• A Swedish vacuum cleaner maker had sterling success advertising worldwide - including in the UK -- using its English slogan. But when their TV ad ran in US, "Nothing sucks like Electrolux" did not quite resonate in the same way with Americans.
• In Latin America, it is best to use the English term "hedge funds" instead of the Spanish "fondo de cobertura" because the English term is more widely understood.
• The phrase "No limits to your success" used by a multi-national computer firm could not be translated into German because in Germany it would sound arrogant and too exaggerated.
• A US interior design firm promoting its services in Dubai had a tagline, "Create your own destiny." Had the Arabic been translated literally, the marketing campaign would have blundered dramatically; among strict Muslims, only God - not people -- can create.
• Ford introduced the Pinto car into Brazil, unaware that "pinto" is slang there for "penis."
All of these examples illustrate why it is important to rely on trained, professional translators to properly convey your desired message.
Some companies think they can find translators on the internet. However, if you don't speak their language, how will you know whether a translation is accurate and the grammar correct?
For instance, an inexperienced linguist in China translated "silicon wafer" as "silicon biscuit" and a Chinese translator here rendered the real-estate term "sunken living room" as a "living room with no foundation."
The best way to preserve your reputation and to ensure accurate international communications is to rely on a professional language agency with many decades of experience. Most professional agencies hire linguists with four primary qualifications:
• Advanced (usually Master's level) degrees in linguistics or the art of translation;
• Translating only into their native language to ensure correct nuances and expressions;
• At least ten years' continual experience; and
• Specialization in the terminology of your field or industry.
A professional Language Service Provider (LSP) can translate anything in over 50 languages; provide multilingual desktop publishing in any format; localize websites, videos, software and other electronic files; and can often provide interpreting services by phone or in-person.
LSPs create a team of translators for each language (often running projects going into five to 20 languages simultaneously) following a multi-step process called TEP and using TMs.
1. Initial draft Translation, which is normally 95% accurate;
2. Editing: a critical second-translator review to check for nuances, expressions, sentence structure and cultural correctness; and
3.Proofreading for spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Translations are then formatted to match the source files as closely as possible in each language, and then proofread again to ensure accuracy of the layout.
For each project, a reputable agency also builds a Translation Memory (a TM). This specialized software captures terminology as translators translate it. The TM then re-calls that terminology when a phrase repeats in a later part of the file or in new project. A Translation Memory for each language presents various advantages:
1. It maintains consistent vocabulary;
2. It ensures accuracy;
3. It allows a price reduction for repetitions; and
4. It shortens translation time.
Individual professional translators normally use TMs. However, most of them have neither Layout capabilities nor knowledge of how to re-create brochures, manuals, websites and any graphics into your target languages. That's an advantage that language agencies / LSPs have.
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