If I have to choose one person who could speak as passionately about BnP as I would and who could also add some global perspective while at it, there is only one person I can think of. With boundless enthusiasm and a genuinely giving heart, Sandeep Nulkar spearheads one of India’s largest translation bureaus and has been working relentlessly to create an identity for the Indian translator.
For the anniversary issue of BnP, join us as Mentor-in-chief, Sandeep Nulkar, gets candid and talks about globalisation and of course, about BITS and Pieces.
So BITS and Pieces is one year old. What has it meant for you as its Mentor-in-Chief?
It’s been a terrific journey, one that has allowed us to connect with hundreds and thousands of students, teachers, language professionals, buyers and sellers of language services, language aficionados and above all, kids of all ages across the country. We never wanted to be a typical “newsletter” ranting about how cool we are. With our minimag, we have always wanted to help people benefit from the power of being linguistically and culturally global, thus making a positive difference to their personal and professional lives.
So what exactly is it to be global, according to you?
As opposed to say 20 years ago, today, we live in a world of shrinking borders. Although it has become fashionable to say this, I feel people seldom understand what it means. Being global is being more aware of a world beyond your own, knowing more about the various languages, traditions and customs of lands far and beyond and about using this information to forge deeper bonds and closer ties with people you meet on a personal and professional level.
And how do you think will our readers benefit from it?
On a personal level, it will make you more open minded, more tolerant and make your life easier. People will be more forthcoming, helpful and friendly even if you can use a few basic phrases in the local language. On a professional level, knowing about your customer’s language, culture, customs and traditions can make for great ice-breaking conversations, be it in board rooms or in sales meetings. Seeing you have cared to know about them, makes it easy for your customers to trust you.
So are you saying that businesses and the people who run them must be global?
Absolutely! The former German Chancellor, Willy Brandt’s gospel truth “If I am selling, I am happy to speak your language, but if I am buying dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen (then you must speak in German),” sums up the importance of businesses being global.
So how can businesses go about becoming global?
Well, I think localisation is the most powerful tool that businesses can use to be more global and break into more markets. Because gone are the days when you could stay hidden. With the increased reach of the internet, your products and services could be reaching hundreds through your web presence even while you sleep. Businesses would, therefore, benefit from having their entire sales material localised in at least the languages of their primary markets, if not into all languages.
Could you explain the term ‘localisation’?
Simply put, localisation is allowing your customers to connect with your products or services in their language. But localisation goes way beyond just translation. In fact translation is only a part of localisation that includes an IT angle as well as a cultural one.
Websites or web and mobile applications need to be able to support special fonts (e.g. Arabic, Chinese or even Hindi for that matter), special characters (accents on alphabets) and others requirements of a language (some languages are written right to left and some even vertical) so that the content is displayed correctly. That is the IT bit of localisation that can happen only after the software code is internationalised.
But is this already happening? Have businesses started realising the importance of being global?
Globally, they absolutely have and for many years now. How else do you think a Google or a Microsoft penetrate practically every country on the face of this earth? These two along with Wikipedia and the likes are one of the most extensively localised products and services there are on the market, available practically in all conceivable languages.
And is there anything for us? As in, anything language or other professionals can benefit from while businesses are busy turning increasingly global?
Learn a language. Up to what level and which one won’t matter. You will be surprised how much you can use it to support or supplement your primary career. Think of an engineer knowing German or an IT professional knowing Japanese or a Sales person knowing French or Spanish or even a couple of Indian languages if your role restricts you to a primarily Indian clientele. Languages will also help you get noticed and add value to your company in ways others cannot.
And if you intend to make a career in languages, learn and study the language well. And yes, don’t forget to read, write and speak your mother tongue. The future belongs to those language professionals who know English, a foreign language and their mother tongue.
As a parting shot, any message for our readers?
(laughs) I am sure you can answer that question better! Keep reading BITS and Pieces as we continue to make it more and more interesting and relevant for you. Be a part of our events and activities. It will benefit you in more ways than one.