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The “real” London Translations: A little more about the foreign audiences on your doorstep

You may think you only need a translator or interpreter when you’re doing business abroad. But with London being a melting pot of cultures, you could be missing an opportunity to use translation to reach your target market in their mother tongue.

Here are three areas of London where translating your marketing campaign could really benefit your business.

Barnet: Polish

One of the most difficult languages to learn, Polish, is the second most spoken language in the London borough of Barnet, and in six other boroughs in London (Bromley, Ealing, Lewisham, Merton, Richmond and Wandsworth). Home to nearly 370,000 people, the London borough of Barnet is also the second largest borough by population in London.

There are more than 10,000 residents with Polish nationality in the borough. The majority of people in the borough work within education.

Migration history

The Polish community in London has it roots in the Second World War, after Britain came to the aid of its ally, in 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. From the exiled Polish government to the Polish officers who served with the British Army, many Polish people went on to establish a home in the UK.

After Poland joined the EU in 2004, there were successive waves of Polish people immigrating to Britain as part of the EU policy of free movement. According to data from the last census, Polish is now the second most spoken language in the UK.

Turkish: Enfield

Turkish is the second most spoken language in Enfield and in three other London boroughs (Hackney, Haringey and Islington). The London Borough of Enfield has more than 320,000 residents with more than 8% of residents identifying as Turkish or Turkish Cypriot. As a result of the large Turkish community, the council has twinning arrangements in Turkey. The majority of residents work within retail.

Migration history

After Cyprus got its independence from Britain in 1960, Turkish Cypriots migrated to the UK for work. The 70s and 80s specifically saw significant migration from Turkey to the UK as citizens looked to escape the violence and social unrest of the 70s and later the military coup in 1980.

Bengali: Tower Hamlets

Bangla or Bengali as it is also known, is the second most spoken language in India. Not only is it the official language of Bangladesh, but it is also an official language of Sierra Leone. Bengali is the second most spoken language in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, as well in the London Boroughs of Newham and Camden. A borough of eight square miles, Tower Hamlets has just under 300,000 people with 59% aged between 15 – 44, higher than the national average which sits at 42%. The majority of residents in the borough work within business and finance associated professions.

Migration history

Records show the presence of Sylheti lascars (Bangladeshi sailors) from the 1850s onwards at London ports. But migration from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) began on a large scale in the 50s and 60s as migrants came to meet the labour shortage in the UK. The Commonwealth Immigrants Act in 1962, restricted the levels of immigration from the Commonwealth but those already resident in the UK, helped others to come forming a chain of migration. In 1961, there were approximately 6,000 Bangladeshis in the UK, by 1971 the population had risen to 22,000.

In 1971 the Liberation War was fought between West Pakistan (Pakistan) and East Pakistan (Bangladesh). The war was short but brutal, and led to further immigration to the UK and the formation of present day Bangladesh.

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