Avoiding Translation Bloopers – How Transfluent Customer Service Can Help

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Customer service is very important to us here at Transfluent HQ.  We get different kinds of requests every day whether on the phone or by email.  At times I follow up with a customer on the phone to walk them through a specific support request or answer a detailed question.  It is always interesting to learn about new challenges our customers face.  Here are a few examples I’d like to share with you.

Like Minna wrote earlier “you try to explain a well-known concept in your native language to a foreign friend, and it seems impossible to find the right word or phrase to describe it.” Also the TED blog has written about the specific idioms that cannot be translated literally. Our professional translators work really hard to translate the meaning of the original text into another language.

We had one order where our customer wanted to use the “OK” emoticon (thumb and index finger forming “O” and rest of the fingers extended) in the text. Our translator sent a message that in some parts of the world, especially in Brazil, showing this sign is about as big an insult as flipping the bird/giving the finger. I had a call with the customer to explain and we were able to save the customer from embarrassing situation before it happened.

One thing we like to emphasize is that our translators are professionals.  This means knowing the intricacies and subtleties the languages they work in.  For example, did you know that in Russian language there are three different plural forms for nouns?

If the numeral ends in 1, there is one form of the word, if the numeral ends with 2-4, there’s another form and for numerals ending 5-9 there’s the third form. Things get interesting when describing the plural of “3 doors” versions “5 doors”. In most languages it is enough to make the correct translation of either the singular or plural form; however, when translated to Russian, you need to have one of three different forms depending on the context.

Being human powered means that we can make fine distinctions that a machine is incapable of making.  Being human also means we sometimes make errors.  If there is an error we have not spotted we of course fix the translation without extra cost. In some cases we have to have a long conversation on expectations as the translation usually cannot exceed the quality level of the source text. Our professional translators can be guided towards desired style and tone of voice but this needs to be instructed either when ordering a translation or contacting us but this topic deserves another blog post later.

We are here to help you get your message across in any language, so don’t hesitate to contact us!

Author

Risto Kinnunen

I’m here to help, how may I serve you. Fluently working between user, sales, marketing & technology. Dad, sports and outdoor enthusiast on free time.    [phone] +358 40 802 1810