23 Sep /14

Business Translation: The Tremor of Scottish Independence

Several days ago, Scotland’s bid for independence from the United Kingdom failed with only 46% of the vote. For many people, especially those in or bordering Scotland, life can go back to normal and talk about Scottish secession can (at least in the near future) be removed from the headlines. For other groups across Europe, however, the thought that the Scottish would actually take the idea of independence to a vote – and almost succeed – is an inspiring wake-up call.

Currently, there are more than 20 active separatist movements in Europe. Though most seek only a greater degree of autonomy, there are some who, if given the opportunity, would opt for outright independence if given the choice, such as, perhaps, the Basque country or Catalonia (where an independence vote is expected to take place later this year). To many within these regions separatism only makes sense, as they have a different language and culture than the nation to which they belong. While there is certainly something to be said for self-determination and sovereignty, in a business and economic sense, the results of an independence movement could easily complicate international business in these regions.

For a moment, consider what many predict would have happened if Scotland had voted to dissolve the union with Great Britain.

  1. RBS and other financial companies would have relocated their headquarters south to England.

  2. Currency issues – like whether to use the Pound or the Euro or have a national currency – would have to be addressed, and this uncertainty would, at least temporarily, create adverse market conditions.

  3. Land use contracts, such as those in the North Sea oil fields, would possibly need to be renegotiated.

  4. By stopping the (or limiting) the flow of British money to Scotland, the Scottish government would have to address a budget shortfall by either cutting services or raising taxes.

Clearly, changes like these would prevent a daunting challenge to any business, which can explain why a large percentage of the business community was for retaining the union. Thankfully, aside from these reasons, one aspect that didn’t worry too many people was the language aspect, due to the widespread use of English in Scotland and their 300 year union with Great Britain.

If this sort of independence drive happens in one of the more linguistically separate regions of Europe, things could get ugly. In the Basque country or Catalonia, for example, the 4 previously mentioned issues could definitely be compounded by the fact that everything would need to be translated into another language. Considering the prosperity of these regions – the Basque community has the highest per capita income in Spain and Catalonia has the highest regional GDP in Spain – continuing to do business in these locations is essential.

While international business must be expected to keep its eye on local and regional issues, planning and preparing for secessions is difficult. Using Scotland as an example, companies couldn’t be expected to have staff fluent in Scottish Gaelic and Lowland Scots available the day after the vote, just in case it passed. So what can a business do with time and cost being prohibitive? This is where a tailor-made solution from a business-oriented translation company will put your mind at ease.

EVS Translations has more than 20 years of experience with all aspects of business translations and services more than 20 languages in-house. Place all of your business translation projects with our experienced staff and develop new opportunities. EVS Translations provides specialist translations of business communication, contracts, and related materials for corporate partners from the UK, U.S., Germany, Israel, France, England, Russia, Korea, and Japan.

Contact us today to discuss your business translations projects.

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