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Are you at risk of being lost in translation?

3rd May 2018


For companies working in multiple languages across borders or cultures, the risk of inadvertently causing offence can be high.  France’s President Emmanuel Macron faux pas in his thank you speech to Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was an example of how just the smallest of translation errors can so easily cause major upset or ridicule, without proper checks in place and quality writers or interpreters providing support. The President was quick to laugh off the use of the word “delicious”, but to have made such an error in other countries could have been diplomatically disastrous.  Here in the Middle East we tend to work in two languages – Classical (not colloquial) Arabic and (British) English.  Arabic in particular has to be given the highest quality attention to make sure that what may be right to say or write in English has appropriate and accurate meaning in Arabic, which is often very different indeed.  It is such an important aspect of our work across the GCC, Levant and North Africa – and companies that take short cuts or liberties with their approach to language are putting themselves at considerable reputational risk.


Jonathan Shillington

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