The Commisceo Global Blog

Keeping you up to date with all the news, articles, tools, opinions and press relating to the world of cultural understanding, in and out of business.

Christmas Celebrations: Cultural Differences

Christmas Celebrations: Cultural Differences

In many Western cultures, the Christmas celebrations are more or less the same or thereabouts. The family gathers on Christmas Eve, a Christmas mass is possibly attended and presents are unwrapped. There are numerous cultures, however, that like their Christmas traditions a little less conventional…

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Cultural tips on Export to Japan and China

Cultural tips on Export to Japan and China

Do you export? AstraZeneca's Stuart Anderson offers some insights into the importance of understanding and adapting to the local culture in order to maximise success.

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Afghan jokes on Cultural Differences

Afghan jokes on Cultural Differences
You wouldn't think war would bring out a people's sense of humour but in Afghanistan the cross-cultural interaction between locals and troops has resulted in some very funny stories.
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Cyber Monday: Cultural Celebrations in December

Cyber Monday: Cultural Celebrations in December
It's Cyber Monday! Time to get your website translated and capture the Christmas shopping sprees! However, just because it is December it doesn't mean the only holiday that is held this time of the year is Xmas. Some countries traditionally have other fantastic celebrations which are not widely known, but still deserve online retailers' attention.
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Podolski suffering football culture shock

Podolski suffering football culture shock

Culture shock is often referred to as the experience an exptriate or tourist travelling to a new country goes through. As Arsene Wenger has demonstrated, culture shock happens in many ways.

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Cultural Risk Assessments helping HR save Mergers

Cultural Risk Assessments helping HR save Mergers
Did you think culture clash only happens between foreigners? Think again! Company cultures are now recognised as being a major reason behind mergers failing and businesses underperforming.

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Cultural differences can prove deadly

Cultural differences can prove deadly
When we think about cultural differences it's usually in the context of business, customs, food and the like. Have you ever considered the impact of culture upon health and even death?

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Lineker, the prostrating Footballers and Cultural Sensitivity

Lineker, the prostrating Footballers and Cultural Sensitivity

Gary Lineker is facing criticism for his live comments on Al Jazeera that were seen to be offensive to Muslims.

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Three-steps: Marketing to the Hispanic and Latino community

Three-steps: Marketing to the Hispanic and Latino community
Targeting the Hispanic and Latino community? Learn how language and cultural differences could impact a marketing campaign.

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German and Afghan military go all out on Cultural Sensitivity

German and Afghan military go all out on Cultural Sensitivity
News round-up! See why German soldiers are receiving cultural sensitivity training and how Amazon conquered China. All news hot off the press!

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33 Tips on Working in Multicultural Teams

33 Tips on Working in Multicultural Teams

Do you work in a culturally diverse team? Here are 33 invaluable tips that will help improve communication, trust and team-spirit.

Got a tip to add? Then leave a comment!

 
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British....what is it?

Louise Bawden asks the people of London (and from abroad) what they define as quintessentially British.

 



 

What is British? Let us know what you think:
1) Leave a comment below
2) Tweet us @_kwintessential
3) Post a comment on our Facebook page
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The NHS: Shocking Cost of Poor Translations



It’s always shocking to hear of taxpayers’ money going to waste in vast quantities: especially when it’s easily avoidable. Likewise, it’s always shocking to hear of suffering or death where this is easily avoidable. One of the key concerns for the NHS in the current savings drive is to ensure that services can be provided efficiently: helping people with healthcare needs for the lowest possible spend. When lives are on the line, quality cannot be compromised: price cannot be the bottom line.

A recent Freedom of Information Act request revealed that over £59,000 is spent on translation services2 every day in the UK3 within the NHS: and the immediate response to this information was panic. Advice was given to find a cheaper solution in machine translations, or cutting foreign language provision in favour of plain English. Responses were centred around cutting costs and minimising provision, with little concern for solutions that worked for both provider and user. However, experts in the fields of linguistics can point out the flaws of approaches that put translation costs as the bottom line; and can suggest logical ways of reducing costs and maximising efficiency without compromising on provision- indeed often offering savings in the long run.

One such expert is Katy Pritchard of Kwintessential. With an in-depth knowledge of both the public sector and the translation industry, she has today released a video outlining where the NHS could save money without compromising on quality.

In the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7aTO08AVyc), Katy outlines how literal translations can be more costly than they are effective. Translations must not only reflect the original meaning of a document, but they must also be suitable for their target audience. In order to ensure that translation spend is efficient, producing a well tailored piece, and ensuring that it is made available in an appropriate manner is vital. Machine translations are unable to correctly and consistently translate grammar and contextual meaning. In the long run this can mean that time spent producing flawed and unusable translations will result in unnecessary suffering. In the long term, providing well translated information to assist patients with prevention offer the opportunity to save money in the long term.

