How to avoid translation slips

What is the purpose of a translation?

Every company that evolves in a multilingual environment has to communicate in a foreign language. Whether you want to expand into new markets, reach other language populations, cultivate internal communication with your non-native English-speaker employees, or simply travel for business in a country with a language with which you’re not familiar, you will eventually need translation services. But it has to be done properly! Are you sending the right message to your target audience? Is your ad linguistically and culturally accurate? How do you make sure it sounds as good in other languages as it does in your own? To whom should you give the responsibility of translating your documents?

What’s the worst that can happen?

When you need to translate a name, a title, aSauted Vegetarians (blog) press release, a contract, a website or any other important document, remember your  company’s brand image is at stake and its future revenues depend on it. In a nutshell, you don’t want to make an error.

Translation mistakes are not only known to have happened, they’re so common that a number of websites, Facebook pages and even bloggers poke fun at them on a regular basis.

Some of these faux pas have even proved costly. Among the most famous embarrassing translation inaccuracies are a handful of slogans translated by large companies.

In 1987, American fast-food company KFC opened their first restaurant in Beijing translating their famous and, until then, successful slogan “Finger-lickin’ good” into “Eat your fingers off, creating an awkward reaction among its curious prospective customers.

When Parker Pens tried to translate its slogan from English to Spanish, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” became “No te embarazará chorreándose en tu bolsillo“, which literally means “It won’t leak in your pocket“.


Taihu Pearl (blog)


How do you avoid these pricey errors?

To ensure that your translations are accurate and flawless, entrust them to a professional language company. Language professionals are bilingual trained experts and, for the most part, specialize in one or several fields in which they are recognized for their skills.

Trusting a translation agency is the best way to get impeccable service. Better yet, you can discuss your ideas with a project manager and benefit from their experience.

Who do you approach for your language services?

What you really want is a company that can supply a good service in a timely manner. But there are other important attributes to keep in mind. Certifications are essential because they guarantee quality of service. Some organizations, such as ATA, give these certifications to companies that meet their quality requirements.

It is also important to consider your future needs. Your language service provider must be able to offer a variety of services to facilitate possible requests for different language-related business down the road.

The company’s former or current clients are a good indicator of what kind of firms decided to trust your potential supplier.

Remember: a translation service is also here to help you adapt your message to a foreign culture, which is why you should consider hiring a company which has a strong sense of ethics and with professional linguists on staff.


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Accent on Languages, Inc. (AoL) provides translation, localization, interpretation, transcription, desktop publishing and many other services in over 120 languages. AoL is a member of several recognized organizations including the American Translators Association and California Healthcare Interpreting Association, and holds a GSA contract with the federal government.

The AoL team has over 25 years of experience in providing outstanding quality language services to national and international corporations, California local businesses, as well as federal agencies.

Take a look at testimonials from Accent on Languages’ clients.