Updated: Aug 24
Who has never needed a translation? Surely everyone has been in the situation of having to translate a medical report, a rental agreement, or simply a quote for an essay at the University. You may have also thought about your neighbour, who spent a summer in France and can speak four sentences in French. Some more cheeky people have opted for the quick (and crappy) version of the Google translator – sarcastic mode on, well done!
The truth is that whatever it is for, the idea is to hire a professional translator, especially if what we need is to expand our business internationally.
I always say that the power of a professional translator should not be underestimated, and I say it for a reason. Now, I will focus on commenting on some fun translation errors - not so fun for the person who committed them - in Spanish, since it is my mother tongue and the one I work with.
I really like reading novice translations, I know, I can be mean sometimes, but it’s a good laugh. Newbies often make a lot of mistakes in 'False friends', that is, English words that sound the same or very similar to words we have in Spanish, but the meaning has nothing to do with it. One example is 'eventually', which is mistranslated as 'eventualmente' (something that happens by chance rather than at the end or at an undetermined later time).
Translation errors are also made in commercial campaigns, as happened with the American beer brand Coors Light, which launched a slogan that said 'Turn it loose', success among the Americans, however, when it was introduced in the Spanish market it was translated as something similar to 'Suffer from diarrhea'. I don't think any Spaniard would want to drink that beer...
Usually, when you want to expand your business to other countries you have already invested a lot of capital in research, graphic content, or advertising, so why make the mistake of going cheap with the translation? Let's get the job properly done or all the previous investment will make no sense.
When translation errors are made, it is most likely that either automated content has been chosen or a non-professional translator has been hired, who probably has misunderstood in both the source and target languages and cultures. At university I was taught that a translator is like a general practitioner: you know everything but at the same time you know nothing (like Jon Snow!) since a translator has to translate content from many different subjects. I, for example, am used to translating in the legal field, new technologies, and marketing, but once I also found myself translating an article about glaucoma for a research magazine in the UK, which was quite a challenge but very satisfying.
Language is in constant evolution and it is the translator's job to recycle himself and learn all the new things in his working languages and different cultures. I hope I have convinced you that what you need for your business is a professional translator, like the ones in SG team, like myself, and if not, ask the beer guy!