Global communications in English

News & Insights

Friendly request or polite order?

chairsWhich is more polite: ‘Please sit down’ or ‘Sit down, please’? If you put please at the beginning, you are making a polite, friendly request. If you put it at the end, you sound much less friendly. You’re not exactly giving an order, but you are in a serious mood – it’s no time for jokes!

©2015 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Powerful or powerfull?

handfulIt’s powerful – one l, not two, despite the fact that full as a word on its own is spelt with two. The same goes for all other adjectives of the same type, such as careful, useful, helpful, successful, awful, dreadful, delightful, wonderful, faithful, etc.

There are also nouns of measurement formed with -ful: e.g., spoonful, cupful, mouthful, handful, armful and pocketful.

©2015 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Fill in the gap: It’s the tallest building ___ the Netherlands.

De Maastoren, RotterdamIf you said of, you can learn something today! After a superlative like biggest, tallest, most famous, and so on, we use in if we’re talking about the relationship of an object to a place.

So it’s the biggest building in the world, the best restaurant in the country, the first Internet cafe in Nepal, etc.). If you’re talking about the relationship of something with other items of the same sort, you use of, so it’s the most beautiful of the royal palaces I have seen, the best of the lot, the most interesting of his books on China, etc.

©2015 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Fill in the gap: “Sales increased ___ five per cent this year.”

IncreaseMany Dutch people are led astray here by the fact that the equivalent verb in Dutch takes met (‘with’). However, the correct preposition to use with verbs like increase, rise, grow, reduce, cut, slash, lower, fall, decline, extend, lengthen or shorten to indicate ‘how much’ is by:

We have slashed prices by 25 per cent!
Official Development Assistance has declined by one-third.
The number of internet users is growing by leaps and bounds.
The roofline has been lowered by 34mm to 1390mm.
The gap between rich and poor widened by EUR 243 a week last year.
Annual asthma-related costs have been reduced by more than EUR 13,000.  

©2015 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Using softening expressions

men-talkingIt’s a good idea to use softening expressions such as ‘I’m afraid’, ‘sorry’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ regularly in your English – more often than you’d use similar expressions in Dutch. If you don’t, you may sound blunt and unfriendly. It’s not a question of ‘je uitsloven’ or ‘overdrijven’– it’s simply the way the game is played in English-speaking culture. Basically, that culture gives priority to minimising hurt or offence (which can lead to the truth being covered up); Dutch culture, by contrast, tends to give priority to maximising truth (which can lead to people being hurt or offended). They’re just two different approaches to managing social interaction. It’s useful at least to be able to recognise the difference!

Committee or commission?

European CommissionDutch commissie is sometimes committee in English and sometimes commission. What’s the difference? A committee is a small group of people brought together to discuss a particular topic at any level (e.g., the audit committee, the budget committee). A commission, however, is a body of people officially authorised to do government business or conduct an official inquiry (e.g., the Trade Commission, the Forestry Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the European Commission).



Easter days

Chocolate eggsWhat are the special days at Easter time called in English? The first day, i.e. Witte Donderdag in Dutch, is called Maundy Thursday. Maundy comes from French mandé and refers to the new commandment that Jesus gave the disciples after washing their feet at the Last Supper. It was once the custom for kings and queens to wash the feet of the poor on this day (interestingly, it was William of Orange who was the first to stop doing this!). On Maundy Thursday in Britain, the Queen gives alms (Dutch aalmoezen) to old people at a special ceremony. The day after Maundy Thursday is Good Friday. Sunday is called Easter Sunday (or Easter Day), and the day after, Easter Monday.

Wishing you a Happy Easter!


The Baxter “strippenkaart”

strippenkrtNeed a short article written quickly but haven’t got time? Just got a news item in that really needs a quick polish before you can publish it? Not sure whether your message comes across clearly enough? Had something translated, but it doesn’t read very well? Or perhaps you simply have an English grammar or spelling question? These are typical situations in which a quick e-mail or phone call to the Baxters can save your day – or at least make your life a lot easier!

Our flexible “strippenkaart”
Our on-demand service is very simple. We create a monthly or quarterly project for you on which we will book the time we spend on your small projects – booking as little as 15 minutes for 35 euros. We will keep you informed about how much you have spent or used up over time, and will send an itemised bill for the total amount at the end of the month or the quarter. You decide how much you want to spend. We’ll keep track of the time.