Translation in the health industry gives a high return. It really is a case of spending to save, but this spend must be in the right area. Imagine if the NHS Direct website was multi-lingual. Surgeries and hospitals up and down the country would no longer need to translate their own documents on conditions or treatments, as they would be available centrally. Not only would this save the repeated spend, but also hours of administrative and doctors’ time would be saved as patients could access information online without the need for an appointment and in-person interpreters. These provisions would be available to all regardless of where they lived.

Developing a Translation Memory is critical. Translation Memory is a tool which records the translation of specific words, phrases and sentences, with consideration given to their context, which can then be used in future translations. This technology, which is very different from literal online machine translations such as Google Translate, can provide a considerable cost saving as words that have been used in a set context before do not need to be charged for translation again. The user gains all of the benefits of a high quality human translator with a good knowledge of the subject matter, and documents can be produced consistently and cheaply up and down the country.

Translation and interpreting facilities are essential provisions in the modern day NHS, but unfortunately are not ones that are ingrained into its structure. Living in a multicultural society it’s inconceivable to suggest that we should preclude individuals who need healthcare - who are already facing enough barriers in accessing this due to cultural norms or expectations - from being able to communicate with experts or understand the information which they need. Before panicking when sourcing translation in the NHS, the industry encourages provisioners to work smarter; and to reap the rewards.

Notes

  1. Kwintessential was established in 2003 and offers linguistic services and cultural awareness training.

  2. ‘Translation’ is rewriting text from one language to another. ‘Interpretation’ refers to oral translation only. The report linked below incorrectly uses the two terms interchangeably.

  3. http://www.2020health.org/2020health/Publication/Professional-Development/Translation-Services.html

 
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5 Bristol Restaurants for a Culturally Diverse Valentine's Day

It’s that time of year again! Valentine’s Day arrives on February 14th and it’s time to start booking in your restaurant for the evening. If you are looking for something culturally stimulating this year, check out our top 5 suggestions for restaurants in Bristol we believe will give you a taste of something different. All the restaurants offer to stimulate your senses through the food and ambience that represent their cultures.

Shanghai Nights


Chinese Restaurants Bristol for Valentine's

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London’s Top 5 Culturally Diverse Restaurants for Valentine’s

It’s that time of year again! Valentine’s Day arrives on February 14th and it’s time to start booking in your restaurant for the evening. If you are looking for something culturally stimulating this year, check out our top 5 restaurants in London we believe will spice up your night. All the restaurants offer to stimulate your senses through the food and ambience that represent their cultures.

Shaka Zulu


Cultural Restaurants for Valentine's Day

  • Style: South African

  • Address: Stables Market, Camden, London, NW1 8AB

  • Tel: 0207 428 4922

  • Website: http://www.shaka-zulu.com/

  • Valentine’s Deals: none

  • About: London’s largest South African restaurant opened in August 2010 with a special royal blessing from the Zulu King, HRH Goodwill Zwelithini.

  • Set over 27,000 sq ft in The Stables Market, Camden the restaurant boasts carved wooden murals covering every inch of Shaka Zulu’s walls and ceiling. On the lower floor they have a display of 20ft high warrior statues. The main A La Carte restaurant is located on the lower level and features open flame grills and offers diverse cuisine from all parts of South Africa showcasing the originality and flair of the culture. They also serve game meats, such as Kudu, Ostrich and Springbok from Namibia!

  • Value: £20-£40 per head


Pearl Liang

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HR Directors, Basil Fawlty and Global Communication


Some recent findings by The London School of English show language and culture are still not getting the attention they deserve within companies today.In fact, the spirit of Basil Fawlty seems to live on within some British businesses!

Despite the Government pinning hopes on UK PLC exporting, it brings into question whether UK companies are thinking globally or relying on the rest of the world to think and act in such a manner?

The findings suggest that, "UK-based businesses could be risking international growth by failing to invest in cross-cultural, language and communications training."

The results spwan from research carried out that questioned 100 HR directors on their attitudes towards language and communication skills and their approach to training.

These centenary research results show a shocking lacking of regard for our international, non-native English speaking business partners,” says Timothy Blake, Chief Executive of the London School of English. “The Brits may be reluctant to learn other languages, but this research suggests that we are not even prepared to invest in the training required to adapt our own language, accents and behaviour to help non-native English speakers understand us.”

Headline findings in the report include:

•    78% HR Directors questioned did not consider it necessary to train native English speakers to moderate their vocabulary when negotiating with non-native English speakers
•    98% believed their non-native English speakers could communicate effectively in English.
•    Although 67% of those questioned believed that it was “very important” for business people to have a good cultural understanding of their trading partners; only 23% would offer training.
•    Only 4% believed the “Basil Fawlty” approach of speaking “more loudly” would be effective in communicating with non-native English speakers.

