A Few Scenarios When a Stellar Translation Really Matters

While the goal of every translator is to translate documents with 0% error and consider the client’s approved glossaries, the translation of some documents require an extreme level of precision.
We’ve decided to assemble a few scenarios of when a stellar translation really matters. Let’s start first with the medical field.

“Intoxicado” Does Not Mean “Drunk”

One mistake cost a person their life and the hospital $71 million.* This example stems from an incorrect interpretation but also applies to translation.
In 1980, Willie Ramirez, 18, was admitted to a hospital in a coma, and his family spoke only Spanish.

  • Of the hospital workers, one person spoke Spanish but incorrectly interpreted “intoxicado” into “intoxicated”. “Intoxicado” actually means “poisoned”, but Ramirez was treated as if he was suffering from the effects of drugs or alcohol.
  • Instead he was suffering from a hemorrhage in the brain, which would eventually leave him quadriplegic due to the delay in care.
  • The hospital was sued, and the family was paid $71 million dollars.*

Can you imagine the damage that even a few errors in a hospital document could do for someone who is sick or injured? A professional translator must have certain qualifications, and not simply speak the language.

A $10 Million Error

HSBC spent $10 million on a rebranding campaign. The bank HSBC meant to translate the phrase “Assume Nothing” accurately into many other languages.

  • Instead the phrase was mistranslated into the phrase “Do Nothing” in a number of countries.
  • HSBC spent $10 million on a rebranding campaign as a result.

A Windmill By Any Other Name

Famous novels must preserve the writing style of the author. Can you image a translation of Don Quixote without the flowery and dramatic writing style of Cervantes?

  • It is the specialized literary stellar translator who can do more than just translate text, but style as well, preserving classic works no matter the language.

Often times the stakes are high when translating or interpreting, especially when it involves a person’s life, or even still, when it is about company news or specifications about equipment. All matters.
It is up to the agency to be able to select the right team to handle the job. There are specialties, expertise and key certifications. There are schedules and availability to match. There are rounds of proofs to coordinate.Not all translators, certified or not, in their language pairs can do well in all industries. There are issues to consider such as expertise, industry exposure, tools, for example.

The industry in the United States is maturing and the more specialized the team is to handle your project, the better. The agency should work with you as a partner because your company reputation, your peace of mind and your budget are at stake and that is… priceless.

A Few Scenarios When a Stellar Translation Really Matters