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5 super exciting facts from the world of translations that will surprise you

1. A single translation error cost a multinational bank $10 million

In 2009, HSBC Bank was forced to spend $10 million on a global brand change after its slogan "Assume Nothing / Assume Nothing" was translated directly into other languages. Instead of conveying the idea that the worldwide bank does not make assumptions about its clients' expectations in cultures around the world, the translation of its slogan resulted in a meaning closer to "don’t do anything / Do Nothing" in many languages.

Marketing campaigns were already in full swing when HSBC realised its mistake. The bank had to pay for a $10 million rebranding campaign, which resulted in a new slogan: "The World’s Local Bank / The World’s Local Bank".

2. The most translated book in the world is The Bible

It is difficult to dispute that the Bible is one of the most published, distributed, and translated written works in history. To date, the entire book of the Bible is available in 554 languages. At least one book of the Bible has been translated into 2883 languages, the New Testament to 1329, and the Old and New Testament together to 531.

The first complete Bible to appear in Spanish was the Queen’s version of Cassiodorus, printed in Basel in 1569. Casiodoro de Reina was born in Seville, Spain, and studied in a monastery. He spent twelve years in his translation work, completing the entire Old Testament in 1567.

3. An inaccurate translation of a single word led to the atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima

At the end of World War II, Allied forces demanded a total surrender of an already defeated Japan. When the Japanese prime minister sent his reply, the English translators misinterpreted the word "mokusatsu" (which in Spanish translates "silencio"), as an expression of stony contempt.

The United States sent the bomb unnecessarily, unaware that Japan was just trying to buy some time to get a more formal response. If they had known the facts of the translation, they would have realised that surrender was underway, but it was too late. This translation error cost 80,000 lives.

4. The most translated website in the world is that of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Yes, you read it right. It’s not about Apple or Wikipedia, but a small religious group that seeks to spread its faith to all corners of the world. At the time of writing, the website offers information in 999 languages. That includes variants of German, Thai and even sign languages.

Although a fairly new religion, Jehovah’s Witness groups are prominent globally and are making active use of language translation to achieve their goals.

5. A small translation error that nearly cost life and $71 million

In 1980, a man was taken unconscious to an emergency room in Florida, USA. His friends who brought him thought he had food poisoning. They did not speak English, so they used the Spanish word "intoxicado", which means "poisoned/poisoned", to describe their condition. A staff member mistranslated it as "intoxicated," so doctors proceeded to treat it for a drug overdose.

The delay in receiving proper treatment left him paralysed. This small translation error cost the man his mobility and the hospital $71 million due to the subsequent demand.

When you need to do some translation of your documents, don’t forget that you have Entrelingo. Our translators are professional and highly responsible, so you can rest assured that your documents will be translated and ready to be received anywhere in the world.

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Mafe G. | Director of Operations and Customer Service | Entrelingo

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