Bad translation can even make world leaders look silly, so imagine what it can do to your business.

Do you remember last year on the world stage in Sydney, Australia, the incident where French President Emmanuel Macron caused a commotion?  He was perceived to have called the Australian PM Malcom Turnbull’s wife ‘delicious’?

 “I want to thank you for your welcome, thank you and your delicious wife for your warm welcome,”

he said. He commented on the fact that the Australian PM’s wife was délicieux, which can also mean delightful.

The comment was covered in a recent Toronto Star article and social commentators immediately picked up that he meant to compliment Mrs. Turnbull as ‘delightful’.  Macron is bilingual and was correct, but what was heard was not received as ‘delightful’.  Others felt Macron may simply have slipped up in his use of English, since the French word for delicious is délicieux which also translates as ‘delightful’.

Was the Bad Translation Macron’s, or his Interpreter’s?

He also may have said this in the spur of the moment, without his interpreter working with him.

This blooper was made on the world stage and posted on social media showing the sensitivity and reactions to misinterpreted or misunderstood comments. It ‘quickly sparked some lighthearted reaction on social media and in the Australian press amid lively conjecture about the French leader’s intent.’

This mistake was not serious, but it did poke fun at a world leader.

If a company used machine translation for the same word, “delightful”, delicious could be written instead as the machine does not understand the multiple meaning and the context, but a translator would know.

Macron’s confusion was interpreted with light social amusement, but what would have happened if a business made a similar mistake?

For more in depth discussion, see the blog ‘The Case of the Sick Sausage’.