Poor Translations Can Be Costly to Your Business

By Atlas LS

Often times when traveling in foreign countries, you can spot signs that are written both in the native language and a second language such as English.  A professional translator obviously did not perform some of these translations. The outcome of the translated message can often times be humorous but at the same time can be very bad for business.

Language Interpretation - Poor Translations Can Be Costly to Your Business

Poor Translations

Here are a few famous examples of poorly translated signs around the world:

  • Japanese hotel room – You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid
  • Paris hotel elevator – Please leave your values at the front desk
  • Tokyo hotel – It is forbidden to steal hotel towels please. If you are not a person to do such a thing is please not read this notice
  • Bucharest hotel – The list is being fixed for the next day. During this time you will be unbearable
  • Leipzig elevator – Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up
  • Athens hotel – Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11am daily
  • Belgrade elevator – To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving then going alphabetically in national order.
  • Sarajevo hotel – The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid
  • Moscow hotel – You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists and writers are buried daily except Thursday
  • Swiss menu – Our wines leave you nothing to hope for
  • Hong Kong tailors shop – Ladies may have a fit upstairs
  • Bangkok dry cleaners – Drop your trousers here for best results
  • Paris dress shop – Dresses for street walking
  • Rhodes tailor shop – Order your summer suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation
  • Hong Kong advert – Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists
  • Rome laundry – Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time
  • Swiss mountain inn – Special today… no ice cream
  • Copenhagen airline – We take your bags and send them in all directions
  • Moscow hotel – If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it
  • Norwegian lounge – Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar
  • Tokyo shop – Our nylons cost more than common but they are better for the long run
  • Acapulco hotel – The manager has personally passed all the water served.

Use Highly Trained Translators, Not Software

Businesses are challenged every day with cost cutting measures to help the bottom line.  While translation is something every business should do, it is important to understand the drawbacks to using translation software or inexperienced translation firms.  By going with software, in house bilingual staff or inexperienced translation firms, they may save you a few dollars upfront but your translated text will likely include errors or inappropriate colloquialisms.  While errors in the translated text might turn out to be funny, they also put your business in a light of being unprofessional and willing to cut corners.  A situation that no business wants to be in.

Sometimes it is the smallest detail or nuance that make or break a business negotiation or deal.  At Atlas Language Services, we’ll provide you with highly trained translators (written) or interpreters (spoken) for virtually any language and topic.  When perfection is needed for you next translation project, make sure you use a professional translator, editor/proofreader and typesetter.  You don’t want your business to end up making the list above.