How To Avoid Translation Errors

If you want to ensure an accurate translation, an experienced translator who specializes in your field of business is your best bet. Allowing time for an accurate, thorough translation will always produce better results than rushed and poorly planned out jobs. Believe me, using machine translation will almost always fail to meet your expectations and will reflect poorly on your business. Human translation requires patience, but it could make the difference between securing an investment and losing a deal. When it comes to legal translations of important business transactions, investments, government policies and legal documents, it is simply not wise to take chances with language.

Avoiding Pitfalls: How Poor Translations Can Affect Your Business

If you’ve been wooed by a low-budget translation, you may have sacrificed quality for price.
You need to be sure that you have hired a qualified translator who is using a documented process with thorough quality control to catch any linguistic or technical errors that could impact the accuracy and efficiency of the final translation. Consider this: one poorly translated sentence in an important document can damage the professional image of a company.

Sure, there are some instances where mistranslations seem funny (there are hundreds of examples of mistranslations on the Internet as jokes). However, mistranslations aren’t exactly funny when they are negatively impacting your own product or business. On top of that, the cost of poor translations can go beyond money; if you work in an industry like manufacturing, a mistranslation could put lives at risk.

There are other unseen impacts as well:

An error in a legal document can cost people a lot more than financial losses when an inaccurate translation of a medical report can lead so serious health implications.

Continue reading to learn some of the repercussions of poor translations, as well as tips for avoiding translation errors.

Brand Management

Nobody makes mistakes on purpose. As we’ve mentioned before, some translation mistakes can be humorous, however, other mistakes are viewed as downright offensive and unprofessional. When you pay for translation services, it is implied that the translation will honor your businesses’ brand–people want to buy from a company that has a respectable image. So, if your business comes off as a unprofessional, your customers may decide to take their business elsewhere. Basically, you should avoid making your business a ‘punch line.’

Affecting Business Transactions

Not only do poor translations drive people away from your business, but depending on your industry, you could face legal action.

If a professional translator does not translate a document carefully, mistakes can be easily made. An inaccurate translation of a single word is enough to change the entire meaning of the message.

Accurate translations are also of extreme importance if you are dealing with contracts of any sort. Simple words and phrases in a contract could lead to misunderstanding what the contract says in the source language. In a best-case scenario, this could lead to delays in business deals; in a worst case scenario, it could lead to a arrangement or investment completely falling through, or even a lawsuit.


Real-Life Examples of Translation Pitfalls

„Nothing sucks like an Electrolux“

The Swedish multinational home appliance manufacturer Electrolux made Americans laugh with the slogan „Nothing sucks like an Electrolux“.


Translated into Chinese, the Pepsi-Slogan “Come alive with the Pepsi-Generation” read “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.”

Kentucky Fried Chicken’s „finger lickin’ good” was understood by the Chinese to mean “eat your fingers.”



Are you looking for a qualified translator or interpreter?

Let us bridge the language gap for you. We have been specializing in providing linguistic assistance to the medical and legal communities for decades. Here is how we can support you:

  • Specialized sworn translations of cutting-edge quality – Getting your message across the world.
  • Editing – Fine-tuning your text output to make your message sound authentic.
  • Interpreting – Qualified help in live settings where hitting just the right word at the right time makes all the difference.

Susanne Henke, sworn medical and legal translator with 20+ years of experience

Susanne Henke, sworn medical and legal translator with 20+ years of experience

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