Bad Translations: 5 Reasons Why Mistakes Happen

Bad Translations

In today’s hyper-connected world, legal services translation and interpretation Ltd are becoming more and more important in maintaining communication between international businesses and individuals. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to mistranslations or bad translations of documents, marketing materials, and more. Here are five reasons why this happens so often, along with advice on how to avoid it in your translations.

1. Verbal communication is not always perfect.

Humans make mistakes. Sometimes, those mistakes occur during a verbal exchange and leave one or both parties feeling confused and aggravated. It is never any fun to be on either end of bad translations—and it’s even worse when those misunderstandings occur in business deals.

Miscommunications are a natural part of human interaction. Still, certain aspects of international business increase the likelihood of something going wrong during translation. If you’re doing business with a foreign client, you want to ensure your message gets across effectively. So, try to minimize miscommunication so that future deals don’t cost you.

2. Interpreters may have misconceptions.

Interpreters don’t just translate word-for-word but also interpret it based on their understanding. It’s like you telling a joke to your friend—they may not tell it exactly as you said it, or their interpretation may be completely off. Suppose you look at translators like a series of people passing down stories from one person to another. In that case, you get an idea of how interpretations can change over time. The best way to avoid mistakes with bad translations is by meeting with your interpreter and making sure that they will interpret everything correctly and nothing will change along the way. That way, there won’t be any misconceptions about what was said originally.

3. Non-native speakers may use an incorrect word.

Suppose you’re translating a document from one language to another, or you’re relying on a non-native speaker of your language. In that case, they may use an incorrect word. In some cases, they may have used a similar but wrong word without realizing it.

Sometimes such mistakes are missed when proofreading, as people think something looks right if it reads correctly (it doesn’t always work that way with bad translations). Bad translations also occur because a phrase is hard to translate literally. Suppose there is no proper equivalent in another language for what you mean by blue-collar. In that case, there may be no correct translation, even if you were sure what blue-collar meant.

4. Interpreters are humans too!

It’s easy to forget that when you’re relying on someone else to translate for you, it’s not just a computerized program spitting out words. Humans make mistakes, especially in stressful situations and haven’t had enough time to prepare properly.

On top of that, language is very fluid, and meanings can easily be lost or misinterpreted. To avoid getting a bad translation, you can hire an LST interpreter or translator ahead of time. Because they have all their ducks in a row and will be able to deliver what you need!

3. Clients / translation agencies have different expectations

Some of them will expect you to translate from English into their language; others will want a translation from one specific language. When dealing with two different expectations, there are several mistakes that translators can make. Clients may think they are getting what they asked for, but they may actually not be getting what they need due to a number of reasons.

For example, when working with translations from English into Spanish (or any other target language), it’s often necessary to include more than just literal text to capture certain phrases and ideas that can only be expressed by using figurative language as well. However, many translators tend to stay away from figurative or idiomatic expressions when working with texts originating in English.

How To Avoid Bad Translation Mistakes?

When two or more different languages are involved in a project, language translation services are required. However, many companies and individuals do not always use reputable translation services or simply do not provide all of their information to them, which can cause problems down the road. Here are some reasons why bad translations happen and how you can avoid making these mistakes yourself.

  • The first and perhaps most common reason that bad translations happen is miscommunication.
  • A lot of times, you will not have enough time to go back and forth with your translator to get everything exactly right.
  • You may also assume that your translator knows what you want or need without communicating properly.

This can lead to things being lost in translation and coming out wrong, which is why having everything written down and double-checked is important when hiring a professional LST.

Final Word

Of course, there’s a caveat here. A translation doesn’t necessarily have to be bad for it to be incorrect. This list is more along the lines of instances where an error occurred and led to confusion, embarrassment, or other negative consequence.

Still, that shouldn’t stop you from taking every precaution possible when dealing with a translation. Any red flags should be reported—no matter how small they may seem—to ensure a smooth sailing project that won’t come back to haunt you later down the road.