The importance of a good translation

When I started weLanguages (eLanguages) in Kansas City in 2000, I immediately joined the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and got very involved. I learned years before, how important it was to join a local chamber AND volunteer if you wanted your business to grow. The Hispanic Chamber worked a lot with other KC chambers, and one year one of them decided to reach out to Hispanic owned business from the Hispanic Chamber by organizing a half day event. The chamber President sent out printed personal invitations in Spanish to all of us. When I opened my invitation and read it my first thought was “Oh no, she used Google Translate to translate it into Spanish!”

Sure enough, when several of us called this chamber to let them know about the terribly written invitations, the President found out that her assistant, who had said he spoke Spanish when he was hired, did not actually speak Spanish very well, and thought he was very smart by using Google Translate to translate the invitation. Well, it back fired on him, and it really embarrassed the President of the chamber. I have a feeling there are many people out there with similar stories. When I advise businesses regarding translations, I always say “For your own good, don’t rely on your ‘bilingual’ staff to translate your documents!” Being bilingual does not make you a translator, just like knowing how to write doesn’t make you a writer.

Stay tuned for more funny (or interesting) mistranslation stories in my next blogs. And if you can’t get enough, sign up for our monthly newsletter to see what Charlie Croc (our company Ambassador) has in store in each issue: