs on these buildings. The project is so huge that no one body can oversee it all, which I guess is what makes the politicians so nervous.

The opportunity for the rest of the country is huge too. Just think: there are over 200 countries competing, they’ll all bring large teams of athletes, trainers, dietitians, physios etc. They’ll bring officials, fans, journalists. And above all they’ll bring tourists – before, during and after the games. There hasn’t been a better chance than this for the UK to publicise itself since Euro 96.

So how are you going to communicate with these tourists, visitors and shoppers? Are you going to talk to them in a loud voice? Talk more slowly? Or will you take the time and trouble to speak to them in their own language?

If we want to make the most of this great opportunity, surely we want to dispel the myth of the British being terrible communicators with non-English speakers. If you run a shop why not learn a little Spanish? If you have an Olympic team staying near you, why not promote your services in their language as least for the time they’re here?

Having your website translated is a great way to promote your business to foreign visitors, and once it’s done, you’ll start to attract non-English reading customers to your site, and your business can expand out into the rest of the world and not just the confines of the UK.

Just think what a great opportunity the Olympics are for your business, and grab it!

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