The closest you can get to in-house English support
We can let you know if and when we can help out straightaway, and we can often turn around your request immediately, so you can get on with things. It will feel like you’ve got us in-house!

Want to know more?
If this sounds like something you might be interested in, give us a ring or send an email to Astrid, and we’ll set up your “strippenkaart” just the way you want it.

Client case study: Giving Teijin Aramid a voice

TeijinSince 2007, Baxter Communications has been working with Teijin Aramid to create awareness of the diverse applications of the company’s unique products. Besides writing and editing marketing materials and providing general editorial support, our main responsibility is Teijin Aramid’s online magazine, Aramid Vision. Now into its eighth year, this is a successful partnership that continues to bring out the best in both parties.

A message to communicate

Teijin Aramid produces various high-strength fibres, most notably their para-aramid fibre, Twaron. Teijin’s products find uses in many different markets, such as automotive (e.g., tyres, hoses and belts), aerospace, leisure goods (e.g., boats), protective clothing (e.g., bullet-, fire- and cut-resistant clothing), optical fibre cables and more. Since the company is continually updating its offering, communicating with its target market of customers and suppliers is essential. Their online magazine Aramid Vision, which is distributed to some 6,500 customers, suppliers and distributors, builds brand awareness by showcasing the latest applications of Teijin’s products.

The benefits of a specialised writing agency

“It’s crucially important that we communicate with our customers in a clear and exciting way,” says Joost Suurenbroek, Corporate and Marketing Communications Officer at Teijin Aramid. “As a specialised writing agency, Baxter Communications delivers high-quality copy and they practically always hit the nail on the head the first time round. They’re able to translate complex ideas into simple language, which is strongly appreciated by our target audience. We’ve been working with Baxter for many years now, which means they have a real affinity with our products and services.”

In 2014, Teijin Aramid changed the format of the magazine from print to online, and we adapted our writing accordingly, producing more interactive copy that suits the online medium. “Our online magazine is very successful, as shown by customer feedback and analytics,” says Joost. “This would be impossible without well-written texts. If we want to be the world’s leading para-aramid company, our communication material has to be the best as well.”


Façade Stedelijk Museum

The newly renovated Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam has the largest composite façade in the world, made from a combination of Teijin’s Twaron and Tenax fibers. Photo: Teijin Ltd.




Managing your content, and maximising its quality

Content-still-leads1Communication trends for 2015 show some familiar ones still going strong (social media use is still rising) and some new ones (increased use of “explanimations” and other videos). But whatever the trend, content still leads in all channels – and budgets remain tight. You can make the most out of yours by making use of Baxter Communications’ professional support on a flexible, as-needed basis.

Obviously, you want ALL your communications to be clear and correct. But an internal email describing new training courses is different from an external article about professional partnerships or a major press release. Depending on your own workload, you may not always have time to ensure your content is at the quality standard you want – or that it is even created at all! If that’s the case, just contact Baxter Communications.

Proof, please!
Do you have an internally created message that could use a careful read through to correct any and all spelling, grammar and language mistakes? We offer expert proofreading with very quick turnaround time, and will even point out any inconsistencies in content or logic that we think need to be fixed. This ensures your communication will always be completely clear, correct and understandable.

Can you make it better?
If you find a text confusing, boring or difficult to read, it probably needs a good edit. Our editing services go beyond proofreading to rework the content itself as necessary to remove repetition, improve flow and logic, and make the message as engaging as possible. Editing can also give you a shorter, snappier version – for social media, for instance – of already written material.

Creating your content
You need content, but no one in your organisation has the time to put it together? We can create the stories you need for internal and external communications of all kinds – including social media. We can do this based on input you give us, or collect it ourselves through interviews or research. From beauty to science, and from social media to magazines – give us a subject and channel, and let us do the storytelling magic!

Virtual editorial team
When the organisation required by recurring communications, such as newsletters, takes more time than you have, Baxter Communications can act as your virtual editorial team. We can coordinate calls for topics within your organisation, collect input, and keep everything on schedule. Working closely together with you, we can smooth and speed the wheels of your day-to-day communications operations.

© 2013 - Baxter Communications | Hilversum - NL