This is one of the 52 terms in The Language of Localization published by XML Press in 2017 and the contributor for this term is Catherine Deschamps-Potter.

What is it?

The ability to speak or write a foreign language easily and accurately and to comprehend most communication.

Why is it important?

Fluency enables the user of a language to focus on making connections among ideas. By making connections, the reader can focus his/her attention on comprehension. For most languages, fluency means having a minimum of 15,000 to 20,000 words in your vocabulary and being able to use them correctly in context.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

In the localization industry, fluency is a key concept. It goes far beyond the basic definition of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Fluency includes understanding the intricacies of language and cultural nuances, as well as mastering expressions, colloquialisms, and even onomatopoeia. Clients expect their translations to relay the same ideas as the original source content. Language professionals must not only constantly work to remain expert in both the source and target languages, they must be fluent in the industry they specialize in.

Cultural fluency is key to global customers. It takes more than physical expansion and translated documents to satisfy global clients. The one-size-fits-all approach does not work with global customers, and many large corporations have paid dearly for failing in this area.

With a clear insight into those markets, as well as deep knowledge of consumer preferences, localization vendors can help clients avoid such mistakes. A customized approach feels real and authentic to consumers. Companies can then increase customer engagement on global websites, build trust, and expand brand awareness.

It is crucial to think like the customer and to be culturally fluent to secure revenue growth. Business professionals doing business internationally have to be culturally fluent to work together effectively.