3 Biggest ‘Lost in Translation’ Blunders in Business

translation branding
When it comes to marketing and other business processes, brands targeting an international audience often rely on translations. The problem, however, is that not all translators do a great job! As a matter of fact, there are a number of translation blunders that put businesses in jeopardy. Here are some of them:

1. No Cement Needed

In a Berlin hospital, German doctors neglected to bone cement artificial knee joints in more than 40 patients because the product manual mistranslated instructions about bolstering the joints into zementfrei, which means no cement is needed. In turn, patients suffered from discomfort and pain. So, the hospital had to perform costly remedial procedures and pay large claims for compensation.

2. Infertile Pens

Lingua Technologies International says bad translations can harm even the most established brands — and Parker Pen Company may have to agree with this. In one of its ad campaigns, Parker released a slogan that says ‘It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you’ to showcase its pens that never leak. Everything was doing great until the ad reached Mexico, where it was translated to a Spanish phrase that says ‘It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant’. Imagine the embarrassment Parker had to endure because of this blunder!

3. Do Nothing and Everything

In 2009, HSBC Bank had the most embarrassing rebrand in their entire history. The worldwide bank spent millions of dollars for their new tagline ‘Assume Nothing’ but had to retract it when the tagline was read as ‘Do Nothing’ in many foreign countries.  In turn, the bank shelled out a few more millions of dollars to change its tagline again.

Though they’re funny to read, bad translations are no longer amusing if they’d cost your business a lot of money. So, it is important that all translation jobs for your business are always done well.