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Cultural Competence Is a Key Enabler of Organizational Growth

When working in international settings, developing a corporate culture that includes team members from various cultural backgrounds can be fascinating and very productive but it also requires cultural competence. Each country is unique, and its culture has developed over hundreds or even thousands of years. This means that values, cultural norms, and belief systems are deeply ingrained in the people. Culturally sensitive translation is not simply a question of exchanging a word for the same one in another language. It is an art that requires sensitivity to a many aspects. Cultural competence is the ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures. With regard to the translation of your documents, it means knowing the appropriate words for the occasion, topic, or target group in a given culture under a given set of circumstances.

Success in Business Is Propelled by a Culture of Transformation and Sustained by Fidelity to Your Values

Understanding Cross-Cultural Business Attitudes

Whether you are preparing training material for your international teams or creating a new advertising campaign, contrasting approaches to business must be kept in mind. In India, for example, hierarchy within a company, social status, and exclusivity are very important, while in China, the acts of saving, giving, or losing face define a culture of humility, respect, and sincerity. In recent years, the rise of digital startups in Europe brought about an emphasis on a relaxed, less formal work environment.

Consideration of Cultural Values

► Saving face
► The Role of women
► The Concept of family
► Gender-specific/-neutral language
► Formal and informal language
Mistranslations due to insensitivity to the significance of cultural intricacies can doom a company’s chance of success in some countries. What is understood as humor in one country can be considered embarrassing or offensive in another.

Example of Mistranslation

“Ranganga River is inhabited
by crocodiles. Swimming is prohibited.
Survivors will be prosecuted.”

Sign at the entrance of an Indian
national park, Charlie Croker, 2006

Example of Mistranslation

“We take your bags and send them in all
Danish Airline, Charlie Croker, 2006

Prejudices and Standards

You may have heard the tale of the American baby food company that tried to enter the African market and flopped horribly. This an insightful example of how prejudices and norms influence our perception. The company displayed the photo of a baby on their baby food jars, and no one would buy their products. The firm’s marketing department had not known that, whereas in the Western world, our labels show what a product is used for, in Africa, people are used to seeing packaging that depicts what the product is made of.

Cultural Competence

“Culture” refers to integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, actions, customs, beliefs, and values of racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups. “Competence” means having the capacity to function as an individual and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by team members, customers, and communities. Cultural competence involves the integration and transformation of knowledge about individuals and groups of people into specific standards, policies, practices, and attitudes used in appropriate cultural settings to increase the quality of services; thereby producing better outcomes.

Linguistic Competence

Cultural competence cannot be replaced by machine translation.
Whether you need to prepare materials for international teams or a foreign market,
our linguists are here to help you always use the right words.

Metaphors and Idioms

These kind of expressions serve as short formulas for experiences and emotions,
replacing lengthy explanations. However, these verbal elements frequently
cannot be literally translated into other languages. We are here to help you
avoid confusing and embarrassing mistranslations.


Let our linguists’ cultural knowledge help you ensure that your texts are always well perceived by your international audiences.
Example: A travel brochure invites people to “put up their feet’’, which is telling Americans that they are welcome to relax. In most Arabic, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist countries, however, the feet are considered dirty; thus it would be very impolite to display the soles of your feet to anyone. Our linguists can take those cultural differences into account and find an expression that conveys the invitation to unwind in a more appropriate way.

Read more here.

Symbolism and Gestures

Images can be just as significant as
Example: “Thumbs up” means positive
feedback or approval to Americans, but
in Greece, Iran, Senegal, Argentina, and
other countries, it is used the way the
middle finger is in the U.S.

“Every human is like all other humans,
some other humans, and no other human.”

– Clyde Kluckhohn, American Anthropologist

Passion for Quality

DC aviation is an operator of one of the largest and most modern business jet fleets in Europe and relies on Apex Translations to translate press releases, marketing documents, and other culturally sensitive documents into foreign languages.

View Case Study

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Free Sample

Allow Apex to offer you a free sample translation of about 150–200 words using the texts and languages of your choice. This sample will provide you with a perspective on our translation quality and style before you place an order with us. If you would like to discuss your project needs with us, simply let us know, and we will call you at your convenience. Tell us about your translation project!

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