Jonathan Haynes – Fridge. Photo-friendly version. – CC BY-SA 2.0.

Jonathan Haynes – Fridge. Photo-friendly version. – CC BY-SA 2.0.

Cultural differences can cause problems even when the cultures involved are very similar and share the same language. RecycleBank is an American firm that specializes in creating programs that reward people for recycling, similar to airlines’ frequent-flyer programs. In 2009, RecycleBank expanded its operations into the United Kingdom. Executives at RecycleBank became offended when the British press referred to RecycleBank’s rewards program as a “scheme.” Their concern was unwarranted, however. The word scheme implies sneakiness when used in the United States, but a scheme simply means a service in the United Kingdom (Maltby, 2010). Differences in the meaning of English words between the United States and the United Kingdom are also vexing to American men named Randy, who wonder why Brits giggle at the mention of their name (Table 7.4 “Watch Your Language”).

Table 7.4 Watch Your Language Cultural differences rooted in language—even across English-speaking countries—can affect how firms do

business internationally. Below we provide a few examples.

Book and movie titles are often changed in different markets to appeal to different cultural sensibilities. For example, British author J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the United States because of the belief that American children would find a philosopher to be boring.

Moms in the states can be seen walking with strollers in their neighborhoods, while “mums” in Ireland and the United Kingdom keep their children moving in a buggy.

In India, you are more likely to hear “no problem” than “no” as Indian nationals avoid the disappointment associated with using the word no.

The area called a trunk in America is known as the a boot in England.

Wondering what it means when a British friend asks, “What’s under your bonnet?” Open the hood of your car to offer an answer


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