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On a roll: How bread trivia can save your corporate communication in Germany

On a roll: How bread trivia can save your corporate communication in Germany

Germany has the largest translation market in Europe. This shouldn’t be surprising; after all, Germany is the world’s third-largest exporter, having sold $900 billion more in 2019 than its fourth-place competitor, Japan. Global industries all want a slice of Germany’s pie, and this robust economic situation is part of what makes “the land of poets and thinkers” Europe’s translation capital.

But whether you’re trying to get in on Germany’s action or start business dialogues with its DACH-region neighbors Austria and Switzerland, don’t think for a minute that one text translated into Standard German will have the same appeal everywhere the language is spoken. The average tourist backpacking through the country will encounter no fewer than a dozen dialects within its borders, each spoken by a fiercely proud populace that can draw a line between “insiders” and “outsiders” based on, say, how they order a bread roll.

This is worth diving into for a minute, as bread is a staple of the German diet. Anyone intent on not starving to death during their stay in Germany – or who wants to learn why localization is necessary when translating into German – would be wise to read on.

Asking for Brötchen will get you fed in most of the country north of Frankfurt am Main. Exceptions to this otherwise sound geographical rule of thumb can be heard in Berlin (Schrippe), in the east starting in Dresden (Semme(r)l), and working its way down the eastern border. But if you leave Frankfurt/Main and head south through Mannheim and Heidelberg, and your tummy starts to rumble, pull over at the next bakery and order a Weck. Hop back in the car, head further south toward Stuttgart, and everything between there and the Swiss border will be Weck(er)le.

For simplicity’s sake, we won’t get into Laabla, Bömmel, Kipf, Brötli, Weggla, Krosse, Rundstück, or the dozen other variations within Germany alone. Nor have we set foot in Switzerland or Austria to examine their dialectical variations on this staple of Germanic cuisine. Nor will we list the different German words for the end piece of a loaf of bread. (Yes, they have a word for that … and yes, they have several words for that.)

We won’t get into all this because we have already made our point: when it comes to even the most mundane vocabulary, localizing the translation can convert curious onlookers into customers. Readers in Stuttgart will know immediately when a text was translated for a Hamburg audience. Bavarians may lose interest in an advertisement when it becomes clear it is intended for Berliners, but they are far more likely to read to the end or click the desired link when an ad is tailored to the hometown language of their hearts and minds.

Translating pays; localizing pays better. It’s that simple.

And when you’re operating in the German market, you need wordinc. It’s that simple.

With wordinc, you have experts at your side who can order bread in every town; speak directly to each reader; and who know when spelling, grammar, and vocabulary make the difference between “pass” and “purchase.” Because your product, brand, or corporate image are far too valuable to put at risk with one catch-all translation.

Especially if you’re a baker.

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