Written by Wilf Voss
It has been a few years since the above sign made the headlines. In case you don’t know the story – the English text for this sign in Swansea was sent for translation services into Welsh and the above result was returned. The sign makers used this translation in good faith and put it up, only to then find that the Welsh text in fact read “I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated”.
Now this is an honest mistake, but certainly a bit of a silly one that unfortunately gained international notoriety as it bounced across the globe on the news wires. The real issue is that, for someone like me, a non-Welsh-speaker, who has no way of telling that the on the sign is anything other than what it should be, sending text to be translated is a bit of a gamble in some respects.
This illustrates the point that it is important to have a team working with you that you can trust and who can provide you with correct translations. At Veritas we provide a Project Manager for every client, each one of our team is a translator or a language professional in their own right and so we can help you prevent the sort of problem that has occurred above.
It may not be as obvious a mistake as an out of office response but getting something wrong, whether linguistically or culturally, can make your organisation look rather foolish. Just think about Coors Brewing Company who translated its slogan, “Turn It Loose,” into Spanish, where it was understood as “Suffer From Diarrhoea” or Colgate who introduced a toothpaste in France called “Cue”, which is unfortunately the name of a notorious porno magazine.
We only use translators who understand the language of the target country as well as its culture. In this way we can help you ensure that what you write in the UK makes sense abroad and is also culturally accurate.
Now, I’m off to book a nice hotel in the beautiful Welsh village Dim Parcio, I saw it on a sign somewhere…