The Capital Market Consequences of Language Barriers in the Conference Calls of Non-U.S. Firms
50 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2012 Last revised: 13 Jan 2016
Date Written: November 1, 2015
We examine how language barriers affect the capital market reaction to information disclosures. Using transcripts from non-U.S. firms’ English-language conference calls, we find that the calls of firms in countries with greater language barriers are more likely to contain non-plain English and erroneous expressions. For non-U.S. firms that hire an English-speaking manager, we find less use of non-plain English and fewer erroneous expressions. Calls with a greater use of non-plain English and more erroneous expressions show lower intraday price movement and trading volume. The capital market responses to non-plain English and erroneous expressions are more negative when the firm is located in a non-English-speaking country and has more English-speaking analysts participating in the call. Our results highlight that, when disclosure happens verbally, language barriers between speakers and listeners affect its transparency, which in turn impacts the market’s reaction.
Keywords: Linguistic complexity; Non-plain English; Voluntary disclosure; Capital market consequences; Language barriers
JEL Classification: G14, G15, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation