Recently, I came across this link “10 Funny Translations From English To Spanish.”
While it’s funny, I can’t emphasize enough that this is a real problem. Often times when people say they are “bilingual” it doesn’t mean they can do the job of translating.
One Starbucks sign that reads “Exit Here” is translated “Éxito Aquí” which really means “Success Here.” Sure you have successfully made it through the line at Starbucks, a worthy feat to some maybe, but I’m sure that’s not what they were trying to imply.
The point is, this can happen very easily and happens frequently.
I revert to marketing and public relations. If someone says they offer bilingual services, this should be backed up with specific education in the other language, either as a major, a minor in college, some intensive course or education in another country. I cannot tell you how many times I have met people who say they are bilingual because they speak Spanish at home, but they have no clue where an accent goes in the Spanish language. I myself used to say I was bilingual, that was until I started working for a Spanish-language paper – turns out I wasn’t. However, I was then introduced to three years of intense Spanish where I have since perfected my Spanish and I am proud to say I can now place an accent. This is thanks to my editor grilling me and fine tuning my español.
So my advice when hiring a company that says they offer Hispanic marketing, is to ask what kind of training the executive that will be working on your account has. Did they study Spanish in college or have some sort of formal training? Just as you would want them to have a college degree and experience in the field they are working in, so to should they have proper training in the language they will be representing you in.
In the words of my husband – “Trust but Verify.”
You don’t want to end up with one of these mistranslated materials for your company, because while it’s funny for people to read, it would be embarrassing for you as the client.
Not doing your research or asking the right questions would end up in you throwing your money and your image down the basura (trash).