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The Consequence of a Poor Translation: A Damaged Relationship with Your Audience

4/7/2017 by Sara Leonhartsberger

In the previous article, the cost of free translation tools was discussed, specifically how Google Translate provides an inaccurate, public, and awkward translation that affects a business’s image.  Continuing that train of thought, another consequence of a poor translation is the negative effect it will have on your target audience.  In the current political climate that seems unwelcoming to the Hispanic audience, that audience will naturally gravitate to well-translated articles, advertisements, and employee manuals.  A good translation indicates respect for the audience, which evokes respect from the audience. Potential clients or employees will have a more favorable impression of a company precise in its translated work than one imprecise in its translations, for if a company presents a poor translation, other aspects of its business may be perceived as equally erroneous.

For example, suppose a law firm translated the phrase “our attorneys will not go over your head” directly from English to Spanish. Hispanic clients would be left wondering why attorneys would be promising not to physically leap over their heads.  After such an egregious miscommunication, the law firm’s capability to interpret law would be questioned by potential Hispanic clients.  

Likewise, a document riddled with grammatical and orthographic errors demonstrates a lack of consideration for the client. If an English document is proofread and edited to a standard of perfection, why would a Spanish document not be held to the same standard?

Whether in a primary or translated text, poor communication disconnects audiences from businesses. A business that cares enough to provide an accurate message is a business perceived to care for its potential clients or employees.  Like all relationships, a business-client or employer-employee relationship based in mutual respect is more likely to prosper and endure. 

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