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In today’s commercial translation market, translators translate people’s ideas so that they are able to put a message across about a product the individual or business wants to sell, but in many different languages, including the German language This means to be effective the translation is far more than looking at the individual words in the text and finding an equivalent in the targeted language. The translator must have a clear understanding of the client’s business.

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If a translator fails to convey the correct knowledge about a product, the client will be the loser when he or she finds that no new customers are seeking to buy the product.

A Russian Translation Example

As is the case with many languages, German words, for example, may have several different meanings and the translator has to decide what word or words to use in order to translate correctly. An example of this appears in Russian where the word “liniya” means in Russian a telephone line like one made from hard-wired copper. Unfortunately, in Russian, the same word also means cell tower, or satellite, which is the technology which mobile phones use, or it could also mean a radio connection to a remote station terminal. The translator would have to know which should be translated and this would be based on prior knowledge of the company only.

Other Mistranslation Examples

Mistranslations can affect product marketing such as the Pepsi campaign in Taiwan. When the following slogan was translated “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” it read that “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.” This sort of translation would only happen if the translator had no real knowledge of the Pepsi product and how it was marketed. Another such mistranslation occurred with a pen company which when advertising its product in Latin America came out with the slogan in Spanish stating “help prevent unwanted pregnancies.” This poor translation appears to be due to the fact that the translator knew little or nothing about the product being marketed.

These two examples show the importance of a translator having a thorough understanding of a country’s language before undertaking a translation task.  This means not just German words but the complete German language if a translator claims to have the skills to translate German. The global marketer who wants to be successful needs flawless communication so it needs to ensure the translator has a thorough knowledge of both the country, its culture, and language before undertaking a translation.