_____ _____ Languages

Global Sourcebook for International Data Management

                                         by Graham Rhind



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Mystifyingly, language has always been a poor relation in database marketing. Companies spend enormous amounts of money building, populating and cleaning address databases and then dramatically reduce the effectiveness of their marketing or sales efforts by mailing either in English or in another language which is not the mother language of the recipient. This has the effect not only of reducing the number of effective hits that your mailing has because a number of recipients will not understand, or understand enough of, the mailing, but it can be a great cause of irritation for the recipients. Language has very strong cultural and nationalistic ties for many people, and people will go to great lengths to preserve and use languages. Moves towards political union, such as in Europe, has strengthened rather than weakened this effect as language becomes the most tangible form of cultural identity and national pride as borders fall. Being aware of, and using the languages concerned will not only increase the effectiveness of the mail but will also increase the level of regard the recipients will have for your company.

In each chapter, language use is listed. Listings are limited to indigenous languages except where imported languages have been in use for so long that their usage has become indigenous. Where available, geographical spread of a language is also provided to allow better targetting. More detailed information is provided for industrialized countries where the level of direct mailing is highest. Different language groups have different expectations. The Frisians of The Netherlands, for example, expect to receive mailings only in Dutch. Though mailing to Frisianspeakers in Frisian may increase the response, mailing in Dutch is unlikely to have a detrimental effect. On the other hand, mailing in French to Flemish-speakers in Belgium could, depending on the nature of the mailing, reduce response very dramatically indeed and result in extremely bad feelings towards your company by the recipients. Where available, these expectations are outlined in the text.

Many of the languages have several names. Unless there is a common English name for the language, a local-language version has been used. For further information about the languages, their names and their distributions, you can do no better than to refer to - Languages of the World edited by Barbara Grimes. Please refer to the bibliography for further information. In some cases, the percentage of speakers of languages adds up to more than 100%. This is due to rounding and to the numbers of people who are multilingual.

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