Here is an article I found that does a great job on explaining translation mistakes. This are also great reasons to hire a professional translator when it counts!
Being bilingual or multiple-lingual is an acquired skill. Yet knowing a language does not necessarily qualify one as a skilled translator. The reason being, it takes time to understand the nuances of translation and practice to perfect the art since translation not only confirms to the linguistic aspect of a language but also the contextual aspect. Hence in translation even a seemingly small error can mean a huge blunder.
Being the commercial capital of the country, good translation services in Mumbai are a need. Hence the quality of services here has to be error free. A small flawed translated sentence may cause a huge loss of business. Additionally translation errors also cause discomfort to people, which many a time requires lengthy and costly damage management.
Here are a few blunders that can mean considerable loss.
1) Plain misinterpretation
Translation of manuals comprises of a big chunk of translation work. Translated from English to various languages or vice versa, translated documents especially like the manuals act as guides for people using a product or a service. An error in such kind of translations can prove critical. A well known journalist refers to a case where German doctors referred to a manual which says “zementfrie”, meaning not to cement whereas the knee joint they were treating actually required cementing. Consequently, an estimated 47 knees had to be re-cemented in addition to paying out compensation
2) Expertise counts
Sometimes it is best not to take the risk of translation if as a translator you are unsure about the job at hand. A case from 1977 states that President Carter had travelled to Poland to meet the State department. A conversant Russian interpreter, who also knew Polish, but had never interpreted Polish professionally, was roped in to interpret the discussion. Consequently the translated dialogues of President Carter’s “when I left United States” became “when I abandoned United States” and “desires for future” became “lusts for future”.
3) Bombing translation “literally”
Every language has its context to words and its contextual meanings. Hence literal word to word translation is a huge blunder and needs to be avoided at all costs. This was a lesson well learnt by HSBC, when it’s tagline “Assume Nothing” was literally translated to “Do Nothing” in many countries. Consequence: They had to re run a campaign to undo the damage done.
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4) Spellings and pronunciation of words in translation
When correctly written and pronounced, words become the essence of any language since this is what makes understanding in context easier. However in the world of translation, mis-pronounced and misspelled words can be comprehended differently. This leads to incorrect conclusions being drawn. Hence translation services in Mumbai and other cities which witness an influx of tourists and human exchange for work, quality translation becomes crucial. A case on the same line is reported from 1980. An 18 year old Spanish boy was rushed to the hospital due to poisoning. When the parents tried to explain that the boy was poisoned they said “intoxicado”, which was translated to “intoxicated”. Consequently, due to wrong treatment the boy was left a quadriplegic.
5) Overlooking meanings in other languages
Translations must be culture and language sensitive. One of the biggest blunders that can be committed by a translator would be to use a word of English, for instance, which in another language may mean something completely different. Consider the English word “Gift”. A German translator cannot use it in the same sense of a present as in English since in German Gift means “poison”.
6) Translation that alter meanings altogether
Translations are challenging. Translating to another language requires a kind of perseverance that will ensure no mis communication. However, translations do get mired by a translator’s own understanding, of what needs to be translated. In such situations, the outcome can be commercial, political, and medical etc where translators are being used. For instance, someone providing translation services in Mumbai for a Indian based company, We shall let you know is as good as dismissing a deal unlike in an American or European deal, where this sentence actually stands for a chance. A case of such an altered meaning due to translation had occurred in during the Cold war phase in between Russia and USA, when the Russian President’s words were translated in English to mean “we shall bury you”. The translation altered a way the words spoken completely, leading to aggravated tension in between the countries.
7) Assumptions in Translations
According to reported case, Pepsi, one of the best known global brands, lost the essence of its tagline in China. Pepsi tagline reads as “Pepsi brings you back to life” hinting at Pepsi’s refreshing and rejuvenation characteristic. However the Chinese translation came out as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”. This translation blunder, due to the translator’s assumption of “brings back to life” meaning “ancestors” rendered the marketing efforts useless.
8) Understanding the geographical implications of translations
One of the leading vehicle brands, Mitshubshi launched its Pajero in Spain. Had a linguist been considered, Mitsubishi would have understood that in Spanish Pajero translates to “a Jerk”. The company had to change the name to Mitsubishi Montero later.