In need of a quick chuckle or two to lighten the daily grind? If you’ve a moment going spare, Google the query “translation blunders”. You won’t be disappointed because there are dozens of hilarious examples, not only to laugh at but to learn from, too.
Here’s a good one. A visit by the Pope to Miami resulted in a t-shirt manufacturer printing commemorative shirts in Spanish with the slogan “I saw the potato.” Of course, the slogan should have read “I saw the Pope”. Inadvertently, “el Papa”, the Pope, had been replaced by “la papa”, the Spanish word for potato.
Take language translation seriously
If nothing else, the oft-quoted papal example underlines the need by businesses of all sizes, shapes and hues to take language translation seriously. Sure, hiring the best individuals or companies offering translation services can seriously dent tight budgets. But make a gaffe, hilarious or otherwise, and the costs incurred could end up being far greater, not only in terms of money but also in terms of credibility.
Nowadays, you don’t need to be a giant in the tech industry to start selling goods or services overseas. Thanks to the Internet, even the smallest of businesses can now dip their toes in international markets. However, although in that sense the world has become a very small place indeed, don’t make the mistake of thinking the number of languages, dialects and cultures has also shrunk. They haven’t, which is why teaming up with professional language experts can make sound business sense.
But before embarking on any overseas odyssey, a first step must surely involve an assessment of any translation requirements needed in the first place. Perhaps Google Translate, Babelfish or some similar online service may be all you’ll ever need. Or perhaps you already know someone with a smattering of the target language who can help you out as and when required.
However, if the venture involves the setting up of a website, for example, or the production of marketing materials, press releases, legal documentation and more, some level of professional help is probably vital. The business may be highly technical in nature, too, with its own specialised jargon. Again, all of that must be taken into consideration. In the end, it comes down to the type of business involved and whether the selling of any goods or services overseas is to become a major part of its operation.
If you decide you’ll likely need the use of a company offering translation services, how do you find one? A quick search on the Internet will reveal hundreds, if not thousands of possible candidates, some of them owned and run by just the one person, while others are major organisations in their own right and able to handle large and complex projects.
Price, naturally, will play a part in any choice made, as will the reputation of the company itself, which may be gleaned from talking to its customers. Indeed, reputable companies should be more than happy to provide potential clients with such a list, as a starting point, of course.
Meanwhile, thanks to the power of Google Translate, you can check out any word in some 90 different languages. Now there’s an afternoon’s worth of fun.