As business tends to be increasingly global, there are often occasions when you need to provide things like signs, web content, and brochures in more than one language. In some industries, however, such as travel, this has always been the case.
Good translators can be hard to find for some language pairings, but they are worth their weight in gold when it comes to your brand’s reputation and making it easier to do business with a wider audience.
The Harm of Bad Translations
Bad translations are everywhere, from websites of small businesses through to even larger business assets. If you have ever used an ATM in a non-English speaking country and chosen to change the language to English, you will probably have experienced slightly weird translations of simple things, for instance, the machine asking you to ‘digit your PIN’.
While these things are possible for most people to understand, they can harm a brand’s image. People tend to think the business should have just gone to a little more effort to get it right, especially when it is a small amount of text on a sign or an ATM where it would cost very little to hire a translator to do a better job.
When Translations Go Really Wrong
Something that doesn’t read completely naturally in the language it is written in can be mildly annoying and seem a little unprofessional. However, there are times when a translation can be so wrong it has unintended consequences. There are plenty of sites who collate images of worrying sounding dish translations on menus. There is also this list of funny out of order signs that also shows where translations that have gone wrong can turn a business into a laughing stock.
This isn’t just harmful to your reputation; it can also make it impossible for customers to know what they want when they visit you. If your menu has a bad translation that makes it sound like you’re selling slugs boiled in slime, they’re not going to order that, even if it’s actually some delicious garlic shrimp and your translation is just totally wrong. What they will do, however, is photograph the menu and post it online for their friends’ amusement, and that’s not the kind of publicity you want!
Bad translations can even actually cause danger and potential legal issues if they are on hazard warning signs.
Don’t Skimp On Good Translators
While there are plenty of talented people who are fluent in multiple languages, it is best to hire someone whose native language is the target language and speaks the original language as well. It is easier to translate from a second language into your first language and ensure the end result is error free.
Don’t rely on Google Translate. Good translators are a really vital asset to some businesses and a boon to others, so never go with half measures when it comes to finding the best people to do this work for you!