In addition to the inclusive language we talked about on this page, it is also important to consider the global reach of our communication. It is not just language barriers that can separate us, but cultural ones as well. These tips might be helpful in bridging them with members, users, partners, and clients.
Tips on Globally Accessible Language
- Use appropriate emojis. Using a specific emoji popular in one country in context with local slang or culture may or may not be understood or could be perceived differently in another country.
- Make sure your grammar is accurate.
- Use short sentences.
- Avoid negatives. Questions phrased in the negative, like ‘You don’t have an Amara account, do you?’ are harder to follow and could provoke the opposite response than was intended out of confusion. Be straightforward: ‘Do you have an Amara account?’.
- Beware of slang, colloquialisms, and false friends.
- Use consistent terminology.
- Use complete sentences for all list items and make sure you have a period at the end of each item.
- Make sure that spaces after periods are properly inserted (one space after periods and commas).
- Be aware of language use and spelling differences (if you choose to write “colour”, keep your entire conversation using British spelling).
- Use people-first language. Remember that there is more to a person than their descriptors. In writing (and in person) always put people before their characteristics. For example, instead of a “disabled person” or “female engineer,” use “person with a disability” and “a woman on the engineering team.”
- Use universal phrases. Because not every one of us shares the same background and experiences, it’s important to avoid using language and terms that may alienate certain people or groups. This includes any business or industry jargon, acronyms and even some seemingly “common” idioms which don’t translate well globally.
- There is no “normal”. Take care not to write using your own group as the reference group, which oftentimes implies a position of normality and superiority. Use of the word “normal” as a comparison group can stigmatize people who are different and imply they are abnormal. Terms like “non-white” position white people as the norm, and everyone else as a deviation or variation. Avoid these and other similar terms.