5 of the worst translation mistakes in ad campaigns. Interpretation and translation work is not easy, but when it comes to investing large amounts of money in advertising campaigns, it is certainly a job that should be prioritized. Companies always want their campaigns to be successful and to give a good image, therefore, translation errors cannot occur. This is why, during the creation process, it must be taken into account how the advertising campaign will be seen and perceived when it reaches other countries with different languages ​​and cultures.

These errors can occur either due to a lack of communication within the company, due to the hiring of unqualified translators or due to the use of automatic translators. This type of error can be avoided if you have professional translators for the respective languages ​​in which the campaign will be carried out. You have to be very careful when making these translations, especially when talking about very large companies whose advertising is going to reach millions of people from different countries and a large amount of resources are going to be used. It is essential that there is a group of people in charge of the revision to confirm that all the texts are linguistically correct, are coherent and are free of spelling errors or idioms that compromise the culture of the regions targeted by the campaign. Some of the famous errors in advertising campaigns are:

  • HSBC: In 2009 the bank spent millions on its “Assume Nothing” campaign. It was pretty good in America, however when it was brought abroad it was translated as “Don’t do anything”. After this, the company had to invest around 10 million dollars in a rebranding campaign to solve this error.
  • Pepsi: In a marketing campaign during the years 1963 to 1967 Pepsi took out the slogan “Come living with Pepsi”. In Spanish and English this slogan made sense, the problem was when it reached the Asian market. Here it was incorrectly translated as “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.” This clearly was not the image that the company wanted to be given with the advertising campaign.
  • Mango: In 2014 the Spanish fashion company Mango described a collection of bracelets and necklaces as “slaves”. This term is often used in Spain and in certain Latin American countries to describe a type of bracelet. However, in France the proper translation was not carried out and the term slave was used as the person who does not have freedom and is dominated by another, tarnishing the image of the brand in this country.
  • Ford: The company launched an advertising campaign in Belgium in which it wanted to highlight the quality of its cars through the slogan “Every car has high-quality bodywork.” By an unprofessional translation the slogan reached the target country as “Every car has a high-quality carcass”.
  • KFC: Many know the famous KFC slogan “Finger lickin’ good”. In 1987, when the company opened its doors in China and after investing a large amount of money in advertising and products, they realized that this expression was not common in this country and its translation read “Eat your fingers”.

These five cases are a clear example of the importance of hiring professional translators, with high linguistic knowledge and mastery of the languages and cultures of the countries in which the campaign will be carried out. The work of the translators not only ensures that they correct grammatical errors, they are also in charge of ensuring that the message is coherent and that it is culturally accepted in the destination country. In cases of international campaigns, it is advisable to hire native translators or interpreters from each of the regions where the message is going to be carried. They already have a high knowledge of the jargon and customs of the country, therefore they can determine the best way to translate the message. By hiring native interpreters, companies make sure that there are no errors like the ones mentioned above.

5 of the worst translation and interpretation mistakes in history. Undoubtedly, translation and interpretation are not easy tasks. You must have high knowledge not only of the respective languages, but also of culture, history and certain productive sectors. Languages ​​can be very complex and you don’t always have the exact words to translate from one language to another. There are also very similar words that have totally different meanings. All this only demonstrates the important and complex work of translators and interpreters.

The internet is full of bad translations made by automatic translators and we have probably come across them more than once. However, there are translation and interpretation errors that have been so serious that they have changed the history of the world. When it comes to important situations, business, medicine, law, etc. It is essential to have good translators who prevent any mistakes from being made. Some of these errors that have come to change history are:

