Translation / Traduction / Traduzione / Übersetzung / 翻译 / Перевод

Trust is imperative to client relationships in the yacht industry and speaking their language is a good way to build this trust. Poorly translated marketing material and web content, however, can really damage these relationships.

Imagine lying on the operating table waiting for the anaesthesiologist to give you the good stuff when your neurosurgeon leans over and in a thick accent says, "I take k-nife and cut you head open now, ok?" No, not ok. 

It may not be a polite thing to say, but diction and correct use of the language are fundamental when working to gain someone's trust. A survey by Common Sense Advisory, a global market research agency, on consumer behavior in 10 countries found that 75% prefer to make purchases in their native language and 60% rarely or never buy from websites only available in English.

First Impressions Can Only Be Made Once

A website is essentially the global shop window for shipyards and brokers; it is important that potential new clients all over the world can open the site and understand what the company represents. This is the first opportunity a company has to introduce itself and, in order to make a good first impression, they should speak the prospective client's language and speak it well.

If your company is creating a multi-language website, ensure that translations are high quality.  Artwork by  Ella Frances Sanders .

If your company is creating a multi-language website, ensure that translations are high quality. Artwork by Ella Frances Sanders.

"Customers can immediately catch translation mistakes and make a judgement about product quality, which feeds into their overall impression of your business," explains CSOFT International. The quality of the translation can directly impact brand reputation.

For this reason, it's actually preferable not to translate material, but to have it adapted by a native speaker. Translators tend to fit translated words into a similar sentence structure; a language adaptation or localization, however, means maintaining the general message while using words and syntax that are decidedly more natural in the target language. The final result is less clunky and more eloquent. Cultural differences in purchasing motivations and consumer habits should also be taken into consideration, says Sophie Howe of Comtec translation agency. Read more about content localization in this article by Elena Romera.

If your company is going to invest in translation services, quality control and editing are key to making that investment worthwhile. It's normal to hunt for a good price when comparing translation agencies, but not all produce high-quality copy. I recommend having a native speaker look over a sample of the translated material for each target language.

This same level of scrutiny should also be applied to press releases, presentations, brochures and brand magazines - basically any translated material that will fall in the hands of potential buyers. The general consensus is that it is better not to provide a translate copy of something than to provide a poorly translated version.

Shipyards Continue to Make this Expensive Mistake

Without naming names, in a quick search, I was able to find many examples of poor-quality translations on the websites of some of the most prestigious shipyards. Mistakes range from incorrect word choice - "catalyzes the attention of an audience," "still further" - basic grammatical errors - "[Company name] makes you flying too," "after five edition," "key feature of the designs is that they guarantee" and the capitalization of random words like "Client." Below are two examples of sentences that have errors and which also lack a natural flow:

"For the warm and balanced interiors have been choosen smooth, rounded lines..."
"...on the Asian market where it already detains, since years, a leadership position thanks to a strategy of strong local presence and capillarity of the local dealers’ network..." 

Bottom Line

Don't scare away new potential clients! Utilize your company's website, and all marketing material, as a powerful tool to make a great first impression in every language. 

Cover artwork by ShaoLan Hsueh.