Working in the translation industry, we know the importance of communicating messages from culture to culture. Unfortunately for marketers, it’s perhaps never more obvious when they get it wrong, and some bloopers from several years ago are still doing the rounds online.
Machine translation technology began to be explored in the 1950s, but the first commercial machine translation system appeared in 1991, with web applications appearing a few years later.
Machine translation technology now ranges from free online translation, to on-the-go mobile phone apps to customisable, professional software packages.
Every day, interpreters and translators help doctors and emergency workers save lives. They enable multi-billion dollar deals, oil the wheels of diplomacy, and ease communication at international space stations. They also give a voice to sports stars, actors and beauty queens, and connect social media fans around the world.
Choosing the perfect name for a new product is never easy. Global companies pour millions of pounds into marketing campaigns to launch products around the world. But surprisingly, many still make the mistake of choosing a name that fails to work across borders.
Machine translation has made huge advances since scientists laboriously punched Russian words into “electronic translators” in the 1950s. But the dream of the “universal translator” is still a long way off – creating plenty of opportunities for amusing slip-ups and linguistic faux pas.
For years, English-speaking visitors to Beijing could enjoy taking their chances with dishes such as Wood Moustache Meat or Red Burned Lion Head. But now the city’s government is making dining out a little more boring, by producing an official book of translated dishes. They’ve translated 3000 traditional food items into English to reduce confusion.
There was a really great article on the BBC last week about how spelling mistakes on ecommerce sites can slash revenue in half.
Tales of translations gone wrong never fail to amuse, so we put together our ten favourite business translation blunders.