While presenting to an audience, my friend, Peter, a sales coach, started to tell a story about his childhood summers in Saskatchewan. A few minutes into his story, where he was describing his daily adventures and the clothing he wore, he had to stop for a few moments because his audience was laughing.

Puzzled, he finally realized that the sandals he wore as a child, known as thongs, had a different meaning today (you know, that thin piece of fabric masquerading as underwear that barely covers the butt).

Translation Mistakes Can Happen – Even in the Same Language

While both the audience and Peter spoke English, the understanding of thongs as footwear was of his era and his audience knew it to be underwear in theirs. When he realized why they laughed, both Peter and his audience enjoyed the joke.

So, what caused the confusion?  Both parties spoke English.  People from his generation would have understood thongs as sandals, but the younger generation wouldn’t.  This is because language adapts.

If this confusion happened from the same language, what would happen if the audience did not share a language with him?

In Québec, 77 percent of Quebec’s population are native francophones, and 95 percent of the population speak French as their first or second language.

In which case:

  • what if your Québec target audience isn’t sitting in front of you, and you’re not speaking to them?
  • Or, what if Quebeckers, who are reading your words on a screen, live hundreds of miles away from you?
  • Do you, specifically, understand Québec’s unique dialect, culture, context and language laws?

A simple misunderstanding can hurt your brand and reputation.  The prospective clientele may never take the steps to clarify what you tried to communicate, because you’ve already lost them, and not to mention your sale.

Translating your company’s goods and services from English to Québec French is crucial, but it is only one piece of the puzzle.  Your company’s tone and style must also be communicated into the proper context of Québec French.  Knowing that your translator understands Québec’s culture and language laws is important. You don’t want to risk an unexpected reaction — like the thong. Contact us today – for contextual language that represents your actual message.