Pay attention to the approach with foreign countries when talking about business: the localization of texts and the localization of websites are fundamental activities for achieving success and obtaining engagement. Expanding your business abroad is always a very attractive goal for many companies. However, there are factors, such as linguistic, cultural and social, that must be kept under consideration when you want to communicate with those who come from a country other than your own.
Not communicating well causes the message to reach its destination in a distorted or inappropriate way. A potential customer may also feel uncomfortable or offended when interacting with you, your site or your brand. To avoid this scenario, it is necessary to rely on professionals in the sector who offer translation and text localization services.
#1 The translation error that made history
We are talking about the classic “thumbs up”, now present in all social networks and main messaging platforms. But perhaps not everyone knows that the emoticon has a very long history, albeit conceived and perpetuated thanks to a translation error. In Roman times, the emperor had the right to spare the life or sentence a slave to death, through the gestures of “thumbs down” and “thumbs up”. By mistake, authors over the centuries reversed the message of the two gestures. It is therefore a false knowledge born from a translation error.
#2 Don’t lump everything together
Every country, every community, every social reality is a world unto itself. And as such it must be studied and considered separately, studying its most picturesque characteristics, without making comparisons or logical similarities with countries neighboring or similar to it. An example can be found in the cinematographic field, in the film Lost in translation. In one scene, during a business negotiation, one of the counterparts is of Japanese nationality. In the film, the Japanese characters are given the task of speaking “Chinese style”, that is, replacing the r with an e. It is true that China and Japan have a lot in common, on a cultural and historical level, but assuming that lexical and phonetic nuances are the same in both countries is a superficial approach, dictated by stereotypes and clichés.
#3 No translation and localization of texts
Sometimes not translating at all is almost worse than translating badly or not localizing. This was the case of the American handkerchief company Puffs. When expanding towards Europe, the marketing sector perhaps forgot to carry out appropriate market analyses. By not translating the name of the brand, he didn’t think that perhaps that same term could take on a different meaning in the destination countries. Specifically, the Puffs brand remained marketed in its original name also in England and Germany, where the term respectively took the meaning of brothel and homosexual.
#4 Literal translation no more
One of the most sensational epic fails in the history of marketing translations occurred in the 1980s, for the American multinational fast-food chain, KFC. The mistake was making a literal translation of the slogan into Chinese, not thinking about what effect it could generate. From the original meaning of “finger-lickin’good” it erroneously became “finger-lickin’good”.
#5 Off topic: non-localized content
The case is that of the fashion house, Dolce&Gabbana, which drastically ruined commercial relations with the Chinese nation, due to an advertising spot that was not very attentive and alert to the target audience. The mistake here was clearly to underestimate the deeply rooted and sensitive cultural context such as the Chinese one. The humorous nature of the commercial, regarding the use of chopsticks, was not appreciated by the Chinese population, who, disdained, organized riots and social uprisings on social media.
Solving the language gap through machine translation is not a wise decision, but can actually cause further damage. For this type of activity and operation, always rely on translation and text localization agencies and expert native-speaking linguists. They know the country of your interest in depth, in its linguistic nuances, cultural peculiarities and social dynamics. Through our translation services, you will be able to avoid misunderstandings and misunderstandings and break into the market,
LingoYou Press Office