Worrying stuff isnt it?

by +Neil Payne
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New Zealand teachers to improve knowledge of Maori culture



New Zealand Education Minster, Pita Sharples, has launched a new initiative ‘Tataiako’ that aims to help teachers to improve their understanding of Maori culture. The resource, which acts as a set of guidelines, enables teachers to reflect on their past cultural sensitivity, to assess their existing knowledge,  and also to take responsibility for improving their cultural awareness for the future.

The important aspect of this particular programme is that it looks to establish a long-term reflexive attitude within the teaching commuity. The stress is not to enforce rules or test teachers, but instead to encourage them to contemplate upon their own experiences and behaviour throughout their careers.

New Zealand is popular with tourists from all over the world and is famous for accommodating and welcoming their needs. However, as with every country, it is vital that it considers the cultural integration of its own citizens before true pluralism can be achieved. It is not about a short-term activity-based integration or homogenizing of migrant communities, it is about the existing people of New Zealand having respect for the cultures of their own islands.

“Engaging in respectful working relationships with Maori students and their families” (quoted from: New Zealand news platform ‘Stuff’) is a key point taken from the new guidelines. It extends from the classroom discussion and integrity of cultural awareness to broader social integration of different communities within New Zealand (school) life. A further three guidelines outline “sincerity and respect towards Maori beliefs, language and culture”, taking responsibility for the learning of Maori students and the deliberate recognition of Maori student’s heritage as the core competancies for teachers to work for.

The main need is to understand the importance of identity to Maori students and their communities. Without understanding the unique perspectives of these children and young adults, you cannot fully engage in understanding how school and learning can and will come across to them.

Statistical evidence over the past decade has shown that students from a Maori background are falling behind those children from other ethnic groups. Improving cultural awareness will not only improve the continuity of Maori childrens’ lives, but will also make it easier for communication to exist between schools and Maori communities on the issue of education.

Finally, from the development of more culturally aware and skillful teachers should come the formulation a of more respectful, united and happy student population.
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Police Translation Costs Soar



A new report has highlighted the fact that the police force across the UK has spent over £82 million over the last three years on translation services. It is thought that the police have had to fork out such a large chunk of their budget so that they can effectively communicate with migrant criminals, victims and witnesses.

In 2004 the EU allowed Poland and other eastern European countries to join its ranks and since then translation costs have been soaring.

It is estimated that the police spend approximately £75,000 a day on translators which could equate to 3,542 extra officers on the beat.

The latest figures have been highly criticised as they come at a time when the police force have had to take officers off the beat as a result of spending cuts. Some forces have had to impose pay freezes but it seems as though the costs of paying for translators is rising at a great rate. .

However, the police are aware that they need to serve all of the community and in areas where a diverse range of languages are spoken it is a must to be able to communicate effectively with the public.

The government are responding to the high spend though by imposing an £18 million cut this year on translation budgets.
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Is the Global Manager Dead?


According to Professor C. A. Bartlett who co-authored “Transnational Management” nearly 20 years ago, the business world is a very different place to what is was back when he wrote the book.
The book is now in its sixth edition and Bartlett describes it as a continuous work and a passion of his. He has filled the book over the years with case studies that demonstrate how the world of business works and also highlights how the world of business has changed over the years.
One of the biggest changes in the way that the international world of business now works is with the way that many modern businesses now operate. Communication has come on leaps and bounds since 1992 (when the book was first published) and it is easy to forget how quickly connected we can be with people on the other side of the globe. The internet and email has broadened business horizons and made many more places reachable and the improvement of the spread of information and data has been a real boon to businesses everywhere. Skype, satellite phone and video conferencing have all broken down the barriers of international business.
The very fact that technology has broken down international barriers means that there really is no such thing anymore as the global manager, as almost every office worker now spends their time in a global environment.
International divisions now also no longer really exist like they used to in the 1960s and 1970s when the managers were sent abroad for long periods of time. The fluidity of today’s world means that many companies look to recruit managers from all over the world as travel is no such of longer an issue as it used to be.
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Diversity Training Imposed on Legal Clerks



It seems that legal clerks are going to be required to undergo diversity training if they want to continue working successfully within the legal field.
Legal chambers are now seeking to protect themselves against the lack of cultural knowledge that their staff may have by making sure that diversity training is undertaken. The move comes after the 4 Square case where discrimination charges were laid at 4 Square’s door.
The regulator, the Bar Standards Board (BSB), is currently drawing up set of guidelines that will help to steer the legal profession through the minefield that is culture and diversity training. It is hoped that these guidelines will be approved and will be included in the code of conduct by the end of next year.
Legal companies are starting to realise the importance of cultural training and courses are filling up within hours of being made available to firms.
Legal companies have responded to the move saying that they welcome the new regulations that will require staff to be fully made up to date on cultural and diversity issues that are facing the UK at the moment.
More and more clients also expect their lawyers to know all about the dangers of discrimination so in order to give the clients what they need the firms need to make sure that all of the staff are brought up to speed.
4 Square barrister Aisha Bijlani has highlighted this issue after winning a claim against 4Square in which she accused the firm of racial and disability prejudice.
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