I was waiting at the till in the supermarket, when the man before me found out that he did not have enough money to buy the 6 water bottles he had picked. The assistant was very nice and told him she would get someone to pick another 6 bottles to fit into his budget. Then the hard question came. ‘La vuole naturale o frizzante?’ (Would you like it still or sparkling?).
Why hard? Because the man did not know any Italian at all and just smiled at the lady. I was feeling bad for both, so I stepped in and the still/sparkling problem was solved. I felt I had saved the tongue of that man from those evil bubbles – I do not like fizzy drinks or sparkling water myself – and marched triumphantly out of the supermarket 😉 although my triumph was very much affected by two huge bags…
Anyway, this made me think. If supermarkets are there to make profit, then they should think that investing in some translation work could bring in a lot of cash. Imagine you do not speak any Italian and you go to a supermarket where you have a few signs with the most common items translated into some languages. Even better, you might have the translation next to the price, although this would be more expensive for supermarkets. If I were a foreigner, I would then go to THAT place, not other supermarkets. I would be able to avoid weird conversations just to get cinnamon or babies’ napkins. At the same time I would feel I am not invisible since my language is there.
Just a few thoughts outside the supermarkets, but I believe some people are missing on the huge boost their profits could benefit from translation. Would you agree?