  • The word that set off the atomic bomb: In 1945 the Allied powers published the Potsdam Declaration, demanding redemption from Japan. After this, the Japanese Prime Minister called a press conference in which he replied “No comment. We are still thinking about it.” The interpretation problem was that he used the word “mokusatsu” which can mean “without comment” or “we ignore and despise him”. The allies understood it as “we ignore and despise it”, therefore ten days later the United States dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  • The horns of Moses: For many centuries Christian artists drew and sculpted Moses with horns. This is because Saint Jerome, the saint who translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, confused the word “karan” which means resplendent or radiant in Hebrew, with “keren” which means horned. Although this did not make sense, it was maintained for many years since no one doubted the sacred text.
  • Nikita Khrushchev Threat: During the Cold War in 1956, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev made a speech at the Polish embassy in Moscow. During his speech he expressed “Like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury them!” This was interpreted by the Western press as a threat, so the Soviets had to explain that it was just a misunderstanding. The correct translation of the speech was a reference to the ‘Communist Manifesto’ in which it is mentioned that the bourgeoisie produces its own gravediggers.
  • Jimmy Carter’s speech in Poland: In 1997, US President Jimmy Carter made a trip to Poland in which he made a speech to the Polish people. For which, the hired interpreter made a very bad interpretation, giving a sexual tone to the speech. Jimmy Carter said “I have come to know your opinions and listen to your wishes for the future” and the interpreter implied that the president had sexual desires for the Poles. Also, when he expressed how happy he was to be in Poland he translated it as “being happy to see the private parts of Poland”.
  • Giovanni Schiaparelli and the channels on Mars: In 1877, Giovanni Schiaparelli made one of the first descriptions of the surface of Mars. He spoke of seeing “seas,” “continents,” and “canals.” In 1908, Percival Lowell reviewed the work and concluded that the canals had been built by intelligent beings to carry water. Although this came from a translation error, it unleashed madness for the Martians. The Italian astronomer never referred to the canals of Mars as constructions. He had used the Italian word “canali” referring to a wholly natural structure like gorges or canyons.

The problem of automatic translators. Without a doubt, automatic translators improve over time, however, they are not a substitute for professional translation and interpretation. The vice-dean of the Faculty of Translation and Interpretation of Granada, Jan-Hendrik Opdenhoff mentioned that “Perhaps the day will come when machine translation will take away the jobs of professionals, but it is not imminent. Their big problem is the context: the machines do not know the world”. Machine translators don’t know about literature, culture, grammar or history.

Automatic translation is undoubtedly revolutionary, it allows us to translate texts in seconds, understand completely unknown languages ​​from a mobile phone, etc. It’s fast, cheap and easy to use, but it has its limits. Some of its limitations are:

– Lack of quality and precision: When it comes to achieving quality and precision to transmit a message, machine translation technology cannot offer it. Machine translators cannot check sentence by sentence to write it in the most concrete way. Therefore, these are most effective when used to get an overview or translate a short text, not for larger or important documents. Said technology cannot accurately recognize which is the appropriate idiomatic turn when a word has several meanings according to the context, the subject, the industry and the sector in which the content to be translated deals with.

– It has no context: Technology cannot understand the way in which a mistranslated word or phrase can alter the meaning of a message. They take the message very literally and are not able to translate it in a way that makes sense in context.

– Technicalities and jargon: The technicalities and jargon of certain sectors are terms that automatic translators are not capable of detecting and understanding. On the other hand, professional translators know the language of the different sectors and find suitable words to translate it into a foreign language.

– Limits on formats: Generally, in automatic translators there are limits on file sizes. If you want to translate an audio or a handwritten document, it cannot be done with this technology.

– Lack of expertise: Contrary to professional translators, with an automatic translator you will not be able to obtain expertise in the topics. Professional translators are experts in certain languages ​​or even in specific industries or sectors.

This refers especially to translators of written content. In the case of interpretation (oral translation of content) the situation is even more difficult for automatic translators, called interpreting machines, since interpreting is not only orally translating the words that the other person is saying, it is a much more difficult task. Complex and sophisticated.

Interpreters need a deep level of knowledge in both the source and target languages. If they can’t follow the context of the conversation, they won’t be able to paraphrase it in a way that preserves its meaning. For this reason, professional interpreters must be fluent in both languages. Because they work orally, interpreters can speak fluently. In addition, they must know the customs, regionalisms and oral colloquialisms of each language. However, they do not interpret the message word by word.

If one tried to directly translate a sentence from one language to another in real time, the original meaning could not be conveyed clearly and it would become confusing for both parties. Instead, the most important technique of interpretation is paraphrasing. Interpreters listen to spoken words, understand their meaning, and transform them into new words in the target language.

Subject matter expertise is also an important part of an interpreter’s skill set. Familiarity with a certain topic is an advantage when engaging in highly technical conversations, especially when parties use different words or acronyms for certain terms.

