How to write an effective business email when the recipient does not speak English



Every day, our customers at One Hour Translation receive dozens of comments from our translators' community regarding their business emails and letters.
The most frequent comments relate to the fact that the original text does not include important details, which the recipients expect to see and are common in their language and culture.
Here are few quick tips that will help you overcome cultural barriers when contacting foreigners:

1.    Use the recipient's correct title. In many countries - like France, Germany, Spain, China and Japan - you should use a proper polite title. Sometimes you should refer to the person using the third-person form. Use professional titles such as Dr., Prof., etc. where relevant.

2.    Use the correct greeting. In some cultures, greetings are longer than a short "How are you?".

3.    Introduce your company and yourself. In many cultures business is done only after a deep and intimate introduction. If you skip this part when you approach the recipient for the first time, you may miss the whole opportunity.

4.    Write short, simple sentences. This helps the message to be fully understood by the reader. This is important whether or not you translate your letter to the native language of the recipient.

5.    Avoid idioms and slang language. They will not be understood by most people outside your country.

6.    Do not refuse requests directly, and avoid criticism in emails or letters.

7.    End your letters and emails properly.

8.    Where possible, send the letter or email in the recipient's native language. This shows that you respect and care for their language and culture. Using the recipient's native language will usually be accepted very positively and will usually reduce cultural gaps or potential misunderstandings.

9.    Use only native-speaking translators. The recipient will know immediately if the translator is not a native speaker of his or her target language. Avoid using machine translation (like Google Translate or Yahoo's Babel Fish): automatic translation is still very far from producing an acceptable result. In many cases, it can completely distort the original meaning.

10.   If possible, use an independent proofreader who is also a native speaker of the target language: two pairs of eyes are always better than one. The proofreader can review the style, fix any typos and ensure the translation is perfect.


Written by: One Hour Translation is the world's fastest professional translation service

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