When the opportunity is given for a written translation, it should be done in the most precise of ways and by a professional internalized in the subject. Bear in mind that often transcript translation services are a key step in highly sensitive matters. One example is foreign affairs.
In this article you will find cases in which translations were not done with all the care it requires and caused serious trouble or embarrassment.
It was 1956, and for the United States Department of Defense it was crucial to understand transcripts of Russian leaders’ speeches. In this context, the words of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev generated confusion and panic, thanks to defective transcript translation services.
Relations between the United States and the USSR were not only tense, but in heat, with constant danger of nuclear warfare. What the U.S.’s translators depicted was the phrase “We will bury you”. But the threat was not real that time. The actual Russian words by Khruschev meant “We will live to see you buried”, meaning that the USSR would last longer than the United States. In fact, it didn’t happen.
Famous astronomer and cartographer of Mars, Giovanni Schiaparelli, spotted canal-like structures on the surface of the red planet. The Italian wrote it down as a geographic feature in the word “canali”.
Years later, when Schiaparelli’s maps went public, the press interpreted this as “canals”, meaning an irrigation system built by some kind of extraterrestrial life. Interest aroused in the public, so maybe transcript translation services were not even looked for.
North American Braniff Airlines pulled a successful campaign in the United States while promoting their new plane seats. The slogan chosen was “Fly in Leather”. The problem came when the ads crossed the southern border and reached Mexico.
Of course, there was a mild translation for the hispanic territory: “Vuela en Cuero”. The thing is, while the phrase worked correctly in most of Latin America, in México this actually means “Fly Naked”.
These are some of the reasons why transcript translation services should always be consulted with an expert in the matter.
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written by mktg the 16 November, 2021
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