On the other hand, performers must convey the feel and tone of the original content. It is about transmitting a message in the most reliable way, including moods and even what is meant by body and facial expressions and the emotions transmitted. Last but not least, there are four aspects that must be considered in order to better understand the dynamics between machine and human translation:

  1. Possibly that the acceptance and comfort of users, whether they are readers or listeners, is greater when they know that they are being assisted by a human being and not by a machine. Especially when the topics to be discussed are medical, legal or business. It is difficult to find a person who wants to sign an automatically translated contract, without any human intervention to ensure a reliable, assertive and adequate translation, worse still, in a verbal negotiation where there is a much higher risk of miscommunication.
  2. The cultural aspect of feeling assisted by a translator or interpreter who knows the culture, customs and jargon of both parties in the communication process is very relevant for users.
  3. There is always the doubt of whether the translator or interpreting machine is doing the job correctly.
  4. In the case of interpreting machines, it has been confirmed that they are very effective for short and simple translations, such as telling a taxi driver the direction we want to go, but not for interpreting a keynote speech. For example, interpreting a negotiation, or medical or legal assistance, which involves a much higher risk of miscommunication. In fact, the insurance industry is a constraint for automatic translators and interpreting machines to prevail and replace human language assistance. The risk of using artificial intelligence to replace translators and/or interpreters is too high and can have very large economic, legal and reputational implications that the insurance industry cannot accept. This industry will always seek to reduce the associated risk. For example, in Mexico many people say foot to the leg. What happens if in a medical service or procedure an interpreting machine translates as foot and not as leg, and as a result the diagnosis or medical procedure is wrong and serious complications arise? Who pays? The insurer?

Undoubtedly, automatic translators and interpreting machines have their advantages. They are fast, cheap and are good at translating short texts. However, a professional translator is irreplaceable. These are capable of translating the texts adequately, fully knowing the appropriate words so as not to lose the context. In the case of companies, it is necessary to have professional translators in order to improve their image and provide quality to their documents and contracts. A good translation can generate high profits when looking for international business partners.

Video Dubbing and its importance. Dubbing is the process of replacing the dialogue lines of an audiovisual production in its original version with dialogues in another language. Its objective is that the production can be understood by other people. The voice actors must make the dubbing as natural as possible and that it makes sense with what is being seen in the production. This is why it is necessary to adopt expressions, lip sync and take into account the cultural context.

There are several types of dubbing, among them are:

  • Interpretive locution: Most dubbing is done post-production; however, this is done live through a voice that is not exactly the same as the original. This type of dubbing uses the “Voice-Over” technique where a voice is broadcast over the original, an example of this is when one person speaks on the news and the other does the live dubbing.
  • Documentary dubbing: Documentary dubbing varies from the conventional as the tone is usually more relaxed and slower. A voice is used that explains and narrates everything that happens in the documentary. The objective of the dubbing actor is to raise awareness of the subject and convey emotions.
  • Video game dubbing: This type of dubbing is considered relatively new since before video games only had electronic fill sounds and text boxes, over time this has been changing. The dubbing actors take the audio of the original dialogues together with the script as a reference and manage to give context based on the tonalities used.
  • Animated Dubbing: In animated dubbing, voice actors must do the job of imagining the tone, laughter, and the way the characters speak. Real photographs of the characters making gestures and pronouncing different syllables are taken as reference.

The dubbing industry has been growing and as it could be seen before, not only to dub movies but also series, animations, testimonials, reality shows, etc. It is known that many productions also have subtitles that undoubtedly help to eliminate language barriers. However, many viewers prefer dubbing as it allows them to fully focus on the production without any distractions. In addition, many consider that being able to appreciate this foreign content dubbed into their language gives a sense of security. Without a doubt, in an increasingly globalized world, it is essential that audiovisual producers take dubbing into account for their films. This way you can reach many more viewers. The children’s sector, for example, is one of the sectors that benefits greatly from dubbing since children do not know how to read, much less understand foreign languages. Another sector that is greatly benefited are people with visual difficulties, since through audio they can adequately understand the production

Advantages of holding events remotely. Without a doubt, since 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies and sectors have had to reinvent themselves to move forward. The health situation forced many face-to-face events to be canceled. This brought with it a greater implementation of virtual events, becoming a new reality. Virtual events are meetings that take place on web platforms and people can join from anywhere in the world. Unlike face-to-face events, these are not limited to one place or time.

Although the measures to combat COVID-19 have been decreasing, there is no doubt that virtual events are here to stay. These have brought multiple benefits not only for the organizers, but also for the participants. Some of these benefits are:

