A recent call with a prospective client reminded me of the English TV show Mind Your Language.
If you are not familiar with Mind Your Language, it is a hilarious British sitcom from the 70s, where a young teacher by the name of Mr. Brown, acted by the late Barry Evans, tries in vain to teach a bunch of rowdy foreign students the proper use of the English language.
While doing so, Mr. Brown faces a multitude of cultural, political and communication challenges that made the show brilliantly funny and very successful. Many situations in that show are similar to what we go through every day at GlobalVision while ironing out language and cultural wrinkles for our clients. You can view it on YouTube.
Anyway, over the phone, the prospect expressed her concerns about previous mistranslation that her team performed that almost lost her company an important client to the competition. She indicated that the client was very disappointed with the localized product and was seriously considering returning it. Luckily the client opted to revert to using the English version until the problems are fixed.
What reminded me of Mind Your Language was one of their jokes that related well to this situation. The joke went like this:
A patient in a hospital was awakened after leg amputation surgery by his surgeon telling him that he had good news and bad news to share with him. The patient concerned asked for the bad news first. The Dr. said: We cut off the wrong leg! The patient very concerned screams: Dr. what is the good news? The Dr. trying to comfort him said: Your other leg is getting better!
You don’t want to be caught in this situation. Mistranslations in your product or literature will give you a bad image and can drive your hard won clients to look elsewhere. In these fiercely competitive times, one needs both legs to stand a chance to succeed. Lesson learned? Mind your Translation! Consider Transcreation!!
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