Negative Consequences of Translation Mistakes
Sometimes translation mistakes are just funny. Read our blog on the humorous translation faux pas made by five big global brands! But sometimes translation mistakes are not funny at all. In fact, they can have long-term dire impacts on a business or organisation.
Always remember word-for-word translation rarely gets across your intended meaning. Variances in cultures and dialects of the same language can be mistranslated easily. If the person translating is not a native speaker in that region or is not professionally trained in translation, localisation and transcreation, the risk increases significantly. Knowledge of sentence structure, vocabulary, current and historic slang and idiomatic expressions need to be expertly woven together to communicate your message accurately.
6 Areas of Mistranslation Consequences
- Confusion/Product misuse: It is common to have products manufactured in one country, assembled in another and sold worldwide. We have all read product manufacturing inserts, guides and manuals that were translated by a non-native speaker of our language. The assembly and user instructions are often incomplete or incomprehensible. The resulting confusion merely creates consumer frustration, if the manufacturer is lucky. On the other hand, if the consumer makes assembly or usage assumptions, the outcome could be disastrous or even dangerous. Frustrated customers are forced to call customer service or even return the product to the manufacturer. Wasted time could be eliminated if the packaging and inserts were translated completely and accurately prior to distribution.
- Offended Audiences: With varying languages, dialects and cultures, it is very easy to unintentionally offend your target audience. Nothing will kill a partnership or transaction faster than an annoyed, displeased or upset consumer.
- Legal Action: Not much needs to be said to imagine the negative legal consequences of a mistranslation. Lawsuits are expensive, time consuming and risky for everyone involved. Protecting your organisation by contracting only high quality, professional and insured translation partners is critical.
- Financial Ramifications: Even without legal action, fixing a translation error is costly. Reversing the negative impacts of a mistranslation takes a lot of time and effort to apologise and re-educate the audience that received the poorly translated content. In the process, companies often end up inadvertently spreading the word of the mistake to those who did not see the original message. This is an onerous process you will want to avoid at all costs.
- Damaged Reputation: It is often said our greatest asset is our reputation. That is definitely true of corporate brands as well. A damaged organisational reputation may take years to repair. In the worst scenario, it may never bounce back, even with substantial and expensive damage-control-focused marketing efforts.
- Market Share Loss: Competitors are quick to jump on the opportunity to gain market share when a fellow industry leader makes a mistake. Do not let your organisation become vulnerable to competitive attacks. You do not want to lose your hard-earned loyal customers due to a mistranslation.
Ensure your messages are being translated completely and accurately to your intended audience. Trust your project with our professional translators at Renaissance Translations. You will be glad you did.