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  • Christina Theodorakis

That’s Not Something You Should Share

The English text that caught our eye here is the line that says, “Currently not selling.” This sounds overly frank in English and very negative, and it’s not something that a retail company should be sharing with potential customers.

The reason for this odd tidbit of information boils down to the difference in grammar between Japanese and English. In Japanese, the most basic way to say that an item is being sold is to say, "[An item is] selling." Transitive and intransitive verbs are used more loosely in Japanese, as what the speaker is trying to say comes through in context.

In the case that the item is sold out or just out of stock, however, Japanese allows you to simply make that verb negative, so it ends up being, “[An item is] not selling.” The Japanese verb for "not selling" as in “An item is not selling” doesn't have the same connotation as it does in English, so they wrote it this way without realizing that there’s a negative meaning behind what they’re saying.

Lacking the understanding of how words will come across to your target audience of the language you’re using may make potential customers take your brand less seriously at best and share your mistakes across the Internet at worst, possibly hurting your brand’s image globally. This is true for marketing in English and Japanese and is primarily why properly adapting marketing text and localizing it correctly is so important in successful international marketing.

This is where we at Globalize Consulting can come in to help. We’re not only professionals at Japanese->English and English->Japanese localization, we’re professional writers and experts in copywriting. We can also bridge the gap between Japanese and Western marketing with an understanding of the different cultures. If you’re interested in expanding your business or helping your failing business in Japan, contact us today.


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