Monday, August 9, 2010

The importance of a good translation

How many times have you looked at a product or marketing copy and laughed because the wording just didn't seem right?  It happens all the time.  Someone within the company may claim to speak another language and be able to handle the translations for the marketing department, and next thing you know they've got thousands of brochures printed with an incorrect translation. 

What many people fail to understand is that speaking another language fluently does not mean that you are able to translate in that language.  Many people translate literally, which is a mistake.  Think about all of the expressions we have in English that if translated directly would sound very strange (the earlybird gets the worm for example).  When translating, you must convey the meaning of the phrase in the proper context.

I know that many companies get scared off when then start to get quotes for translations because they never expected prices to be that high.  "Google has a free translator, can't I just use that?" they think.  Just as you would entrust a graphic designer to handle your logos and corporate identity, you should pay a professional translator to work on your translations.

A funny video on interpretation in 7 languages:


  1. Can't see the video, but I love this post! I work as a translator and copy editor for a Mexican travel agency website. I have seen some of the FUNNIEST bad translations. Seriously companies, get someone who really knows what they're doing! It's worth the extra money to have something that sounds correct in any language.

  2. @grinationcancun - oh no! Wish you could see the video. I'm sure you have seen your fair share of bad translations! Translation is not easy and translators deserve to be paid what they charge!