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How Hiring A Professional Translation Company Prevents Costly Errors

How Hiring A Professional Translation Company Prevents Costly Errors

Businesses are often reluctant to hire a professional translation company because they are concerned about the cost of such a service.  Badly translated signs seen on holiday are amusing, however a badly translated contract could cost you your livelihood.  

Professional Translation Company Vrs Free Translation Software

Translating a language is far more involved than just substituting one word for another. If you resort to using free translation software the context of an email can get, ‘lost in translation’.  A professional translation company will be familiar with business terms and have a secure understanding of a language in action – resulting in an accurate translation.

Costly Translation Errors

Even huge companies risk thousands on advertising campaigns that sound awesome in their own language but are confusing or rude when incorrectly translated.  Here are some costly errors that could have been avoided if a professional translation company was used as opposed to someone in the office who is bilingual.

Do Nothing

Ironically the HSBC, who recently stopped using the tagline, ‘The World’s Local Bank’, had to launch a $10 million re-marketing campaign to correct a mistranslation of its catchphrase.  Many countries worldwide were told that HSBC, ‘Do nothing’, when in fact they meant, ‘Assume nothing’.  

The $71 Million Error

A bilingual staff member cost a teenager the ability to walk and a hospital $71 million dollars because he assumed that the word, ‘intoxicado’, meant drunk or drugged up.  A professional translation company would have realised that the Spanish speaking family were using it in the context of food poisoning.  Unfortunately because the doctors thought they were dealing with inebriation they gave him the wrong treatment and missed the fact that he had an intra-cerebral haemorrhage.  

Turning Speculation Into Panic

In this digital world it is very easy to find articles about anything in every language.  The Stock Exchange is one sector where even the tone of an article can influence whether a stock goes up or down in value.  An example of this is an article published by Guan Xiangdong of the China News.  His very serious translation of a causal and speculative overview of financial reports caused the US Dollar to plummet because the formal tone of the translation led people to panic.

‘Nothing Sucks Like An Electrolux’

Scandinavian company Electrolux used the catchphrase, ‘Nothing Sucks Like An Electrolux’, to sell vacuum cleaners in the USA. If they had used a professional translation company they would have realised that the adjective, ‘sucks’, is used to describe something that isn’t very good in America.  The success of this campaign depends of if potential customers had a sense of humour, unless of course the error was intended to draw attention to the company.

A New Valentine Tradition In Japan

When chocolate companies started to advertise their products in Japan, the marketing translation inferred that men should be given chocolates on Valentine’s Day.  Japanese ladies took the suggestion very seriously and it has become tradition for women to send men chocolate as gifts on February 14th.  Maybe that was a lucrative mistake.

In a competitive world it is important to be able to communicate well with business associates. Enlisting the services of a professional translation company means that you can interact with companies and customers all over the world with confidence.

If you would like to know more about our translation services contact us here and we would be happy to help.


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