If you have been on a holiday or business trip abroad recently, the chances are that you will have seen some awkward phrasing on a restaurant menu or an advert that sounds strange in English. You are certainly not alone. Take a look at these.
Photos like these are good for a laugh in the short-term, but it’s easy to see how mistranslations like the examples shown are damaging to companies’ credibility on the international stage. Would you buy from someone offering you “flesh juice”? Hardly an appetising proposition, is it? Instances like these illustrate just how important professional translation is.
Of course, the process works both ways. If such humorous, yet major, mistakes can be made when translating into English, the same can happen to British and American companies when launching products and services overseas. There is not enough recognition of the importance of using professional translation services and even large, multinational companies and campaigns have been known to slip up:
- Coors – although the American brewer’s slogan “turn it loose” was a great domestic success, the Spanish translation wasn’t so impressive. The official translation equated to “get loose bowels” in the target language. Not an effect the company was looking to promote!
- Pepsi – the popular brand’s tagline “come alive with the Pepsi generation” was unfortunately translated into Chinese as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave” – scary stuff!
- Got Milk? – the famous campaign run by the American Dairy Association is extremely successful in English, but the Spanish-language version ended up as “Are You Lactating?”.
(Source: Huffington Post, 11/08/2012)
As amusing as they may seem on the surface, these gaffes have cost businesses and organisations significant damage in terms of profits and reputation. Don’t let it happen to you.