Risks of Using Google Translate

When working with international markets, you will more than likely run into situations where you will need to translate contracts, marketing materials, manuals etc. into the local language. There is a vast difference between doing a straight translation vs. localization. In other words, be cautious of doing what is called a “Literal” translation.

One of the most traumatic mishaps of this was when a Dutch airline pilot collided into another plane during take-off killing 583 passengers. The Dutch pilot stated in the cockpit he was “now at takeoff”, meaning he was already taking off – not ready for takeoff. This unfortunate mishap could have been avoided if the proper translation was given.

Another example is when HSBC wanted to try to save face by spending $10 million on a new branding campaign to fix a catchphrase “Assume Nothing” which was interpreted as “Do Nothing”.

Even with advances in machine translations, I wouldn’t want to leave it up to my computer to translate safety instructions when operating dangerous equipment or converting a list of food formularies into another language.

If you are trying to expand your product/service offerings to other countries, they will see right through a simple translation vs. a localization too. If you’re going to invest in the time and effort to get your product to these locations, it’s well worth the effort of ensuring your message is tailored to their culture and piques their interest in the same way it does in this country.

If you want to learn more about what it takes to convert your business materials into another language, please reach out us