Magazine article Communication World

Choosing Words with Care

Magazine article Communication World

Choosing Words with Care

Article excerpt

English is not my first language. As children, my grandparents immigrated to China during the Russian Revolution. My grandfather was a Chinese/Japanese interpreter during World War II. After living the first 15 years of her life in Harbin, China, my mother moved to Brazil for six years to await acceptance to the United States. I was born here in the U.S. not long after my mother arrived. We spoke only Russian at home, and my mother would spend many afternoons reading classic Russian literature to me. When I started school, I was put into an English as a Second Language program, though it did little good, as my brother and I were the only Russian speakers in the group. I recall how it felt to be an outsider and to understand only a portion of what was being said. There are still moments when I can think of a word in Russian and have to pause to think of it in English. I remember little frustrations, like asking my kindergarten teacher for scissors, but only being able to say the word in Russian.

As we put together this issue's special report on the Asia/Pacific region, I reflected on the fact that there are many people in the world struggling to do business in an environment where they cannot use their native language. As more and more countries do business with one another, the barriers of language and culture become more of an issue. To develop topics for this supplement, we consulted a panel of experts from all over IABC's Asia/Pacific region. …

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