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Translation mistakes can have significant consequences for companies, as they can lead to misunderstandings, miscommunications, and lost business opportunities. Some common examples of translation mistakes include mistranslating idiomatic expressions, using incorrect cultural references, and failing to consider context when translating.

One notable example of a translation mistake affecting a company is the case of Pepsi’s “Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation” slogan, which was translated into Chinese as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead.” This mistake resulted in a significant loss of face for the company and damaged its reputation in China.

The second example is when KFC translated its “finger-lickin’ good” slogan into Chinese as “eat your fingers off”, which was not an appealing message.

The third example is when American Motors made an error in the early 1970s by naming its midsize car “the Matador.” Although the name was intended to depict the  image of courage and strength, it may have been a little too aggressive for Spanish-speaking consumers since “matador” meant “killer” in Spanish – which didn’t appeal to drivers.

Another example is when the ‘Schweppes Tonic Water’ campaign entered the Italian market. The campaign completely failed because the company’s product name was literally translated into Italian as “Schweppes Toilet Water.”

The next example is Willie Ramirez’s case, which is one of the most expensive and best-known medical translation errors because of its dramatic outcome.Willie’s Cuban parents took him to the hospital for food poisoning and explained to the doctors in Spanish that he was “intoxicado”. However, the hospital staff understood it as “intoxicated” and treated him for drug overdose. The wrong treatment led to brain hemorrhage leaving him a quadriplegic for life. The hospital was obliged to provide a professional interpreter and found itself liable for approximately 71 million dollars to pay for Willie’s treatment and for damages.

Finally, HSBC attempted to grow its “Assume Nothing” motto to some other languages. Unfortunately, instead of “Assume Nothing”, most of the translations were rendered as “Do nothing” which suggested that the financial managers were doing nothing for the customers. This badly affected their brand image. Consequently, the company spent 10 million dollars on worldwide marketing campaign to clear up the marketing translation error and it changed its slogan to “The World’s Local Bank”.

These are just a few examples of how translation mistakes can have a negative impact on a company’s brand and reputation. To avoid such mistakes, companies should work with professional translators who are familiar with the target language and culture, and who can accurately convey the intended meaning in the translated text.

In addition, companies should use professional translators and localization experts who are fluent in the target language and have a deep understanding of the target culture. Also, they should always review translations and conduct thorough testing before launching products or services in a new market.Top of Form