Writers across borders: Copy that appeals internationally

One of the great credits of the Internet is to get your message out to a global audience. But, even when we speak the same tongue, we don’t always speak the same language. Here are some tips for communicating across borders.

Use technology that translates. If your audience has substantial international components, you need to go where they are. That may mean renren if you are working with China or vKontakte if your market includes Russia.

Use simple language. Subject-verb-object order and simple vocabulary rules the day if your work will be seen overseas. Machine translation is still not great, but a lot of people still use it. It works better when things are easy to read.

Avoid idioms. Even something as simple as “I’ll run by your house after work” can be confusing to someone who doesn’t speak your language fluently.

Can the cultural refs. The U.S. exports a great deal of culture, but it is risky at best to assume that your user in Abu Dhabi knows what you mean when you say “Who ya gonna call” or even when you ask someone to “bring it on”

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