Seen Funny Mistranslations Like These?
Most of us have travelled to another province or country, which means we've been exposed to signage or product packaging in different languages. We thought we should share some of our "favourites" with you in this article. Translation mishaps are examples of how the smallest translation error can greatly affect the intended marketing message and the consumer's reaction to that message. What should you watch out for, in order to make sure that your message gets portrayed properly in another language?
1) Rather than using an online translation tool, hire a translation agency!
If your company is looking to have its website, sales documentation or marketing materials translated, stay away from online translation tools. Translation tools can certainly help you to understand that letter from your long lost Italian friend, but will not provide the translation quality you require when presenting yourself to your customers and prospects. Remember - you only have one chance to make a good first impression!
3 Tips on How to Avoid Translation Pitfalls!
When a translation is so important, that a small error could in any way cause harm, it must be proofread by expert reviewers. For example, translations of binding legal documents (that are supposed to hold up in a court of law) have to be reviewed by an experienced lawyer who knows the laws of the country in which the court proceedings are to take place. All important medical translations have to be reviewed by a medical professional specialized in that area. The same holds true for your marketing materials. Hence, translation agencies will hire local, native translators that are exposed to the target market that you are working with. They speak the language, are familliar with the way their culture receives certain marketing messages and are sensitive to how locals express themselves. Unfortunately, a translation tool can not help you with that.
Remember: A translation tool only knows what you tell it and it will never be able to get the nuances of human speech. Garbage in - garbage out, as the IT guys say.
2) Do not see translation costs as an expense, but rather as an investment!
We've been approached by so many customers that have fallen into the "translation trap". They have outsourced their translation to the first cheap translation agency that they found online. An enticing price, such as three cents per word, is an offer that can't be beat! Only after the translation has been delivered, the flyers have been printed and the website went online, did their own salesforce or customers provide negative feedback. They realized very quickly that everything had to be taken off the shelves due to gross translation errors that caused the company more embaressment than anything else.
The same holds true for grabbing the first best French-speaking employee to undertake your website translation. It is a mistake to assume that anyone who speaks French can translate. That is not the case! Translators that work with translation agencies are trained, accredited professionals. Some translators even have a University degree in translation! They surround themselves on a daily basis with language projects, are involved in their native culture and educate themselves continuously about their language.
Hiring a translation agency needs to be seen as an investment. Pay well to get excellent results the first time around and save yourself the hassle of having to do it all over again.
Remember: When having your documents translated, the buck you save in the short run by hiring cheap translation agencies will cost you ten times more in the long run!
3) Allocate sufficient time for your translation project!
Proper translation takes time, just like any other well thought out project takes time. Translation does not only involve straight forward translation, but it also includes research, editing and proofreading. A good translation agency will ensure that the translation team will know what your company is all about and what kind of message you are trying to bring across. After the translation process is completed, the work will be edited, in order to make sure that the formatting matches your expectations. Last, but not least, a second translator will review your translation in order to ensure that nothing got missed.
Setting tight time constraints can put translation agencies in a bind. Even though the translation can get done in time, your translation agency may not be able to do as much research as they would have liked to, or spend as much time formatting the document as they usually do. Try to plan ahead, in order to allow for extra time that can be used to clarify questions, tweak the text and improve the word flow.
Remember: The more time you allocate for a translation project, the better quality product you will receive!
Review our "Frequently Asked Questions" section on our website (which also addresses translation quality).
Find out more about an interesting book called "Blunders in International Business".
To obtain a quote for getting your website translated and localized, please email us or call us at +1(519) 591-8802. Quotes are returned within 24 hours, are always free and non-obligatory!