Some words in English sound similar to French and share comparable definitions, such as bizarre, or communication; however, the wrong translation of words sounding the same can be misleading and lead to unintended consequences.

Suppose a vendor wants to sell food to consumers. The company uses machine translation rather than a translator.  The machine suggests the word préservatif, which sounds like preservative and seems to be related with food. Later, as the food is placed in retail stores for consumption, the company learns from amused Francophones on Facebook and other social media, that préservatif actually means condom! The photograph of the blooper is passed on FB with hilarious comments.  The company has to change its advertising and its packaging to rebuild its reputation.

Machines Can’t Determine if a Translation has the Wrong Meaning

The machine did not distinguish the difference between preservative and préservatif whereas a translator would not make this mistake. Additionally, unless you’re in the health care or adult entertainment business, ‘condom’ isn’t the word you’d want to use with food.

Nonetheless, you need to fix this blooper fast.  Your brand was noticed but not exactly how you wanted it to be.  I think you could excuse prospective consumers for digging into the fruit to see if they could find the condoms!

What about your costs?

  • You would need to hire a translator to fix the mistake.
  • You would need a lot of public relations, and,
  • You would need to recoup lost sales.

Your suppliers, distributors and retailers would also suffer potential losses because of this one word.

As such, isn’t it simpler to save time, money, confusion and loss of sales by starting with the right approach and hiring a professional translator?