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Adapting to Europe - Languages, for Instance With BC-Europe-Foreign Firms

December 21, 1992

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ American and Japanese executives find that Europe needs getting used to.

Take languages.

In the United States, English is spoken from coast to coast. In Japan, the only language is Japanese. But in Europe, languages are as abundant as raindrops.

There are nine official tongues in the 12 European Community nations - Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. The neighbors speak several more, such as Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish.

Some companies try to overcome the language problem by putting their European office in English-speaking Britain or Ireland. English tends to be the second language of Japanese executives.

They also hire multilingual Europeans.

Dimitri Papakyriacou, European marketing manager for Aspen Technology, a U.S. company, has a predominantly European staff, with six languages, at his office in Brussels.

Digital Microwave Corp. of San Jose, Calif., hooks up with local companies ″so that the language issue is not a major stumbling block to doing business,″ said Michael Michigami, its chairman.

Dell Computer Corp. of Austin, Texas, hires locally. ″We recruit locals and those locals take the Dell system and tailor it to the local market,″ said Andrew Harris, senior vice president.

Working hours tend to be shorter and vacations longer in Europe.

A metalworker’s typical week in Germany is 37 1/2 hours, for example, and unions object to overtime.

In the United States, ″everybody works until a project is over,″ Michigami said. ″You can’t do that in countries like Germany. ... If you need more labor, you have to hire more people.″

Norihiko Kubota, president of Sumicem Opto-Electronics, an Irish subsidiary of Sumitomo Cement, said a manager often works until midnight in Japan, but the day usually ends at 6 or 7 p.m. in Europe.

″This is a paradise,″ he said, with a broad grin.

End Adv for Monday AMs Dec 21

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