Lost in Translation: Why You Can’t Go Without a Localization Service

Lost in Translation: Why You Can’t Go Without a Localization Service

Ben is at the start of a business trip, and he is nervous. In his hands is an inflight magazine with an article on the wonderful attractions of Hong Kong – dragon boat races, eat-all-you-can dim sum, and world renowned tailors. He should be looking forward to having a great time in this exotic city. But, instead, he is thinking about the different things that could go wrong.

Ben’s concerns are not completely unfounded. He has only been with his present company for two years, but he has already committed several cultural faux pas on similar business trips. In Iran, he gave the president of a partner company the thumbs up, an insult that almost cost his company the contract, and in Thailand he caused offence by patting a child on the head. How was he supposed to know that they believed that the soul resided on top of the head?

And all this before they even got to the tricky business of localization and the translation of documents and other assets. Only last month they put out an instruction manual for a gantry that told engineers to insert one pin instead of pin one. The result? An injured employee, three tons of damaged Norwegian Salmon, and a factory that smelled very fishy. Fishy. That was how he starting to regard his current localization service provider. They had promised him a cheap localization consulting solution, but so far they had cost him far more than his company had paid for their services.

A localization service provider should be capable of consistent, accurate translation.

He didn’t expect them to warn him that in Brazil the OK sign was the same as the middle finger, or that in Russia an even number of flowers would be translated as “I hope you die.” But it would be nice if they could spare him the expense and humiliation caused by mistranslated documents. Ben wished that he had someone who could reduce the risk of misunderstanding. Someone with real experience in translation and the regions into which his company wanted to expand. Someone who has the cultural sensitivity to manage the nuances so important in intercultural communication. He wished he could outsource to reliable localization consultants.

His current LSP was definitely not that someone. Before the problem with the gantry assembly instructions, there was the issue with their German website, where ‘logistics services’ somehow got translated into the German words for ‘ballistics services.’ And before that there was the Chinese TV ad in which a Western businessman referred to a Chinese businesswoman as “Miss”, a word which by itself means prostitute. His company’s relationship with the LSP had been fraught with several other such snafus.

Effective localization depends on a solid relationship between an LSP and its client.

And therein lay the root of the problem: it had not been much of a relationship. Localization consulting depends on open and honest communication between an LSP and its client, and their communication had been anything but that. Their localization service provider had made no attempt to understand the company’s needs and had done nothing to guide them in their localization efforts. If the LSP had been more concerned about the success of his company, they would have done a better job of ensuring that their documents were designed to get the right response in the countries where they were released.

A quality localization service provider doesn’t only ensure that documents are accurately translated.

It should also offer end-to-end project management to ensure absolute consistency, and employs strategies to keep costs down. It knows that no two clients are the same and that these strategies need to be tailored for every business. We at Rubric do just this. We take every aspect of our clients’ needs into consideration when offering localization consulting and make sure that assets are translated with their goals in mind. We offer a level of translation accuracy that is only possible when you employ translators and software developers native to your target regions, and offer the kind of valuable advice that can be given only by those who have global reach. Learn more about our localization consulting services, here

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The latest translation errors gaffe leaves the Scottish public befuddled.

The latest translation errors gaffe leaves the Scottish public befuddled.

When it comes to translation errors, even the powers that be aren’t immune. The latest offender? The Scottish Government. Despite the fact that reputable localization consultants are more available than ever before, translation errors still abound. All it takes is one, and your entire image suffers as a result. In this case however, the Scottish Government’s mistakes were so plentiful, this case of translation faux pas is nothing short of embarrassing.

The Scottish government’s mistake is especially awkward as it concerns a website that was launched to promote the use of the Scots language.

In this cringe worthy gaffe, the subject in question revolved around language, making it even more incredibly awkward. If there’s one way to ensure that a campaign to promote a native language will fall flat on its face, this is it. Recently launched, the website was designed to encourage Scottish residents to embrace the Scots language –  made famous by cult Scots novelist Irvine Welsh and one of the most prominent poets of the 18th century, Robert Burns. The Herald Scotland reported that the website’s translation errors comprised of words that seem to be fictional. “It’s clearly not been edited correctly as some words don’t mean anything at all. Something has clearly got lost in translation somewhere along the line” said Michael Hance, the director of the Scots Language Centre.

This translation gaffe appears to be a case of failed localization – a critical mistake when attempting to underline the importance of a minority language.

As mind-boggling as it sounds, it seems that the Scottish Government failed to find a native Scots speaker to edit the copy, which jeopardizes any sort of positive awareness of the language in question. Scots language experts confirmed that words used on the site including: ‘wirhameowerdaeinsan’, ‘taeilka’ and ‘feckfupairt’ do not in fact, exist. Besides muddying their name, the website is almost entirely indecipherable.

Translation errors are incredibly damaging to the reputation of the responsible party.

In an age where political apathy is palpable, the Scottish Government’s failure to provide accurate translations could potentially wedge a further divide between those who want the country to be independent, and those who want the country to remain a part of the United Kingdom. In addition, it’s likely that their translation errors further alienated non-Scots speakers, who, due to the fact that they couldn’t make sense of the words, were left thinking that they didn’t have even the vaguest grasp of the language. In addition, formatting errors resulted in sentences such as: “Scots is aaroon us in wirhameowerdaeinsan it is a furthie, feckfupairt o Scottish culture the day” says Herald Scotland.

This latest localization gaffe highlights the importance of quality translation and localization.

The Scottish Government’s failure to properly localize their content is unfortunate not only because it damages their reputation, but because there’s really no excuse for translation errors in an age where catering to all market segments is expected. What’s more, a quality localization service provider (also known as a LSP), would have guided them through a seamless translation process that not only addressed their current translation needs, but enabled them to rollout additional translated content with ease.

If you want to avoid alienating your target market, and losing out on revenue as a result, investing in quality translations services is a no-brainer.

The success of any localization effort is in the hands of your market. Download our guide, The Psychology of Marketing Messaging to learn how to tailor your marketing assets in a way that wins the hearts of your customers.

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