It’s challenging to do business in another country. The complications of different currencies, import regulations, culture, and logistics can take time to understand. Solutions can be hard to find. Of course, the language barrier is always an issue. Finding a translator who understands your language and your target market’s language is not always easy.
Every language has nuances and slang that only locals understand. For example, in France, there are 28 different dialects. The Swiss-German dialect is so strong that the Germans next door can barely understand them.
Even George Bernard Shaw’s famous quote about U.S. and Britain rings true. He said, “We are two peoples separated by a common language.” It takes a native speaker to decipher the true meaning and nuance of any language, especially dialects.
China has become the world’s manufacturing hub, shipping goods to every other country in the world. Unfortunately, some manufacturers cut corners when it comes to writing sales copy and product descriptions. Perhaps they feel translating word for word from Chinese to English is close enough.
When it comes to packaging or any written sales materials, the direct translation is not good enough. Cutting costs by not hiring a native speaking copywriter creates confusion, hilarity, sometimes shock and affects the business reputation. The results of direct translation without the benefit of a native English-speaking copywriter are misleading sentences, confusion and lost sales.
Here are some examples found on toy packages in a Malaysian store.
Enhance the Children’s Intelligence
How much studying can a kid do while watching a seal balance a glowing ball on its nose?
BikeCycle PSY? Is It a Bike or a Cycle?
Let’s teach the kids to misspell and disregard grammar while they’re at it.
Police Motorcycle – A Welcome Gift
Yes, everyone loves gifts, but where are the features and benefits of your police motorcycle toy?
What 3-Year-Old Can Not Do Without Toys?
What so funny about these toys and why are they indispensable? How about fine motor skills?
Is This Illegal?
Using the word “fondle” on toy packaging for a 3-year-old is a little disturbing.
And… if you’re still not ready to hire a professional copywriter, here are two more reasons.
Infinite Pleasure Will Make Anyone More Pleasant
Remember when a balsa wood glider or a Nintendo could keep you happy? I want this toy.
We’ve had fun with toys, but here is one for the adults, a frying pan.
The Most Appropriate What?
This description leaves you hanging. What is the most appropriate food to cook in this pan? Come on, tell us!
Bad Translations Are No Joke
While inappropriate or misinterpreted translations can be funny, they are no joke because customers walk away confused and businesses lose sales. And, the bigger the item, the more critical it is for the sales copy to be correct and to the point.
If you are exporting to an English-speaking country and would like an evaluation of your translation, contact us at groverscopywriting.com. Rest assured that your copy will be 100% correct and natural sounding.
It’s Not Only Business, Government Too
No one is immune to bad translations. Here is a comical notice from the Malaysian Government as reported by the local newspaper. They should have contacted us!