Are the British too polite for their own good?

The British are often criticised and ridiculed for their politeness by other nations.  Our turn of phrase is praised by some and deemed quaint, but others find it unnecessary, confusing and often interpret our indirectness as deceitful and insincere.

Translation servicesNative speakers of the English language are programmed from birth to insert ‘sorry’ or ‘excuse me’ before they interrupt somebody to ask a question.  And laughably when we request something we have to prefix it with a question such as ‘would you mind passing the salt?’  Our inability to say exactly what we mean for fear of being impolite often leaves other cultures baffled and reading something quite different into our requests and responses.

It’s not what we say, it’s how we say it
For instance, it’s acceptable for us to say ‘we must do lunch’ as a polite way of saying ‘it’s been great to bump into you, but we both know that neither of us has any intention of getting together in the foreseeable future – have a nice life’.  To our foreign counterparts we are effectively agreeing to meet again over lunch and it’s confusing when the invitation never materialises.

Another example is our standard response of ‘very interesting’ to something that we don’t agree with, want to commit to or give an opinion on.  It’s generally understood – possibly by the tone – by the other party that it’s been deemed anything but ‘very interesting’ and probably dismissed.  But to our foreign counterparts we are saying we’re impressed and it’s open for consideration.

Say what you mean and mean what you say
Yes the British are very good at giving what sounds like a positive response all in the name of politeness, when they are actually giving a negative response…no wonder we are considered deceitful and insincere by others.  But our intentions are honourable, really, because it’s a given in our culture that we all know ‘the code’.

It’s the same with any culture; you’ve just got to know ‘the code’.  In many other languages, German, Russian and Italian for instance, requests are generally more direct i.e. ‘pass the salt’ and are not interpreted as rude.  There’s no pussy-footing around the issue for 10 minutes like us Brits and little room for misinterpretation.  Of course to us this can seem abrupt, brusque and even discourteous when delivered in English.

The cultural influence
Therefore it’s important with translation to take into account culture as well as words when translating to and from languages.  A document translated word by word from another language into English would stand out like a sore thumb and probably appear amateurish without the polite nuances we are accustomed too.  Reading it would induce a face similar to the response of fingernails being dragged down a blackboard.

Equally so, a document translated word for word from English into another language would eventually end up half the size once the waffle and politeness has been extracted.  It would also get to the point sooner.

That’s why at Enigma Translation we use translators who are fluent speakers of the source language and native speakers of the target language and take into account both cultures.  This ensures that the translation is true to both languages and is acceptable and familiar to the target audience.

To find out more about our services, get in touch on +44 (01604) 750 799, email us or visit our website or Facebook page.

Russian translation

The beauty of different cultures is the very fact that they are different.  Different to our own and others.  What’s intriguing is how cultures differ in beliefs, traditions, attitudes and etiquette.

Some differences we are happy to embrace, others we might not agree with or feel comfortable with and some are completely incomprehensible to us.

Stereotyping
It’s fair to say that we may have preconceived ideas of a country’s inhabitants and their culture without ever having visited their country or without ever having met anyone from that country for that matter.  That’s probably because we are greatly influenced by stereotyping especially when we don’t have personal experience to draw from.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as there is often an element of truth to the stereotype.

Russian translationIn the business world
If you are hoping to do business with another country, for example Russia, then it’s beneficial to have some understanding of their language and culture and be respectful of it.  It will most certainly aid your business relationship.

Insider knowledge
Did you know that to commence a business meeting with Russians you’ll need a firm handshake and be comfortable with maintaining eye contact?  If you don’t, you may be perceived as untrustworthy.  You’ll also be expected to be punctual even if your Russian colleagues are not.

Enigma Translation’s professional interpreters can help you overcome these cultural minefields in face-to-face meetings, networking scenarios and at corporate events.

The Russian language
According to Wikipedia there are 160 million native speakers of Russian in Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine making it the 8th most spoken language in the world by native speakers.  It also ranks as the 4th most spoken language in the World as defined by the total number of speakers.  And it’s one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

The need for a translator
Russian is the most widely used Slavic language so if you’re about to embark on business in Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan Estonia, the Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Moldova you will find our Russian translation service invaluable.

When it comes to business communication it’s imperative to use a translator to ensure a smooth working relationship and understanding of documentation from emails, reports, contracts to marketing campaigns.

Using a professional translator from Enigma Translation will ensure your Russian translation needs are met fully.  Your specially selected translator will be fluent in Russian as it is their mother tongue; will have expert knowledge of the Russian culture and expertise in the subject matter to be translated.  Thus providing an accurate translation whilst retaining the original document’s meaning and context.

To find out just how we can help you with your Russian translations, call us on +44 (01604) 750 799, email us or visit our website or Facebook page and we’ll be happy to discuss your requirements.