Did you know you can gain millions by moving country? Or by localising your website in another country?
Start with ‘five billion euros’ in the UK and localise your website in Europe you will end up with ‘five trillion euros’.
An impressive gain. So how is this possible?
Well worldwide there are at least three different numbering systems for large numbers of over one million.
The map below groups countries by colour according to which numbering system is most commonly used for high numbers.
The ‘long scale’ uses a new term for every increase that is a million times the previous one. This was the standard used by most Western European languages (French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese) called by the French name échelle longue (long scale). In English this gives a billion as a million million and a trillion as a million billion. This was the system universally used in the UK until the early part of the 20th Century. It is now used in much of Europe and Latin America. The Thai language also bases high number on millions. This is also used in parts of India .
A second numbering system, known as échelle courte or short scale increases every term by a thousand. So a billion is a thousand million and a trillion is a thousand billion (or a million million). This means the trillion (in the short scale) is equivalent to the billion in the long scale notation. The short scale system is used in America, the UK (from about 1970) and in Arabic and Russian speaking countries. The Vietnamese language also bases high number on thousands.
A third numbering system is based on tens of thousands and this is used in the Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Mongolian numbering systems.
Other variations exist – for example many Indian languages multiply in hundreds above one thousand.
So if you start out with ‘five billion euros’ in the UK and localise your website in Europe you will end up with ‘five trillion euros’ – just by changing your country.
Practically this causes complexity for multilingual and international websites, and particular difficulties in countries with a mix of languages (eg Canada).
International marketing requires website localisation and not just website translation. It is important that large numbers are accurately translated or errors of many millions can easily occur. ExtraDigital provide multilingual websites with website localisation in many different countries, with particular expertise in languages such as Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, French, Dutch and German.