Things could actually go this way…

Sometimes translation and/or interpreting mistakes are so … (terrible? horrendous? funny?) that they get some press coverage. Why not collecting some of them to be used as part of your marketing strategy? Here are a few tips:

– Don’t target translation agencies, they (should) know that translation mistakes are bad, so focus on prospective direct clients

– Look for pieces of writing in a language your clients can understand. However, mistakes can be in a language combination your client is unlikely to use

– Look for newspaper articles, as they tell you ‘the whole story’ from a non-linguist point of view. It is more concise than presenting your client with a source text and its wrong translation. Also, a newspaper article will give clients a good overview, even if they would be unable to judge the translation quality because they don’t speak the languages involved

– If possible, look for articles where the businesses involved work in the same field as your client

Be respectful. If you happen to know the name of the translator, don’t mention it. You want to win clients graciously

I think a good idea to organise this list would be to use bullet points. For each translation mistake, you can summarize the newspaper article in a couple of lines and then add a link to it. You can then send the file to prospective clients or share it on your website.

And finally some mistakes I have just collected: Korean>English, English>Welsh, Italian>English (available in Italian) and a translation into Italian (available in German).

Have you ever used translation mistakes to win new clients? It would be great to know!


About Chiara Vecchi

A blogging translator working from English and German into Italian. You are more than welcome to visit my blog!
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