The significance of effective translation cannot be emphasized in a society that is becoming more interconnected. Our global society is built on the foundation of accurate language communication, from cross-border corporate transactions to intercultural diplomacy. The flip side of this linguistic coin, however, is that subpar translations can lead to catastrophes of all sizes. In this article, we will examine actual instances of unsuccessful translations in order to highlight the critical function of a competent translator in averting such expensive errors.
The Unseen Heroes: Translators and Interpreters
It’s important to acknowledge the important function that qualified translators and interpreters play in our world before diving into the translation errors that have caused chaos. The unsung heroes of worldwide communication are these linguists. In order to ensure that complicated ideas, legal documents, marketing materials, medical records, and more are effectively communicated across linguistic and cultural barriers, they change these materials.
The following are some crucial tasks that proficient translators and interpreters must perform:
Maintaining Context: Translators don’t just swap out words for their translations in a different language; they also keep the cultural and contextual inflections that are sometimes lost in direct word-for-word translations.
Facilitating Global Trade: In the world of business, a good translation may make or break a contract. Companies use translators to traverse international marketplaces and make sure their messages are understood by local audiences.
Legal and medical precision: A little misunderstanding might have serious repercussions in the legal and medical areas. Contracts, medical records, and prescriptions are carefully translated into the target language by translators, who make sure there are no ambiguities.
Cultural Sensitivity: Effective translation requires an understanding of cultural variances. To prevent misunderstandings and offense, translators must be sensitive to cultural quirks.
The High Stakes of Inadequate Translation
Let’s look at some examples from the actual world to show how disastrous mistranslations may be.
Kentucky Fried Chicken
In the English-speaking world, Kentucky Fried Chicken is well-known for its catchphrase, “Finger-lickin’ Good!” But in China, that expression is ineffective. When the fast-food juggernaut first entered the Chinese market, their slogan—which should have read “Eat your fingers off”—was mistranslated. This is not the best idea when you’re hungry for food.
Toilet water from Schweppes
Another notable case is when Schweppes Tonic water introduced their product in Italy and did literal translation (a trend that obviously doesn’t always work). It turned out that the literal translation was “Schweppes Toilet Water.” When entering a new market, this poses a significant challenge, especially when a delectable beverage is swapped for toilet water.
Rush to Die
An accurate translation could occasionally have unpleasant outcomes. Our translators are specialists in localizations because of this. For instance, the initial transliteration of Mercedes Benz was ‘Benzi’. That implies a hasty demise. It goes without saying that no one wants to be linked with a car firm for that reason. This was eventually changed to “Benchi.” This refers to moving swiftly like you’re flying.
The goal of Ford’s commercial campaign in Belgium was to draw attention to the caliber of its most recent automobile. Every car has a high-quality body, however due to a mistranslation, the phrase was actually translated as “Every car has a high-quality corpse.”
Tragedies can occasionally result from translation errors, like in this instance from 1980. In Florida, a man was rushed into an emergency room. His companions weren’t particularly fluent in English and were of Spanish descent. As a result, they used the term “intoxicado” instead of “poisoned” to describe his condition, which the staff interpreted as “intoxicated”. They treated him for a heroin overdose as a result, and the man was left paraplegic because the necessary therapy was given too late. As a result, the hospital was ordered to pay 71 million dollars in the lawsuit, and the guy was rendered immobile.
St. Jerome attempted to translate the Hebrew Old Testament into Latin, but he made a mistake. Since Hebrew translations do not contain vowels, the word “karan” was mistranslated as “keren,” which means “horned,” when the intended meaning was “radiance.” As a result, Moises was frequently shown in sculptures and paintings with horns on his head. Even the Bible was not exempt from errors, demonstrating how crucial it is to select reliable translations for your purposes.
The Value of a Competent Translator
These instances show that translation is a specialized talent that should not be taken lightly. Here are some characteristics of a proficient translator:
Language Proficiency: A professional translator has a thorough command of grammar, syntax, idiomatic expressions, and cultural context in addition to being fluent in both the source and destination languages.
Cultural sensitivity: This quality is crucial. Translators need to be aware of cultural quirks and subtext in order to effectively transmit the intended meaning.
Subject Matter experience: A translator with subject matter experience guarantees that industry-specific terminology is correctly translated in specialist industries like law, health, finance, or technology.
The devil is in the details, so pay attention to them. A skilled translator is diligent, making sure that every word and nuance is translated accurately.
Meeting Deadlines: Time is often of the essence in many situations. To meet strict deadlines without sacrificing quality, skilled translators skillfully manage their time.
Continuous Learning: Just as businesses and civilizations change, so do languages. To stay up to date with linguistic developments and market trends, professional translators pursue continual education.
In today’s globalized world, where communication between cultures and countries is quite necessary, translation is a most valuable asset. Whether it is used in a business setting, when entering a new market, in the medical field, or in a legal manner, translation is the bridge that makes communication between international parties possible. Because of its importance, great emphasis should be placed on finding a good and competent translation company, because the consequences of mistranslation can lead to blunders and great problems, as we saw in the examples above. HI-COM can help you with all your translation projects in more than 40 languages.