When a customer wants to translate a document into English, the first question to ask is “Do you want to translate it into US English or UK English?”

Most clients didn’t really think about it and will answer “International English”. But do you know what International English – also called Global English- really is? This variation is targeted at non-native English people and thus should avoid any confusing grammatical structures. Even if it is perfectly correct in UK or US English, some sentences can still lead to serious misunderstandings. I can remember one instance where we had translated a hotel booking software from French into UK English. The sentence was related to cancellation insurance. The customer complained because non-native English speakers were ticking the box “do you want to take out the cancellation insurance?” thinking they were removing the cancellation insurance from their basket. While this sentence is correct and understandable by any native English speaker, it can be really confusing for non-native English people.

A quick search of the internet shows several examples of International English websites. You can even read an International English Bible “written in simple language for an ordinary person, the International English Bible offers both accuracy and ease of reading in a single translation”. In other words, for “people who speak English as a second language”. If God is to move in mysterious ways, it’s better if he at least does it in understandable English.

So the question is not “what is the target language, US English or UK English?” but “WHO is the target?”. Answer that, and then the decision is easier to make.