“All the Scandinavians speak English, don’t they?”
One of our partners visits relatives in Copenhagen, Denmark frequently. Every morning he buys fresh rolls from the next-door bakery with aid of sign language because not a soul there speaks English. Likewise, with most of Copenhagen’s bus drivers.
It’s true that far more Danes speak English than vice versa; a high proportion of their high school graduates speak some English, as do those from Norway, Sweden and Finland (whereas many Brits struggle to speak any foreign language). But a professional language service is still required for legal and technical translations in minority languages.
A current project for an oil and gas service company is in Norwegian, and we’ve carried out vast quantities of translations for the Norwegian North Sea exploration sector. An ability with conversational English does not supplant the need for technical translation in the target language that the reader can truly understand.
“What about Holland, surely they all speak English?”
If you go to the touristic parts of Holland you’ll find that many people can carry out a simple conversation with you. But likewise, if you’re looking for a legal, technical or marketing translation then there’s a need for a professional translation service. For example, Bedford Translations provides technical documentation and marketing collateral for a mobility scooter firm that sells widely in the Netherlands.
It might seem a paradox when English is a lingua franca for a whole range of cultural activities, from pop music to politics, but language diversity is thriving and there’s more need for professional translation services than ever. Translation from and into French, German and Spanish are key, but European and global translation needs are infinitely wider.