Have you ever received a job application or a business email filled with typos or terrible grammar?
Did you want to do business with the author of those typos or find it easy to take them seriously?
Did you know that many large companies which receive thousands of job applications daily, run their applicants through a computerized screening process before it even reaches their human side of HR? The first round of screening eliminates all applications with grammar and spelling errors.
One can gather that in business and life, correct grammar/word usage is a good indicator of reliability and value. So you may find it surprising to learn that many companies don’t event spell check their own emails, work proposals, media or advertising in languages other than their own.
Don’t make this mistake!
All cultures value grammar and spelling because it is an indicator of education and competence. They also value things just making sense! Don’t let clients or business partners dismiss you and your company due to poor translation. If you are investing the time and money into international business, make your clients/colleagues believe you are respectful and taking their language /market seriously.
Now many of you may be thinking:
Why would I spend money on translation when there is Google Translate?
For those of you who speak more than one language, you probably already know how frustrating Google Translate can be. It doesn’t take into consideration context, slang or cultural relevance. But for business professionals out there who don’t speak more than one language, you probably have no way of knowing the disgraces that Google Translate can spit out. So this article is for all of you, the thousands of you, out there wondering how to ready your website/business for foreign markets. Read on!
SEO and Web Translation
Go to Google Translate right now and put in a sentence that is beyond a 5th grade reading level. If you need inspiration, turn to KFC and use the phrase “Finger Lickin’ (or Licking, to be fair) Good”.
Now, hit ‘Translate’ into the language of your choice. Next, copy the result and switch the direction of the translation, translating it back into English.
Do you end up with the same thing you originally translated? Didn’t think so. “Finger Licking Good” has suddenly become “Lick Your Fingers Well”. Not really the idea the Colonel was trying to portray.
Need I say more?
This is exactly why using Google Translate for anything business related, particularly web translation, is extremely risky and unwise. It may seem crazy, but many businesses simply run their website content through Google
Translate to create their webpage for foreign markets. Can you imagine a less reliable way to communicate your well-articulated English website to foreign clients? What was once polished and professional now may say “lick your fingers well” in Chinese or Spanish.
As you can imagine, a poorly translated website will negatively impact your SEO. It’s kind of ironic that SEO content translated by Google is then indexed as poor by Google due to poor translation. The same way you know the time and money spent in creating a quality product will pay off, high quality translation will pay off for your company. Make your website easy to understand for any market you are using it to reach
Sales and Marketing Content – It’s Cheaper To Do It Correctly the First Time Than to Fix It
I could elaborate on the danger Google Translate poses to your marketing campaign the same way it endangers web translation, SEO, or any professional content but instead, I will turn to history to prove my point. It’s easy to imagine that big corporations, especially international conglomerates, really have it together when it comes to translation. They probably know better than to use Google Translate. And they probably employ a team of high quality translators to help them spend millions of dollars on foreign market marketing campaigns. Wrong! Here are ten examples of why you should do it right the first time and save yourself a lot of time, embarrassment and money.
Original: Got Milk?
Translation (Mexico): Are You Lactating?
Original: Finger Lickin’ Good
Translation (China): We’ll Eat Your Fingers Off
Original: It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken
Translation (Mexico): It takes a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate
Original: Come Alive with Pepsi
Translation (China): Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead!
Original: Schweppes Tonic Water
Translation (Italy): Schweppes Toilet Water
Original: The Jolly Green Giant
Translation (Arabic): Intimidating Green Monster
Original: Benzi (Chinese Branding of Brand Name)
Translation (China): Rush to Die
Translation (German): slang for Brothel
Translation (Brazil): tiny male genitals
Original: (in Swedish) “Nothing cleans(vacuum sucking capabilities implied) like an Electrolux”
Translation (USA): Nothing sucks like an Electrolux
Luckily for these companies, they had millions or billions of dollars at their disposal to fix such negligent and catastrophic translation errors. However, for most of us in the private sector, that is not a reality.
Yes, Google Translate is free, but are there any returns on that $0 investment?
You run the risk of making a language/cultural faux pas or you may just come off uneducated to your clientele. They may get the gist of what you are trying to express with your Google translation but it may also come off uneducated, or that you simply didn’t care enough to inquire how to communicate with them properly. Every time I see a bad Spanish/English storefront translation I wonder why they even bothered to “translate” at all? Don’t be like the example above.
Be respected by your new international peers or clientele and not laughed at. Call someone who knows and actually see returns on your investment. After all, isn’t that the whole point of business?