Thursday, November 21, 2013

Is it washed or isn't it?

This note on a bag of romaine lettuce advises English speakers to wash the lettuce before eating it -- but tells French speakers it's already been washed (though phrased awkwardly).

Bilingual packaging requirements in Canada open the door to a wide range of errors: you need good proofreaders for the English, good proofreaders for the French... and in some cases, good proofreaders who are adept in both languages.

The PR Major had a great discussion this week, led by Erika Miller, about Coca-Cola's vitaminwater promotion-gone-wrong, in which the company inadvertently printed offensive statements on its bottle caps because of unanticipated pairings of English and French words.

Translation isn't just about getting out your French-English dictionary or using Google Translate. Over the years I've heard people say "I speak French so I can do the translations." Mistake.

Would you have anyone who speaks English write your corporate materials? Of course you wouldn't. You'd hire a writing specialist, if you wanted them to be good.

Unless you are a professional translator, hire a professional translator.

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