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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Localisation and fatal errors, beyond securing authenticity in translation.

Localisation and fatal errors, beyond securing authenticity in translation.
Will accurate translation rise above securing understanding among politicians to ensure professional localisation?
A Paris born singer and actress, Vicki Benet, announced in 1961 that the best relief to world tension was an accurate translation.   She gave the example of Krushchev’s speech in which the style of a peasant was taken by the aristocratic minds of the then translators.  The latter either softened the content or entirely changed its meaning.   The same thing was done from the US side by a translator whose translation of Kennedy’s speech was far from being authentic. 
The tormenting terror of those days led Vicki to fear the sudden eruption of a nuclear war over ‘semantics’.
Nowadays, nobody would have the feeling that a low quality translation can lead to a war of any kind.  Only economic figures and motives can create tension between nations.  War is in fact becoming a more complicated and risky endeavor for politicians and local economies.  However, what a weak translation does can harm an economy and result in real disasters rather than in mind nuclear fantasies.
In his book entitled Understanding International Bank Risk,  Fight (2004) gave a very clear example of how an inaccurate translation of a report about the financial situation from English into Japanese made a fatal error by translating the word ‘rumour’  into the Japanese equivalent of ‘disclosure’.  This did not only turn the news from ‘possible’ to ‘certain’, but also on the bank’s financial situation. Most depositors withdrew their money leading to an eminent bankruptcy, later on resolved by the intervention of the Federal Reserves and other financial and insurance bodies.   This translation error cost the US government around USD 8 billion!
The cost of a poor translation goes beyond the harming of a financial institution.  In times of doubt and crisis, this negative effect is more than doubled, especially when the errors affect stock markets.  The doubt and uncertainty also influence customers whose intuition leads them to discard translated texts s sources of certainty. The European Commission found out that 82% of European customers refuse to buy online if the website or product description is not in their mother tongues.  The Swedish, despite their good understanding of English, do not rely on online selling English websites and tend to buy products described in their own language. 
In fact, the importance of localisation lies in its ability to introduce the product within the taste of the local market.  It goes beyond the mere translation.  This also underlies that the best, authentic and professional translation output is not only error free, but also local in terms, style, and even taste.
Almiaad Lingua has made a huge effort in the last decade to give its localisation services a new horizon by incorporating a marketing team which understands how words sound local.  Our English into French and English into Arabic teams have reached excellent results in this regard.  We now employ  localisation groups in Dubai and the Middle East ( and the UK ( to take care of document and corporate profile translations.
Almiaad Lingua for Translation and Language Services, Ltd

1 comment:

  1. Actually, is there a difference between localisation and professional translation?


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