  • Security: As mentioned above, due to the pandemic, the need to avoid physical contact and implement virtual events had to be faced. This is why one of the greatest advantages of virtual events is security, since people from all over the world connect safely and from the comfort of their home. All this without depending on health mobility restrictions.
  • Cost savings: Another great advantage of remote events is the high cost savings. When producing events of this type virtually, costs of accommodation, venue rentals, travel, staff, sound, logistics, etc. are saved. By doing it remotely, all these costs disappear or decrease significantly.
  • Analysis of metrics: In virtual events, all the metrics and indicators of the event are registered in the software. With these you can get much more detailed information about the experience of the people who attended. If companies carry out a good analysis of all these metrics and use them to their advantage, they could obtain a great competitive advantage.
  • Greater coverage and flexibility: Remote events allow you to have a higher number of guests, who will be able to access online regardless of their location. It is a good opportunity to connect with a larger audience from multiple countries that would have been difficult to access in person. You no longer depend on suppliers, availability and other factors and you have more freedom of time and space to hold the event.
  • Eco Friendly: Companies have more and more responsibility to reduce their ecological footprint. In the case of virtual events, this becomes much lower since the physical resources that are generated are less, displacements are avoided, documents are presented digitally, etc.
  • Timeless: All event content can remain in some online environment so that participants can access it again whenever they want. And those people who could not attend the event in real time will be able to view it later.

How many languages ​​are there in the world? The language includes the set of symbols, verbal or non-verbal, used by a community or nation to communicate, each country, tribe, region or people has its own language. It is said that when the last member of the social group who speaks a language dies, the language disappears. The disappearance of a language takes with it a lot of irretrievable information and knowledge. However, there are languages ​​that have been revived throughout history, an example of this is Hebrew.

It is estimated that there are about 7,000 languages ​​in the world. Many think that it is almost impossible to calculate the exact number of languages ​​in the world, therefore this figure is only an estimate. An exact figure will probably never be forthcoming as every two weeks a language dies and others fight to have their dialects recognized as languages.

It is also interesting to note that the geographical distribution of languages ​​is not homogeneous, for example in Cameroon its 12 million inhabitants have 270 languages. And the most diverse country in linguistic terms is Papua New Guinea, which has a population of approximately 8 million inhabitants and more than 800 different languages ​​are spoken.

In some countries there is a great amount of linguistic diversity as there are many aboriginal groups that defend their native languages. On the other hand, in other countries the languages ​​of the majority of native inhabitants have been disappearing since the dominant language prevailed over the others.

It is estimated that 43% of existing languages ​​are in danger of extinction and it is likely that by the end of the century half of the nearly 7,000 current languages ​​will have disappeared. Among the endangered languages ​​is Chemehuevi, spoken fluently by very few people in Arizona. Also Taushiro, which is one of the indigenous languages ​​of Peru, currently has a single fluent speaker named Amadeo García García. Just like these, there are a large number of languages ​​on the verge of being lost and that is why governments must continue fighting to document what remains of these.

What are the most important languages ​​in the world?

There are more than 7000 languages spoken around the world, this shows the high linguistic variety that exists. However, the distribution of speakers is very uneven, since while some of the languages ​​are spoken by a large number of the world’s population, others are on the verge of disappearing. Due to high globalization certain languages ​​have been gaining more importance and it is expected that their number of speakers will continue to grow more and more. Here is a list of some of the most important languages ​​in the world:

  • English: English is par excellence the most important language in the world and it is the one that many people learn as a second or third language, which makes it the most universal language. It is spoken on five continents and is the official language of very powerful countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Being dominated by so many people, it is considered the language of business.
  • Mandarin Chinese: It is one of the languages ​​with the largest number of speakers in the world. Recognized as the official language of China, the country with the world’s largest economy and an important trading partner for many countries. There is a large investment from this country in Latin America which has made it one of the most important languages ​​in the corporate world.
  • Spanish: Spanish is the official language of 21 countries and with so many native speakers it is considered one of the most widely spoken languages ​​in the world. It is of great importance for being the official language of emerging economies in Latin America and being one of the official languages ​​of the UN, the European Union, the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement.
  • German: German is the official language of countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. It is the native language of about 18% of Europeans. It is of great importance since it is the official language of Germany which has great weight in the European economy and is a major exporter.
  • Arabic: It is the official language of more than 20 countries. The speakers of this language are mostly concentrated in the Middle East, however there are many people who speak the language around the world. It is also one of the official languages ​​of the UN, the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the African Union.  The Arabic language plays an important role in connecting people through culture, science, literature and other fields.

Audiovisual Translation

Audiovisual translation, also known as multimedia translation, is the process by which audiovisual content is translated to transmit information through visual or acoustic media. It can be said that audiovisual translation is any translation intended to be consumed through a screen. It is called multimedia translation since it is transmitted through various media such as cinema, mobile devices, television, among others. Audiovisual translations are characterized by the fact that they must always be consistent with what the viewer sees on the screen. The text and the image are inseparable and each word must make sense in a context, time and tone.

