Sloppy translations, or translations that are hastily authorized without being sent through a strict screening process based on lots of research and managed by reliable, language professionals, can destroy a business’ reputation. Even Mango, Spain’s fashion giant, isn’t safe from the dangers of translation errors.
Last week, Mango made worldwide headlines thanks to an incredibly foolish translation error related to the term “esclava” in the promotion of a new line of jewellery in France. “Esclava,” meaning “slave,” is also a common Spanish term used to describe a particular style of bracelet. Problems arose, however, when the term was used in promotional material in France. The phrase is not understood or accepted on any level in France as a fashion reference to bracelets.
Over 4,000 people joined in with a social networking petition, campaigning against Mango and its insensitive, inappropriate use of the term “esclava” when promoting its new line of jewellery in France. The petition went viral via Twitter thanks to a number of French associations, including SOS Racisme & Cran, actresses Sonia Rolland and Aïssa Maïga, and the influential activist, Rokhaya Diallo.
“Esclava,” a perfectly acceptable term referring to a style of bracelet in Spain, created instant and widespread anger amongst members of the general public, so much so that “boycott Mango” soon became a trending topic on the Twitter network. Mango was left with no option but to address the public directly, accept full responsibility for the terrible error in the translation of its marketing campaign and make immediate changes to the way in which its products were being marketed in France.
Mango’s reputation suffered a huge blow within a very short space of time because of a small, but hugely important error in translation. Contextual knowledge, cultural understanding and professional language skills are essential for all kinds of translations, large or small. Multinational companies are at risk just as much as smaller businesses are. Foolish mistakes are made all the time. These mistakes can be costly and can irreversibly damage the reputation of any company on a large scale. This is particularly true now more than ever, thanks to the power of the Internet.
Make sure your translations are executed well and that your team of translators are experts in what they do. Investing more time and money in your translations is always worth the extra expense in the long run.