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  • Writer's pictureThe English Translator

Let me tell you a secret

Updated: Jun 9, 2021

On the whole, the British don’t like to complain. They’d prefer to rub a dirty knife on a napkin rather than ask the waiter to bring a clean one. So, imagine what happens when they come face-to-face with a sub-par translation, peppered with awkward phrases and dodgy expressions. Do you imagine they continue reading? The answer is: probably not.

At a recent language conference I attended, I heard that 85% of people leave a website when they see a language error. That is a huge figure and, if this is correct, while you think you’re saving money by turning to Google Translate or getting your niece who spent a year abroad to do a translation for you, you may very well be turning potential clients away in droves. Is it worth the risk? You won’t know because they won’t tell you.

Let the tourist information office in Basel be a warning for you. Their English brochure became something of a laughing stock, but they graciously took it on the chin as you can see in the article attached below. To save you a little bit of time, I’ll give you the gist of it. The translation of the brochure was divided up between different agencies: while one agency worked on the headlines and subheadlines, another was given the body of the text and the tourist board decided to reuse copy from previous, older versions. Three agencies were involved in total and goodness knows how many translators, all being given bits and pieces with no context. How on earth can you expect so many people to create a coherent result? You can’t. The whole thing turned into a pig’s ear. Or would that be a dog’s dinner?

How can you avoid this happening to you? By working directly with a translator. One specialised in your industry. Such an approach means you have a single point of contact – the translator handling your translation. Somebody who can take your German copy and transform it into a perfect piece of prose that resonates with an English-speaking reader. Somebody who can ensure the correct tone of voice runs through all your advertising material. Somebody who can convey your German message

without it becoming lost in translation. In short, somebody like me.

If you want to make sure your marketing doesn't turn into a translation fail, get in touch.

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