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A-Z of Translation – the letter B

Continuing our series, we’re heading off to one of our closest European neighbours for the letter B:

Belgium – Translators tend to think in terms of languages, unsurprisingly, but most translation work is undertaken for commercial reasons and businesses are more interested in markets. Belgium is a good example of a market with multiple official languages – Dutch, French and German (although the latter is only spoken by a tiny percentage of the population). So a company interested in selling into the Belgian market will typically need both Dutch and French translation. In fact, Belgium is also an interesting case because there are significant differences between Dutch as used in Belgium and in the Netherlands – comparable to the differences between UK English and US English (another point-of-view issue here: a linguist would talk about Flemish in relation to Belgium, but Belgian officialdom calls the language Dutch). In the consumer market, failure to ensure use of the correct local variant of Dutch may cause friction or resentment. So the translator’s perspective turns out to be important as well.

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