Saturday, January 29, 2005

Language as Brand: The European eContentplus Initiative Aims to Shore Up Multilingual Content Assets

The lion's share of European languages are not going to disappear anytime soon, but content written in those languages is becoming a threatened commodity in electronic content. Thanks to the Web a handful of major languages are dominating the content that's made available online, predominantly English, but increasingly a wider range of languages that reflect the flow of both online and offline commerce. To counter this trend the European Parliament has voted to spend EUR 149 million according to (in English) on an initiative designed to tackle the fragmentation of the European digital content market and to improve the accessibility and usability of geographical information, cultural content and educational material. This is a politician's dream vote, of course: who can be against native languages and culture disappearing? Yet the sad truth is that the search for relevant content is coalescing languages into smaller pools than ever before. If one is able to find the answers to a question via a search in an easily understood language it's increasingly unlikely that multilingual content will abate the desire to get timely and relevant results regardless of its language source. Language is a key component of content value, but preservation alone will not maintain the value of that content in the eyes and ears of an online audience. Making sure that content is well-translated in global languages as well as local languages and providing easy access to both is the key to good multilingual content, a practice mastered well by major outlets in Korea and Germany but less so in other key markets. Pride of language will not be enough to provide successful content marketing - and global understanding of local cultures via content.
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