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Cultural competence resource: Work well with interpreters

Translation blunders abound in international business. For instance, Pepsi famously translated its ‘Come alive with Pepsi’ campaign into German as ‘Come out of the grave with Pepsi’ and in Asia as, ‘Bring back your ancestors from the dead with Pepsi’. Or consider Coca-Cola’s first entry into the Chinese market. They looked for Chinese characters that when spoken would approximate the sound of the brand. As they investigated the options, they learned that Chinese shopkeepers had created signs themselves. When read aloud, these sounded like ‘Kokakola’. But, although the sounds worked, the meaning was nonsensical – something like ‘female horse fastened with wax’.

Just like any language, English has certain cultural assumptions embedded in it. There is always an intimate link between the language spoken by a given community and its distinctive ways of thinking and living. The heritage, traditions and attitudes to life of a people inform their language. In a real sense, the language carries the identity of a society and helps to transmit its culture from one generation to the next. The complimentary chapter attached for download will help you to adjust your talk so that the chances of accurate intetpretation and translation are maximised.

Click here to download Chapter 12 : Work well with interpreters.

Click here to get additional UGM cultural competence resources

More about the book and where to order

Dr Margaret Byrne draws on over 30 years of experience to distil 24 valuable skills that will help business people minimise cultural risk and maximise the business opportunities offered by the Asian Century.

The book is usefully organised into four key sections.

Section 1: Setting the scene
This section orients you to the skills needed to consider culture as a business risk and draws on UGM research that shows what can go wrong when Australian organisations extend their operations into Asia. The section also introduces the Chinese philosophy of The Middle Way, as a useful perspective on managing East-West differences for success in the Asian Century and shows you how you can make use of this approach in your business.

Section 2: Building your analytical skills
Here you’ll find a sound, evidence-based, framework setting out the most important things you need to know about culture and cultural differences. It includes key East-West contrasts in values and communication. This will help you to make sense of what you are likely to encounter and help to develop your crucial analytical skills.

Section 3: Applying your insights
To operate successfully across the region, you’ll want a portfolio of everyday skills that can be used in most situations. In this section, you’ll find the toolkit you need - from how to make meetings work, to how to work with interpreters and use English as an international language for business.

Section 4: Turning your new skills into habits
Your usual way of doing regular things, such as writing an email or making a presentation, is so deeply ingrained that it isn’t surprising many people find it quite hard to implement a new cultural skill. It involves changing long-standing habits. This final section draws on the latest findings from neuroscience to give you a practical roadmap for successfully turning your new skills into habitual responses that deliver results.

RRP: $24.95


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UGM adopts an evidence-based, cultural intelligence approach to the related issues of cultural diversity, cultural awareness and international business. This develops an Asia capable workforce as well as one which is culturally competent in global settings. We focus on the cultural competence needed to implement strategic plans. This involves developing specific intercultural (or cross cultural) skills to behave effectively and appropriately in relation to cultural differences. It may also include consideration of unconscious bias and building inclusive cultures.

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