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Costly translation errors: Small business - The cost of going it alone


For small businesses, which have limited resources, accurate translation ranks pretty low on the priority list. Coupled with a DIY mentality, this is a recipe for disaster! The image below is a web landing page marketing the wares of a small business in Japan.

Free Online Japanese Translation


Do you feel motivated to click and find out more?

I could slip in a catchy one liner here, but I won’t. There are many websites dedicated to this genre of hilarious translation bloopers. Try engrish.com - copy & paste the URL in your browser for some light-hearted entertainment from the otherwise staid translation industry. Go ahead, you’ll enjoy!

Funny, isn’t it? Of course, if you’re the owner there certainly wouldn’t be much to laugh about. Which begs the question: How does poor quality translation make it to market? This happens when businesses use:

  • Everyone but professional translators
  • Machine translation
  • Translation crowd-sourcing
  • Translation clouds


The common thread in these translation strategies is a desire to save money, with little regard to quality.

In researching the concept of COPQ (Cost of Poor Quality) for a previous article, I happened across an extremely interesting case study. A company with 250 million dollars in annual sales realized the need to improve quality by doing the job right first time round after analysis showed the company losing USD100,000 a day to poor quality!

Now, let’s assume a small company with 250,000 dollars in annual sales is forced to dispose of 40,000 dollars of perishable seafood because of a mistranslation in the package labeling (true story!). As a small business professional, I’m sure you understand no-one will be writing a case study for you -- Your company may get an obituary, though…

So, what is a small company with few resources to do? Contact professional translators and negotiate; there’s always a deal to be had! At the very least solicit opinions from professionals in the translation industry, which is often freely given.

If you believe you have the best translation blooper ever, then share it! Let our readers put it to the vote to find out if you really have the best translation error of all time! Simply contact us with the details, and we’ll post your blooper on our translation &DISCUSS blog.



About the Author
Ivan Vandermerwe is the CEO of SAECULII YK, owner of Tokyo Translation Service Japan Visit SAECULII for the latest professional case studies, articles and news on Japanese Translation Services

Copyright (C) SAECULII YK. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this article is permitted with inclusion of the "About the Author" reference as is (including text links, japan-translators.saeculii.com/english/services/japanese-translation-services.cfm), and this copyright information. Articles may not be altered without written permission from SAECULII YK.

Tags: English Japanese Translation · Free Japanese Translation · Japanese Translation Services · Translation Articles · Translation costs, price and rates · Translation errors · Translation quality · Translation Services Japan · Translation Services Tokyo · Translation strategy · Web Translation







1 &DISCUSS response(s) so far ↓

  • 1 » Akiko Akiya (2012-10-09)

    MT is free of charge for a reason, which is rotten translation quality -- There is no such thing as a free lunch!

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