Media Translations: Common Mistakes to Avoid

media translations

Media Translations: Common Mistakes to Avoid

Media Translations: Common Mistakes to Avoid

(Last Updated On: June 19, 2020)

Being an entrepreneur who caters to global consumers, it is often necessary to translate different media your company uses in a language that people would understand. Regardless if it’s a website, an advertisement, or a simple tagline, translation from one language to another requires utmost accuracy. Now, media translations as probably the most important in order to target certain people, and therefore require special attention. Your translator has to ensure that he/she is able to convey the meaning and tone of the text as precise as possible, taking into consideration the cultural aspect of your target audience. This is not an easy task.

Poor translation has many negative impacts. It can lead to reputation damage and poor PR. Sometimes, it can also affect business decisions due to misinformation caused by poor translation of an agreement. These scenarios have serious consequences. Your company may have to face liabilities, just like what happened to other companies who have made the mistake of hiring someone who did a very poor job. Let me enumerate each one for your company not to commit the same mistakes.


Mistakes to avoid in your media translations


Reputation Damage

On the Internet, you will find many posts with incorrect grammar and spelling. These posts often are subjected to a different reaction from readers on a daily basis. The companies who make these mistakes become the laughing stock of the week, with their posts being shared tremendously over the Internet. Take a look at Budget Vertaling Online’s Facebook page as an example. Their posts either on Dutch or English always have incorrect grammar and spelling that makes their company look like an amateur. And come to think of it, they invest too much money on these posts, but they can’t seem to correct these mistakes.

Another example is a king-sized billboard of a car dealership. A news item from Texas pointed out the incorrect use of a word – using ‘piece of mind’ instead of ‘peace of mind.’ They received too much criticism. The company had to shell out $250 to correct this mistake. But instead of doing so, they donated the money to The East Texas Literacy Council. It raises the question as to whether this action helped fix the reputation damage the wrong billboard caused, which still continues to be on the side of the road (please note that I am not saying that donating is a bad thing).

A different meaning locally

Your brand name, product name, slogan, or tagline can have a different meaning if translated to a foreign language. Just to cite some samples from, English did not want to buy the IKEA Fartfull workbench, Coors wanted every Mexican to have diarrhea with its American slogan “Turn it loose,” and Clairol Germany had sluts put poop in their hair with the Mist Stick. As you can see, these translation errors are quite “shitty” for these companies’ reputation and you can just imagine the impact these errors had on sales in these specific countries. It does not only mean losing a chunk of your marketing budget, but also spending another chunk of that budget to repair the damage.

So how do you avoid it in your media translations? Be careful to whom you give your translation job. Make a thorough research on the best companies who can handle it properly.

Watch out for amateur translators

To give emphasis on the importance of choosing not just the right translation agency but also a professional one, let me use Toth Zuh Andu as an example.

So who is Toth Zuh Andu? He is a tattoo artist who tattooed all kinds of Japanese texts on many people. These people walked around happily with their tattoos, until they found out that the Japanese characters they are flaunting actually mean something entirely different from what they’re supposed to. You will find other examples of these terrible translations and their consequences here.

So what can you do to avoid these media translation mistakes? The best way is to search for a translation agency that can do the job for you – as precise and accurate as possible. You can use the questions below as a guide.

  • What type of translator is best for you, your company and your text?
  • Do you need a sworn translator or not?
  • Is this translator an expert in a particular type of text?
  • Is there a good price/quality ratio?
  • Can you find feedback about this translator?

With these questions as a guide, you will be able to find and work with a translation agency that will help build your company’s reputation in any part of the world. You won’t have to worry about incorrect grammar and spelling or worse, incorrect translation that can lead to a much bigger problem. When it comes to media translations, you need to invest in the right people in order to protect your investment.

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