Posted 20th May 2011 | By Peter Voss, Account Manager

Oh how we have all laughed at the mangled English translations on menus in overseas restaurants Tomato sandwiches without tomato, Rugged potatoes and Roasted duck let loose are among my personal favourites.

However, imagine the boot being on the other foot. Would you really want to send out a message to your clients in Spain having translated (using a combination of GCSE Spanish and guesswork) youll be embarrassed by our kindness as usted est embarazado por nuestra amabilidad which actually means you are pregnant by our kindness! (Embarazado is a false friend and whilst it looks like it should mean embarrassed it actually means pregnant.)
No matter how good you are at another language the fact is, that unless you were brought up bilingual, you will never have a complete grasp of the language. And unless you live in a country for an extended period you may not be completely au fait with any cultural nuances and even with rules and regulations that apply. So it is always a good idea to check before you send!
Your message to a non-English audience can only ever be as good as the translation. So unless you are (or you employ) a native speaker in that language it will always be safer to get in a professional to translate it for you. However, you can help the translation process by removing as many colloquialisms as possible.
You may want to say Truly, Madly, Deeply. to describe your three outstanding products, its a great play on words and a good cultural reference in English. However, Davvero, Pazzo, Profondamente. in Italian, doesnt have the same effect, as the film was called Il fantasma innamorato (The Ghost in Love). And despite what they say, online translation engines are not that reliable: if you translate Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into Spanish using babelfish.com
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
and you get
Todos los seres humanos son libres e iguales natos en dignidad y las derechas.
when it should be
Todos los seres humanos nacen libres e iguales en dignidad y derechos
Not a huge difference, admittedly, but the translated are free and equal born is quite archaic compared to the are born free and equal that is used in the official Spanish translation.
A good friend and professional translator has always said to me that you should only translate into your native language as only then can you be sure to get the idiom correct. And whilst she may have been touting for business, she has a point!
At ExtraMile Communications, we handle your translations, check they work in the context they are meant for and help you get the best value from your website or email marketing campaigns. Oh - and we're rather good at writing effective content too!

Peter from ExtraMile Communications Ltd in Staffordshire

Peter

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