Translations are a powerful tool. Used correctly, they can help you achieve enormous targets of capturing the attention of people who are not conversant with your language. However, if you have had to ever deal with a piece of bad translation, then it is an experience that wastes your time and effort trying to decipher the actual meaning.
Translations can go wrong due to numerous reasons. A lack of thorough understanding of the original or translated language, ignorance of the subject matter or domain, improper use of automated translation tools can all compound the effect of poorly translated works. It is not rare to find bad translations become the topic for jokes and humor. While it may appear apparently funny, incorrect translations are responsible for loss of professional image and business prospects. No wonder many such poorly translated business enquiries and mails are discarded at a glance by the discerning eye.
Each language has a unique style and cultural flavor that is distinctive of the community in which it is spoken. There are words with multiple meanings in many languages and their usage can be extremely confusing at times. When translation is used to provide information to foreigners such as those who are visiting the region for tourism or business purposes and they come across a poorly translated pamphlet, brochure or even a signpost, it really gives a bad impression. There are several examples of incorrect French translation or bad Japanese translation that distort the actual meaning. Such a wrongly translated piece can mislead unsuspecting visitors apart from giving them a moment to be amused or confused.
Similarly, even in the case of translational requirements for commercial purposes, a bad translation can result in conveying inaccurate, incomplete or wrong information. If you are responding to a business enquiry in a foreign language, say to a prospective client in France or Japan, how do you ensure that the French translation or Japanese translation of your technical or commercial proposal is accurate? A misunderstanding at this stage is totally avoidable. Who likes to spend time in guessing and re-translating a badly translated work? It is a sheer wastage of manpower, resources and time. Not to mention the risk of not delivering the right product or service due to incorrect translation is very high. It is a big risk to use a badly translated piece of work as the starting basis for creating a work product or deliverable.
Review and checking processes ensure that a poorly translated piece is not delivered to an unsuspecting client. One way of doing this is by using two rounds of translation. The first round is from original to the translated language and the second from the translated language back to the original. The result of the second round of translation is compared with the original piece of work to check if any inadvertent error has crept in that has modified the original meaning. Although review steps add to the timelines, they are very necessary to keep away the dangers of bad translation.