Breaking the language barriers!

Posted June 26

We native English-speakers are lucky people. Despite constituting only four percent of the global population, thanks to the spread of the British empire, the success of the American post-war economy and the global popularity of English-language films and music, more than a quarter of all the people on Earth speak our language.

As travellers, it’s a fact that often makes life incredibly easy. Wherever we go in this world, there’s a good chance that someone will understand what we say. In some ways it’s too easy – we drift around the globe expecting to be understood in every place we go, and are notorious for making little or no effort to learn the local tongue of wherever we happen to be.

One thing that I’ve learnt as a traveller is that if you make a little effort to speak to someone in their own language, the experience changes completely for everyone involved. People become warmer and more welcoming, and we all come to understand each other just a little more.

Watching The Human, Earth Project grow, I wanted to share it around the world. Having travelled on five continents, I’m fortunate to have friends in many different places, speaking many different languages, who share my enthusiasm for the project. If you’ve been on the website lately, you may have noticed things beginning to change…

Languages

The Human, Earth Project website is now available in twelve different languages (including some of the countries we’ll be travelling through, so that locals there can have some understanding of what it is we’re doing!)

This has been a huge job, involving some wonderful humans all over the Earth: Christine Cheung (Simplified Chinese), Ymke Raymakers (Dutch), Anu Virtanen (Finnish), Renaud Cheyrou (French), Samata Agrawal (Hindi), Tia Irma (Indonesian), Moreno (Italian), Noor Syuhada Abdul Ghani (Malay), Mina Modalsli (Norwegian), Leila Azul (Spanish) and Lisa Carlsson (Swedish). And that’s only the beginning: more languages will be added to the site over the coming weeks…

If, like many of my friends, you speak English as a second language, you’ll be able to view the site in your own language, and share it with your friends and family :)

When the journey begins in September, I’ll be writing regular updates documenting our search for the people in the photographs. Clearly, it will be impractical to have each update translated into so many different languages, and I’m hoping to continue four: English, French, Italian and Spanish.

There are times I let my idealism get in the way of practicality, and I began this task with little understanding of just how much work it would involve. You might say that I bit off more than I could chew – or, to use a rather cute Italian phrase, I ‘took a step longer than my leg’. This would have all been impossible without my brother Nick, who manages his own software development business (pinionsystems.com) and has plenty of other things to spend his time and energy on, but has been an enormous help to me throughout the entire project.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. The word is slowly spreading – follow us on Facebook, and share us with your friends!

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