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TRANSLATORPUB.COM - A Bad Translation Can Ruin Even the Best Project

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Want a good laugh? Just read a funny compilation of epic translation fails. They are hilarious, and if you go for a walk you will find them everywhere: in signs, product labels, and offers in stores. Then, afterwards, you will surely be liberated from stress.

Guess who is to suffer from stress instead... That's right: the person in charge of the translation task which, of course, most likely caused not only laughs but monetary loss.

This was the case of a certain pen launched in Mexico a while ago whose slogan was meant to say "It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you" and ended as "It won’t leak in your pocket and pregnant you" because "embarras" seems similar to "embarazar" (impregnate). A beginner's mistake. Needless to say, Mexicans were very amused, but this isn't the best start for a trademark's expansion in a new market.

As a matter of fact, the pen situation was not an isolated case. Many other companies' slogans (or even brand names) have resulted in catastrophic translation failures, like when in China a popular soda invited people to brings their ancestors back from the dead while the intended phrase was the joyful "Come Alive!".

When it comes to corporate communication, these kinds of errors are a marketing sin that only in very rare occasions have a good inexpected consequence; however, we see them frequently. Why?

In the past, we could easily blame the --not very qualified-- person hired to do the job. Now, the reason is... well, the same. Nevertheless, in the present technology plays a huge part in the process for the --still unqualified-- "professionals". It turns out many so-called translators only use one or two programs of machine translation and later just edit to fix major issues, with proven disastrous results.

Other bad practices of translation agencies include sending an extensive project to several translators, thus losing consistency and gaining many discrepancies of styles; entrusting an specialized work to translators who don't have the knowledge or experience in the specific industry; sending back the finished project without a proofreading step, thereby delivering it with grammar mistakes, among many others.

It's simple and it's plain: a bad translation can ruin a whole campaign and perhaps the reputation of the enterprise. Sometimes the damage is permanent.

Even if the mistakes don't go public, far away from advertising strategies, they are potentially dangerous for business.

Let's say for instance a CEO needs to make an investment invitation to the potential firm's new foreign partners and trust the translation to someone without the necessary qualification, a person who perhaps by not knowing the correct terminology ends up ruining the entire transaction. Negotiation is over.

It wasn't the CEO's fault. Any board member, project manager, executive, owner, or employee should feel absolutely safe in the hands of an expert translator. They should be able to trust this skilled professional in a blindfolded way.

Another factor to take into account is the localization within the translation service. Localization means to adapt a product or service into the language of any region or country to account for the difference not only in language but the culture as well. Language localization means adapting a product or service to the needs of the local consumers, aside from the translation of written text.

Now, you can have an idea of how important it is to invest in a professional translator to handle your communications in a foreign language. Professional translators will help you to get your message across effectively, they will give your project the attention it needs, they will let you know the better way to communicate culturally with your audience and will save your money and lead to profits in the long run.



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