Living in a world where more and more audiovisual content is consumed, audiovisual translation becomes essential so that it can reach many more countries and cultures. This is why cultural aspects must be taken into account in the translation, maintaining the tone of the original, adapting it to the target culture. Therefore, translators, in addition to having knowledge of vocabulary, must have a high level of knowledge of the colloquial language.

Types of audiovisual translations:

  • Subtitling: The subtitling service consists of translating the oral version of an audiovisual production and placing it as a written text at the bottom of the image. The purpose is that the viewer can follow the sequences without problems, for this the translator must be able to adapt the text to the reading speed without losing the essence and the context. It is usually used in informative videos, movies, series, documentaries, etc.
  • Dubbing: Dubbing consists of replacing the dialogues of an audiovisual production in the original version with dialogues in another language. It should be as natural as possible and make sense with what is being seen in the production. For this it is necessary to adopt in the best way the expressions, the lip photography and the cultural context. It is used in movies, series, animations, testimonials, reality shows, among others.
  • Audio description: This is a description made for blind people of the content of an audiovisual material. The translator must describe the content so that blind people can perceive it in a similar way to the rest of the spectators, helping them to understand the setting and atmosphere of the scene. You can make audio descriptions of movies, plays, cultural events, etc. They are widely used in museums and art exhibitions where the user is described what they are visiting and the meaning of the artworks.

  • Sign language: This is the translation of the audiovisual content made by a sign interpreter through a box located on the lower right side of the screen. It is essential for people with hearing disabilities to have equal access to audiovisual media. It is usually used in news and debates, however, like the like the ones mentioned above, it can be used in movies, documentaries, etc.

Is it appropriate to do business in a language other than my native language? In an increasingly globalized world, it is necessary to know the importance of different languages ​​when doing business. It is known that the most used language par excellence in the business world is English, but this is no longer enough. Businesses now demand more multilingualism that allows companies to internationalize and finalize negotiations. There is a great opportunity to grow and reach new markets in multiple countries, and language barriers should not be an impediment to achieving this.

Multiple studies have shown that the lack of language skills leads to lost business opportunities and that companies that have a strategic approach towards multilingual communication have been able to significantly increase their exports, much more than competitors that do not implement this strategy. This is why, if you want to grow as a company, it is essential to open up to new markets in different countries and this implies mastering their languages.

When doing business with foreign clients, they must be treated with excellence, simplifying the negotiation process and allowing them to feel heard. This is why, if the client requests it, it is essential to reach him in his own language. It must be remembered that when doing business, new fiscal, legal, cultural, economic terms, etc., must be taken into account.

Therefore, speaking the same language as the client will allow them to feel more comfortable negotiating and will allow the company to stand out from other competitors. It is known that learning different languages ​​requires a lot of effort and time, which is not feasible for many people. This is why hiring interpreters to negotiate with foreign clients is an investment of great value, since they can allow the negotiation to flow easily and both parties can feel comfortable and listened to.

It is also recommended to hire translators when it is necessary to sign a contract, review reports, review product instructions or any other document. All this shows seriousness and commitment on the part of the company, since it is supporting its clients and allowing business to be carried out in an easy and effective way for all parties.

Difference Between Translation and Interpretation. People often confuse the terms translation and interpreting, and even though the two share the same goal of overcoming language barriers and both interpreters and translators have high language skills, there are big differences between the two. Some of these differences are:

  • The clearest difference between the two is that translation is transferred in written form and interpretation in oral form. Translation consists of reproducing the message from a written text to one in a different language. And interpreting involves orally conveying the message from one language to another.
  • Another difference is the immediacy with which it is done. To carry out a translation, there is a period of time, however, the interpretation is carried out in real time. Interpreters must master the tasks of listening, translating and speaking, all at the same time. Translators, on the other hand, have a period to be able to investigate or verify concepts, clarify doubts and translate texts.
  • Both translators and interpreters may encounter cultural references, metaphors, etc. that they must transfer in the best way to the target language. The interpreter must also adequately transmit both the verbal and nonverbal language of the speaker, taking into account his gestures, tone of voice, his movements, etc.
  • Despite the fact that both services require a lot of study and mastery of languages, when performing an interpretation, there is a certain freedom to express what the speaker says. That is to say, although perfection is always sought as it is in real time, many times the interpretation does not have the same precision as the translation. This relates to the immediacy difference as translators have more time to make sure the translation is as accurate as possible.

Which service should I hire?

In the case of a document, contract, certificate, manual, web page or any type of text, a translation service must be requested. When it comes to meetings with foreign clients or suppliers, conferences, networking fairs, etc. You must hire an interpretation service.