Translation Mistakes

6 Little Translation Mistakes That Caused Big Problems

(Last Updated On: December 11, 2017)

Some people think that knowing 2 different languages is the same as being able to offer translation services. Unfortunately, it is not true, because you have to possess a special skill to do so. Below are examples of Translation Mistakes and why translation can be as dangerous and serious as it can be.

Translation Mistakes

1. THE SEVENTY-ONE-MILLION-DOLLAR WORD

During the 1980s, Willie Ramirez, who was only 18 years old, was admitted in a Florida hospital. Spanish was the only language spoken with his family and friends and they had to coordinate with the doctors. One of the hospital staff spoke 2 languages and translated the Spanish word ‘intoxicado’ as ‘intoxicated’. Therefore, he was given medications for intoxication that is of course not his real case. That is where the whole problem began. Only if a professional interpreter was on duty in the same hospital, Willie would not have been a quadriplegic since then. He was actually suffering from internal brain hemorrhage but the family thought the boy was food-poisoned. The hospital and the doctors were later charged with severe malpractice in which the family was paid Seventy One Million dollars as settlement.

This is the most costly of the Translation Mistakes we know about.

2. YOUR LUSTS FOR THE FUTURE

President Carter once traveled to Poland in 1977 where the head of the State Department acquired the services of an interpreter. Unfortunately, the Russian interpreter who recognized a little in Polish interpreted “when I abandoned the US” and “your desires for the future” wrongly. You should see that not all words have the same meaning when used in a sentence or a phrase.

3. WE WILL BURY YOU

Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev once said in his speech “we will bury you” as the interpreter has translated. It posted a threat to the US at that time wherein there could be a nuclear attack from Russia.

4. DO NOTHING

HSBC Bank launched a $10 million dollar campaign to patch-up the mistaken phrase “Do Nothing.” This was a result of the misconception in translation of “Assume Nothing,” which was the intention of HSBC then.

5. MARKETS TUMBLE

The Translation Mistakes of an article by Guan Xiandong of the News Service (China) brought panic to foreign exchange investors on the internet. The article was somehow speculative and casual but when interpreted, the translation became imposing and solid.

6. CHOCOLATES FOR HIM

During the 1950s, chocolate companies had spread the idea of celebrating Valentine’s Day in Japan. Because of Translation errors, it resulted in women giving the chocolates instead of the other way around.

Translation Mistakes can have disastrous consequences for a business so you’d better use the services of a professional translation agency.