Being interested in language isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, history is full of instances of figures who knew more than one or two languages. Let’s take a look at some famous historical figures that you may not know were polyglots.
Elizabeth I (September 7, 1533 – March 24, 1603)
Being royalty or a politician means getting a lot of benefit from knowing multiple languages. Someone in a position of power needs to be able to communicate fluently with many different officials and citizens. Now people in power have translation tools that can allow them to get by, but in the olden days? You had to fully rely on language proficiency to communicate. Maybe that’s why Elizabeth I (pictured above) knew seven different languages: English, Flemish, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Greek and French.
More businesses than ever before are looking to move away from a strictly English-speaking audience. When companies attempt to move into markets in other countries and continents, it’s essential that they translate their documents into the target languages. Today, we’re taking a closer look at why companies should translate their web content into French.
More than just the language of one specific target market a business wants to reach, French is a what we consider a base language — and a French translation is crucial to your success if you want to reach the widest audience possible.
Even though it is a popular language around the globe, many people don’t quite understand how vital French is to their consumer audience. Let’s take a closer look.
One of the surprises we all encounter as we travel is the realization of how widespread English has become. Sometimes I have entertained myself walking through the markets and browsing the stalls that attempt to lure me in to shop. They are using what they consider to be convincing English:
- the “Pet Chop” that was just down the street from my hotel in the Dominican Republic
- the children’s t-shirt that said “Crap Your Hands” in a southeast Asian market
- the newsletter from my local Spanish wine shop that offers “special prices to natural persons.”
It may make me laugh, but it also causes me to recognize something very important about doing business in English. English is evolving and spreading around the globe. The English I know and consider to be commonplace is no longer the only kind of English out there.
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Have you ever put something into Google Translate before? Sometimes you get what you’re looking for — if it’s just one word or a structurally simple sentence. Try something a little more complex, though, and you end up with something completely wrong. In many instances, these translation fails aren’t just erroneous — they’re hilarious.
Auto-translation software treats language as if it’s an algorithm to deduce and put back together, but no software is ever advanced enough to capture the nuance and true structure of language as a concept. While these programs may help you understand a language at its most basic level, they certainly shouldn’t be used in any business context where accuracy and fluid communication are paramount.
It’s not all serious, though. Sometimes, business translation fails aren’t necessarily offensive or insulting… they’re just plain funny! Translation fails are something of a hit on social media, and here are a few big ones from 2016 that had the world in stitches.