Would you allow a Grey’s Anatomy fan to perform you a heart surgery? In the same line of thought, why your translation would be any different? Professional translation saves time, saves money, ensures quality, and generates profits.
During a press conference the WHO’s General Director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said “A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection. However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be.” He clearly meant that there is no simple nor magical medicine for COVID-19. However, many newspapers from Spain and Latin America published the phrase “silver bullet” as “there is no cure” or “there is no solution, and there will never be”. After the Spanish-speaking community received such hopeless, fake news and the mistranslation was pointed out, some of these newspapers explained that they based their posts from Agence France-Presse (AFP), a global news agency characterized by their fast and multilingual coverage of events. The root of these Chinese whispers results to be that AFP does not hire professional translators, they only count with multilingual journalists for the posts in different languages.
The mistranslation of idioms is a typical mistake because cultural awareness is essential to be precise. Even if there hadn’t been any idioms, a professional translator should have been hired or asked to review that piece of news. Extreme care should be taken in handling information related to the current pandemic; otherwise, there can be serious health, economic, and social consequences. Going back to the abovementioned example, the names of the newspapers were highly affected as they somehow lost reliability from their readers.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the translation job is underestimated. Over a month ago, an Argentine newspaper, La Nación, posted in their opinion column “10 changas to make extra money during home quarantine”. Translation was among these changas. This was a huge act of ignorance since the slang “changa” refers to a temporal and informal work involving a task that does not require formal education; whereas, translation is a job, for which people study a university career of at least 5 years in Argentina; not to mention the continuous academic training and work experience. Translators study and work to bridge cultural gaps accurately.
Ironically, the same newspaper that underestimated translators; afterward made the public and embarrassing mistake of “silver bullet” distortion, which could have been avoided with a professional translator. The moral of the story is simple: hire a professional. The same premise applies to all jobs. Investing in professional translation is always a good option since you rest assured that the message is being transmitted correctly and in the right tone, uplifting your brand image.
By: Andrea Chetti